By the time you reach your 30s, the birth control you want, need, or prefer may have changed. If you’re over 35, you might even wonder if it’s safe.
Your lifestyle and medical history play a part, along with any plans to have a child. You’ll also want to look at the risks for each type of birth control. Here’s what you need to know.
Types of Birth Control
There are many ways to stop pregnancy. Some of the most common methods are:
Short-acting hormonal options. These methods use hormones to stop ovulation and egg fertilization. They include:
- Birth control pills
- Mini pills
- The patch
- A shot
- Vaginal rings
This type of birth control only works for a short time. That means you’ll need to remember to take it every day or month. If you go with the shot, you’ll get one from your doctor every 3 months.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives. These are intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. Your doctor puts them in one time. They can last for 3 to 10 years. You won’t have to remember to do anything for these methods to work. These are the most effective reversible forms of birth control with a less than 1 in 100 chance of becoming pregnant when using an IUD or implant.
Barrier-based contraceptives. These block sperm from reaching the egg. You’ll need to use this method every time you have sex. Examples include:
- Cervical cap
Permanent options. Doctors call this female and male sterilization. They use tubal ligation for women or a vasectomy for men to stop pregnancy for the rest of your life.
You can use any of these methods after age 30, but there are some risks.
Things to Think About
How your body reacts to certain kinds of birth control may change as you get older. To help you pick the option that’s best for you, you’ll want to think about:
Risks. Hormonal birth control could raise your risk for blood clots and high blood pressure. These can lead to a heart attack or stroke. IUDs slightly raise your chances of an ectopic pregnancy. That’s when a fertilized egg implants itself outside your womb. Spermicides with nonoxynol-9 might irritate your vagina. They can also raise your risk of getting HIV. These risks are rare, but they do happen.
Your medical history. In your 30s, your doctor will pay more attention to certain things, such as:
- Blood pressure
- BMI, or body mass index (shows if you’re the right weight for your height)
- Tobacco use
- Cervical cancer risk
- Risk for sexually transmitted infections
- Hepatitis risk
You shouldn’t use hormonal birth control if you’re 35 or older and you smoke. You should also avoid it if you have a history of:
- Heart problems
- Blood clots
How to Choose
Together, you and your doctor will decide which type of birth control is best. You’ll talk about:
Your lifestyle. Thinking about how you live every single day can help. If you’re busy and on the go, a short-acting hormonal birth control might not be a good fit.
Your future. If you want to start a family one day, but not now, long-acting reversible contraceptives might be best. Permanent birth control is an option if you’re sure you don’t want children.
Your budget. Most insurance plans cover prescription birth control at no additional cost to you. If you don’t have insurance, here are costs to consider:
- Birth control pills cost $50 a month or $600 per year
- IUDs can cost up to $1,300 as a one-time upfront cost over the 3-10 years you have it in place
- A birth control shot can cost up to $150 per injection, so with four injections per year that’s $600 per year
- Female sterilization ranges in cost from $1,500 to $6,000