Many couples and sexually active people want to be able to enjoy physical intimacy with a partner without having to worry about the risks of pregnancy. The use of birth control products helps to avert millions of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies in the US every single year, but it’s not just as simple as buying a box of condoms or taking the pill.
There are lots of different birth control methods out there, each with its own pros and cons, and it’s important to consider your options and take their respective risks and effectiveness ratings into account before choosing which one to use, as well as consulting with your partner and your medical care provider in some situations too. Here are some aspects to consider when using birth control.
The Right Type
As stated above, there are many different types of birth control to take into account. These include:
• Condoms – One of the most frequently used methods of birth control, condoms are affordable and simple to use, but not quite as effective as some of the other options available.
• Implants – Birth control implants, also known under the brand name Nexplanon, are slim rods that can be inserted into the arm to release hormones into the body that prevent pregnancy for several years.
• IUDs – An IUD, or intrauterine device, is an increasingly popular form of birth control across the US. It’s a small device, placed inside the uterus, offering long-term protection against pregnancy.
• Pills and Patches – Birth control pills and patches can also be used by women wanting to avoid pregnancy. They need to be taken or used on a scheduled basis.
• Other – Other birth control options include vaginal rings, internal condoms, birth control sponges, cervical caps, spermicides, diaphragms, or more permanent methods such as a vasectomy or sterilization procedure.
With so many options to choose from, it’s important for both partners to be aware of the choices and learn more about each one, including its effectiveness, method of use, duration, and other factors.
Following on from the previous point, it’s important to bear in mind that some forms of birth control are rated by experts as being far more effective than others.
When it comes to preventing pregnancy, for example, birth control implants and IUDs are rated as 99% effective by leading birth control organizations like Planned Parenthood, whereas condoms are only classed as 85% effective and birth control pills manage a rating of about 91%.
Even the most effective and reliable forms of birth control aren’t 100% fool-proof and can sometimes go wrong. There have even been cases when a man has undergone a vasectomy and is still able to become a father through unprotected intercourse.
All sexually active people should be aware of how effective their chosen birth control method is and accept the slim but real chance that it may not always work as they hope or expect.
It’s also important to think about how these different birth control methods and products actually work and what they involve for you and your body.
Taking birth control pills or using devices can be quite off-putting for some people, as they may interfere with your hormonal balance and could lead to side effects, as well as potentially being somewhat invasive to use.
Other methods are more natural, such as fertility awareness methods that involve tracking a woman’s fertility rate throughout the month and avoiding having sex on fertile days.
It’s up to you and your partner to weigh up the pros and cons of each method and respond accordingly, choosing something that both of you feel comfortable with.
Some birth control methods may have side effects too. This is especially the case in regard to devices and pills that trigger the release of certain hormones in the body or affect your hormonal balance in other ways.
Side effects from taking the pill, for example, can include mood swings, irritability, acne, weight changes, and more. Be aware of the potential risks and side effects of any birth control method and speak to your doctor for more information before using any.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Don’t forget that pregnancy isn’t the only thing to be concerned about when it comes to sexual intercourse. There are various sexually transmitted diseases and infections that can be passed between people through various sexual activities, and not all birth control methods offer protection against these diseases.
The pill, for instance, won’t protect you from getting infected with an STI, and even condoms and other barrier methods, which are usually the best option against STIs, still aren’t 100% safe, so make sure that if you have an STI, you inform your sexual partners about it and ask any partners to get tested too if you want to be sure of their sexual health status.
As well as helping to protect you against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, there are actually some methods of birth control that can provide additional benefits. Some forms of birth control may result in less painful periods, for example, or even a reduction in the risk of certain cancers.
Again, this ties into the repeated point throughout this article that it’s important to do your research, learn as much as you can about the different birth control options available to you, and know about all of the different pros and cons before making a choice that could have real effects on the rest of your life.
Birth control is used by countless people on a daily basis and helps to give people the freedom to enjoy sexual activities without the risks of pregnancy, but it needs to be treated with care and respect. Make sure you understand all the intricacies of birth control methods, techniques, and products before choosing one to use, and if you have any questions or doubts, speak with your doctor or OBGYN to learn more about your options.