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The How-To Lounge: Finding the Right Birth Control for you Part 1

I receive countless questions from women inquiring about the best birth control options out on the market, and my answer is always the same-- everyone is different and some methods work better for some than others. Finding the right match can take some trial and error, so I am here to give you some information, in an ongoing series, about different methods to help you find what works best for your lifestyle.

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While there are methods to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, the safest and most effective way to protect yourself is abstinence. If you are in fact sexually active, here are some options to help keep you safe.


  • Condoms are the most commonly used over the counter form of birth control because they protect against disease and pregnancy and there are usually no side effects to using a condom
  • Condoms are only 75% effective so it is best if they are used with a sperm killing agent as well
  • Putting on a condom correctly is essential to effectiveness. Remember to leave a 1/2 inch of room at the tip to collect semen and be sure to roll the condom all the way down the base of the penis
  • If you are in a monogamous relationship and you have both been tested for sexually transmitted diseases and are interested in a more convenient method of birth control, there are many prescribed hormones and devises on the market that might be a better match for you

The Pill

  • The Pill is the most commonly prescribed form of birth control. The pill stops a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs during ovulation. The pill also thickens the mucus found in a woman's cervix which makes it more difficult for sperm to penetrate
  • The Pill is 99% effective when taken properly: at the same time everyday. Be aware that taking antibiotics and other medications can interfere with the pills effectiveness, so it is advised to use another form of birth control while you are on other medications
  • While the pill works well for most women, others are heavily effected by its side effects which include but are not limited to experiencing a low sex drive, nausea, moodiness, depression, breast tenderness, the possibility of blood clotting (especially if you are a smoker over the age of 35) and possible skin sensitivity to the sun
  • In order to get a prescription for the pill, you must see your physician to go over your heath history in order to determine what pill is right for you

The Patch

  • The patch is a thin plastic sticker like patch that adheres to your skin, most commonly on your stomach, buttock, arm or chest. The patch must be changed once a week for three weeks in a row
  • The patch has similar hormones to the pill, however many women find it more absent-minded friendly since you only need to change it once a week versus taking a pill at the same time daily
  • The patch is most effective when it is changed at the same time every week and adhering it to a different part of your body each time
  • The patch has been proven to be more effective than the pill when used correctly but can cause pregnancy if it becomes loose or falls off for more than 24 hours or if it is left on your body for more than the allotted weeks time
  • The patch is not recommended for women who weigh over 198 pounds

Tune in tomorrow for Finding the Right Birth Control for you Part 2!

