Learning About Choosing a Birth Control Method

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Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. Options may include taking pills every day, using condoms, or not having vaginal sex during certain times. There are many different types of birth control. Choose one that fits into your life.

Life changes, and so can your birth control. It's always your choice to start or stop taking birth control or to try a different method.

Thinking about what's important to you—and what concerns you—can help you choose which birth control to use.

How do you choose the best method of birth control?

Before you choose birth control, you might think about:

How well it works.

  • Some types work better than others to prevent pregnancy.
  • Think about how important it is for you to not get pregnant.

How easy it is to use.

  • Some types are taken daily.
  • Other types are used each time you have vaginal sex.
  • Others work for years without you having to do anything.
  • For some, you'll avoid vaginal sex at certain times.

How much it costs.

  • Some types are free in some clinics.
  • Other types cost a lot at first but work for years.
  • Insurance may cover prescription birth control.

Whether it protects you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • Condoms can help protect you.

Whether it uses hormones.

  • Some release estrogen and progestin. Some release progestin only.
  • There are many choices, such as pills, patches, a ring, or IUDs.

If you want to get pregnant later.

  • Some types allow you to get pregnant soon after you stop taking them.
  • It may take months to become fertile again after stopping other types.
  • Some types are meant to be permanent.

How easy it is to get.

  • Some types are placed by a doctor.
  • Others need a prescription.
  • Some are available over the counter (OTC).


  • Some types are easier to keep private.
  • Others need to be used often and may be less private.

How it fits into your life.

  • Some types interrupt sex.
  • After other types are placed, you don't have to do anything.
  • For some types, you'll avoid vaginal sex at certain times of your menstrual cycle.

If you have health problems.

  • You may not be able to use certain types if you:
    • Smoke.
    • Just had a baby.
    • Have had breast cancer.
  • Some types may help with acne or period problems, such as heavy bleeding.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.