Which Type of Birth Control is Right for Me?

Jul 07, 2022
Which Type of Birth Control is Right for Me?
With so many different types of birth control available, knowing which type is right for you isn’t easy. We’ve created this guide to help you determine what type of contraceptive might best fit your needs. Keep reading to learn more.

Thinking about birth control options and feeling overwhelmed? Our team of women’s health experts at Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania understands. Choosing the right contraceptive isn’t easy — especially with so many options available. 

Our experienced providers specialize in offering comprehensive family dental and medical care, including help with birth control, at 12 locations in Nuremberg, Edwardsville, Shickshinny, Wilkes-Barre, Monroe Township, Sullivan Trail Fall, Freeland, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania. 

Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania also operates a 340B pharmacy. This allows us to offer discounts on medications, including birth control. And we have a sliding fee schedule for patients without insurance.

If you need birth control and are wondering which type is right for you, keep reading to learn about your options and how you can get personalized recommendations from our team.

Understand your birth control options

With so many birth control options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Understanding your options is a great place to start. Here’s a look at the four major methods of birth control and how effective they are at preventing pregnancy:

1. Barrier birth control

Barrier forms of birth control stop the sperm and egg from meeting, preventing fertilization. Some also offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Options include:

    • Diaphragm: Up to 88% effective
    • Sponges: About 76-88% effective
  • Cervical cap: About 71-86% effective
  • Male condoms: Up to 85% effective
  • Female condoms: Up to 79% effective

You must use barrier birth control every time you have sexual intercourse for it to work.

2. Hormonal contraceptives

Some birth control methods influence your natural hormones to stop ovulation. There are many options, and they all work a little differently. Here are some popular hormonal contraceptives:

  • Birth control pills: Daily oral contraceptive with hormones (up to 91% effective)
  • Birth control implant: Long-term (up to 5 years) progestin-based device (up to 99% effective)
  • Birth control patch: Weekly patch with estrogen and progestin (up to 91% effective)
  • Birth control shot: Progestin-based injection administered every 3 months (up to 94% effective)
  • Intrauterine device (IUD): Long-term (up to 7 years) progestin-based device (up to 99% effective)
  • Vaginal ring: Monthly estrogen- and progestin-based ring (up to 91% effective)

Non-hormone based copper IUDs that last up to 12 years (also up to 99% effective) are another long-term contraception option. It’s important to note that hormonal birth control doesn’t offer protection against STDs. 

3. Lifestyle choices as contraceptives

You can make conscious decisions to reduce your chances of getting pregnant. Keep in mind these methods offer no protection against STDs, and they vary in efficacy. The most common lifestyle choices used as birth control include:

    • Fertility awareness (aka natural family planning or rhythm method): Track ovulation to avoid pregnancy (up to 76-88% effective)
    • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding at least every 4 hours a day for the first six months after childbirth to prevent ovulation (up to 98% effective)
    • Withdrawal (aka pulling out): Ejaculating outside of and away from the vagina (up to 78% effective)
  • Abstinence: Not having sexual intercourse (100% effective)

Remember that abstinence is the only method that offers 100% protection against unplanned pregnancy as well as STDs.

4. Permanent birth control

Permanent birth control stops future pregnancies with about 100% efficacy. Sometimes referred to as sterilization, permanent options include tubal ligation and male vasectomy. These should not be used in men or women who may want children in the future. 

Ask the right questions

Your provider can give you fully individualized birth control recommendations with your health and lifestyle factors in mind. We’ve found that a combination of personal reflection and expert advice helps you arrive at the best decision. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. There’s no right or wrong answer; the best birth control choice is the one that works best for you.

1. Why do I need birth control? 

Birth control helps stop unwanted pregnancies. But contraception can do more for your health, too. For example, if you need protection from STDs, consider a method that helps prevent their spread. 

You can also combine birth control methods to better protect your health; some women use both the pill and condoms to prevent pregnancy and reduce their risk of contracting STDs. 

2. Will I use this birth control?

Reflect honestly about how realistic it is for you to use different forms of birth control. For example, birth control pills must be taken at the same time every day. And condoms help keep you safe, but you must know how to use them, and use them every time you have intercourse. 

If you think sticking to a strict schedule or using condoms every time you’re with your partner will be a challenge, consider an option like an IUD or implant that doesn't require you to take action. 

3. Is pregnancy in my future?

If pregnancy is in the cards — soon or further down the line — or if you want to keep your options open, consider birth control that doesn’t influence your hormone levels so you can get pregnant more easily.

For more help deciding which type of birth control is right for you, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at the Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania center nearest you. No car or health insurance? No problem! Ask about our home-to-center van transportation and sliding fee schedule today.