Stop for a second and examine your life. There are lots of parts to think about. You have your work life, maybe a school life, and a personal life filled with hobbies. Then, there’s your sex life. It’s supposed to be great, healthy, and fun.
With pregnancy worries, though, sex can go from super to stressful in a heartbeat. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Effective birth control can wash away those fears. If preventing (or postponing) pregnancy is a must, keep reading to choose the best option for you.
1. Take a Pill
Looking for birth control that keeps your period on a predictable schedule? If so, the birth control pill may be the first method that pops to your mind. It’s been around for decades. Most contain a combination of two hormones, estrogen and progestin. When you take them correctly and consistently, they offer 99% protection from pregnancy.
The pill stops ovulation and keeps your uterine lining thin, making it harder for a fertilized egg to attach. There are many other health benefits linked to the pill. Many women report less acne, fewer cramps and headaches, and improved anemia symptoms. Some pills can increase your stroke risk, though, so be sure you’re choosing the pill that’s right for you.
2. Use a Patch or Wear a Ring
Patches work like pills and are equally as effective. They’re more convenient than pills, though, because you change them weekly instead of daily. You will have a visible patch on your arm, back, or stomach, however. Pregnancy protection starts immediately if you put a patch on during the first day of your period. Use a second method if you put the patch on later.
Vaginal rings are made of flexible plastic. Once they’re inserted, your body slowly absorbs the hormones to control your ovulation. Leave it in for three weeks, take it out for one week, then put another one in. Keep it in place during sex and check to make sure it hasn’t moved afterward.
3. Get a Shot
If you don’t mind needles, the birth control shot may be a good option for you. Every three months, your doctor administers the injection. You can get the shot in your muscles, such as your upper arm or buttocks, or simply under the skin. Overall, it provides 94% effectiveness.
It works by stopping ovulation and making your cervical mucus thicker. Basically, your cervix is the front door to your uterus, and the shot makes sure it’s closed. You’ll get immediate pregnancy protection if you get the shot on day one of your period. If you wait until later in your cycle, you’ll need a second form of birth control for an additional week.
4. Choose an Intrauterine Device (IUD)
If you’re looking for a longer-term option that gives you peace of mind, consider an intrauterine device (IUD). Your doctor implants the small device into your uterus during an outpatient procedure. They’re highly effective — 99%, in fact — and they can last between 3-12 years.
Unlike pills, patches, shots, and rings, you can choose whether your IUD relies on hormones. Some use progestin to stop ovulation. They also make your cervical mucus thicker, slowing your partner’s sperm way down. That’s an added layer of protection in case an egg does escape your ovaries.
Other IUDs are made of copper, a metal that repels sperm. Copper IUDs can also be an emergency contraception option if you forget your birth control or it fails. Just keep in mind, these devices don’t offer any protection from sexually transmitted infections.
5. Try an Implant
If you don’t like the idea of an implant in your uterus, don’t worry. There’s another implant option that offers long-lasting pregnancy prevention. This one is about the size of a matchstick. It’s a thin rod that goes under the skin of your upper arm. Like IUDs, it’s 99% effective and can offer around five years of protection.
Similar to other hormonal options, these implants use progestin to bring your ovulation to a stop. Just like IUDs, it makes your cervical mucus thicker. There’s an added benefit with the implant, as well. Many women report their periods are lighter while the implant is in place. Pregnancy prevention and some period relief — that’s a win-win!
6. Opt for Sterilization
OK, admittedly, this option is a much bigger deal. You probably know this strategy better as “getting your tubes tied.” It’s a surgery that involves closing off or removing your fallopian tubes. That means your eggs can’t get from your ovaries to your uterus.
The procedure is 99% effective, so you can definitely let go of your pregnancy worries. Just know that it’s permanent. Do a lot of thinking before you make this choice. If you think you may want kids someday, this method probably isn’t for you.
Routinely worrying about pregnancy can take some of the joy and spontaneity out of your sex life. Choosing a form of birth control that leaves little room for error can put your mind at ease. It’s important to find the option that works best for you. Once you find the one that’s right, you can put your baby concerns on the back burner.