We get it. Choosing the right birth control is a big decision when so many options are available today. And each type of birth control comes with its own difficulties and benefits.
The bottom line? The best birth control for you is the one that you will use correctly—every time.
Does choosing a birth control method feel overwhelming? Talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you understand which type suits your specific needs. Here are some things to consider before you book your online consultation.
Birth control methods work in two different ways.
Non-hormonal methods physically block sperm from reaching an egg. These timing and barrier methods include:
Hormonal methods include the pill, patch, ring, implant and some intrauterine devices (IUDs). They contain forms of progesterone and sometimes estrogen and prevent pregnancy in three main ways:
Hormonal birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And some are more effective at preventing pregnancy than others. For maximum protection, you can combine some forms of birth control. For example, you can use condoms while on the pill or apply a spermicide to a diaphragm before insertion.
In general, the most effective methods of birth control are ones you don’t need to consider every day or month. Instead, you “set-and-forget” until it’s time to stop using them.
The methods most effective at preventing pregnancy in this way include:
The downside? These forms of birth control can be expensive—especially without insurance. They can also have side effects you may not want. (The Depo-Provera shot is linked to weight gain. Sterilization is only for those who don’t want to get pregnant in the future.)
Other methods require more attention—but are often more accessible and affordable than set-and-forget options. These include:
On top of preventing pregnancy, hormonal methods like the pill, patch or ring may also change your body in beneficial ways. They can improve acne, potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers and help regulate your hormones—which may improve mood.
Some also help regulate your menstrual cycle to result in lighter periods. Or they make you miss periods while on birth control. They’re also easily reversible if you decide you want to get pregnant.
Condoms also protect against STIs. They’re easy to find at pharmacies and often available for free at health clinics and community centers. And as long as you apply them correctly, they’re very effective at pregnancy prevention.
These methods effectively prevent pregnancy when used perfectly. But it can be challenging to remember to take a pill every day or change the ring every month. Setting reminders on your phone or watch can help. Or you can combine two methods—like using condoms and taking the pill—to make these methods more effective.
Condoms, spermicides, vaginal gels and sponges are available without a prescription.
The pill, patch and vaginal ring require a prescription. Implants and IUDs require an in-office visit for insertion. And a provider must fit you for a reusable cervical cap or and diaphragm. Learn more about the process of these methods here.
Your health history, lifestyle and insurance can influence which birth control method is best for you. When debating the pros and cons of birth control, it can be helpful consider:
Some medications make hormonal birth control less effective. So it’s essential to ask your provider what medications interfere with birth control pills or other methods.
Birth control and antibiotics are generally safe to use together. But a few antibiotics affect hormonal birth control efficacy. So tell your provider what method you’re using before starting any antibiotics.
Do you need help figuring out the best control for you? Dr. B can help!
Start a $15 online consultation—no video call required. We’ll connect you with a licensed provider who’ll help you understand your options. If they recommend a prescription for birth control pills online (or the ring!), they’ll send the prescription to your pharmacy of choice.
Some insurance companies cover birth control for free. But whether or not you have insurance, we’ll show you the lowest prescription cost at your local pharmacies. We’ll also send a drug discount card to help you secure the price at your chosen pharmacy. Learn more about how you can get birth control online—or get started today!
Arowojolu, A. O., et al. (2012). Effect of birth control pills on acne in women. Cochrane.
Barr, N. G. (2010). Managing adverse effects of hormonal contraceptives. American Family Physician.
Britton, L. E., et al. (2020). CE: an evidence-based update on contraception. The American Journal of Nursing.
Cooper, D. B., et al. (2022). Oral contraceptive pills. StatPearls Publishing.
Horvath, S., et al. (2018). Contraception. Endotext.
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2013). Acne: Which birth control pill can help improve your complexion?
Sathe, A., et al. (2022). Medroxyprogesterone. StatPearls Publishing.