Every woman deserves to be in control of her reproductive health and future, but that doesn’t mean every woman should pursue this goal in the same way.
Rather, there are many ways to manage your fertility, depending on your health, preferences, and goals – and most women will change their birth control strategy at least once.
These 5 approaches are among the most popular fertility management options, but they aren’t the only ones. Keep an open mind and know that circumstances change. This is just your starting point.
1. Uncommitted: Condoms
Condoms are the bedrock of sex ed because they both prevent pregnancy and protect against STIs. This is important, particularly if you’re not yet in a committed relationship.
Don’t assume the man will always provide the condoms, though. Carrying some in your person or keeping them in the bathroom cabinet allows you to take control of any situation that may come up and keep yourself safe.
2. Keeping Count: Fertility Tracking
If you’re considering getting pregnant in the near future and in a committed relationship, you may want to consider fertility tracking.
Though attempting to track ovulation patterns can be overwhelming and isn’t always reliable, some women find that it helps them feel more connected with their bodies’ natural patterns.
New technology, including a variety of period tracking apps, can also help you increase the accuracy of your estimations.
3. A Total Classic: The Pill
Despite the way we talk about it, “The Pill” isn’t actually one thing; it’s actually a variety of different hormonal birth control formulations taken orally.
These varied formulations do all share a common history, dating back to the introduction of the first hormonal birth control pill, which was introduced in the United States in 1960.
The original pill contained a much larger dose of hormones than today’s versions, with scientists regularly altering the composition to minimize the dose while helping women maintain regular periods.
In addition to being one of the most conventional forms of birth control, oral birth control pills are also some of the easiest to obtain since they carry few risks.
You can get them from your gynecologist or primary care physician, at many clinics, or you can use an online birth control service to get them delivered directly to your door.
Then all you have to do is be consistent; take the pill every day at the same time for the best results, and be sure to learn what medications can impact its effectiveness.
Antibiotics, for example, can significantly decrease the effectiveness of oral birth control, leading to accidental pregnancies.
4. The Long Term: IUDs
If you’re confident that you don’t want to have children in the near term and don’t want to worry about taking the pill every day or using condoms or a diaphragm to prevent pregnancy, one thing you can do is have an IUD implanted.
IUDs are a form of long-term, reversible birth control, and like the pill, they come in several forms. Today, hormonal IUDs, which last from three to five years, are the more popular form, but there are also copper IUDs that work for up to ten years.
Insertion and removal can be somewhat painful, but given how long IUDs last, most women who have used them consider them to be worth the discomfort.
5. Your Body, Your Choice
Birth control is a personal choice, and it’s important to find an approach that works for you without excessive side effects or too much inconvenience – and with so many options, you’re sure to find one that works for your body and lifestyle.
Just remember that, with the exception of condoms, birth control doesn’t protect against STIs. If you aren’t sure about your or your partner’s status, you need a barrier method, in addition to your birth control of choice. Your health comes first, so make protection a priority.