Why are contraceptives a big deal and why are there so many birth control methods available to us?
Well, over half of those in their 20s are sexually active today, but most don’t want kids just yet. So, the contraceptive market is booming. With numerous options out there to “get busy” without concern today, it’s hard to know which birth control method might be the best for you.
But, ladies, have no fear! We’ve combined forces to give you a first-hand looks at 7 of today’s most commonly used contraceptive methods.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills come in 28-day or 21-day packs, depending on the brand. Each pack contains seven “sugar” pills for the week of menstruation.The pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken correctly.
Pros: Pills are a great way to have control over your cycle. Many women report lighter and more regular cycles, plus reduced cramps.
Cons: You must take them every day at the same time. Reported negative side effects include: headaches, bleeding between periods, reduced libido, and depression.
Available over-the-counter and nearly everywhere. Condoms are a thin covering placed on the penis during intercourse. This is a great method for those who only have occasional sex, and also for those who may be unsure of their partner’s entire sexual history.
Pros: Condoms are the only birth control method that prevents STIs. Furthermore, they don’t require any doctor intervention or advanced planning.
Cons: Although condoms can have a high effectiveness rate when used properly and consistently, many people do not follow all the proper safety measures. Therefore, condoms only statistically have an 82% effectiveness rate.
This little T shaped copper device sits in the uterus to help prevent pregnancy. When the IUD is inserted, the mucus in your cervix thickens and blocks sperm from meeting your eggs. It’s 99.7% effective and lasts 5 to 10 years.
Pros: Once inserted, you don’t have to do anything. Once removed, your fertility will return to normal. Also, it’s non-hormonal, so it won’t cause weight gain or mess with your regular body function.
Cons: Your period may become heavier and longer with increased cramps. These side effects should only last 3 to 6 months. Serious side effects include ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Extremely similar to the copper IUD, except for the hormonal part.
These birth control shots contain the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation and thickens cervical fluid. Depo shots are injected every 3 months, usually by a nurse or doctor
Pros: Depo shots are a safe, convenient, and virtually invisible that works really well if you always get it on time.
Cons: You must receive the shots on a set schedule every 12 weeks for continuous protection. Also, depo shots do not protect against STIs.
This small, flexible plastic ring inserts directly into your vagina. It prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones to prevent ovulation, like birth control pills. According to Planned Parenthood, Nuva Ring has a 91% effectiveness rate.
Pros: If you struggle to remember to take daily pills, Nuva Ring is super convenient because you only worry with it once per month. Also, if you forget to remove the ring on the “right” day, it actually runs out of hormones and your period starts anyway.
Cons: Insertion and removal can be a bit tricky as you are essentially stuffing a ring into your vagina then having to “treasure hunt” to dig it back out.
The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) uses your body’s natural functions throughout your cycle to help you determine your “fertile window” so that you can either avoid or attempt to conceive. With this method, you chart your basal body temperature and cervical fluid. If done accurately, this method is 99.4% effective.
Pros: The biggest appeal is that absolutely nothing foreign is entering your body. There are no side effects or secondary conditions that may develop because all you are doing is simply observing your body’s natural, daily functions.
Cons: This method requires significant study up front (I recommend purchasing “Taking Charge Of Your Fertility” if you are serious about trying this method.). Also, you must commit to tracking your temperature every morning before getting out of bed and checking your cervical fluid throughout the day.
As you can tell, there are a variety of methods that can fit into nearly any lifestyle and personal preference. As with any major medical decision, always do proper research and consult your doctor (preferably a gynecologist) before deciding which contraceptive option is the best for you. Thankfully, none of these methods are permanent, so if one doesn’t work for you, you can always choose another that better fits your body and your needs.