No Size Fits All
With so many different types of birth control options available, it is important to know that there is not one method that is best for everyone. In order to answer the question of which birth control you should choose, you should consider your unique situation, health, and preferences. A great way to start figuring out what type may be best for you is to schedule an appointment with a Title X clinic and have a discussion with your provider. Until then, it may be helpful to do some of your own research and self-reflection on what may make sense for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering the Right Birth Control Method
What are my main priorities when it comes to using birth control?
Think about what is most important to you and your ideal picture of what it will look like for you to use the method of your choice. You may want your birth control method to:
- Prevent pregnancy
- Not take away from sexual pleasure
- Be easily hidden from view
- Be easy to use
- Be easy to get
- Reduce how long your periods are
- Reduce the symptoms of your period
- Be inexpensive
- Benefit your health
- Involve no or few side effects
- Prevent STIs
After taking the time to assess which of these (or any other factors you come up with) are the most important to you, you can start to narrow down your birth control options. If your provider ends up suggesting two or three options, you can evaluate which of those options best aligns with what is important to you.
Will my insurance help me pay for birth control?
Most likely, yes! Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed, most insurance plans will cover birth control for free or at a low cost to you. To be sure your specific insurance plan will cover your chosen method, you can talk to your provider. If you do not have insurance, Title X clinics operate on a sliding price scale for the cost of your chosen contraceptive.
Not every clinic across Iowa carries the same types or brands of birth control products. If your clinic does not carry your preferred method, your clinician can prescribe a contraceptive to you through a pharmacy. In that case, you will be expected to pay whatever the out-of-pocket price would be at the pharmacy.
Should I use a hormonal birth control method or not?
Again, answering the question of should you does not matter as much as do you want to and does it make sense for your situation. It does help to know what hormonal birth control is so you can decide if it is something you want to consider using. Hormonal methods of birth control (such as the pill, the patch, and others) are methods that contain man-made hormones of estrogen and/or progestin. These hormones are used to interrupt your body’s natural cycle of hormones in order to prevent pregnancy. It is important to know that most if not all birth control methods have potential side effects, so be sure to talk to your provider if you are worried.
Can I use any type of birth control if I have other medical conditions?
Even if you have certain medical conditions, there are still a lot of birth control/contraceptive options you are able to safely choose from! Please talk to your doctor or care provider about any medical conditions you may have that might impact what methods are safe for you. The top three medical conditions that may impact or limit your options are a high or low BMI (body mass index), high blood pressure, and/or frequent migraines.
Will it hurt or be uncomfortable to use birth control?
You will never be forced to use a method that makes you uncomfortable, and you can request recommendations from your provider that consider your preferences. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of a vaginal contraceptive, for example, there are other options you can explore and learn about.
Do you want to have a baby in the future?
Depending on whether or not you want to have a baby you may consider certain contraceptive methods over others. A common misconception is that contraception affects your ability to get pregnant in the future; the truth is that it may delay your ability to conceive, but it will not affect whether you can conceive. Determining when you may want to become pregnant can help you and your clinician choose what method is right for you. For example, the Depo-Provera injection can delay your ability to become pregnant by 6-9 months after discontinuing its use. Once an IUD or implant is removed, though, the ability to become pregnant is returned immediately.
What birth control methods are most effective for my sexual activity level and/or my sexual orientation?
The method of contraception that you choose may be affected by your current frequency of sexual activity, as well as your sexual preferences and the type of intercourse you participate in. It is a good idea to consider whether or not you are sexually active right now, and/or how likely you are to be active in the near future. This may help you determine whether you want a daily oral pill, long-term contraception or a barrier method to use for infrequent occasions. Different birth control methods have different advantages and disadvantages, so taking your sexual activity and sexual orientation into account is important. For example, while birth control pills might be effective at preventing pregnancy, it will not protect against STIs.
What will my partner/parent/guardian/friend think about contraception?
How important is it to you that your loved ones are looped in on your method of birth control? Will your partner play a role in the method you prefer and end up choosing? Do your friends’ opinions matter to you? Will you seek advice or thoughts from your parent or guardian? It can be helpful to determine for yourself how much you want your decision to be influenced by others in your life before discussing it with them.
There are some key benefits to making your decision after seeking the advice or thoughts from the important people in your life. Especially regarding parents and guardians, scientific data shows that when teenagers involve their parents in discussions about their sexual health, these teens are more likely to engage in safer sex practices. You are not required to involve anyone else in your decision on birth control, but your provider can help you decide how to discuss birth control options with those close to you if that’s important to you.
Birth Control for both Males and Females
While using birth control is often seen as something for females to be concerned about, it is important that males also take control of avoiding unwanted pregnancies or the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). As a male, your involvement and participation in practicing safe sex not only benefits your partner, but can protect you from the spread of STIs as well.
For men and women alike, there are a variety of options and choices for birth control. The best birth control option for you depends on your unique preferences, health, and circumstances. Locate and schedule an appointment with the Title X clinic nearest you and work with your provider to ensure you get medically accurate information and are able to reach a decision you feel good about.