A reader recently asked us to address the issue of birth control because it is an important part of a couples sex life. It is my hope to present a non-biased approach to sharing what I have found in my research of different birth control methods. Please discuss these options with your OBGYN to determine which method will be best for you.
My husband and I found that it was very difficult to decide on birth control methods over the years. Nothing seemed to really be perfect and we just made due with the best possible option at the time.
There are a variety of different forms of birth control and so many variables to consider when deciding on the one that is right for you. I wish to overview a variety of popular methods with a description of each one. For more detailed information on these methods you may find these websites helpful:
Please keep the following in mind:
I do not promote or encourage any form of “emergency contraception” as I believe that the moment an egg is fertilized that a life has started. Apart from my moral conviction, I also believe it is very unhealthy to interrupt a pregnancy. Therefore I will not make mention of them in this article. However, keep in mind that most hormonal methods would pose some risk to an embryo if an unexpected pregnancy were to occur.
I am not promoting one of these methods over another. The best idea is to pray about which option is right for you and keep in mind that God may lead you and your husband the change methods over time. God surprised me with some of the things He told me when I prayed about the options so I’m really glad I took the time to ask Him.
Educate yourself extensively on the methods you are considering so that you can make a well informed decision. You can not always go by what other women have experience as our bodies can respond differently to the hormonal methods and we all have different preferences, but do take the time to talk to other women as well, if you can.
Birth Control Pills ~ a pill is taken orally each day (sometimes with the option of skipping the week of your period) which you can get that either contains both estrogen and progesterone or progesterone only and primarily functions to keep a woman from ovulating.
Birth Control Patch ~ works similarly to birth control pills, but a patch is worn on the abdomen, buttocks or upper body rather than taking a pill daily. The patch is changed once a week and kept off the week of menstruation.
Depo-Provera ~ an injection of progestin that prevents ovulation in a similar way to the way progesterone would.
Mirena Intrauterine Device (IUD) ~ The Mirena IUD is different from other IUDs because it actually contains a hormone that is highly effective in preventing pregnancy as it blocks sperm from reaching your egg and makes the lining of your uterus thin (this may also result in benefits like less menstrual bleeding over time). Unlike other IUDs, this device is not primarily intended to keep a fertilized egg from implanting. For more details about Mirena, you can visit their website.
NuvaRing ~ it is inserted once a month for a three week duration. It contains estrogen and progestin which will result in preventing the ovaries from developing mature eggs. For more details about NuvaRing, you can visit their website.
Implants ~ no longer available. If you are currently using this method, you will need to consider your other options once it expires.
Male or Female Condom (option of adding spermicide for increased effectiveness) ~ a sheath is placed over the penis or in the vagina to contain the ejaculate and prevent sperm from remaining in the vagina.
Cervical Cap, Shield or Diaphragm (option of adding spermicide for increased effectiveness) ~ a dome-shaped device is used to cover the entrance to the cervix. Most of these methods require that the device be inserted hours before intercourse and remain in place for hours afterwards.
Contraceptive Sponge ~ the Today Sponge is primarily a barrier method, but also contains a spermicide.
Fertility Awareness Method ~ charting your basal body temperature, cervical fluid and position of cervix, and typical menstrual cycling in order to prevent or encourage pregnancy. Abstinence or a barrier method is used on fertile days. A great reference for this method can be found in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
Withdrawal ~ the man withdraws his penis just before ejaculating. Be aware that the pre-ejaculate liquid can contain semen and there can be a higher risk of failure in using this method, especially if the man is not fully committed to the method or if he is not well aware of his sexual function. i.e. he doesn’t know when he is about to ejaculate.
Breastfeeding ~ exclusive breastfeeding can help to prevent pregnancy if the baby is not receiving any formula and feeds every few hours, but does pose a higher risk of failure as some women will begin ovulating after only a few months even with exclusive breastfeeding. Thoroughly research and understand this method if you wish to incorporate it. You can also combine breastfeeding with the mini pill which contains progestin only.
No effort made to prevent pregnancy ~ continuing with usual sexual involvement without any attempt to avert conception.
Total Abstinence ~ refraining from intercourse completely (not a method I recommend in marriage under normal circumstances).
Vasectomy (Male sterilization) ~ Cutting, tying or sealing the vas in a male’s testicles so that sperm can not transfer through the penis with the ejaculate.
Tubal Ligation (Female sterilization) ~ Severing and sealing a woman’s fallopian tube so that the egg and sperm can not meet, thereby preventing conception.
Essure System (Female sterilization) ~ a metallic implant is inserted in the woman’s fallopian tube resulting in scarring that blocks the tube, again, preventing conception.