If you are sexually active and wish to avoid pregnancy, you will need to practice some form of family planning. In today’s modern society there is an enormous variety of options available; there’s hormonal birth control, non-hormonal barriers and devices, sterilization, natural methods, and many options within each of those categories. It can be overwhelming to know how to choose!
Here are four questions that are useful for couples and women to consider while making their decision.
1. Is it safe?
This is obviously a very important consideration when selecting a form of birth control. Any prescription medication is going to have certain risks and side effects, some more than others. Non-hormonal devices such as copper IUDs can have various effects on the body. And some women are also more at risk for certain complications from hormonal birth control than others (such as those who smoke or who have a history of breast cancer). Whatever form of contraception you are considering, make sure to carefully read all package inserts from the pharmaceutical company, relevant studies, and current research so you fully understand all risks and the possible short term and long term side effects of use.
2. Is it effective?
Make sure to find out a particular method’s perfect use effectiveness rates as well as the effectiveness of typical use. Find out what ‘perfect use’ means and determine if this seems realistic for you and your lifestyle. It’s also important to discuss with your partner how each of you would feel about an unplanned pregnancy, and how you would respond as individuals and as a couple.
3. Is it ethical?
One thing that is often missed in the birth control decision is asking if a particular method aligns with your values or not. So often we assume if something is mainstream, it must be good. Make sure you understand exactly how a particular method works and what effect it has on both your body and on any possible pregnancy that should accidently occur. Doing the in depth research now can save you grief and regret down the road.
4. Is it forever?
Something else to consider are the long term consequences of contraception. Could your birth control negatively impact your future fertility? Your health? What are your dreams for your family? What if you change your mind down the road? Whether you are ready for children or not, your fertility is a precious and fragile gift that should be protected and respected. Your fertility is also an important part of your overall health and well being, regardless of your family planning intentions. Would your current birth control choice adversely affect your health, your emotions, your fertility or your relationships?
Of course, there may be other questions that come to mind, but these are a good place to start a conversation. Don’t be afraid to take your time, ask questions, and do some research. If you know all of your options before choosing a family planning method, it will help you to feel confident and empowered in your decision.
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