9 things you need to know to find the best birth control for you

No birth control will affect two women the same way. Which one is best for you?

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  • You are unique and so is your body. Every woman's birth control needs are different. The important thing is to find a method that fits you. Here are eight things you should know before picking out your birth control:

  • 1. Effectiveness

  • All women are at different stages of life; some already have kids, some are not ready but want them in the future and others don't want children at all. You have to discuss the desire and timing of having children with your spouse so you can plan the strength and effectiveness of your birth control.

  • Birth control efficiency differs between each method. For example, something like the Today Sponge is moderately effective. The FDA estimates for every 100 women that use a vaginal sponge, between 16 and 32 will get pregnant a year. On the other hand, an implant is extremely effective with less than one percent chance of pregnancy. Only one form of birth control is guaranteed to work 100 percent of the time - abstinence.

  • 2. Cost

  • The average woman spends about $150 on birth control per year. Each method's cost and effective timeframe are different. Some are costly upfront but last for several years like an IUD, while others are an inexpensive, one-time use alternative like a condom. Discussing your financial situation with your spouse and looking into how much your insurance will cover might be big determining factors when deciding on a type of birth control.

  • 3. Doctor visit

  • When looking at cost and convenience, keep in mind that some methods need a doctor visit. Birth controls like "the pill" must be prescribed, implants and IUDs have to be placed and shots must be administered. If you don't want to bother with the doctor, you might want to look at over the counter options.

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  • 4. Protection from STD/STI

  • Not all forms of pregnancy prevention will protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and infections. If you or your spouse have had an STD or STI or you have multiple sleeping partners, you will want to look into forms that will keep you and your partner safe.

  • 5. How long it lasts

  • Depending on your plans for the future and for your family, there are one time, one month, multiple years or permanent birth controls to choose from. Take a good look at your lifestyle and plans to help decide which would be best for you.

  • 6. Quickly reversible

  • Some birth controls are permanent like a vasectomy or can stay in your system for a long time like a hormone shot. It might be frustrating when you're ready to start a family or have more kids and can't because of the method of birth control you used. Planning ahead might help you decide if you want something with no lasting effects like fertility awareness methods or spermicide.

  • 7. Convenience and detection

  • Pregnancy prevention methods should be mutually agreed upon between you and your spouse. Ultimately, it should be the woman's choice; however, some forms are detectable and uncomfortable for both men and women like a cervical cap or the withdrawal method. Finding something comfortable and convenient for the both of you is key. This might require trying multiple methods before finding one you both like.

  • 8. Side effects

  • Many forms of birth control can have side effects during use or lasting effects after use. A hormone shot has a longer lasting effect that stays in your system. Many forms like "the pill" can cause you to gain weight. To avoid side effects, you will need to do some research on the different forms you have considered trying or consult your OB/GYN for a professional opinion.

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  • 9. Age and lifestyle

  • How you live your life and your age are also important factors when selecting a pregnancy prevention method. For example, if you're overweight, hormone-based methods like pills, NuvaRings or a patch are essentially useless for women over 165 pounds. Oral contraceptives are also not recommended for women over the age of 35 and smoke.

  • Other forms might help various things in your life; if you're approaching menopause, the shot might help relieve symptoms. Either way, asking a doctor for the best alternative for you will help you determine which form is best for you and your lifestyle.

  • Every woman's body and lifestyle is vastly different. Sometimes, changes happen in your life that even require a change of birth control methods. Whether it's ending a relationship, starting a new one, gaining weight, aging or a number of other life changes, it's OK to find different methods that meet your changing needs. The important thing is for you to find something that puts your mind at ease and helps you feel happy and healthy.

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Kristina Tieken is a staff writer for FamilyShare, public relations specialist with a love for the fine arts, food and exercise. She enjoys watching movies and spending time with her husband and family.

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