Why It Is Impossible To Answer The Question “What Is A Good Birth Control Method?” Without More Information
Because I really get tired of seeing this question and knowing I’ll never be able to properly answer it in the space allotted by Yahoo! Answers … from now on, I’ll just link to this. Pardon the lack of organization- I mainly wanted to be as comprehensive as I could be.
It really depends on what an individual’s needs and situation are; there are so many different forms of birth control precisely because there’s no one that is perfect for everybody. Some answers that are needed to know to help make a truly informed, really good suggestion:
1) Budget- how much can you afford and how much are you willing to pay for birth control? Are you looking for birth control you pay for only when you need it or want to stockpile up on it (male condom, female condom, spermicide), an ongoing prescription you periodically pay for, usually monthly (most hormonal forms of birth control), or a one-time fee for long-term birth control (the hormonal and copper coil IUD or subdermal implant)? Could you afford the bigger up-front cost for longer-term birth control? Do you have insurance, and if so, does it cover birth control? Do you qualify for cheaper birth control from low-income family planning clinics? Are you willing to pay a little more for birth control that is more effective? How often do you/would you have sex (because condoms are more cost-effective if you only do it once in while, but after a certain number of times, condoms become the more expensive option among others)?
2) Lifestyle- what type of birth control best fits your life? Are you the type of person who can remember to take a pill every day, or would that be challenging for you? Are you the type of person who is very vigilant about using birth control correctly (if you are, forms with wide discrepancies between perfect and typical use, like condoms, are okay, whereas if you’re not, forms with very close perfect and typical use like implants or IUD’s, might be better)? Is a monthly prescription refill or a doctor’s visit every three months something you’d find onerous/hard to work into your schedule, or is that no big deal? Can you access birth control- will your pharmacists dispense it (they can and some have refused to do so under conscience clause laws), is your pharmacy nearby, do they stock the brands of condoms/spermicide that you would use, etc.? Can you swallow pills okay, or are you alright with injections or a superficial surgery on your arm (some people have an issue with these things)? Do you mind touching or putting something inside your vagina like a contraceptive ring, diaphragm, cervical cap, or sponge? Have you had children before (this changes the effectiveness for birth control methods like cervical caps or the sponge, as well as may make insertion of IUD’s more painful if you haven’t)? How important is spontaneity to your sex life (a cervical cap or diaphragm, for instance, needs to be inserted at least fifteen minutes- and some say longer- prior to sex)? Are you the kind of person who can reliably have contraception on hand for any sex that comes up (i.e. unexpected sexytimes happen in the car- would you have a condom/spermicide on your person, or would you be better served by using a form of protection that leaves you always protected without having to take any action at the time?)? Is it acceptable to you to not have sex as a form of birth control (like avoiding sex when you’re most fertile), or do you expect to be able to have sex whenever? Would you be willing to track your fertility (charting cervical mucous and/or basal body temperature every day), or would that be too onerous or undesirable? How important is it to you to have bareback/condomless sex? How important is it for you to be able to have your partner to climax inside of you? Does it matter if your partner can feel vaginal/uterine contraception (ring, diaphragm, cervical cap, strings of an IUD) during sex? How much control do you want to have over the birth control (for example- can you reliably trust a partner to use or keep a condom on or withdraw in time/or for men, to reliably trust your female partner is honest about their birth control use, or would you prefer to be the one in charge?)? Are you okay with a doctor being in control of your birth control (i.e. they’re the only ones who can inject you with the shot or insert/remove an IUD or implant) or is it important to you that you are able to start and stop all by yourself? Can you be open about your contraceptive use, or do you require secrecy from parents, an abusive partner, community, etc. (in which case, methods that require you to keep something tangible in your room or on your person may be giveaways that you’re having sex/protecting yourself against pregnancy)?
3) Risk tolerance- how much risk are you willing to take? Different forms of contraception come with different rates of effectiveness, and some people are okay with a 5% chance of pregnancy, while others might need less than 1% to feel safe and confident having sex. Are you willing to use two or more forms of birth control in conjunction in order to reach your desired level of effectiveness, or are you looking for just a single form that provides it? As mentioned above, some forms have high discrepancies between perfect and typical use, while others have less- how important is it to you to be able to relax and know you can’t mess it up and affect the rate of effectiveness?
4) Side effects, risks, and suitability- what side effects can you tolerate, and what forms suit you? Do you have allergies to latex, other condom materials, or spermicides? Are you on medications that can interfere with hormonal birth control? How much do you weigh (studies on hormonal birth control forms like the pill have been done for women from 120-250 pounds regarding the pill, and they cannot assure the same results for women over 250 pounds)? Is your medical history compatible with different forms of birth control (for example, women who smoke, have diabetes, liver disease, history of heart disease/stroke/high blood pressure, history of blood clotting problems, history of breast cancer, etc. should not use the pill)? There are few reliable, guaranteed side effects to birth control- some women are fine on it, some suffer side effects on it, and still others are fine on one/some form(s) of hormonal birth control, but not (an)other(s), so often trial-and-error is required- but what side effects would you be willing to put up with? Out of all the possibilities (decreased libido, nausea, weight gain, sore/swollen breasts, spotting between periods, irregular bleeding, longer and heavier periods, depression, headaches, hair loss, increased hair on the face or body, mood changes, discoloring or scarring of the skin over a subdermal implant, etc.), are any deal breakers for you? Is there an acceptable trade-off for you between side effects and cost, effectiveness, longevity, or ease of use? How much risk are you willing to take in terms of potential problems caused by hormonal birth control use (bone density loss with injections, increased risk of stroke, deep vein thrombosis, etc. with pills)? What about benefits- are you looking for a method of birth control that can control acne or reduce the number of periods you have or their severity/heaviness?
5) Miscellaneous concerns. How soon do you want to get pregnant when and if you do (hormones can stay in the system for a while after stopping birth control, whereas you’re good to conceive the minute you take off a condom)? How long do you want your protection against pregnancy to last- just for a few months/a year, or are you hoping to not get pregnant for five years or longer? How soon do you need the birth control- are you asking for future reference, or are you planning on having sex tonight or next week and need something that provides immediate protection?