Factors to Consider when Selecting a Birth Control Method

With so many birth control methods available and so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to choose a method of birth control. People choose to use birth control for many different reasons. The following are factors and questions to consider when choosing the best birth control method for you.

  • Effectiveness -- How well does the method prevent pregnancy? Look at the number of pregnancies in 100 women using that method over a period of 1 year. If an unplanned pregnancy would be viewed as potentially devastating to the individual or couple, a highly effective method should be chosen. In contrast, if a couple is simply trying to postpone pregnancy, but feels that a pregnancy could be welcomed if it occurred earlier than planned, a less effective method may be a reasonable choice.
  • Cost -- is the method affordable?
  • Health risk -- What are the potential health risks? For example, birth control pills are usually not recommended for women over age 35 who also smoke.
  • Partner involvement -- The willingness of a partner to accept and support a given method may affect your choice of birth control. However, you also may want to reconsider a sexual relationship with a partner unwilling to take an active and supportive role.
  • Permanence -- Do you want a temporary (and generally less effective) method, or a long-term or even permanent (and more effective) method?
  • Preventing HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) -- Many methods offer no protection against STIs. In general, condoms are the best choice for preventing STIs, especially when combined with spermicides.
  • Availability -- Can the method be used without a prescription, provider visit, or, in the case of minors, parental consent?