Birth control, by definition, is the proactive prevention of a pregnancy. There are several methods of birth control that are available to individuals, couples, or groups today. These include the use of devices, medications, or procedures which reduce or eliminate the risks of a pregnancy occurring.
Birth control may also involve preventative behaviors by one or more individuals to reduce the risks of a pregnancy, even if no other methods are used.
Popular forms of birth control today include vaginal rings, birth control shots, low-maintenance IUDs, and implants. There are also daily pills that can be taken or patches that can be worn which distribute hormones that reduce the risks of a pregnancy occurring.
If you’re thinking about birth control, then here are some of the essential pros and cons to think about. Then be sure to discuss your decision with your doctor to choose a method, if any, that is right for you.
List of the Pros of Birth Control
1. It may lower the risks of certain cancers developing.
Women who take birth control pills for a minimum of 5 years have a lower risk of suffering from ovarian cancer or uterine cancer in the future. In both circumstances, the hormones from the birth control pills change how the body regulates itself, which means there are fewer chances for abnormal cells to begin growing. For women with a family history of these cancers, taking birth control pills is a viable option to control risks, even if there is no desire to proactively prevent a pregnancy.
2. For women, the monthly flow becomes easier and more predictable.
If women are consistent with their birth control schedule, then the hormones tend to stay regulated throughout the month. That results in a flow that is lighter than usual, with fewer cramps, and fewer mood changes as well. Although some women do feel that taking birth control pills makes them more hormonal instead of less, with more cramping and heavier flows, most women experience this benefit.
Different birth control pills make create different results. Some women may need to try multiple birth control pills before experiencing this benefit.
3. It reduces testosterone levels in women.
For women, most cases of acne are caused by an over-production of testosterone. Most birth control pills do an excellent job at decreasing the total levels of this hormone. That reduces the number of breakouts that are experienced throughout the year, especially for younger women.
4. Fertility issues are not created by birth control options.
Your fertility is unaffected by most birth control options. Even some surgical options are reversible to permit fertility once again. It may take some time for your cycle to restore itself after stopping birth control when wanting to become pregnant. Some women may need to wait up to 12 months before their bodies are adjusted to the new schedule. Many women, however, have successfully given birth after taking birth control pills or other options for several years.
5. It does not necessarily interrupt a personal moment.
If you choose a hormone-based birth control method, then you don’t need to worry about interrupting foreplay to protect yourself. That is because you are already protected before having intercourse. Although you’d need to take your birth control pills at the same time every day to receive this benefit, patches or shots can counter that issue for you. That means birth control is a very convenient option for most.
6. Birth control offers several additional non-contraceptive benefits.
Women who experience pain during intercourse may find that this issue goes away when using a hormone-based birth control method. Issues with vaginal dryness may be reduced when taking birth control pills. There are also risk reductions for iron deficiencies, Osteoporosis, non-cancerous growths in the breasts, and ovarian cysts. Women who suffer from menstrual migraines may experience a reduction in headache days too.
7. It is very affordable.
For many women, birth control is free through their healthcare insurance. Even if it is not free, the costs are often subsidized by public or private programs. Although the costs of some methods, such as an IUD, may be upwards of $1,000 without insurance, most women have access to low-cost options that will meet their needs.
List of the Cons of Birth Control
1. It may cause changes in libido.
Some women may experience less satisfaction or sexual desire when taking birth control pills. This may be due to the reduction in testosterone that occurs when taking the pill. If this disadvantage is experienced, your doctor may be able to recommend a different birth control option that may restore your libido in time.
2. Fertility issues could become hidden.
Some women suffer from fertility issues that are masked by the hormones introduced to the body by most birth control options. Infrequent ovulation is the most common issue to consider with this specific disadvantage. If you’re taking birth control over a long-term basis, you may find that discovering these fertility issues could become more difficult. That could delay conception when you do decide it is time to pursue a pregnancy.
3. It may cause weight gain.
Most women gain a little weight when they first start taking a hormone-based birth control product. That is because the change in hormones tends to encourage water retention. It is not unusual for about 3-5 pounds of water weight gain to occur. For some, birth control also stimulates their appetite, which may encourage further weight gain. Most women do not gain more than 10 pounds, though some women may need to speak with their doctor about a change if they are struggling with their weight.
4. Birth control pills and shots are known to cause blood clots.
When the preferred birth control option involves estrogen, the result tends to be a slight thickening of the blood. That thickening process increases the risks of a blood clot forming. For most women living a healthy lifestyle, under the age of 35, this issue is quite rare. Some women with a family history of clotting may wish to look at alternative birth control options. If you’re over the age of 35 or you smoke regularly, you may also wish to talk about birth control alternatives.
5. It is not a guaranteed option to prevent a pregnancy.
The only 100% option to prevent a pregnancy is complete abstinence or outercourse. Some modern birth control options, however, are extremely effective. Birth control implants and IUDs are 99% effective at preventing a pregnancy. The birth control shot is rated as being 94% effective. Birth control patches and pills are rated as being 91% effective. In comparison, a cervical cap may only be 71% effective and a diaphragm is only 88% effective at preventing a pregnancy.
6. Birth control methods do not prevent sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
Some people believe that using a method of birth control will provide them with protection against an STI or STD. Even condoms are only known to reduce the risks of an STI or STD. The only purpose for birth control is to reduce the risk of a pregnancy.
7. It may be influenced by outside factors.
Hormonal birth control methods may be up to 99% effective when they are used correctly very time. The problem here is that there are outside influences which can reduce the effectiveness of the birth control. If you are taking antibiotics for an infection, for example, then hormone-based birth control may not provide the same levels of protection. Hormonal patches may not provide full protections when they are exposed to high heat levels or direct sunlight.
8. There may be uncomfortable side effects.
When choosing an IUD, there is a risk for continued bleeding or having the birth control method shift. Birth control pills, patches, and shots may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness in the breasts. Some women may be at a higher risk of depression when taking a hormone-based birth control method. If taking only Progestin, some women may experience irregular bleeding or spotting. Most side effects will decrease within 90 days, but for some women, they never really go away.
9. It may not work at all for some women.
Women who may be overweight could have the effectiveness of their birth control method reduced. If you experience a change in your weight after you’ve decided on a birth control method, it is important to speak with your doctor about what options are available to you. Outside of the generic advice of “consider losing weight” which most doctors offer first, there may be other options, such as an increase in dosage or a change to a different method, which could help you meet your needs.
These birth control pros and cons offer several different options to consider when looking for ways to proactively reduce the risks of a pregnancy. Most people don’t use any method perfectly, which is why the choice of birth control is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your doctor. That way, you can make sure that your final decision matches up with your current needs.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.