If you're a sexually active female that doesn't want kids, currently or you know, ever, chances are you've had some frustrating moments trying to figure out what birth control is right for you.
While there are plenty of options when it comes to birth control, physicians don't have the time to go over everything that we should consider. Because of that, when deciding on birth control, it's important to do your own research.
When I was deciding on the birth control method that I wanted, I knew I never wanted kids, so I opted for a permanent method: a tubal ligation. Before that, I knew hormonal birth control wouldn't be right for me, as I really hated the side effects (weight gain and mood swings) that came with the required daily dosage.
It's clear that the choice to go on birth control, and which birth control to choose, is a completely personal one.
Luckily, you're not alone when it comes to making the tough decision.
Below, you'll find a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding to go on birth control. There are a lot of factors.
1. How Expensive Is It?
Different birth control methods cost different amounts. In turn, what type of method you choose will impact whether your expense is one-time or on-going.
Things like once-daily oral contraceptives (the Pill) and quarterly shots (Depo-Provera) are charged whenever a renewal is required (so a month for the pill, every three months for the shot, and so on). While it may be covered fully or partially by insurance, you could be looking at up to $50 per month for the Pill, or around $80-100 for something like the patch or shot if it's not.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all birth control is supposed to be covered by most insurance companies, but that may be subject to change depending on a possible change in the law. Either way, an on-going method of birth control will be billed every time you need to re-up.
A longer-term solution, something like a hormonal IUD or implant, won't be as expensive monthly, but could cost up to $1,000 upfront.
Keep in mind that you'll also need regular check-ups with your gynecologist to make sure your body is healthy and continuing to respond well to your chosen method.
2. Does It Fit My Lifestyle?
Having to take a pill at the same time every day may not be your jam. That said, you may also not be a huge fan of shots or having to insert a ring every month.
When deciding on a birth control, consider whether it will fit your lifestyle overall. If you don't really like needles, but wouldn't mind swallowing a pill, then that narrows down your options. You may also want to consider if you'd like a method that will have you visiting the doctor's office less, like opting for an implant.
You can also think about how reversible your chosen method will be in the future. If you know you'll want to get pregnant right away, something like a non-hormonal IUD might be right for you.
If you never want to get pregnant at all, you could try something permanent.
3. Will It Interact With Anything I'm Currently Taking?
Unfortunately, this is a question not a lot of women consider before going on hormonal birth control.
If you decide to take the Pill or another hormonal method, be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it will affect any other medication (even natural supplements) you are currently taking. Hormonal birth control can interact with everything from antibiotics to migraine medicines to anti-anxiety and anti-depressing medications.
It can even interact with medicines used to treat things like a common yeast infections.
Be sure to check with your physician about anything you're currently taking before you decide on a method of birth control.
4. Am I At Risk Of Any Health Conditions?
Certain women may have a personal history of certain health problems that may make them less than ideal candidates for hormonal birth control.
For example, combined hormonal methods aren't great for smokers, those who've had migraine auras, have diabetes. Birth control can also increase the risk for things like stroke and heart attack by causing blood clots.
If you have a family history of either one, you'll be putting yourself at even more risk by going on hormonal birth control.
Having a pre-existing health condition that you don't consider when going on birth control might not just be inconvenient, it could also be a life-threatening decision.
5. Am I OK With Any Possible Side Effects?
Hormonal methods of birth control are notorious for having both good and bad side effects.
While the Pill may cause you to retain water and get seriously moody (like it did to me), it can also help clear up acne and make your PMS a bit easier to deal with. Similarly, the shot can make your period come less often overall, but can also make you nauseous and give you headaches.
Not only that, but if you miss a dose of your daily pill, you could find yourself with spotting or light bleeding.
Before you know it, it could end up lasting for your entire cycle.
While these side effects are only a possibility, it's important to consider everything that may occur once going on birth control.
6. Do I Want A Reversible Method?
Hormonal methods of birth control are generally reversible.
Taking something like an IUD out means you can get pregnant again right away. Similarly, when you get off the Pill, fertility comes back to normal within two to three months.
If you don't want kids right now, but want them eventually, a reversible method is a good choice. Keep in mind that if you use any kind of reversible hormonal birth control, you'll still be needing to use a barrier method, like condoms, to protect against STDs.
If you don't want kids ever, you may want to consider a permanent method of birth control, like tubal ligation or transcervical sterilization. I knew I never wanted kids and after having a tubal ligation, am became happier knowing I didn't have to deal with any regular method of birth control anymore.
Consider what you want in present and the future when deciding on your birth control.
Deciding what to do about your birth control plan is a very specific choice as an individual, and no one will be able to make it for you. Only you'll know what's best for your body.