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Which Birth Control Should I Choose?

There are so many birth control options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The good news is that with so many options available, there’s bound to be a good option for you.

Here’s a short list of common birth control options:

Now let’s get started! The biggest factors when choosing birth control come down to the following:

Let’s break it down a little:

Why are you taking birth control?

Are you interested in birth control to help prevent pregnancy? 

Are you looking to prevent sexually transmitted infections (aka STIs or STDs)? 

Are you looking for help with PMS pain, period pain or heavy flow, or perhaps to skip periods altogether?

Are you looking to help clear up your skin?

How good are you at remembering to take it?

While birth control pills are a great option for most people, their effectiveness depends on your ability to remember to take them every day, and ideally at the same time each day. This is especially important for progestin only pills.

If you’re a little forgetful (and that’s OK!), IUDs may be a good alternative for you, as they are a set it and forget it type of contraceptive. A single IUD can be good for anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on the model. The main downside is that you need a healthcare professional to insert it (and remove it). 

Other alternatives if you don’t want to be thinking about taking your pill each day are the patch and the vaginal ring. The patch needs to be changed every week, while the ring needs to be changed once a month. For both the patch and the ring, you will go for one week per month without using them, before applying or inserting a new one at the end of the week. The biggest downside of the ring is that it can cause an increase in UTIs and yeast infections. The main drawback of the patch is that it doesn’t work as well for people above a certain weight.

Do you have any risk factors?

Some risk factors that may impact which birth control you should take include:

If you have any of these risk factors, you should probably lean towards taking progestin-only options. Since most other forms of hormonal birth control contain both estrogen and progestin, your best bet will be a progestin-only pill or an IUD. If you're looking to take the birth control long-term (aka over 5 years), then an IUD might be your best option.

Does it give you side effects?

While all types of hormonal birth control use similar hormones, the levels of estrogen and progestin vary from one type of birth control to another. This means that while one type might give you certain side effects, it doesn’t mean they all will. In addition, the different ways the hormones enter your body from the various methods (ie. pills vs. IUDs) can also impact side effects you experience. 

While some side effects aren’t a big deal, and some can even be beneficial (eg. decrease in acne, reduced PMS pain, etc.), some side effects can be a real nuisance, or even quite serious. If you’re experiencing side effects, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical practitioner on Gemma, or seek immediate emergency care if it’s an emergency.

The bottom line

Finding the right birth control often takes some trial and error, so don't feel discouraged if the first type you try isn’t a fit for you. At Gemma, you'll always be encouraged to keep trying new alternatives that may work better for you.