Comparing Contraceptive Options: A Quick Guide To Birth Control

The United States is home to about 61 million women between the ages of 15 and 44, and a large portion of these women are sexually active but do not intend to become pregnant, unlike many women suffering from infertility who contact institutions like Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine for medical fertility treatments. Without use of contraception, these women are at high risk for an unintended pregnancy. Nonpermanent methods of birth control are the most popular among men and women in their childbearing years. Understanding the top methods of contraception may help you determine which one will work best for you.

1. Birth Control Pills

For a variety of reasons, the birth control pill is one of the most popular forms of contraception used by women. Certain pills can reduce hot flashes and ease irregular periods. Some pills also allow women to have a period once every three months. Three types of pills are popular:

Combination Pills (LoEstrin, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Yasmin)
Extended Cycle Pills (Seasonale, Lybrel, Seasonique)
Progestin-Only Pills (Nor-QD, Ovrette, Micronor)

Women should avoid birth control pills if they smoke and are over the age of 35. Estrogen levels present in pills can cause blood clots in some women. Progestin-only pills work better for women who are diabetic or who smoke.

2. Condoms

Condoms are the only method of contraception that help prevent pregnancy as well as passing off sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, condoms are easily used with other methods of contraception, allowing you to double up on safety. They are inexpensive and easy to find at drug stores. You can even purchase them discreetly online.

The downsides to condom use include the fact that they are not as effective as other methods, especially when not used consistently.

3. IUD (Intrauterine Device)

One of the newer methods of birth control that is also considered highly effective is the IUD. Implanted into the uterus by a medical professional, this method of birth control is intended to stay put for years at a time. Researchers suggest that the IUD leads to pregnancy is less than 1% of all women who use it.

The major downside to implantation of an IUD is the possibility for cramping. If you regularly experience cramps during menstruation, this method may worsen them.

4. NuvaRing

The vaginal ring is increasingly popular as women seek out hormonal methods of contraception other than the birth control pill. Designed with flexible plastic, this pill uses estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. Users simply insert the ring into the vagina for three weeks and remove it for the fourth week, during which they will have their period.

NuvaRing is not the ideal choice for women who smoke or those who are at risk for blood clots.

Still confused about which contraceptive method is right for your body? Consulting with a professional is a great idea. They can inform you of risks and benefits specific to your health and lifestyle.

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