Choosing Birth Control that Fits Your Lifestyle
Updated: Jul 26
Roughly 60% of all women are using some form of contraceptive. Every woman is unique and there isn’t a single method of contraception that is right for every woman. The best contraceptive is the one that fits your needs and lifestyle.
Women’s health expert and gynecologist Dr. Lori Davidson has extensive experience helping women choose the form of birth control that is best for them. Learning about the available options is a good place to start.
Types of birth control
There are several types of birth control available. Most forms of birth control fall into two categories; hormonal and barrier. This means they work by blocking sperm from entering the cervix or by delivering hormones that cause changes in the body to prevent pregnancy.
Some contraceptives prevent pregnancy by creating a barrier that blocks sperm from entering the cervix. Contraceptives in this category include:
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small, often “T” shaped devices that fit inside the uterus.
There are two types of IUDS:
Hormonal: These IUDs release small amounts of the hormone progestin into the uterine lining, thickening cervical mucus, thus making it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix.
Copper: At the time of this article, ParaGard is the only hormone-free IUD. This small, flexible device is made of copper. The copper in Paragard prevents sperm from reaching an egg.
Oral contraceptives are medications that contain progestin alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin. Birth control pills are perhaps the most widely known form of contraception.
The birth control implant is a tiny, thin rod that inserts under the skin of the upper arm. It releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy.
Birth control shot
Contraceptives are available as injections that you get once every three months, or about four times a year. The injection contains the hormone progestin, which stops you from getting pregnant.
Birth control patch
Another way of delivering birth control is through a patch. The transdermal contraceptive patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. The patch adheres to your skin and releases the hormones.
The birth control ring is a small, flexible device that inserts into your vagina. The ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin into the body to stop ovulation.
Choosing the right birth control for your lifestyle
These days many women lead active, busy lifestyles filled with work, family, and education priorities. You need a birth control that fits within your lifestyle. You must use birth control exactly as prescribed for it to be effective. Here are some things to consider when narrowing down your choices.
Birth control that requires taking a pill every day may not be the best choice if you lead a very busy lifestyle and are prone to forgetting. It may also be undesirable if you’d prefer not to have to think about birth control every day. When choosing a birth control that best fits your lifestyle, consider what type of maintenance is a good fit. Low maintenance options allow you to “set it and forget it.”
The ability to become pregnant soon after discontinuing birth control is another factor to consider. Pregnancy may not fit in your current life plan, but you may not want to wait an extended time after stopping birth control to get pregnant. Some birth control options are quickly reversible, enabling you to get pregnant shortly after stopping.
Side effect tolerability
Contraceptives have the capacity to cause side effects. While they’re typically mild, certain side effects may be a deal breaker for your lifestyle. Modest weight gain is a side effect of some birth control. This may not be ideal if, for example, you are an athlete participating in a particular sport where a small change in weight may impact performance.
Current health status
If you have certain health vulnerabilities or are living with a preexisting condition, you’ll need to take this into consideration when choosing a birth control that best fits your lifestyle. For instance, changes in hormones can trigger migraines or make headaches worse. This is something to consider if you get migraines or are prone to headaches. You should also avoid hormonal birth control if you have a history of blood clots or liver disease.
When picking the right birth control, it’s important to determine what’s most important to you. Future reproductive goals, convenience, ease of use, underlying health issues, and length of time you intend to use birth control are crucial factors to consider.
It’s easy to feel confused by all of the birth control options to choose from. For help choosing a form of birth control, schedule a visit with Dr. Davidson at the Greenwood, Indiana office.