Choosing A Birth Control Method


There are many factors that go into the decision to choose a birth control method. This article is intended to be an overview to help you to think about these choices, and make a decision about what method is best for you.

There are many factors that go into the decision to choose a birth control method. This article is intended to be an overview to help you to think about these choices, and make a decision about what method is best for you. I'll not go into individual methods in any detail, as there are plenty of resources for that, and there are some excellent links at the end of this article. With this information you should be able to visit your health care provider and make these important decisions for yourself. Two books I highly recommend for all women are: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, and now in its third printing: Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christine Northrup. These books are available from our Young Women's Book Store. Watch for future articles which will expand on information from these resources.

As a CNM and women's health practitioner, through the years I have seen a wide variety of women with a variety of situations. I have come to see what I now feel is a basic truth for women about family planning and birth control. It is very clear to me that the decisions we make when we are younger impact the way we become when we are older. This is especially true when thinking about birth control methods. Things to consider are: the timing of pregnancies, ways we prevent pregnancy and the number of pregnancies. All will impact us as we age and head into the menopause years. Research is still evolving, and we are more and more looking at both the cause and effect of a particular choice, and the risks and benefits of a particular choice.
Planned Parenthood and other resources have helpful lists of general things to consider:

* How well will it fit into your lifestyle?
* How effective will it be?
* How safe will it be?
* How affordable will it be?
* How reversible will it be?
* Will it help prevent sexually transmitted infections?

Having sex is about making choices.

* We choose when we are ready and when we want to wait.
* We choose our partners.
* We choose what we want to do and what we don't want to do with our partners.
* We can choose to do it in the safest way.

The difference of opinion lies in the affect of a particular method on a particular individual, and the long term benefits as well as long term or potential risks of a method. All of the methods have been researched, but how they impact a particular individual is, of course very individual. Here are some further thoughts for you to think about as you think about
planning a family or preventing a pregnancy.

1. Find a practitioner you feel comfortable with to discuss your contraceptive needs and medical history. Health care practitioners can
explain face to face the positive and negative aspects of a particular
2. The purpose of birth control is to prevent pregnancy, and this is a key factor to remember. Women need to make these choices from the onset of their periods until menopause is certain, and this could be as long as 40-50 years for some women.
3. "In order to choose the right birth control method for you, you need to decide honestly where you are in you own life--and how much responsibility you are willing to assume for your own fertility. P 334 Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, 1994.
There are two key aspects of this: your mental state of mind and your physical health. Other factors that you need to consider are: financial considerations, individual health histories, and what will be required of you by using a particular method.
4. Feeling psychologically ready for a child is critical. Feeling psychologically ready to use birth control is also important.
5. Every method of Birth Control has its risks and benefits. The Birth Control pill in general is an effective method for women. But, it does have risks. It is a synthetic chemical, and long term use might impact a woman's cycles. some women don't like how they feel on the Birth Control pill. those that develop the birth control pill are constantly looking at these interactions, and bringing out new pills. Women do get pregnant on the Birth Control Pill. Women have irregular cycles on the Birth Control Pill.
6. Each woman is unique, and the impact of a particular method on a women are unique. An example of this is a tubal ligation. Some women have a tubal and have no problems from it. Sometimes problems develop after the tubal, but can't be directly connected to the tubal. Things women have told me include: "I started noticing more PMS symptoms following my tubal, " or "My periods changed in frequency and intensity following my tubal," Christiane Northrup suggests: "A tubal ligation changes the blood supply to the ovaries somewhat. There may even be a slight risk of an earlier menopause following tubal ligation if the blood supply to the ovary become severely compromised, but this is rare."(p 346, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, 1st edition). Of course a tubal is to be considered permanent sterilization, but sometimes women want to reverse them. This becomes a costly and anxiety producing situation.
7. The Depo Provera injection can be a wonderful method for some women. For others, they notice depression, or excessive bleeding, or more moodiness. Return to fertility might take up to two years, and thus makes spacing children a bit of a concern.
8. Natural Family Planning requires familiarity with the menstrual cycle and the signs of ovulation. This can be a very effective method for some families, but requires dedication to learning all of the details of menstrual cycles.
9. Nutrition, smoking, other health conditions, age, weight and lifestyle habits all affect how a particular method might affect a woman. Genetics and family history of specific medical conditions will all affect how a particular method will apply to an individual. Being very overweight or underweight can have a dramatic impact both on your life now and your life as you move into your 50's. Research is providing us with information about the potential impact of these conditions, and also with ways to help women deal with these conditions. Particular birth control methods might make these conditions worse or better. These are important things to discuss with your practitioner.
10. Set Being Healthy as your optimum goal through whatever decision you make.

Even when thinking about a particular birth control method, or whether to
prevent or accomplish a pregnancy, realistically look at what will be the
best for you in the short run, and also the long run.

For a listing of related Web Sites check out the Birth Control Links:


For a listing of related Web Sites check out the Birth Control Links:


Nutrition Specialist

IR, Diabetes and PCOS Relationships

Insulin Resistance

Recommended Reading:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup.

©Pat Sonnenstuhl, ARNP, CNM. May, 1999

Web Midwife:


"Yard by Yard, everything is hard, Inch by Inch, anything's a cinch !"

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