Which Birth Control Method is the Best Choice for me?
Your age and where you are in your sexual life can be a big factor in your decision. Someone in a long-term monogamous relationship might prefer different methods than someone in a new relationship or someone who has multiple sexual partners. Some contraception choices usually aren’t great ideas for teenagers for example. You might want to have kids later in life, so surgeries like vasectomy or tubal ligation (getting your tubes “tied”) are probably out.
You might also want to think about doubling-up protection during sex, so you’re protected from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If you’re having sex without a condom, you’re putting yourself at risk of catching an infection. Condoms by themselves can prevent pregnancy too, but aren’t as effective.
Talk to your health-care professional about your choices, and you can also discuss contraception with your partner before making your decision.
The most effective methods
Hormonal methods are the most effective. If you're in good health, the contraceptive pill, patch, or the vaginal ring are great choices since they can be used long-term.
If you are interested in having lighter and fewer periods each year
Certain hormonal contraceptives can result in fewer and lighter periods each year. Contraceptives containing the Progestin hormone given by injection (Depo-Provera), or in a Intrauterine device (Mirena) usually results in fewer periods.
If contraception fails
If your contraception method has failed, emergency contraception is available at most pharmacies.
If you smoke
If you are over 35 and smoke, you may need to discontinue using birth control pills, except for the progestin-only pill (POP). You may wish to consider using an intrauterine copper device (IUCD). Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you would like help to quit smoking.
Preventing sexually transmitted infections
The risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is greatly reduced by using dual protection – using a condom with your choice of birth control. You may decide to use a condom if you are in a new relationship (until you both get tested for STIs) or if either one of you is sexually active with other partners.
If you have just given birth
If you are breastfeeding, intrauterine copper devices (IUCDs), progestin-only contraceptives (POP), and condoms are good choices because they do not affect the quality or quantity of your breast milk.
If you wish to continue using a diaphragm or cervical cap after giving birth, these must be re-fitted two months after delivery.
Remember, there is no grace period after a pregnancy – it is possible to become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth! You can use hormonal methods such as the Pill or the Patch and be guaranteed a quick return to fertility if you decide to have a child.
If you have had an abortion
If you have had an abortion, you may wish to choose a more effective means of birth control. If you wish to have a child at some point in the future, hormonal methods like birth control pills, the contraceptive patch, or the new vaginal ring are all good choices. If you prefer a non-hormonal method, intrauterine copper devices (IUCDs) also provide long-term pregnancy protection. If you are certain that you will never want to have children in the future, something more permanent like tubal ligation or vasectomy may be the right choice for you or your partner.
If you are approaching menopause
If you are approaching menopause, low-dose oral contraceptives may help you deal with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It will also provide contraception in the event that ovulation is still occurring sporadically.
Planned Parenthood have an online questionnaire that can help you choose a contraceptive method that suits your financial, physical, and social needs (warning: this questionnaire exists in English and Spanish only)