There are a many different kinds of contraceptive methods out there to prevent pregnancy. But deciding which method is right for you is a very personal decision. Only you completely understand your body, your lifestyle and your needs. Do what feels right for you, not what someone else tells you to do. We’re just here to give you the facts and help you navigate through all the options out there.
Relax, pour yourself a cup of tea and let’s get started!.
Guide for choosing a contraceptive method
If pregnancy for you is a long long way away (i.e. more than 3 years) – then the implant, copper IUD and hormonal IUD are your best options. Their effectiveness can range from 3 to 12 years. In addition, these methods allow you to recover your fertility almost immediately after removal.
If that sounds too long, some other shorter-term options can include the injectable that lasts 1 to 3 months.
Some other methods provide you protection for single use, some need to be prepared previous to intercourse as the diaphragm, spermicides, sponge, cervical cap and the ring. Also in this category we can find the female and male condom. Remember, you should use a different condom each time.
There are many myths about the use of hormones as a contraceptive method – especially the awful side effects that come along with it. However, these are not really rooted in science, and there are many studies have proven their safety.
There are also many different combinations of hormones. It isn’t one size fits all – different bodies metabolize hormones in different ways. Most hormones contain progesterone, or a combination of progesterone and estrogen which helps regulate your period and prevent pregnancy. In fact, hormonal birth control can also help women who have endometriosis or fibroids which cause severe pain and heavy bleeding. Some options you can consider are the Hormonal IUD, the implant, contraceptive pill or the patch.
If you didn’t have a good experience with one method, don’t write hormonal contraception off completely! There may be another option that works for your body. However, if you prefer not to use hormones: the copper IUD is a great alternative that, in addition to being very effective, is long lasting and does not require more than an annual review with your doctor. You can also use the condom (female and male).
Self-managed or with visits to the doctor?
Methods such as the patch, the pill, the condoms, the cervical cap, the diaphragm or spermicides are often available over the counter which allow you to administer them yourself without going to a doctor. With these methods, however, the responsibility to use it consistently and correctly falls entirely on you. For example, with the pill, you’ll need to remember to take it daily; with condoms you’ll need to put it on correctly and use it consistently for it to work!
If you have a hard time with this, then you may want to consider a more hassle-free long acting method:, the IUD, implant or the injectable. The IUD (hormonal and non-hormonal) and implant will need to be inserted in a doctor’s office; while the injectable will require you to visit the doctor every 1, 2 or 3 months, depending on the type you choose.
And if your relationships are more sporadic then you can use “barrier methods” like condoms or the diaphragm and spermicides, these methods have the advantage of being able to be used only when you will have sexual activity.
The emergency contraceptive pill is the best option if you have doubts about having used a contraceptive method correctly or when there was no protection at all. This pill can come in either a one or two pills formulation, both are equally effective.
Remember to take it as soon as possible within the first 72 hours after sexual intercourse as the effectiveness is reduced with each day.
Emergency contraception doesn’t affect fertility, and there is no delay in the return to fertility after taking ECPs according to World Health Organization.
Also, the Copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception. It works up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and you’ll be protected for up to 12 years.
Ask your doctor
Do not hesitate to visit your doctor for a consultation, depending on your medical history or your age, it is possible that one method is better than another for you. But also do your own research about the contraceptive options, and ask your doctor about it. If it helps, bring a friend or your partner along to navigate all the options!
If you want to know more about the available contraceptive methods, visit https://findmymethod.org and try our Contraceptive Finder according to your preferences, you can also compare the methods side by side.
- World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research (WHO/RHR) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Knowledge for Health Project. Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers (2018 update). Baltimore and Geneva: CCP and WHO, 2018
- Burkman R, Schlesselman JJ, Zieman M. Safety concerns and health benefits associated with oral contraception. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2004, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105794
- Emergency contraception, World Health Organization, February, 2018, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/emergency-contraception