From pills to patches, rings to rubbers, implants to IUDs, there are basically more types of birth control methods than there are Cowgirl attachments!
While options in the realm of sexual health are a good thing, that also means that picking the right birth control option for you will require a whole lot of narrowing down.
Below, 6 questions that can help you figure out which type of birth control is right for you. Trust, your answers to these will be veryyyy useful in helping you discern your best option.
1. Why Am I Interested In Birth Control?
Indeed, reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy is the most common reason people use birth control. However, that’s not the only reason people use certain kinds of birth control. (Really!)
Some people go on hormonal birth control, which can help balance hormone fluctuations, to help mitigate symptoms associated with menstrual and hormone disorders such as PCOS, endometriosis, and PMDD. The right hormonal birth control can help folks control cramps, pain, heavy or irregular bleeding, hair loss, acne, and more!
Intrigued? Ask your doctor about hormonal birth control options such as the combination pill, hormonal IUD, ring, or implant.
2. Do I Also Want to Protect Against STIs?
The only birth control options that do double-duty helping protect against unwanted pregnancy and STI transmission are internal and external condoms.
No other forms of birth control also protect against STIs. So, if you’re on the market for a twofer, stick to condoms.
3. What Kind of Failure Rate Am I Willing To Risk?
There are only three birth control options that are 100 percent effective: vasectomy, tubal ligation, and abstinence.
As a refresher: A vasectomy is a procedure that involves blocking off the tube that carries the sperm from the testicles to the penis, which keeps sperm (an essential ingredient for pregnancy!) from being added to jizz. And tubal ligation is a minor surgery that involves “tying” off the fallopian tubes, which prevents the egg (the other essential ingredient for pregnancy!) from traveling from the uterus (where it lives) to the ovaries (where it needs to be to meet up with sperm).
And abstinence is the active decision to abstain from sex. While the definition of sex can vary, so long as the person practicing abstinence defines it to include penetrative P-in-V intercourse, they will not be able to get pregnant. Of course, the downside of abstinence is that in order to be effective as a pregnancy prevention tactic, it must be adhered to.
If none of those three options appeal to you, good news: There are plenty of other birth control options that are pretty darn effective, when used or taken properly. Including:
- External condoms (98 percent effective)
- Internal condom (95 percent effective)
- Shot (99 percent effective)
- Ring (99 percent effective)
- Pill (99 percent effective)
- Patch (99 percent effective)
4. Do I Have The Skill-Set Necessary To Keep A Schedule?
Some of the birth control options with a higher effectiveness rate (pill, patch, shot, and ring) require that you adhere to a strict schedule.
The pill and combination pill, for example, need to be ingested every day at the exact (!) same (!) time (!). The patch and ring require a three-week-on, one-week-off cadence. And the shot requires that you hit up your doctor for a visit every three months.
If you do not have the discipline or time required to meet those daily, weekly, or monthly deadlines, you’d be wise to consider a longer-term, lower maintenance option like the implant or IUD, which can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years, respectfully.
5. What Is My Budget?
The fertility awareness method (FAM) and abstinence are the only totally free birth control options. Big sigh.
Even internal and external condoms come with some cost. (Though, you can snag ‘em for free at your local health clinic).
So, it’s important to consider what kind of out-of-pocket cost you can afford, as well as what birth control options your healthcare plan will cover.
That said, if you’re reading and don’t have insurance, don’t freak out just yet! Planned Parenthood, SingleCare, and most local health centers have programs to help you subsidize the cost of birth control.
6. What’s My Pain Tolerance?
If you identify as a Pain Baby? Or think you have a low pain tolerance? You might want to keep that in mind when picking your birth control options. The IUD and implant are both associated with some level of discomfort.
The healthcare provider will likely give you a numbing shot or local numbing topical to make insertion more tolerable. But the reality is that these two options are associated with more physical pain compared to something like a condom, patch, or pill, which should all be pain-free.