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Talk to your doctor about your options. You need to know the possible side effects of each form of birth control so you'll know whether your health will be affected, according to Dr. Sara Newmann, associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. If you have a history of breast cancer, a genetic tendency for high blood pressure, or are a current or former smoker, this should influence the type of birth control you use.
What are the most popular forms of birth control?
In the US, the National Center for Health Statistics states that tubal litigation, oral contraception, and condoms are the most popular types of birth control. It is important to remember that no one method is 100% effective against preventing pregnancy. However, these birth control methods do greatly increase the chances of avoiding pregnancy. For every 100 women who use birth control pills, nine will become pregnant.
The type of birth control you prefer and your insurance company will determine the price. You can get birth control for free on some health insurance plans, but you may have a co-pay, so check for contraception that is within your budget. If you don't have insurance, you can pay up to $50 per month for oral contraception. If you decide on a vaginal ring, the monthly cost is around $80 and an IUD can cost as much as $1,000 if you're uninsured.
According to a January 2014 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews involving 49 studies, using the birth control pill or patch did not impact weight gain for most women. The most women gained on average while on birth control is four pounds. In the 21 studies concerning why women stopped taking birth control, up to five percent stated that they stopped because they were gaining weight.
If you gain weight while on birth control, researchers assert that it's not likely that your weight gain is due to your contraception method. While the pill doesn't cause significant weight gain, around 25% of women who use the birth control shot cited feeling heavier -- this is likely due to water weight.
It's not a myth that birth control pills that contain both progestin and estrogen can treat severe cases of acne especially when paired with dermatologic medications. The pill can stop the skin from producing excess oil and testosterone, which are often causes of acne.
Now that you know what to expect with some popular birth control methods, here are some pros and cons to be aware of.
Condoms are the only birth control option that prevent STDs and infections as well as pregnancy. Both men and women have condom options now, but male condoms are still most popular. Women can also use spermicide in addition to condoms for further protection against pregnancy. Condoms and spermicide are more effective together; using spermicide alone only has a 71% prevention rate.
Condoms are inexpensive and female condoms are beneficial because they give women more control since they position the condoms themselves. However, male condoms are only 82% effective for pregnancy prevention, and female condoms are 79% effective. It's best to take the pill in addition to using condoms for more protection.
Diaphragms are small, flexible cups that a woman places in her vagina to keep sperm from getting to the uterus. Diaphragms should be used with spermicide for maximum effectiveness.
If you want to use a diaphragm, your OBGYN will have to fit you for one. You should also replace your diaphragm annually. Examine the diaphragm often to make sure the latex is not wearing and to check for tears and holes. Visit your doctor if you lose or gain weight to ensure the diaphragm still fits correctly.
You can also try the cervical cap, which works much like the diaphragm, Your doctor will fit you for a cervical cap, and you should use the cap with a spermicide. Cervical caps should be replaced once a year as well.
The sponge is another hormone-free birth control option. The sponge looks like a donut and covers your cervix when it is inserted into the vagina.
All of these birth control methods are free of hormones, and you can insert the cervical cap or diaphragm hours before intercourse or right before sex. If you have breast cancer or other health conditions that make it unsafe for you to use hormonal birth control, these are effective ways to prevent pregnancy.
However, to be especially effective, you should use spermicide with diaphragms and cervical caps. These devices should also be kept in place at least six hours after intercourse. Diaphragms and cervical caps can also increase your risk of bladder infections, but you can lower your risk if you urinate immediately after sex.
Remember to have an honest conversation with your doctor before deciding on a birth control method. Your physician will evaluate your underlying health conditions and whether you plan to have children in the immediate future to help you find the birth control that works best for your body.
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