Birth control is an important decision. The right type of contraception can free you from worry and allow you to relax and enjoy sexual activity. The wrong choice or improper use may leave you with a pregnancy you didn’t plan. There are a number of contraceptive choices, including hormonal, barrier, surgical and chemical options, but the best choice for you is the one that you will use correctly, every time.
Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps and contraceptive sponges. These contraceptives physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg and are typically combined with a chemical spermicide to improve their effectiveness. Condoms are the most effective of these methods, with only a 2 percent perfect use failure rate and a 15 percent actual use failure rate. Women who have had children should realize that the cervical cap, diaphragm and sponge are much less effective after pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control methods include the birth control pill and patch, NuvaRing vaginal contraceptive, implants, shots and the Mirena IUD. These methods alter the biology of the female body, preventing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining. Hormonal contraception is second only to surgical options in terms of effectiveness, and some methods, including the Mirena IUD and implants, are completely free of any risk of user error. Reduced menstrual bleeding may be a beneficial side effect of many of these contraceptives.
If you are done with your family, permanent surgical contraception may be an appropriate choice. Tubal ligation, vasectomy and a new procedure called Essure all offer an option for couples who have completed their families or are quite sure that they do not want children. In tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut and cauterized, preventing eggs from reaching the uterus. Vasectomy is a similar procedure, preventing sperm entering the semen. Essure uses small metal coils to permanently block and scar the fallopian tubes. While these are all invasive procedures, they do provide long term, reliable contraception. Vasectomy and tubal ligation may be reversed with varying degrees of success, but Essure cannot be.