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Birth Control Methods: An Overview

Updated on September 7, 2011

By this point, you should have made your choice!

Title: Timeless ~ Attribution License: ~ Photographer:dagwood21:
Title: Timeless ~ Attribution License: ~ Photographer:dagwood21:

Be Prepared!

When you make the decision (and it should be a decision) to become or be sexually active, there are a number of factors that will determine the birth control method you choose. Among them are your health, your religious and social beliefs, your age, and your marital status. The amount of money you are able to spend on birth control is also a consideration. When choosing a method of birth control, it is important that you take the time to completely examine your thoughts and your situation before settling on any option. The best time to do this is long before you need a method of birth control.

Among the things you will want to consider when deciding on a method of birth control is whether or not you want to have children at all. In today's world, having children is not a foregone conclusion. If you look in your heart and at your actual circumstances and feel that having children is just not for you, that's OK! Be responsible and consider sterilization. This is an excellent option for men and women. It is a 100% effective method of birth control. Both tubal ligation and vasectomy are simple out-patient procedures that you pay for one time.

Remember that there are lots of children in the world who need someone to care for them. This fact is a call to action in two ways. First, if you don't really want children, you certainly should not add more unwanted children to the mix. Second, if at some point you decide you do want children, there are lots of them longing for a loving home. Adoption is not the only option. Foster care or simply volunteering to help with children are excellent ways to "have" children responsibly.

Naturally, when considering birth control methods, you will want to choose the most effective one for you. Some methods of birth control require a great deal of responsibility and maturity on your part. If you are unable to plan and be prepared, these methods are not for you. If the method you choose is too inconvenient, you are unlikely to use it. If this is the case, no matter how effective it is when used properly, it won't be effective for you at all! Of course, if you are not in a monogamous relationship, the type of contraception you choose will be entirely up to you. If you are in a stable, monogamous relationship, talk your decision over with your partner. If you are in agreement on the method you use, you are far more likely to be consistent.

Think about your religious beliefs and decide which methods of birth control are consistent with your beliefs. If you are in doubt, you may wish to talk it over with your priest, pastor, rabbi, or other leader of your religion to get some ideas. Remember, though, that the ultimate decision is yours. You must choose a method that you are comfortable with and that you feel is right for you and your circumstances. If you can use a method of birth control in good conscience and you feel it is right for you in all other ways, then perhaps that method is the right one for you.

Be sure you understand all the downsides of any method of contraception you choose. These include frequent trips to a clinic or pharmacy, having to carry various paraphernalia around with you, having to watch a schedule, or perhaps having to put up with unwanted side effects caused by birth control pills. Additionally, some forms of contraception are very expensive. Be sure to talk over expense with your doctor and your insurance provider. It is important that you make a realistic choice that you can follow through with on a consistent basis.

Some forms of contraceptive pose health risks. Contraceptive creams, jellies and foam may cause an allergic reaction. Birth control pills and patches that are estrogen based may increase your risk of cancer - especially if you are over the age of 35 and smoke. An IUD may cause pain and may become imbedded in the uterine wall. Sterilization may or may not be reversible.

On the other hand, some forms of contraception bring health benefits. For example, if you have problems with irregular or very heavy menstrual periods, birth control pills and patches may help ease your symptoms. If you have a problem with vaginal dryness, you may find contraceptive gel helpful.

You will want to consider whether or not you want a contraceptive that also provides some protection against sexually transmitted diseases. If you are not in an established, monogamous relationship, the answer to this question is "Yes!" In this case, you will want to use condoms and a contraceptive gel, foam, or cream to minimize the risk of infection. It is a good idea to ALSO use a more reliable method of contraception such as birth control pills or patch, IUD, or sterilization. Condoms and creams, gels, and foam are not completely reliable to prevent pregnancy or STDs.

One method I have not mentioned here is the diaphragm. Used in conjunction with a contraceptive gel, a diaphragm has a good rate of success in preventing pregnancy. It used to be a highly favored form of birth control because it did not interfere with sensation and was fairly reliable. However, I think it is doubtful that many women choose to use a diaphragm today. They are very inconvenient and have a great tendency to go flying off across the room or out the window at very inopportune moments! Additionally, a diaphragm requires a great deal of care. If it is cleaned or stored improperly, tiny holes can develop that destroy its efficacy.

There are also, old-fashioned methods such as using a sponge soaked in vinegar as a diaphragm or douching immediately after intercourse. Then there is the "rhythm method" - counting the days between your periods and trying to figure out when you might be ovulating - or "pulling out" - stopping intercourse before ejaculation occurs. These methods flatly do not work! Don't use them.

Another thing that cannot be considered a method of birth control is abortion. The decision to have an abortion is a serious one. It is also one to be avoided. Surely, any woman who finds herself having a second abortion should very seriously consider sterilization as her method of birth control. Fortunately, because we have so many birth control options today, it is a decision no girl or woman should ever have to make. Be responsible and safe! Choose a method of birth control long before you need one.

Copyright:SuzanneBennett:December 29, 2009

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