Here are some factors to consider when selecting a birth control method:
- Effectiveness - how well does the method prevent pregnancy? Look at the number of pregnancies in 100 women using that method over a period of one year. If an unplanned pregnancy would be viewed as potentially devastating to the individual or couple, a highly effective method should be chosen. In contrast, if a couple is simply trying to postpone pregnancy, but feels that a pregnancy could be welcomed if it occurred earlier than planned, a less effective method may be a reasonable choice.
- Cost - is the method affordable?
- Health risk - learn any potential health risks. For example, birth control pills are usually not recommended for women over age 35 who also smoke.
- Partner involvement - The willingness of a partner to accept and support a given method may affect your choice of birth control. However, you also may want to re-consider a sexual relationship with a partner unwilling to take an active and supportive role.
- Permanence - do you want a temporary (and generally less effective) method, or a long-term or even permanent (and more effective) method?
- Preventing HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - many methods offer no protection against STDs. In general, condoms are the best choice for preventing STDs, especially combined with spermicides.
- Availability - Can the method be used without a prescription, provider visit, or, in the case of minors, parental consent?