Birth control and contraception (overview)
There are many options to choose from when it comes to birth control (a selective method used to prevent pregnancy). Birth control is also known as ‘contraception’ and is mostly used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Some methods can also protect against contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Options range from natural family planning and over-the-counter birth control products to prescription contraceptives and even sterilisation. When considering which method is best for you (and or / your partner) it is wise to carefully consider your lifestyle, personal preferences and health status.
Questions you may ask yourself are:
‘How do I feel about planning for sex?’, ‘Am I comfortable inserting birth control devices into my body?’, ‘Would I rather take a pill at the same time every day or track my fertile days in my cycle?’ or ‘Do I want to end my ability to conceive or father a child?’
In deciding about the most appealing method for you, it’s important to honestly assess yourself and your needs, as well as those of a potential partner or the status of your relationship. Each may have different birth control wishes which may be influenced by your sexual activity (if you have sex often or you are not in a monogamous relationship). Whatever decision you reach with a partner, it is important that it is mutually beneficial.
You may only want to make use of birth control for a period of time before strategically planning to conceive and have children. You may want to make a more permanent choice (preventing pregnancy or the fathering of a child indefinitely) and consider an option that you are most comfortable with.
Birth control options come in various forms. No single method is necessarily right for everyone. It’s important to know what the different options are, understand how they work or affect the body, and consider the pros and cons before making a selection.
Questions to ask yourself
How important is it for you to avoid a pregnancy? Before making any decision, it is important to carefully assess your reasons, and their level of importance, for wanting a method of birth control in the first place. The best method is usually the one that offers the most protection every time you have sex and is easy and convenient to use.
When considering the various types, their pros and cons, and your own preferences, it is also important to consider the following types of questions:
- Is it safe?
- How effective is it?
- What are the costs involved?
- How often do I need to take it or use?
- Will this contraception method require a visit with a doctor or a prescription?
- Is this method easy to use?
- Will I remember to make use of this method?
- Are there any components or ingredients that I may be allergic to?
- Does it contain hormones?
- Could there be other side effects?
- Will it protect me (to some degree) against sexually transmitted diseases and infections?
- Is any preparation right before having sex necessary?
- Is a quick reversal possible?
- Will it reduce monthly bleeding and cramping during menstruation? (Females)
- Is this method noticeable? Will my sex partner be aware that I am using it?
- Will this method affect my sex drive / sensation during sex?