Have you spent hours worrying about what method of contraception would work best for you? Perhaps, wondering what the side effects might be? Trying to understand through another women’s experience what would be the simplest, least stressful method for yourself can be overwhelming, as there are so many contraception methods. Pills, condoms, coils, implants… there are so many choices.
After doing some research, we'll help you narrow it down to make the best and most educated decision for your own contraception needs. Also, be mindful, it is always helpful for both parties in a sexual relationship to be aware, and in agreement about the method of contraception, you decide to use.
Nowadays, contraception options typically fall into two key categories, contraception for birth control or contraception that aims to prevent both pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). If you are confident that both yourself and sexual partner have undergone STI checks, then you could consider contraception only options. Below we’ve included both categories into short-term contraception options and long-term contraception options.
Male condoms are well-known. They can be found in many convenience stores and grocery stores, and help prevent against STIs. Male condoms act as a barrier to stop sperm during sex. Although they are not 100% effective, they should always be used in-date and checked for any rips. Male condoms are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply. However, some men and women may have an allergic reaction to the standard latex condoms and may need to use non-latex versions.
Similar to a male condom, female condoms are plastic pouches that are inserted into the vagina to prevent sperm from entering. Female condoms are widely available, usually being sold right alongside male condoms, and can be inserted up to 8 hours before having intercourse. The downside of a female condom is they do not protect completely from STIs and are less effective than male condoms. Like male condoms, female condoms can’t be re-used.
Spermicide is a foam or gel that is inserted into the vagina before engaging in sex. An easy to use relatively inexpensive option, spermicide is also widely available. However, regular use can cause tissue damage or irritation. This can significantly increase your risks of contracting an STI if spermicide is not used alongside a condom.
Diaphragm or Cervical Cap:
Diaphragms and cervical caps are fitted into the vagina. These contraception methods are then used alongside spermicide to prevent sperm from reaching the women’s cervix. A cervical cap is slightly smaller than a diaphragm and has a higher failure rate for women who have previously had children. Diaphragms and cervical caps can be re-used. So they are considered to be more cost-effective than other options over time.
However, both diaphragms and cervical caps need to be fitted by a doctor. In addition, be aware that they do not offer STI protection. Neither of a diaphragm or cervical cap can be used during your period, as it may increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome. Both the diaphragm and cervical cap have failure rates of 15% or more. Moreover, they have a higher likelihood of failure if you have previously had children.
Birth Control Pills:
Birth control pills are oral medication taken daily to prevent pregnancy. There are many different kinds of birth control on the market, with varying side effects or benefits. What's more, the side effects and benefits of birth control can vastly differ between individuals. The positive outcome of taking birth control pills for many women is that the pill can help regulate periods. Birth control pills can diminish period flow, period pain, cramps, or acne. Even some women have found that their periods stop entirely while using birth control pills.
But, depending on the type of pill you're using, and how often you are having sex, birth control pills can be more expensive than other contraception. Some women experience side effects while on birth control, such as weight gain, breast tenderness, increased blood pressure, or blood clotting.
Always consult your doctor about taking birth control pills, as some women may be predisposed to experience increased side effects. For example, women over 35 years of age who smoke are often advised to avoid taking birth control contraceptive pills.
Withdrawal is known as the technique where the man withdraws or ‘pulls out’ his sex organ from intercourse before ejaculating. This is a natural and free birth control option. Nevertheless, withdrawal can be a tough and arduous task to time correctly. It has been proven, more often than not, to be ineffective for providing a reliable method or form of contraception.
If you are looking for long-term birth control, then several options are available. However, know that these long-term options do not protect against STIs.
Permanent Birth Control:
After much thought, if you have decided never to want to have children, or have decided not to expand your family, then you can consider permanent birth control options such as:
Emergency contraception pills need to be taken up to 5 days after intercourse. Over the counter emergency contraception pills usually need to be taken within 72 hours. As previously mentioned, prescription varieties can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse.
Both emergency contraception pills options are more effective if taken as soon as possible. Still, an emergency contraception pill is not as effective as condoms or birth control pills. It is highly ill-advised that they are taken as your regular contraceptive. Emergency contraception pills should be considered as a back-up when other methods have failed. For example, if a male or female condom breaks during intercourse.