Birth Control - Choosing a Birth Control Method
How can I prevent sexually transmitted infections?
Unless you know that your partner has no other sex
partners and is free of
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you are at risk
for STI infection. If you are at risk, protect yourself from infection every
time you have sex. Use a condom in addition to any other birth control method
You can choose between a
male or female condom to reduce your risk for
HIV (the virus that causes AIDS),
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and other
What health factors could limit my choice of birth control?
If you have health problems or other risk factors, some
birth control methods may not be right for you.
- Smoking. If you smoke more than 15 cigarettes
a day and are 35 or older or have
high blood pressure, a history of
stroke, a history of
blood clots, liver disease, or
heart disease, you may not be able to use combined
- Migraines. If you have migraine headaches, talk
to your health professional about whether you can try combined hormonal
- Diabetes. If you have advanced or long-standing
diabetes, discuss the risks of taking hormonal birth
control methods with your health professional.
- Breast-feeding. If you are breast-feeding, the estrogen in
combined hormonal birth control can lower your milk supply. Progestin-only
pills, an implant, both kinds of IUDs, or birth control shots do
not affect your milk supply and are a good option for breast-feeding women.
Other health problems that might keep you from using a
particular birth control method are relatively rare, especially in young women. But before using any method, talk with your health professional
to see if it is safe for you.
What are some other considerations in choosing a birth control method?
Other things to consider when choosing a method of birth
Health benefits, such as decreased risk of sexually
transmitted infections with condoms and reduced risk of ovarian cancer and
uterine cancer with use of birth control pills for one year or
Convenience and ease of use. Birth control forms such
as patches, shots, implants, IUDs, and vaginal rings are convenient for women
who have trouble remembering to take a daily pill or couples who know they
won't use a barrier method every time they have sex.
- Cost. Over time, the higher one-time cost of IUD
insertion or sterilization surgery may be less than the continued costs of
buying pills or condoms and spermicide.
If you are planning to become pregnant in the future. The amount of time it takes for a woman's full fertility to return after stopping birth control varies for each woman
and depends on the birth control method she is using.
- Risks and side effects of the method. Some birth control methods may have a greater risk of causing certain health problems. And some methods cause more side effects than others. For example, hormonal birth control usually has more risks and side effects than barrier methods. Talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects.