Some birth control methods are more convenient to use than others. Consider the following when choosing a birth control method:
- Sexual spontaneity. Does the method require interrupting sexual intercourse, such as to put on a condom or insert spermicide? Do the partners need to make sure that the method is always available whenever sex may occur, as with condoms and diaphragms? Do partners need to use the method at each act of sexual intercourse?
- Schedule. Does the method require remembering to take a pill daily, such as with birth control pills, or scheduling regular visits to a health professional, such as with the birth control shot?
- Attention. Does the method require regular monitoring of the menstrual cycle and avoiding sex during fertile periods, such as with natural family planning?
- Hassle. Is the method messy or complicated to use?
- Comfort. Does the method cause irritation or discomfort for either partner?
Permanent or longer-term methods such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, the intrauterine device (IUD), the hormonal implant, the shot, and the hormone patch or vaginal ring offer the most convenience for many people. With these methods, you do not have to take a pill daily, keep a birth control method handy for when you have sex, or carefully monitor your menstrual cycle.
All users of long-term methods who have any risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI) exposure should use a condom. Most spermicides contain a chemical called nonoxynol-9, which may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.
Birth control pills may be convenient for women who are able to remember to take a pill daily. The pill does not have to be taken at the time of sexual activity, which may allow for spontaneity. Also, with certain pills you can have fewer or no periods.
Barrier methods—such as spermicide with condoms, the cervical cap, the -shield, and the diaphragm—require that couples have the methods readily available and have them in place just before having sexual intercourse.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology Last Revised May 3, 2012