Choosing Birth Control: 5 Important Factors to Consider

When it comes to family planning, deciding what type of birth control to use depends on your current needs, your future needs, and your lifestyle. 

You have so many options — from single-use birth control to permanent sterilization — that you may find it difficult to decide which would work best for you.

Sharon Smith, MD, our expert gynecologist at OBGYN Care of Houston, helps you find the right contraceptive method. Here are a few factors that may help you choose.

How natural do you want to be?

The most natural form of birth control that’s also 100% effective is abstinence. But to be truly effective, abstinence means refraining from all sexual play, with or without clothing (semen can travel through some fabrics).

Another natural birth control method is withdrawal when the man withdraws his penis before ejaculating. This method is only 78% effective.

If you really want to use a natural contraceptive method, talk to Dr. Smith about fertility awareness. With this method, you avoid sex during your most fertile days.

You can also breastfeed a newborn for up to six months, several times a day, to prevent a second pregnancy. Dr. Smith can explain the details if you’d like to learn more. 

Do you only need birth control once in a while?

If you’re not in a regular relationship, or if you only have sex once in a while, the best method for you may be a type of barrier contraception that you use right before sex and remove shortly afterward. They include:

All of these methods are portable, so you can take them with you as needed. Using condoms with the other methods increases their ability to prevent pregnancy and prevents sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Do you want birth control that works without much effort?

Birth control methods that you can take on a regular basis, like the pill, or are inserted for long periods, such as implants, allow you a lot of freedom. Most of these types of birth control change your hormonal balance so that you don’t ovulate. These include:

Hormonal birth control ranges from 91-99% effective. Dr. Smith lets you know how often you must get a shot, take a pill, or replace an implant or patch. 

You can also get an IUD that doesn’t have hormones. An IUD can be left in place for several years.

Do you need STD protection too?

If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, you should always use a condom when you have sex, no matter what other contraceptive methods you rely on. Men often have STDs without any symptoms. 

Some STDs are so widespread, such as herpes, that they’re not even included in regular STD panels. Talk to Dr. Smith if you’re worried about STDs.

Have you decided not to have (more) children?

If you’ve finished your family or are absolutely certain that you don't want children, you may benefit most from selecting a permanent form of birth control. Your male partner could have a vasectomy. Vasectomies are 99% effective and are less invasive than female sterilization options.

If you’d rather undergo sterilization yourself, Dr. Smith offers tubal ligation. 

To get help with family planning so that you can find the type of birth control that meets your needs, contact our Houston, Texas, office today. Dr. Smith also offers virtual consultations.

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