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What Are Your Birth Control Options?

There’s a dizzying array of birth control options that can help you better control your family planning. In fact, choosing the one that’s right for you can be confusing, thanks to the abundance of choices.

To help you narrow down the field of possibilities, Dr. Gary Willen and our team here at Tahoe Women’s Care pulled together a brief overview of your birth control options.

The three main approaches to birth control

The first step in choosing a birth control option is to determine which approach is right for your situation. There are three main types of birth control, including barrier, hormonal, and natural.

Barrier methods

By barrier methods, we mean anything that prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing your egg. Included in this category are contraceptives like condoms, sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicide.

Hormonal

Another way to prevent an unplanned pregnancy is to tackle the issue on a hormonal level. This option regulates your ovulation to prevent pregnancy. All hormonal birth control methods operate off this principle. The variations in choices boil down to delivery of the hormones, which we can accomplish through:

Choosing which of these delivery methods is right for you will likely be a matter of lifestyle considerations (more on this in a minute).

Natural

If you’d prefer to take a more natural approach to birth control, you can try outercourse, fertility awareness, withdrawal, and/or abstinence.

We did not include a vasectomy or tubal ligation on this list because, while very effective, these are more permanent options.

Lifestyle considerations

If you’re still unclear as to which birth control method to choose, you may want to take your lifestyle into consideration. 

For example, if you don’t want the hassle of a daily pill or remembering to have condoms available, you may want to choose a method that you don’t have to think about. In this case, an IUD is a device that offers years of protection (3-12 depending upon which IUD you choose) and there’s nothing you need to think about, either daily or in the heat of the moment.

As well, some birth control options are only as effective as how you use them. For example, using a diaphragm without spermicide lowers your protection. Or, skipping your birth control pills regularly can greatly increase your chances of getting pregnant.

If cultural or religious considerations are important, please talk to us about how you can best protect yourself against unplanned pregnancy while honoring your beliefs.

Efficacy

This last consideration is an important one — how well does the birth control work? Typically, the hormonal options offer superior efficacy (91% for patches up to 99% for implants and IUDs). A great resource for comparing the effectiveness of various methods is this website by Planned Parenthood.

If you have further questions about which birth control option is right for your unique circumstances, please contact our office in Carson City, Nevada, to set up an appointment.

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