If you’re considering using birth control, you have many options - from natural family planning and over-the-counter birth control products to prescription contraceptives or sterilization.
To help determine which birth control method would be best for you, consider your lifestyle, personal preferences and health status. How do you feel about planning for sex? Inserting birth control devices into your body? Taking a pill at the same time every day or tracking your fertile days? Permanently ending the ability to conceive or father a child?
It’s also important to make an honest assessment of yourself, your partner and your relationship. You may have different birth control needs if you have sex often or you’re not in a monogamous relationship. Ideally, you and your partner will discuss the options and reach a mutually beneficial decision.
If you do not want to get pregnant, do not have sex. If you do have sex, there are many birth control options to choose from. No one product is best for everyone.
This guide lists all FDA-approved products for birth control. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the best method for you.
Some things to think about:
• Your health.
• How often you have sex.
• How many sexual partners you have.
• If you want to have children in the future.
• If you will need a prescription or if you can buy the method over-the-counter.
• The number of pregnancies expected per 100 women who use a method for
one year. For comparison, about 85 out of 100 sexually active women who do
not use any birth control can expect to become pregnant in a year.
Tell your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you:
• Have liver disease
• Have blood clots
• Have family members who have had blood clots
• Are taking any other medicines
• Are taking any herbal products, like St. Johns Wort
To avoid pregnancy:
• No matter which method you choose, it is important to follow all of the directions carefully. If you don’t, you raise your chance of getting pregnant.
• The best way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is to practice total abstinence (do not have any sexual contact)
Birth control pills
Birth control pills are a common type of contraception. If you’re considering taking birth control pills, you may have more choices than you’d think.
You’ll start by choosing either combination birth control pills or minipills. If you choose combination birth control pills, you’ll have another choice — conventional packs or continuous dosing. With conventional birth control pills, you’ll have a period every month. With continuous dosing birth control pills, you may have a period only four times a year or eliminate your period entirely.
Of course, each type of birth control pill has its own risks and benefits. Understand the basics, then work with your health care provider to determine the best birth control pill for you.
Other birth control options
When you think of birth control options, what comes to mind? Birth control pills are a popular choice, but don’t stop there. Other birth control options abound — and the choice is up to you.
If you need birth control only occasionally, over-the-counter male or female condoms might be appropriate birth control options. Condoms also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. The contraceptive sponge is another option that’s available without a prescription. If you’re most concerned about effectiveness, prescription contraceptives - such as contraceptive injections, a vaginal ring or an intrauterine device — might be better birth control options.
As you consider your birth control options, be open to all the possibilities. Get familiar with how different types of birth control work, as well as the risks and benefits of specific birth control options.
FDA advisers stand behind Ortho Evra patch
Drug advisers recommended that the label for Johnson and Johnson’s Ortho Evra birth control patch should be simplified to better explain the risk of blood clots.
Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration, in a sweeping 20 to three vote with one abstention on Friday, found the current label for Ortho Evra, the only contraceptive patch sold in the country, inadequately reflects the risks women face by using it.
However, the panel voted 19-5 that the patch’s risks were nonetheless outweighed by its benefits, such as pregnancy prevention through a once-weekly application.
All commonly-used birth control pills increase women’s chances of getting blood clots. The patch, approved in 2001, has been linked to an even higher risk as it contains a much greater amount of hormone estrogen than a pill.