During your appointment, you have a few things to discuss. You'll want to figure out what type of birth control is right for you and what side effects it can cause. But first, you need to get the conversation started.
How to Bring Up Birth Control
Sex and birth control can be hard to talk about, even with a doctor. Choose the doctor you trust most to manage your birth control, whether that's your primary care doctor, your OB/GYN, or a doctor at your local health clinic. Some states require you to get your parents' permission to get birth control if you're under age 18.
If you're not comfortable talking about sex, remember that your visit is confidential. Everything you say is between you and your doctor only.
The conversation will be easier if you come to your appointment prepared. Read up on all the available birth control methods. Think about your goals.
Bring a list of questions like these to ask your doctor:
- What are my birth control options?
- How effective is each one?
- What are the possible risks or side effects?
- Which one do you recommend for me?
- Which methods protect me against STDs?
Choosing the Right Method
Several different birth control methods are available, including:
- Hormonal methods like the pill, implant, patch (Xulane), ring (NuvaRing), or shot (Depo-Provera)
- Copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Barrier methods like the condom, diaphragm, and contraceptive sponge
You can narrow your choices by thinking about your needs and answering the following questions:
Do you have more than one sexual partner? The female or male condom will protect you against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as pregnancy.
Do you want a method you don't have to think about? If you don't want the hassle of taking a pill every day, using a condom or diaphragm each time you have sex, or replacing a patch once a week, choose a long-acting method like the IUD or implant. They'll keep protecting you for 3–10 years with very little effort on your part.
Are you worried about pregnancy? The IUD and implant are more than 99% effective.
Do you want to have uninterrupted sex? Don't choose a method you have to put on or in right before sex, like the condom or sponge.
Do you want to get pregnant in the near future? The pill, patch, ring, and condom are short-acting and easily reversible.
Talk About Side Effects and Risks
Each type of birth control has its own side effects and risks. Generally speaking, hormonal methods like the pill and patch can cause nausea, headaches, sore breasts, and spotting between periods. The copper IUD may cause heavier and more painful periods. The shot can weaken bones.
Some types of birth control may be risky if you have certain medical conditions. Hormonal birth control methods like the pill, patch, and ring are more likely to cause blood clots in women who smoke, are over age 35, or have a history of blood clots and stroke. Doctors don’t recommend IUDs for women with pelvic infections or copper allergies (for the copper type).
Discuss your health history with your doctor to find the safest birth control method for you.
What Can I Afford?
Prices differ based on the type of birth control you choose. The birth control pill can range from $15 to $50 per month. An IUD can cost $1,300 to $1,500 to insert, but it will keep working for a few years.
If you don't have insurance or your insurance won't cover the cost of your birth control method, Medicaid or other government programs may be able to help.