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Birth Control Methods: Which Should You Use?

Choosing your birth control method is often a very stressful — as well as a very difficult — choice to make. While many women in the U.S. opt for the pill form, there is a myriad of choices out there for all of those sexually active people out there—or, just for those wanting to regulate their periods. I have tried out a few different birth control methods — which, believe me, is really not fun. This, though, has allowed me to more easily recommend (or reject!) some of these methods and, while anecdotal evidence is not really evidence at all, it helps to hear things from someone who has tried the methods. So, without further ado, here are some popular birth control methods, and their pros and cons. 

The Pill

Ah, yes. Every American woman’s go-to birth control method, nowadays — or, at least, that’s how it seems. While the birth control pill helps with things such as acne, irregular periods, and heavy periods, they can also cause weight gain, spotting between periods, and a change in sexual desire. In addition, you have to remember to take the pill every day, at almost exactly the same time of the day. Personally, I have tried the pill and I hated it. It made me gain weight and was extremely hard to remember to take every day, even with an alarm (I would ignore the alarm sometimes). This latter part was often stressful because the effectiveness of the pill, when not in perfect use, drops about 7%.  

Photo by Anqa

Nexplanon

This is the tiny rod-like birth control in one’s arm that tends to freak everyone out. The Nexplanon (also called the “Implanon”) is great for many people because it’s long-lasting birth control with, for many, little side effects. The most prevalent disadvantages to this birth control, at least in my experience, is weight gain and a change in your period. Because the Nexplanon is a slow-releasing birth control method, there is no way to regulate your period, or be able to tell if your period will change once it is put in. Personally, I used the Nexplanon for almost two years, and during that two-year period of time, I had some form of a period. Every. Single. Day. Because of this, I got the Nexplanon taken out, but many women (even women that I know) report no change in their period, lighter periods, or even a complete lack of a period at all. So, while the Nexplanon is convenient and effective, it also can be unpredictable.

The Shot

While I’ve never personally tried this method, the pros and cons of this method are very similar to the Nexplanon — you rarely ever have to think of it (you only have to get a shot once every three months), you may get your period less often on it, and it is a very inconspicuous birth control method. Much like the Nexplanon, too, the shot carries disadvantages, such as the possibility of: longer periods, weight gain, depression, and (surprisingly) an increase or decrease of hair on the face or body. On the bright side, though, the percentage of effectiveness in actual use is 97%. 

Photo by Daniel Frank

NuvaRing

My personal favorite (I’m biased, because this is the only one that works for me), the NuvaRing is extremely easy, comfortable, and effective. It basically works as a long-lasting birth control, for three weeks at a time (the fourth week is your period week, much like being on the pill). Although many women worry that they’ll feel it when it’s inside them, you really don’t — it’s similar to how you don’t feel a tampon in your vagina. Much like the pill, the NuvaRing boasts advantages like possibly lighter periods, less acne, protection against ectopic pregnancy, and bad menstrual cramps. Disadvantages include bleeding between periods, nausea, and breast tenderness. 

Whichever you decide to choose, though, always remember to practice safe sex!

Data derived from Options for Sexual Health and Planned Parenthood

Cover photo taken by GabiSanda