World Contraception Day is observed on September 26 every year. It is supported by the World Health Organisation along with various medical societies and non-governmental organisations around the world and focuses on increasing awareness about the various contraceptive methods and ensuring that young people are able to make an informed choice.
Going with the theme of the day, here are five questions that you may want to ask yourself before choosing a birth control option.
1. How effective is the method?
Effectiveness of a contraceptive method is determined by how many women get pregnant within a year even after using the said method. Not all birth control methods are equally effective. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, implants and male and female sterilisation are about 99% effective. Vaginal rings, combined pills, progesterone only pills and contraceptive injections and just as effective but their effectiveness reduces to 95% when not used correctly. Male condoms are 98% effective while female condoms are 95% effective with perfect use.
2. Are you planning on getting pregnant soon?
If you are using a contraceptive pill, chances are your fertility may return to normal within a week or a few months of stopping the pill. However, those who take contraceptive injections may take months or even a year after they stop taking the injections to be able to get pregnant. Similarly, sterilisation is usually permanent (you won’t be able to get pregnant at all). Discuss your options with your doctor if you have plans to conceive in the near future.
3. Do you have another health condition or are you taking other medications?
Experts suggest that certain methods of contraception interfere with your other medications. Birth control pills may increase your chances of getting blood clots. If you already have a health problem, say a cardiovascular disease, taking the pill may put you at risk of complications. However, barrier methods like condoms (both male and female), cervical cap and diaphragm generally do not interfere with medications. If you have a chronic disease or are taking medications for one, make sure to consult a doctor before choosing a birth control method.
4. Do you want a method that you don’t have to remember to take?
Birth control pills have to be taken every day to be effective, condoms and diaphragms you will have to remember every time you have sex, contraceptive patches usually need changing every week while vaginal rings generally stay for up to a month. On the other hand, most IUDs stay effective for up to 10 years and can be removed whenever you wish to get pregnant. If you tend to be forgetful, it is best to choose a long-term method.
5. How comfortable are you with needles, minor surgical procedures or inserting things in your vagina?
If you are not worried about small procedures or inserting things into your vagina, you can try IUDs, contraceptive needles, diaphragms and caps. However, if you are not, it is better to invest in birth control pills or a contraceptive patch, which can always be combined with a barrier method for added protection.
For more information, read our article on Birth control methods.
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