When you think of birth control, the first image that likely comes to mind is the little compact that dispenses pills out of a ring. While the pill is one method of birth control, there are several other means of preventing pregnancy that have different benefits and drawbacks. If you are unsure which type of birth control may be a good fit for you, continue reading to learn more about some of the most common forms.
Condoms are one of the oldest forms of birth control out there. The first documented use of condoms dates back to the 1500s. They cost as little as $0.04 per unit and are available at most grocery and convenience stores, making them extremely affordable and accessible. A condom has the benefit of being able to protect you not just from pregnancy, but also from sexually transmitted infections. When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective. This statistic, however, only applies when a condom is used correctly. Unfortunately, only 39% of high school students in America are taught how to correctly put on and use a condom. Many people are unaware of the existence of the female condom (AKA internal condom). These are 95% effective when used correctly.
There are actually two types of birth control pills: combined, and progestin-only. Both of them are easily reversible should you decide that you want to have children. However, neither of them offers protection from sexually transmitted infections. Combination pills can decrease menstrual symptoms such as cramping, bleeding, PMS, and acne. However, taking combination pills can increase the risk of high cholesterol, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. A Progestin-only pill is a safer option in this respect. They must also be taken at the same time every day.
Plan B, or the morning after pill, is a form of birth control that temporarily delays ovulation. It must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Many people confuse Plan B with an abortion pill. This is misinformation, as Plan B will not impact an existing pregnancy. It will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Plan B is available at all major retail stores, with no prescription or identification required, making it accessible. It can cost anywhere between $40-$50, making it a less affordable option.
An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is one way of preventing pregnancy. These are over 99% effective. You can have an IUD placed and it will remain effective for several years without having to remember to take a pill every day. This is a great method if you want long-term birth control that is reversible. There are hormonal and non-hormonal options to choose from. An IUD, when placed up to 5 days after unprotected sex, can actually be used as a form of emergency contraception. One drawback is that they can be extremely painful to have placed and removed. They also offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections.
When discussing intimacy, it is so important to choose the right form of birth control. Some people may combine two methods (often a type of condom plus a pill or IUD) to increase effectiveness. The important thing is that you can choose what is best for you and your body.
Read also: 5 Signs You Need to Book a Gynecologist Appointment