At first blush, picking a birth control option seems simple and straightforward. However, once you start considering all of your options, it can become a tad overwhelming.
As an OB/GYN and women’s health and reproductive rights advocate, DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, works tirelessly to help people in her care help prevent unintended pregnancies at Desert Star Family Planning in Phoenix.
Don’t know where to start? Here are a few questions that can guide your decision.
To start, it’s important to remember that your contraceptive can provide two purposes: pregnancy prevention and protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, not all contraceptives are up to these tasks.
If you need STD protection, it’s time to look at male and female condoms. This contraceptive helps reduce your exposure to pregnancy by creating a barrier made from materials such as plastic or latex. However, this approach does double duty. Since it limits skin-to-skin contact and exposure to vaginal fluids and semen, it also helps protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
You can get male and female condoms without a prescription, and they’re highly effective against STDs. However, they only prevent pregnancy to a high degree if you use them perfectly every time you have sex. Since real life isn’t perfect, that means they’re only about 87% effective, and 13 in 100 people still get pregnant each year when using condoms as their only birth control method.
Dr. Taylor also offers STD testing to help protect your reproductive health.
As you might imagine, even the best birth control is only effective when you use it — and you have to use it correctly. So, it’s crucial to understand what’s behind each of your options to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle and personality.
There are also birth control options that can last for years and require no maintenance after implantation. These solutions include tiny intrauterine devices — IUDs — which are placed in the uterus, and small implants (Nexplanon®), which are put in the arm.
Depending on the implanted device you select, they can remain in place anywhere from 3-12 years. They also come with 99% pregnancy prevention rates, because there’s no risk of human error. More simply put, they allow you to “set it and forget it” when it comes to your birth control.
Finally, there are also sterilization options that offer permanent pregnancy prevention. However, Dr. Taylor only recommends this type of birth control for people who are certain that they don’t want children in the future.
You may not want kids now, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in your future plans. As a result, you should keep family planning in mind when considering birth control because some options are easier to reverse than others.
As you might imagine, condoms are the easiest form of birth control to reverse since you can become pregnant the minute you stop using them. Without a barrier in place, sperm could come in contact with your egg immediately.
Next to condoms, implanted devices are also easy to reverse. Once we remove your IUD or implant, you can often become pregnant within a month. It simply takes an office visit.
Unlike barrier methods and implanted devices, any contraceptives that prevent pregnancy with hormones can take a bit longer to reverse. These options include the patch, ring, pill, and shot. It can take time for your hormones to normalize when you stop using these contraceptives, so pregnancy could take six months or longer.
As we mentioned above, you should consider sterilization as a permanent form of birth control. While you can sometimes reverse sterilization, there’s no guarantee. So, if you want children in the future, this isn’t a good option.
Are you struggling to choose the right birth control method? Dr. Taylor can guide you through all of your options and help determine which one is the best fit for you. To learn more, call 480-447-8857 or book an appointment online with Desert Star Family Planning today.