There are a lot of birth control methods available for couples to choose from. All these methods allow a woman or a couple to decide whether or when to have a child. There is no such thing as an ideal contraceptive because all of them have side effects.

One important thing though, in choosing which birth control is best for you, is to evaluate your personal priorities. For example, aside from the effectiveness of the contraceptive method, you might also be strongly considering one which can protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, or perhaps you might want to make sure it does not aggravate your medical illness like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Methods of birth control can be grouped into four namely sterilization method, hormonal method, barrier method, and intrauterine device (IUD).

• Sterilization is a surgical procedure done for men or women who no longer desire to have children, thus intended to be permanent. This include tubal ligation or implants for women and vasectomy for men.

• Hormonal method is the most effective and convenient method of birth control. However, it should be avoided by women with risk factors and pre-existing medical conditions. Hormonal method can be a combination of 2 female hormones estrogen and progestin hormones (marketed in the a form a pill, patch or a ring), or a progestin-only hormone which is available as a pill or injection. Progestin-only pill is best for women who breastfeed their babies.

• Barrier methods include male condom, female condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicidal foam, sponges, and film. Use of condoms interrupts love making and decreases sensation but among the contraceptives, this is the one that can highly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

• IUD is also an effective means of birth control. However, many women find it uncomfortable because most IUDs contain copper which increases menstrual flow and cramping.

Here is a table comparing the different methods of birth control which are rated according to the number of plus signs. (0= poor, 5=excellent)

Characteristics
of Birth
Control
Methods
 
Sterilization
 
Hormonal

(Pills)
 
Condom
 
Effectiveness
 
++++
 
+++++ ++
Convenience (does not interrupt love-making)
 
+++++ +++++ ++
Protection from sexually transmitted diseases
 
    +++++
Permanence
 
+++++    
Faster return to fertility
 
+ ++++ +++++
Safe for those with health risks(smoker, migranes,
heart disease, high BP, blood clots, liver disease)
 
+++ + ++++
Other benefits (improve acne, reduces menstrual
cramping & flow
  ++++  

Choosing the right birth control method is a personal issue. Remember that taking time to evaluate your own priorities and concerns, and discussing it openly with your health care provider is the key to choosing the best one.