The Best Birth Control Options of 2018
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Choosing a form of birth control is an important decision, but it’s one that can be difficult – birth control should be easy and effortless, but it should also be effective and safe for regular, consistent use.
Fortunately, there’s a birth control option for every woman looking to reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Here are just a few of the best options available right now.
Oral Contraceptives (the Pill)
“The Pill” is a term used for many different brands of birth control pills. Oral contraceptives, or hormone birth control pills, are one of the most popular forms of birth control available today.
Here’s how oral contraceptives work: the pills contain hormones that keep you from becoming pregnant. The hormones stop ovulation and when this happens, no eggs are produced. Without an egg, there’s nothing for sperm to meet and no way for pregnancy to occur.
When women follow the directions, hormone-based birth control pills are 99 percent effective. However, you must make sure to take your pill once per day every day. Oral contraceptives can take up to seven days to become effective, and you put yourself at risk of an unplanned pregnancy if doses are missed.
The cost of “the Pill” varies based on the brand. There are different options and brands to choose from, and your doctor will prescribe the one that’s best for you and your body. U.S. News¹ reports oral contraceptives can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 a month – but fortunately, the Affordable Care Act mandates that most insurance policies cover birth control pills, which helps cut costs.
Hormonal birth control pills are safe for women to use. Of course, like with all medications, it’s possible to encounter some side effects, such as spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, lowered sex drive, and vaginal discharge.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An IUD is a T-shaped device placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are a few different brands of IUDs currently available, but all IUDS fall into one of two different categories: copper IUDs or hormonal IUDs.
IUDs are long-term forms of birth control – but they’re removable and reversible. They can last for years, but once removed, you can become pregnant. Once placed in the uterus, IUDs block sperm from reaching the egg. Copper IUDs achieve this by using copper, a substance sperm dislikes. Hormonal IUDs achieve this by thickening the mucus inside the cervix and stopping the egg from leaving the ovaries.
IUDs are a very effective form of birth control. They’re implanted by a doctor and don’t require any action on your part to be effective, removing the chance for user error or daily medication.
The cost of an IUD varies by doctor and the type that’s used. IUDs can cost anywhere from $400 to $900 according to Bedsider.org². However, most insurance plans will cover IUDs, shifting the costs to your insurance company. If you’re covered, you should only have to pay the copay for your doctor visit and a small amount of the IUD cost.
There are some possible side effects that come with using an IUD. Most side effects clear up a few months after implantation. Side effects can include pain after the IUD is placed, cramping, back aches, spotting between periods, heavier periods, and irregular periods.
NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring that’s inserted into the vagina. The ring slowly releases the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. Once these hormones are released, the vaginal lining absorbs them, which causes the ovaries stop producing eggs and makes it unlikely a woman will become pregnant.
There is some room for error when using Nuvaring. The ring contains a limited supply of hormones, meaning it has to be replaced once every month. Missing this date can mean your body starts creating eggs again. When the ring is used properly, it’s 99 percent effective – but because there’s so much room for error, NuvaRing is considered 91 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood³ reports that the NuvaRing can cost up to $200. Most insurance policies will cover the cost of NuvaRing, meaning you’ll only have to pay whatever copay is agreed upon.
There are several serious side effects that are possible with the use of NuvaRing. These include blood clots, Toxic Shock Syndrome, liver tumors, high blood pressure, and accidental insertion into the bladder. While serious side effects are uncommon, mild side effects including tissue irritation, headaches, mood changes, weight gain, vaginal discomfort, breast pain, painful periods, and decreased sexual desire are more common.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.