When Choosing Birth Control: Consider Convenience and Ease of Use

Contraception Convenience. Photo Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

When choosing a birth control method, it is important that you consider the convenience and ease of use of each method, and honestly and realistically evaluate how that particular birth control method fits into your lifestyle.

What Does Convenience Mean To You?

Depending on your point of view, the idea of convenience can have various meanings. For some, the convenience of a birth control method means that it's easy to use.

A method’s ease of use could involve not having hard directions or annoying side effects. You may consider a method convenient if it doesn't require a lot of planning or thinking. Maybe it means fewer visits to the doctor’s office. Convenience could be an option that doesn't force you to abide by a strict schedule or allows for greater sexual spontaneity.

It is important that you decide how important “convenience” is in the birth control method you choose.

Consider: Your Schedule and Routine

Do you live a hectic life? Do you have trouble remembering what day it is, let alone what pill to take? Some methods, like The Pill, require you to take it every day at roughly the same time. Other methods, like the NuvaRing or Patch don’t require you to take it every day, yet you still need to remember to replace these methods (weekly-Patch, every 3 weeks-Ring). IUDs (depending on the type) can stay 5 to 10 years.

Depo Provera only requires shots every 3 months but know that this method requires remembering to schedule doctor appointments and having a schedule that allows you the time to go to them.

Consider: Difficulty

Some methods are a lot easier to use than others. You may find swallowing a pill every day much less of a hassle than figuring out how to insert a NuvaRing.

Does it matter to you whether or not your birth control method is messy (such as spermicides) or may be a little noisy (as female condoms can sometimes be)? Consider if it is important to you whether or not the method’s directions are easy to follow and remember? It may be less complicated to stick on the Patch every week than remembering all the steps to properly use a diaphragm.

Consider: Sexual Spontaneity

How important is it to you that you do not have to even think about contraception when the opportunity for sex arrives? Do you want a birth control method that does not require you to “have” it on you, just in case? Some methods, like spermicides and condoms, may interfere with spontaneity because they require sex to be interrupted in order to be used. Do you want a method like a diaphragm or cervical cap where you will need to have it with you and/or inserted ahead of time? Keep in mind that some methods must be used every time you have sex and need to be easily accessible when intercourse takes place.

Consider: Awareness

Do you like attention to details? How about when it comes to your birth control?

  • Fertility Awareness Methods require monitoring of one's monthly cycle and meticulous charting to determine when ovulation occurs as well as figuring out when you are most fertile, so you cannot have sex at that time
  • When using diaphragms and cervical caps, you need to be aware of how long they have to stay in place after sex (before they can be removed)
  • Mirena, Skyla, and ParaGard IUDs require periodically feeling for threads to make sure the IUD is in place
  • Some methods require practicing insertion techniques to ensure that they're used properly

Consider: Upkeep and Particulars

Some methods require no maintenance, like permanent options while others may just require one to remember when to take or replace them.

On the other hand, keep in mind that some options, like condoms, have restrictions on where they can be stored (such as not in warm places).

Do you want a birth control method where you need to be checking for expiration dates?

Diaphragms and cervical caps may need to be refitted if pelvic conditions have changed. You also need to wash these devices after their removal and allow them to air dry as well as regularly check them for holes or tears.

The Bottom Line

To choose the birth control method that is the best fit for you, realistically assess the importance of convenience and ease of use. Each method has its pros and cons. Some are easier, some are less messy, some are more natural. You can decide how important these factors are and how each birth control method would or would not mesh with your lifestyle and needs.

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