Contraceptives, or birth control, can be a touchy subject. You have a lot of questions, and may not have anyone you can ask. No worries! I did a lot of research after my last daughter was born, so I could pick the birth control that was right for me. Here’s what I learned:
Just saying “no” is the absolute only 100% effective form of birth control. While some girls think it’s old-fashioned to wait to have sex, it’s becoming more popular, and not for ultra-conservative religious people. Celebs like the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez have taken chastity vows, prompting their fans to follow suit.
2. The IUD
Years ago, IUDs were considered dangerous and passé. Now, with improvements in effectiveness and safety, an IUD is one of the easiest and most effective forms of birth control. No taking a pill every day! The device is implanted during a doctor’s visit, lasts for 5 to 10 years, then can be removed or replaced in a second visit. Side effects include spotting between periods. If you decide you want to become pregnant, once the IUD is removed, you can conceive right away.
3. The Pill
My personal choice for birth control. The Pill has been used for decades as effective birth control, but it is also used in low doses to regulate periods, control acne, and to lessen the discomfort of PMSand PMDD. To get the Pill, you will need a prescription from your doctor. Some women find it a hassle to take a pill every day, but for me, it’s the perfect choice. Until you find the right pill and the right dosage for you, side effects may be spotting between periods and nausea. If you decide you want to have a baby, you can conceive almost immediately after stopping taking the Pill.
4. The Ring
This is not the right choice for a woman who isn’t comfortable inserting a ring herself. It works the same way the Pill works, by releasing hormones into your body for three weeks, then stopping for a week for menstruation. With the Ring, though, the hormones are slowly released over the three week from a small ring you insert yourself. This would be a great choice for a woman who likes the Pill, but doesn’t like taking a pill every day.
5. The Patch
Have you ever seen the patch people use to quit smoking? It’s the same idea, only the patch releases hormones instead of helping you quit smoking. It uses the same hormones as the Pill and the Ring, only you apply one patch to your upper arm, butt, or lower abdomen each week for three weeks. Then you don’t wear a patch for a week, for menstruation. This might be a good choice for someone who likes the Pill, but doesn’t want to take a pill each day, and who doesn’t feel comfortable using a Ring.
Condoms are one of very few birth control options that men use, rather than women. When used properly, condoms are very 85% effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs. Popular brands include Trojan and Lifestyle. Condoms can be purchased at just about any drug or convenience store, or can be gotten free of charge at Planned Parenthood.
If you’re absolutely certain you’re done having children, tubal ligation (cutting and sealing of a woman’s fallopian tubes) or vasectomy (cutting and sealing of a man’s vas deferens) may be right for you. Performed in a doctor’s office under general anesthesia, the risks are low, but the procedures are both irreversible. Tubal ligation carries a little more risk of complication, and an unplanned pregnancy can still occur. Tubal ligation is a little more than 99% effective, and a vasectomy is 99.85% effective.
There are lots of other contraceptive choices, but these are the ones I’m the most familiar with. A quick note: one method that is COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE is “pulling out.” You know what I mean! The reason it doesn’t work is because a man ejaculates a tiny bit of semen during sex BEFORE his big moment, so by the time he “pulls out,” it’s too late! NEVER use this method. It won’t work!
If you want more information about any of these methods, talk to your doctor, or call or visit Planned Parenthood. Don't be shy! They are medical professionals and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.