Birth Control Bingo: What's the Right Barrier Method for Me That is NOT Condoms?
On the previous page, you said that you need or prefer a method that does NOT require the participation of a partner, or that sexual spontaneity is MOST important, and you do not want to have anything to put into place immediately before sex, and that you are comfortable touching your genitals, and are not squeamish about inserting/removing a contraceptive device, and you are not interested in a behavioral method like Fertility Awareness, either because your menstrual cycle is not regular, because you do not want to have to chart daily, or because you prefer a non-behavioral method.
Those needs or preferences leave you with a few options. First things first:
- Would you prefer, do you need or can you manage a method which you can obtain either over the counter or through mail-order? If so, click here. OR, would you prefer or are okay with a method which requires a visit to your sexual healthcare provider for a fitting or insertion? If so, keep reading.
(If you have no preference on that issue, the options following will link to methods which are more effective, whereas the over-the-counter or mail-order link above is mostly to methods which are slightly to considerably less effective than those below.)
If you would prefer, want or can manage a method which requires a visit to your sexual healthcare provider, which of the following is most true for you?
I would prefer a form of birth control I can use on an as-needed basis with no ongoing side effects
AND I am not sensitive or allergic to spermicides
AND I want a method I only need to think about when I’m going to have sex that day
AND I prefer a method with a lower cost
I am sensitive or allergic to spermicides
AND/OR I feel okay with leaving a device in my body to provide longer-term contraception.
AND A mild-to-moderately painful procedure to put the method in place, and possibly while I get used to it, does not bother me.
AND I can deal with unpredictable bleeding or spotting, heavier periods or more intense cramps
AND I have adequate medical care with which to get urgent medical attention from a doctor or clinic if I have a complication from a more invasive method.
AND I can pay for -- or am covered financially by a health plan for -- a more expensive method at the onset
If none of the options above seem to fit you, then you may want to consider a hormonal method. Or, you may want to start over from the top of this page, or the previous page to see if you can't strike a compromise somewhere, such as by only choosing partners who will share responsibility for birth control use, to work it out so a brief interruption in sexual activity is not a big whoop, or to find a way to be able to see a sexual healthcare provider in order to obtain a method.
Don't forget: Statistically, sexually active young adults are as, if not more, likely to acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI) as you are to become pregnant. Although 15-24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STIs each year, and of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year, 9.1 million (48%) occur among 15-24-year-olds (AGI). Often people have some funny ideas about who is most likely to get an STI, but the fact of the matter is that younger people -- of any sexual orientation, any economic class, any kind of relationship -- have been the highest risk group for some time now.
Condoms are the only method of birth control which also provide protection against STIs. It's pretty typical for younger people to ditch condoms if they have another method of birth control, so just remember that STIs are still a risk if you're using another method. You can read all about safer sex here -- Safe, Sound & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To -- but the rule of thumb most medical experts and prevention organizations suggest, which we also encourage at Scarleteen is six months of safer sex, six months of sexual monogamy, and then TWO full STI screenings for each partner -- once at the start of that six months, once at the end -- before ditching latex barriers for safer sex.