Understanding Your Birth Control Options

Jan 08, 2024
Understanding Your Birth Control Options
Are you overwhelmed by the array of birth control options? It can be hard to determine what method is right for you, your family goals, your health, and your lifestyle. Read on to understand more about your birth control options.

If you are one of the 46 million women in the United States who are sexually active and not seeking to become pregnant, you need a reliable form of birth control. Here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California, our expert OB/GYN team is ready to guide you in deciding what type is right for you. 

Read on to learn about factors you should consider when choosing contraception. We also provide information about each method, including health considerations and ease of use.

General types of birth control

Each of the following forms of birth control is readily available. Our team wants you to understand your options below:

Barrier methods

Barrier methods, such as condoms and diaphragms, provide a physical barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. These methods are non-hormonal and offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If used properly, condoms are nearly 98% effective but because there is a lot of room for user error, they are only about 87% effective in preventing pregnancy with normal use. 

Hormonal birth control

Hormonal birth control methods, including birth control pills, patches, injections, and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), alter a woman’s hormonal levels to prevent ovulation or change the cervical mucus. These methods offer highly effective contraception and can have additional benefits like lighter periods and reduced menstrual cramps.

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)

LARC methods, such as hormonal and copper IUDs, provide long-term contraception with minimal user intervention. Hormonal IUDs release progestin, preventing ovulation and thinning the uterine lining, while copper IUDs create an environment toxic to sperm. 

LARC methods also include arm implants, like Nexplanon®. LARCs are highly effective and reversible, with the option to conceive soon after removal.

Permanent methods

If you’re certain your family is complete, permanent methods like tubal ligation (women) or vasectomy (men) may be an option. These methods involve surgical procedures to block or cut the fallopian tubes (tubal ligation) or vas deferens (vasectomy), preventing sperm from reaching the egg.

Natural family planning

Natural family planning methods involve tracking menstrual cycles and fertility signs to identify fertile days and abstain from unprotected intercourse during those times. While this method requires diligence and education, it could be an option if you want an all-natural method that doesn’t involve devices or hormones.

Emergency contraception

You use emergency contraception, often known as the "morning-after pill," after unprotected intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy. It's essential to use emergency contraception as soon as possible and remember that it is not a regular form of birth control.

Questions to ask yourself

You want a birth control option that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Questions to consider and that we can help you answer include:

What is the method’s effectiveness and can I use it properly?

Hormonal birth control methods are highly effective but require you to use them consistently. This is easy when it’s an implanted method like an IUD or Nexplanon, but requires more focus if you need to take a daily pill or get regular injections. Barrier methods are also effective if you use them consistently and correctly.

Is it reversible?

If you foresee wanting to get pregnant soon, choose a form that’s easily stopped or quickly reversed. You may choose different types of contraception at each stage of your life as your family goals change.

How accessible is the method?

Choose a form of birth control that works with your lifestyle and budget. You may prefer one that is easy to use and doesn’t have an impact on the sexual experience. You may want one that requires no prescription or medical intervention. Consider your needs and your insurance coverage.

Does the method have side effects?

Some birth control methods do come with side effects, like weight gain. Talk to us about what you should consider when it comes to your health and the effects various birth control methods have on you.

Does the method have additional benefits?

Male and female condoms are the only types of birth control that protect you against STDs. If you have multiple partners, you should consider using a condom even if you have another form of birth control. 

Some methods of birth control can lighten your menstrual cycle and reduce your risk of developing some forms of cancer. Contact Women’s Care of Beverly Hills to learn more about what type of birth control is right for you. Call or use the online tool to book an appointment.