Not sure which type of birth control is right for you? Whether you’re just not ready to start a family or if your family is already complete, birth control can help you achieve your goals of spacing or preventing pregnancies. When it comes to choosing birth control, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Thankfully, that’s where family planning services come in.
Family planning services refer to a variety of services to help you plan your family the way you want — and that includes birth control counseling. At Georgia Center For Women in Atlanta, Morrow, and Emory Midtown, our experienced team of providers can help you select the best birth control based on your personal needs and childbearing goals.
While we’ll help you find the birth control option that fits your lifestyle, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with all of your options. In this guide, we’ll cover the main types of birth control and who might benefit most from each one.
Types of birth control
While condoms are well-known for their ability to help reduce your risk of catching an STD, they aren’t as effective as other methods of birth control. They also aren’t your only option. Below is a list of the most common types of birth control.
Barrier methods prevent pregnancy by creating a barrier between sperm and egg. Barrier methods of contraception include male and female condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap, and spermicidal foam.
The main benefit is that barrier methods are easy to reverse should you decide to start a family. This means that when you stop using condoms or diaphragms, you can become pregnant the next time you have intercourse because you remove the barrier keeping sperm from fertilizing your egg. You don’t need to plan for months in advance or schedule any procedures to reverse your birth control.
Hormonal birth control
Hormonal birth control methods prevent pregnancy through the use of hormones. This includes birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Unlike condoms, hormone birth control doesn’t just switch off. When you stop using hormonal birth control (whether that’s a patch or pill), it can take time for your hormone levels to normalize. This means that it may take 3-6 months (or more) for you to become pregnant.
Hormonal birth control may be ideal if you would like children in the future, but not in the very near future.
Intrauterine devices (IUD)
If you’re looking for a set-it-and-forget-it as well as easy-to-reverse birth control method, then consider an IUD. These devices are inserted into your uterus, and depending on which brand you choose, can safely remain there for 3-10 years. Some IUDs prevent pregnancy with hormones, but the copper IUD is hormone-free.
After we remove your device during a routine office visit, you can immediately try to conceive, and a 2018 study notes that your fertility should return at the same rate as if you were on a birth control pill.
IUDs are ideal for women who are done having children as well as for women who know it will be several years before they desire to start a family.
For couples who don’t want children or who have already reached their desired family size, permanent birth control is an option. Often called sterilization, permanent birth control is an option for both males and females. This type of pregnancy prevention is available for men (vasectomy) and women (tubal ligation). Still, we only recommend it if you’re certain you don’t want to have children in the future.
Natural family planning
This type of birth control tunes into your natural fertility signs and uses your body’s own signs to gauge fertility. No matter which option you are considering, we can help you learn more about each method.
Questions to ask yourself
Before we can recommend the right birth control, take some time to yourself and ask yourself the following questions.
What kind of birth control do I need?
When it comes to picking your birth control, it’s essential to first determine why you need birth control. Birth control is most well-known for its ability to prevent pregnancy, but that’s just one purpose. Birth control provides three benefits:
- Pregnancy prevention
- Prevention against STDs
- Regulation of your period
If your main goal is to prevent or space a pregnancy, you might compare the effective rate of each option. Patches, pills, IUDs, or implants tend to have higher effective rates when compared with withdrawal or condoms. It’s crucial to note, however, that none of the pills, implants, or patches protect against STDs.
If your main goal is both pregnancy prevention and STD prevention, it’s possible to use both condoms and another form of protection. While condoms are highly effective against STDs, they’re not 100% effective at preventing pregnancies. Testing has shown condoms to be 98% reliable when used correctly. However, condoms aren’t always used correctly, which leads to 15 out of 100 people conceiving while using a condom.
Does it fit into my lifestyle?
Not all birth control methods are maintenance-free. Oral contraceptives, for example, must be taken each day at the same time. If you have a schedule that changes daily, it may be hard to stick with a set schedule.
We also offer birth control options that require no maintenance after insertion. With IUDs, you can expect a 99% pregnancy prevention because IUDs have no risk of human error (like forgetting a pill) interfering with their effectiveness.
Do I want children in the future?
Just because you don’t want kids now doesn’t mean you won’t change your mind at some point. Because of that, it’s important to consider the reversibility of your birth control method.
For more information on choosing the right birth control, call one of our three Georgia Center For Women clinics. You can also request an appointment here on the website.