Guide To Birth Control: Which Is Best For You?

pack of birth control pills

Navigating birth control options can be a rather daunting task. Every woman is different, and likewise, there are many types of birth control for each of them. Some types boast convenience while others are more cost-effective, and it might take you a while to find that perfect match for you and your body. Wouldn't it be great to have a guide to help you know which birth control might be best for you? Here are some of the most common kinds of birth control and tips on choosing one that fits you.

Pill: This is the most common type of birth control and with it, you have two options: Combination or minipills. With combination birth control pills, you can either have a period every month or you can choose a continuous dose and have only a few periods each year or even none at all. These are taken orally and are 99 percent effective if you take them around the same time each day. Smokers and women over 35 years of age should avoid this method. The pill can worsen migraines and cause blood clots. There is also a progestin-only option which is safer for smokers, diabetics and women with heart disease. The timing is more strict so avoid this option if you have a hard time remembering to swallow one at the same time every day.

Vaginal ring: The NuvaRing is made of flexible plastic and acts just like the pill; however, you only have to worry about replacing it once a month. The ring is self-applied and you take it out every three weeks, leaving it out for one week to have a regular period. Smokers and women with the risk of blood clots should avoid this method. (via Health)

nuva ring birth control

>> Read more: Is the NuvaRing Actually Killing Women?

Diaphragm: This method is far more specific to each woman as you must have it fitted by your doctor. It is a dome-shaped, silicone covering that is placed over the cervix, held in place by your vaginal muscles. You apply it no more than two hours prior to intercourse and remove it after six to eight hours. If your weight fluctuates more than ten pounds, you should avoid this method because you would have to get it refitted. If you are prone to bladder infections, consider a different method and avoid the diaphragm if you've experienced toxic shock syndrome.

Intrauterine device (IUD): This surgically implanted device prevents sperm from reaching the egg. This type of birth control is more than 99 percent effective and can last up to ten years. This small device can potentially cause discomfort if you haven't given birth and it can be expensive to remove. It might not be worth only using it for two years; the IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control, but depending on what your future plans are, it might not necessarily be the best option.

>> Read more: IUD Birth Control: Is It Right For You?

Female condoms: Similar to the diaphragm, the female condom is placed over the cervix, protecting against STIs and 79 percent effective (only slightly less effective than the male version). Health Magazine suggests you only use the female condom if you're in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Male condoms offer more protection against STIs and are more effective. One benefit to this method is that women can take active responsibility in preventing pregnancy and they can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse, allowing for preparation.

Patch: The Ortho Evra skin patch is worn on the outer part of the arm, abdomen, buttocks or upper torso (excluding the breasts). The patch is a weekly application replaced each week on the same day for three weeks. You won't wear the patch on the fourth week when you should have your period. The patch pushes estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream through the skin. If used correctly, the patch is 99 percent effective. If you are at risk for blood clots, avoid this method.

contraception patch

Implant: According to Health, this method is almost 100 percent effective. Your healthcare provider will insert the small rod under your skin on your upper arm. It lasts up to three years and you don't have to worry about remembering to replace it or take a pill regularly, making it far more convenient. On the downside, the implant is a bit pricey and does not prevent against sexually transmitted infections. (via WebMD)

>> Read more: 15 Things That Could Be Causing Longer Periods

Shot: An injection called Depo-Provera is given into your arm or buttocks. Each shot protects against pregnancy for up to 14 weeks, received every 12 weeks for maximum protection. It is 99 percent effective but does not protect against STIs. Women with liver disease, breast cancer and blood clots are recommended to avoid the birth control shot.

Again, options for birth control are far more customizable than they used to be, but the decision can be intimidating. Remember that it might take some time to find the best fit for you, but talk to your doctor and ask lots of questions. It's important that you gain full understanding of what is available to you. The Food and Drug Administration offers this chart  for another quick reference guide. Check out this article for more information on the many birth control options available to you.