Are you curious about what birth control options are out there? Here are six questions you should ask yourself (or your provider) when starting a new birth control method.
- What types of birth control exist?
There are 18 different birth control methods (also known as contraceptives). Check out Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive list to learn about and compare the various types and what they do. For information on emergency contraception check out this video or article on the topic.
- Why do I want to start using birth control?
When selecting a birth control method, the first question you should ask yourself is “why do I want to start using birth control?” For some, it’s because they are becoming sexually active, so they need to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. For others, they may be looking for hormonal birth control (like “the pill”) to help regulate their period, treat PCOS, or even just help with hormonal acne.
- Do I want hormonal or non-hormonal birth control?
Hormonal birth control does not protect you from STIs. If you use hormonal birth control and engage in sex you will need to also consider using barrier methods, such as condoms and dental dams. In some cases, hormonal birth control can lead to side effects that can cause discomfort or inconveniences. However, these typically go away within the first 2-3 months of starting the birth control method. If you continue to experience these symptoms after 2-3 months, consult with your doctor about next steps. Currently, hormonal birth control only exists for people with vaginas.
- How much upkeep does birth control have?
Some birth control options (such as condoms, a sponge, or a diaphragm) must be used every time you engage in penetrative sex. These are known as “barrier methods.” Others require frequent or infrequent scheduled maintenance. For example, birth control pills require taking a pill every day at the same time, while IUDs are replaced every 3-12 years depending on the type.
- Does the method I’m interested in require a prescription or procedure?
While condoms can be bought directly from a pharmacy, grocery store, or corner store, most other forms of birth control require a prescription or a small medical procedure.
- How much will birth control cost me?
The cost of birth control widely varies by method. If you are an enrolled member of a federally recognized Tribe, you can receive prescription birth control for free from an Indian Health Service clinic or a Tribally operated clinic, regardless of your insurance status.
To learn more, check out these resources:
- For a list of birth control methods
- What to expect at the doctor’s when you receive a birth control prescription
- How to sign up for health insurance to receive birth control
Author: Originally from Oklahoma, Summer Lewis is a Muscogee and Seminole woman working in Tribal public health in Northern California. She is preparing to start her first semester of her Master’s program at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health and enjoys baking, beading, and being outdoors.