Birth control or contraceptive methods include several medications, devices, or tricks for preventing pregnancy. Birth control methods vary in their mode of action, effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, and the presence of any beneficial or undesirable effects. You can choose the birth control method most appropriate for you depending on factors such as your overall health, presence of any underlying health conditions, your wish to have children now or in the future, and your need to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How can I choose the best birth control method?
There is no fixed “best” birth control or contraceptive method. Your doctor or nurse can help you choose the method that works best for you depending upon
- Your overall health.
- Your desire to get pregnant in the near or distant future.
- The effectiveness or success rate of the birth control method.
- How sexually active you are.
- Risks of any side effects.
- Your ease of using the method.
- The number of sex partners you may have.
- Any underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Your age.
What are the various types of birth control methods?
There are five main types of birth control methods:
- Hormonal methods: They mainly act by preventing ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary). They include various options such as pills, mini-pills, vaginal rings, shots, and patches. They need to be taken every day or month to prevent pregnancy. You need to take the injectable options or shots from your doctor every 3 months. The doctor applies a contraceptive skin patch once a week for 3 weeks, with no patch on the fourth week to enable menstrual periods.
- Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC): LARC devices include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. The doctor inserts these devices one time, and you do not need to remember to use birth control every day or month. Depending on the method used, they may last for 3-10 years.
- Barrier methods: They act by preventing the sperms from entering the uterus. They include male condoms, female condoms, diaphragm, spermicides, and contraceptive sponges.
- Emergency contraception: It is to be used after situations such as a broken condom or unprotected sex. It includes copper IUDs and emergency contraceptive pills.
- Sterilization: It prevents pregnancy for the rest of your life through surgery or medical procedure. It includes male vasectomy and female tubal ligation or occlusion.
Which birth control is the best for acne?
A dermatologist may prescribe birth control or oral contraceptive pills to treat acne. This is especially done when conventional methods such as topical creams and oral medications such as antibiotics have failed and other underlying conditions have been ruled out. Hormonal imbalance is generally associated with acne, and oral contraceptive pills help correct that issue. You must take the pills only under a doctor’s guidance because they may cause side effects such as blood clots, onset of migraines, heart diseases, and high blood pressure, especially in women with certain risk factors (such as obesity and diabetes).
Which birth control is the best for weight loss?
Women often report that they gain weight after opting certain birth control methods such as pills and contraceptive patches. There has not been any conclusive evidence to prove that the birth control method causes weight gain. Theoretically, the gain in weight due to birth control may be a result of fluid retention or fat gain. Some women also report an increased appetite following birth control pills. Although studies have not supported the role of contraceptives in causing weight gain, if you believe that you are gaining weight because of a birth control method, you can consult your doctor for an alternative. Generally, non-hormonal birth control options such as condoms, sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps, and ParaGard (a non-hormonal intrauterine device [IUD]) are considered to not cause weight gain. If you are on birth control methods and wish to lose weight, you must eat healthy, cut down on salt and soda, and stay physically active to lose weight.
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