What's a Woman to do about Birth Control?

Your best choice depends on you.

For some women, the convenience of birth control pills or patches may outweigh the side effects and health risks that go with them. At the other end of the spectrum, women in stable relationships, with regular menstrual cycles and good body awareness may want to consider using the “rhythm method,” also known as “natural family planning” and “fertility awareness.”

In between the extremes of synthetic hormone contraceptives and the rhythm method are condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, female condoms and the Today Sponge. All three involve spermicide, which is not the healthiest goop you can put in your body, but again, risks need to be measured against maturity, lifestyle and how serious the consequences of pregnancy are. The Today Sponge is easy to use, effective, inexpensive and available over-the-counter.

I have yet to meet a woman who used Depo Provera, the progestin shot that lasts three months, who didn't come out at the other end of it feeling terrible. It takes some women a year or more to recover. It may seem like an irresistibly convenient form of birth control, but please read the full physician's information sheet on side effects before considering it, and also read this article, Wake-up Call about Depo-Provera.

I've put together some past Hopkins Health Watch articles on chemical contraceptives to help you sort out the risks: What Every Woman Should Know about Birth Control.

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