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How to decide which birth control method is right for you

(StatePoint) With multiple contraceptive methods available, including sterilization, contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices and condoms, many women may wonder which is right for them. Because many lifestyle and health-related factors can influence this personal and intimate decision, there is no one option that is a good choice for all women.

The best method of birth control a woman can choose is one that she knows is safe, that she is comfortable using, and that she is able to use consistently and correctly.

When evaluating contraception options, experts suggest that women consider several factors, including:

• Do you plan to get pregnant in a few years or a few months?

• How frequently do you have sex and how many partners do you have?

• How effective is each method of contraception?

• How safe are your options and what side effects or risks do they pose?

• Do you have religious or cultural beliefs that need to be considered?

• Is the method you might choose convenient and affordable?

• Do you have any health issues that might make some options unsafe for you?

Health History

There are both hormonal and non-hormonal forms of birth control. While millions of women have successfully used hormonal contraception like the birth control pill for decades, it is important for women to speak with their healthcare provider about their health history when choosing a birth control method.

Birth control that contains estrogen can increase a woman’s risk for heart attack, stroke and dangerous blood clots. In fact, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, women who use hormonal contraception have a three- to nine-fold greater risk for blood clots compared to women who do not use birth control that contains estrogen. When women have other risk factors for blood clots, like obesity or a personal or family history of clotting, their risk can dramatically increase. For example, research shows that blood clot risks are doubled in women who are obese, and the risk for dangerous blood clots is 35 times greater among women who use hormonal birth control and are also affected by the most common genetic clotting disorder factor V Leiden.

Birth control methods that contain estrogen also present health risks to women with medical conditions like severe diabetes, hypertension and breast cancer.

Women exploring their contraception options can find valuable information to help them understand the variety of birth control methods available, including condom sales. They can also complete a health history questionnaire to discuss with their healthcare provider.

Women should never feel pressured by partners, friends, family or their healthcare provider to choose a form of birth control. Birth control is a woman’s choice and, when fully informed, women can select a contraceptive method that is safe, effective, and meets their specific needs.
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