When it comes to birth control, I’m sure many of us have the same question in mind: which method is best for me? The answer, of course, will be different for everyone. Some methods will be more expensive than others, while some may be inexpensive but require more time and attention.
Many types of birth control fall into one of three different categories: behavioral or social methods, barrier methods, or hormonal methods. In this post, I’ll be discussing these methods as well as their advantages, disadvantages, and effectiveness.
Behavioral Birth Control Methods
Behavioral methods include things like the withdrawal method, fertility tracking, exclusive breastfeeding, and even abstaining from sex. This method is ideal for new moms who are concerned with:
- hormonal methods affecting their breastmilk supply
- the hormonal changes and side effects that may occur
- being too busy for daily methods
- being too forgetful for a weekly method
Lactational Amenorrhea Method
This birth control method is the suppression of fertility by exclusively breastfeeding. It requires that the person’s menstrual cycle has not yet returned postpartum, the baby is under six months, and exclusively breastfed including at night.
- has the highest effectiveness aside from the IUD
- no drugs or barriers are involved
- caters to a healthy, longer-lasting breastfeeding relationship
- doesn’t work once your baby starts sleeping longer
Fertility Awareness Method
This method of birth control involves the charting of fertility signs and changes every day to predict ovulation.
- no drugs or barriers are required
- specific to the parent
- highly effective
- requires a daily time commitment for accuracy
- some people may feel uncomfortable putting their fingers in their vagina
Ovulation precedes menstruation, so unless you are carefully charting fertility signs, you may not realize you’re fertile until it’s too late (Surprise! You’re pregnant!). Some signs of fertility include cervical mucus consistency and amount, basal body temperature, and sore or tender breasts. There are more, but I’ll save that for another post and another time.
Barrier methods include the female condom, male condom, cervical cap, or diaphragm.
Male or Female Condoms
These are made of latex or other materials and are placed before sex and may be used in combination with spermicides to boost effectiveness.
- can be purchased online or over the counter
- may reduce the risk of some STI’s
- no drugs are involved
- the feeling is not enjoyable for some people (reduced sensation)
- must plan to have on-hand
- semen leaking is a risk due to tearing, etc.
A diaphragm is shaped like a shallow cup and made of silicone or latex. It is used with a contraceptive cream and inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix.
- can be inserted ahead of time as to not interrupt sex
- no hormones are involved
- must be prescribed and fitted to the individual
- body changes postpartum may require refitting
Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal methods include the pill, patch, shot, or IUD. If you’re anything like me, and wary of the things you put into your body then this is NOT the option for you. I can say that I have tried just about every hormonal option, under the guidance of an OBGYN, and hated the side effects I experienced which led me to cancel this option altogether and stick to behavioral methods. But, if you’re interested, keep on reading!
Some hormonal options don’t require daily attention and are better options for people with busy lives or people who have a hard time remembering to take a pill every day.
The implant is a thin, flexible, plastic device implanted under the skin of your upper arm. It releases hormones into your system preventing ovulation, and thickening the cervical mucus which prevents sperm from fertilizing eggs.
- can be used while breastfeeding
- fertility may return quickly after removal
- only needs to be replaced every 3-5 years
- may cause undesirable side effects
This is a thin patch that is placed onto the skin of your arm, torso, or buttocks once every week for three weeks, then no patch is worn during the fourth week It releases hormones into your body to prevent ovulation.
- allows for spontaneous sex
- no pills involved but may offer similar protections
- may cause undesirable side effects
- blood clot risk increased
- requires attentive use for effectiveness
There are many more options to choose from but I suggest you do your own thorough research, consult your physician, and before making your decision ensure that you weigh the advantages, disadvantages, effectiveness, and other things like which drugs have what effect on your chosen method.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. Whatever option you choose, remember that it’s extremely important to do your research to make an informed decision that fits your lifestyle, preference, and individual needs.
If you have any questions that you’d like answered I am always available for consultations. If this post has helped you in the least bit, like it, comment, and share it with your friends!
For more detailed information and resources, consult your physician or your local Planned Parenthood!