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Harvard Commentaries
Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Important Points To Consider When Choosing Birth Control

October 04, 2013

Birth Control
Important Points To Consider When Choosing Birth Control
Important Points To Consider When Choosing Birth Control
Choosing birth control involves more than examining methods. There are a number of lifestyle factors that need to be considered as well.
InteliHealth Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Important Points To Consider When Choosing Birth Control

Having information about birth control is your first step toward choosing the method that is best suited for your lifestyle and family planning needs.

But there are other factors that can affect your choice. They include:

  • Age
  • Past and current medical history
  • Past pregnancy history
  • Personal relationships
  • Insurance
  • Professional goals

It is wise to speak with your health-care provider or a family planning counselor about your health status and medical history so that you can select the method that is right for you.

Working With Yourself, Your Provider And Your Partner

Each decade of your reproductive years is unique. It is important to familiarize yourself with all of your options and spend time considering or selecting the methods that best serve you and your partner's needs.

By determining what is important to you, you can select birth control that best complements your individual needs and lifestyle.

Here are some practical questions to ask yourself about birth control and family planning as you move through different phases of life:

  • What are my personal habits? Do I pay attention to detail?
  • Do I ever want to have children? If yes, when and how many?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I have — leisurely and relaxed, or full of things to do and over-booked, or somewhere in between?
  • What are my relationships like — long term or short term, multiple partners or just one?

If you are thinking about becoming sexually active but you're still undecided, consider talking to someone who is knowledgeable about sexual relations and birth control. Schedule a visit with your nurse practitioner, doctor or nurse midwife. Teen-agers, especially young teen-agers, may not be able to schedule a medical appointment on their own, but talking with a trusted adult such as a parent, school counselor, peer counselor or spiritual leader can be extremely valuable and can help the teen make the decision that is right for him or her.

If you are sexually active but don't want to have a baby, be sure to protect yourself with an effective method of birth control every time you have sex. The least expensive and most readily available protection is a latex condom combined with a spermicide (sperm-killing agent), which you can buy at your local drugstore. This combination is perfect if you have not yet sought the advice of your health-care provider.


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