The following information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
Kim B.'s doctor wants her to start considering birth control options. She just had a baby and doesn't want any more children for a while. But with so many contraceptive methods available, including pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, patches, vaginal rings, shots, sponges, cervical caps, condoms, diaphragms, and permanent procedures — some of which make her nervous, she's not sure where to start.
Circle of Moms members who've discussed this hot topic in our communities offer some sound advice: rather than fretting about the many choices available, narrow the options by focusing in on your particular needs. Consider your desired family size, your insurance, your health and habits, and your doctor’s advice — by way of these four questions.
1. Do you want more children, and if so, when?
Among the first questions to answer for yourself when considering birth control options is whether you want more children and on what time horizon. Some birth control methods are best for short term use while others are designed to be used for years or to be permanent.
Many moms find that birth control pills, patches, diaphragms, sponges, vaginal rings, shots, and condoms are the best options for moms who don’t want to get pregnant immediately yet still want more children in the near future. This is because they can be started and stopped at any time, with zero or very little impact on your fertility once you stop, depending on the method. (Jennifer F. recalls she got pregnant only three weeks after she quit taking the pill.)
Longer term options include the implant Implanon or an IUD. Implanon is inserted into the inside of one arm and is good for three years. IUDs, which are inserted into the uterus in an office procedure, are considered long-term contraceptives because they are good for either five or 10 years, depending on the type.
2. What does your insurance cover?
Our member also recommend looking into what kind of coverage your particular insurance plan provides for various birth control methods.
Plans vary widely. For instance, Brittney P. reports that her insurance will pay for anything, while Evelyn T.’s insurance doesn’t cover minor surgeries or the birth control pill.
Similarly, a member named Krystal initially wanted an IUD, but because her insurance doesn’t cover the cost of inserting and removing the device, she instead opted for Depo-Provera shots because they are administered by her doctor every three months, which is a service her plan will cover.
3. Can you stick to a regimen?
As you evaluate birth control options, it's important to be honest with yourself about how diligent you will be about sticking to a birth control regimen. Birth control pills must be taken daily and are most effective if taken at the exact same time every day, notes Shari F. Dana M. shares that the NuvaRing, a small silicone ring that is inserted into the vagina, must be removed every four weeks. And Amber H. relays that the Ortho Evra patch has to be applied to alternating spots of your body once a week, a regimen that she herself couldn't adhere to — which is why she ultimately switched to a more low-maintenance method, the Mirena IUD.
4. Which side effects can you live with?
Discussions on Circle of Moms reveal that the side effects of various birth control methods vary widely. It's a good idea to search the community discussions for firsthand accounts and talk to others about their experiences with particular methods — and then to consider your own capacity for dealing with commonly mentioned side effects.
For instance, many moms on hormonal birth control regimens like the pill and Depo-Provera shots say that the hormones can cause weight gain, as Faith F. experienced, or that they can make you feel "a tad crazy," as moms Summer and Tracy C. put it.* Symptoms can subside over time though, so if you're very intent on using a particular method, consider whether you would be willing to stick with it for a while before declaring the method intolerable.
That’s why it’s important, as Linda C. points out, to talk to your gynecologist about your birth control options as well. "They know your health and [have the accurate] information needed to tell you what would be best."
*Note that breastfeeding moms should use non-hormonal or low-hormonal methods like IUDs, which are considered safest for nursing moms and their babies.
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.