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9 Birth Control Questions to Ask About New Options

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Choosing the right birth control (BC) is kind of like choosing the right partner: What you need from it changes over the course of your life, and any option is going to come with pros and cons to consider—so it may take some trial-and-error before you find “the one.”

“How do you figure out what’s right for you? What are your priorities? You’re going to land on something different depending on what your Venn diagram looks like,” Aileen Gariepy, M.D., an associate professor of ob-gyn and reproductive sciences who researches birth control options at the Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF.

Whether you want to get back on birth control after having kids, stop getting such heavy periods, or just can’t stand the side effects of your current pick, a few key questions can help you sort out your wants and needs before you open up a conversation with your doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or nurse midwife (they’d all be happy to discuss with you). Consider this your pre-appointment contraception questionnaire.

1. Do I want to try to conceive in the near future or are kids definitely off the table?

Picking out a new birth control can open you up to all sorts of important conversations, and one at the top of the list is whether you want to have biological children someday soon, in a handful of years, or never. 

For example, if you have a healthy sex life but can’t fathom the idea of an unplanned pregnancy right now, a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) like an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant (a tiny plastic rod placed under the skin of your upper arm) makes sense. “You set it and forget it,” says Dr. Gariepy. With these picks, your chances of getting pregnant in one year are lower than 1% and they can be removed at any time, per Planned Parenthood.

Here’s how long you’re covered with each:

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  • Nonhormonal copper IUD: up to 12 years
  • Hormonal IUD: up to three to six years
  • Implant: up to three years

If, on the other hand, you and your partner are talking baby names, options like the pill, patch, or vaginal ring, could be a good choice. When used perfectly these methods are about 98 to 99% effective, but often life gets in the way, and you may forget to take a pill or change the ring. So, for most people, they’re 91% effective and you can quit using them whenever you’d like.

Barrier methods or family planning options like condoms and avoiding sex during ovulation fall into the riskiest category when it comes to avoiding a positive pregnancy test with 72 to 88% effectiveness. To put that into perspective, that means you’re about 20 times more likely to end up pregnant in one year if you opt for them over an IUD or implant, says Dr. Gariepy.

Source: Self

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