Choosing the right birth control method is a very important decision. You want an optimal combination of effectiveness, ease of use, and alignment with your family planning goals. And like most women, you want to combine the advantages of an easy-to-use, highly effective birth control method with a minimum of potential side effects.
But navigating potential side effects can sometimes be a bewildering task.
At Eve Medical of Miami, our team are experts at educating women about their birth control choices and helping them pick the method that is best for them. That includes managing side effects.
Here, we explain some important information that can inform your choices if you’re balancing a desire for effective birth control with a concern about possible side effects.
Considering the options
There is no type of birth control that’s perfect for every woman. Each has a different set of pros and cons. The method that’s absolutely fantastic for your best friend might be completely wrong for you.
When choosing a method, we take several factors into account. One is effectiveness. Birth control methods vary in their ability to reliably prevent pregnancy. For example, methods like the intrauterine device (IUD) and contraceptive implants are extremely reliable, but male and female condoms are less reliable.
Another factor is a method’s ability to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). IUDs, contraceptive implants, and birth control pills do not offer STD protection, but condoms do.
Some birth control methods, such as spermicide products that contain an ingredient known as nonoxynol-9, actually raise your risk of getting HIV because they can irritate your vagina. Of course, this is not a concern for women in reliably monogamous relationships.
Potential side effects
The possibility of side effects is another factor to consider when making your birth control choice. Different types of birth control methods have different possible side effects.
For example, hormone-based methods such as the contraceptive pill and hormonal implants may cause side effects related to their hormonal ingredients. In general, hormone-based methods are more likely than non hormonal methods to lead to side effects.
Some potential side effects for hormonal birth control include:
- Higher risk of heart attack, blood clots, and stroke
- Elevated blood pressure
- Irregular periods
- Mood changes
- Sore breasts
- Weight gain
Your personal risk
The risk of potential side effects can be more serious for some women than others. For example, women who smoke should not use hormone-based methods because doing so can raise their risk of heart attack or stroke to an unacceptable level. And a woman who is prone to getting migraines may find that hormone-based methods trigger her headaches.
It’s important to remember, however, that just because a method has the potential to cause a certain side effect, it doesn’t mean you’ll experience that side effect. Many women who take the pill, for example, never have headaches, mood changes, or other symptoms. For that reason, you may need to try more than one method before finding one that’s right for you.
Explore all of your options
Feeling confused? That’s normal. And it’s why we’re happy to work with you to make your birth control choices. If you’d like to discuss your options and potential side effects, we invite you to make an appointment for a birth control consultation or to bring up your concerns during your annual well-woman exam.
Schedule an appointment by calling our office or using our online booking tool.