Join The Conversation
oranges3 oranges3 8 years
Yeah, if condoms were only 75% effective I don't think I'd be having sex at all! They're my only form of birth control because I have GAD (general anxiety disorder) and any sudden shift in hormones causes me to go loco! With perfect use I'd say condoms are more in the upper 90's as far as effectiveness goes.
mrsgrillo mrsgrillo 10 years
Ash_Marisa---i had a very similar experience with lose dose pills too. weight gain, boobs got huge (since they weren't big enough to begin with), bad headaches, low tolerance for stress and life. I am a pretty happy person and I was constantly feeling down. I was tired all the time and was also getting an infection every month. I went to the DR and told her about everything, and she was like, well, lets try another pill, but i decided to just stop. In the first week, i felt like the old me. Its been about 3 weeks now, but its great. I feel exponentially better :)
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
But if you can take the pill, you should definitely do it!
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
Yeh, the pill made me nuts, gain weight, increased my migraines that I used to get to almost daily, and made me more depressed. Ihave a history of depression, and the pill is usually not advised if you have a history, which is also listed on the drug info. Most gynos don't ask about history of depression or migraines, only your sex life and what you want from the pill, so people who have these histories suffer most. I tried 5 different pills over 3 yrs, and had the side effects even on the low dose ones like yasmin, desogen, and mircette). I finally caved and stopped, and became educated on appropriate condom use (perfect use vs typical use). If it breaks, I always have Plan B on hand. After only a month of going off, I lost all the weight, headaches went away, and the depressive symptoms subsided. There are other methods out there that aren't hormonal. My gyno recommended that I get off the pill because there did not seem to be any out there and we had exhausted the possibilities. She said that a small percentage just do not react well to hormone-altering drugs. I ENVY those that can take the pill. Most of my friends can fine, but myself and another simply cannot.
sashak sashak 10 years
I love the pill. I too have had to try several different kinds to find the right on. My best friend absolutely cannot take the pill. It makes her completely insane.
mrsgrillo mrsgrillo 10 years
whew, at least i know i am not some freak. I had a ton of problems on the pill, and I tried several over several years. Eventually, I went off the pill. I am not nearly as tired as before, i am much happier with far fewer mood swings. I used to get upset so easily on the pill. DH is a little freaked out about me not being on the pill (because we are not ready for babies yet), but i feel the quality of my life is a thousand times better.
Ashlyn-Rose Ashlyn-Rose 10 years
Beware of the pill Yasmin! It ruined about 8 months of my life. I was depressed, anxious, had no sex drive, and started to have panic attacks. When I talked to my ObGyn she tried to tell me that I needed antidepressants instead of removing me from Yasmin. Yasmin also caused a crazy increase in potassium with me causing my ears to feel clogged all the time (weird side effect). Anyway, if you start a pill, really try to track any changes you have in your mood and body. If they become too unpleasant, insist to your ObGyn that you try something else. There's actually an online forum at called Yasmin Survivors for women who've had similar experiences to mine with Yasmin. I'm now on the pill, Reclipsen (generic for Desogen) and I'm doing fine. It's an older pill so a lot more is known about it's side effects.
ALSW ALSW 10 years
Try walking around with bigger breasts anyway - it already hurts sometimes! :) So far, on the ring, it's played a little bit of havoc with my period, which is unusual for me. But overall, I actually have had a lot less side effects than I ever had on the pill. And I really like it because it's less worrisome than the pill - I don't have to take it everyday at the same time, I just put it in and off I go! My OBGYN actually recommended the vaginal ring, but again, I'd definitely talk to yours if you're interested.{4A793B0A-EE96-4096-93F6-63A2FA17411A}&sid=163007336
candy-apple candy-apple 10 years
hehe. want to know what my birth control method is? nine time zones, that's what! or at least for another three months.. im sad. :(
designergirl designergirl 10 years
Does the vaginal ring have the same side effects as the pill? The pill is not really working for me- I've triend several but none are right for me. I'm not a good medication taker anyways...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
If I'm taking a pill and it screws my hormones up so I gain weight, I don't care if it's direct or indirect - it sucked! I swear my boobs swelled up and hurt for like 3 months and I just said forget it. :) Yasmin actually has some kind of appetite suppressing effect (or so they told me) and I didn't gain any weight. And my periods are way lighter, much less cramping etc. I love it! But whoever said "we are all different" - you couldn't be more right on. Each person will react differently to the various methods out there. I have found this blog to be educational though. I didn't know about a lot of the other methods people are talking about. Will be interesting to look into.
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
BC effects everyone differently anyways, so its hard to get advice often from peers or posting boards. As with the weight gain issue, I took this up as a research topic for one of my courses, and the pill does not directly cause weight gain..directly being the key word. The pill can indirectly cause weight gain because it alters hormone concentrations, and some people can be more sensitive to these flucuations than others, causing increased appetite, often manifesting itself in weight gain. An extra 200-300 calories (a seemingly small amount)per day in these subjects due to stimulated appetite lead to weight gain over time.
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
I was on the pill for 2 years...I have a history of migraines and it made it much worse....I didn't know why my headaches got so much worse until i told my Obgyn and she said that that is a side effect if you have a history of headaches. The pill is a great option if you can take it, but some can't, and need to know there are other options out there. I use to think that condoms were a bad form of BC, as Fit posted, but 75% is very low compared to most medical estimates. and studies. Typical use is usually around 85% and perfect use is 97%. My Obgyn educated me on this fact, and what perfect use is, and now thats my regular form of birth control and I am headache free. It did take me a while to get over the nervousness of not being on the pill thought. With careful and consistent (often the problem with "typical" use) usage condoms are just as effective.
GreenSkittlesGal GreenSkittlesGal 10 years
Thanks for the input, ladies!
sunshine sunshine 10 years
I've been on the patch for years and I love it! Very little side effects and I never had a problem with it falling off.
redmed redmed 10 years
I think with the newer 'lower dose' pills on the market now, the chances of weight gain and blood clots are reduced. I never gained any weight on the pill, but maybe I am lucky. Popgoestheworld-- me too, Yasmin is the bomb! It has really helped my complexion, cramps, and even moodiness!
ALSW ALSW 10 years
A common misconception and one that I think a lot of girls worry about. YOU DON'T GAIN WEIGHT! I certainly didn't gain anything. At worst, what's five pounds compared to an accidental pregnancy that you're not ready or prepared for? Talk to your OBGYN - I'm on the vaginal ring and I don't believe there's ANY chance of weight gain with that. Plus, WAY easier than pills.
GreenSkittlesGal GreenSkittlesGal 10 years
I have a question for you ladies: Does the pill make you gain weight? I am still sticking to condoms even though it's less effective b/c I refuse to gain weight. (I know, so stupid and vain.)
ALSW ALSW 10 years
I agree, nannyblogger - the patch wasn't worth the hassle!
nannyblogger nannyblogger 10 years
I used the patch for a year and it was awful...the edges were always getting caught on my jeans, which would then make the whole thing come loose. Plus I couldn't take a bath or go swimming because it would always fall off. There was a little more flexibility as far as when I had to change it, which was nice if I wanted to manipulate my period to start a few days later, but that wasn't worth the trouble. I switched to the pill four months ago, and I'll never switch back.
rkdub rkdub 10 years
Is the patch still available? I think it has been discontinued just very very recently.... Great info! I agree with the condom comments though, perfect use and typical use can vary... that's why it is important people are educated!!! Anyone remember The 40 Year Old Virgin and his condom conundrums? Yeah, those bad boys took a beating....
lillies lillies 10 years
Thanks for posting! It's very helpful.
chatoyante chatoyante 10 years
It's probably good to note that statistics for "perfect use" and "typical use" are different...I have seen varying stats on condoms: Planned Parenthood's site says that condoms are around 85% effective with typical use (not always perfect) but can be 98% effective with perfect use (used correctly every time). Thanks for the good reminder!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
The side effects for pills are totally different with each pill, too. Keep that in mind. I tried a few different pills and was miserable and then finally found Yasmin which is awesome for me!
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