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Weighing your options

It’s easy to be confused by all the birth control options out there: Should you take a progestin-only pill or the mainstream combination pill? Can an IUD affect your chances of having children in the future? Is the female condom as effective as its male counterpart?

Luckily, we have answers. Here are 12 of the most common birth control methods, and why you should or shouldn’t try them.

control-birth-contraceptive-pill

Combination pill

What it’s called: Estrostep Fe, LoEstrin 1/20, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Yasmin, Yaz

What it does: This birth control mainstay is still 99% effective against pregnancy when taken around the same time every day. It’s also known for easing hot flashes and restoring regular periods.

Who should avoid it: Smokers and those 35 or older. The estrogen may cause dangerous blood clots. If you suffer from migraines, you should also pass because it may trigger the painful headaches.

progestin-pill

Progestin-only pill

What it’s called: Micronor, Nora-BE, Nor-QD, Ovrette

What it does: Known as the mini pill, progestin-only meds don’t contain estrogen. They’re safer for smokers, diabetics, and heart disease patients, as well as those at risk for blood clots. They also won’t reduce the milk supply for women who are breast-feeding.

Who should avoid it: If you have trouble remembering to take your pill at the same time every day, progestin-only pills might not be your best bet. They need to be taken at exactly the same time every day; if you’re more than three hours late, plan on using a backup method.

seasonique

Extended-cycle pill

What it’s called: Lybrel, Seasonale, Seasonique

What it does: These pills prevent pregnancy and allow you to have a period only every three months. (Note: Lybrel stops your period for a year, but you must take a pill every day, year-round.)

Who should avoid it: There’s no evidence proving it’s dangerous not to have periods, but there is still no long-term research to show that it is safe.

nuva-ring

Vaginal ring

What it’s called: NuvaRing

What it does: The ring is made of flexible plastic and delivers estrogen and progestin, just like the combination pill. You place the ring in your vagina for three weeks, and then remove it for one week so that you have a regular period.

Who should avoid it: Women who smoke, or have blood clots or certain cancers, should not use the NuvaRing.

diaphragm-birth-control

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Diaphragm

What it’s called: Milex Wide Seal, Ortho All-Flex, Semina, SILCS

What it does: Made of rubber and shaped like a dome, a diaphragm prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. It covers the cervix and must always be used with a spermicide. Women must be fitted for a diaphragm in their doctor’s office.

Who should avoid it: If your weight tends to fluctuate by more than 10 pounds at a time, the diaphragm may not work. If you gain or lose weight, you’ll need to be refitted. Prone to bladder infections? You might want to consider another option. If you’ve had toxic shock syndrome, you shouldn’t use a diaphragm.

iud

What it’s called: Mirena, ParaGard

What it does: ParaGard is a surgically implanted copper device that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Mirena, also surgically implanted, works by releasing hormones. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are more than 99% effective and good for 10 years.

Who should avoid it: Some doctors recommend the device only for women who have given birth. When the device is implanted, your uterus is expanded, and this might cause pain in women who have not had children. If you’re planning on having children in a year or two, look at other options. The IUD can be removed, but the high cost—up to $500—might not be worth it for short-term use. read full article

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