Condoms are one of the easiest methods of birth control to get, and a great way to prevent pregnancy and STDs — but they also have some disadvantages. You have to use condoms correctly every single time you have sex, which can be hard for some people to do. And they’re not the most effective method of birth control out there.
Luckily, you’ve got lots of other options. The kinds of birth control that work the best to prevent pregnancy are implants and IUDs. They’re over 99% effective, and they work so well because you can’t mess them up — once an implant or IUD is in your body, it works 24/7 to prevent pregnancy for several years (or until you have your nurse or doctor take it out). Implants and hormonal IUDs can also have other health benefits, like helping to treat heavy or painful periods.
Other methods of birth control that can also help with problem periods and give you good protection from pregnancy are the pill, ring, patch, and shot. The birth control pill is a pill you take every day. The birth control ring is a small, flexible ring you put in your vagina every month. The birth control patch is a sticky patch you put on your body every week. The birth control shot is a shot you get every 3 months. These methods aren’t quite as effective as IUDs and implants because it’s easier to forget to use them or make a mistake. But when you use these kinds of birth control correctly, they work really well.
There are even more birth control options, but they can be harder to use and don’t work as well to prevent pregnancy. These include spermicide, sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps, fertility awareness, and withdrawal (pulling out). Using these types of birth control is definitely better than using nothing at all, but they won’t give you the most protection from pregnancy. You can combine these methods with condoms to help them work better.
Even if you’re using a really effective birth control method, you still need to protect yourself from STDs. Condoms are the only type of birth control that also prevent STDs, so it’s a good idea to use condoms with another method of birth control if you can — that way you get protection from STDs plus extra protection from pregnancy. And get tested for STDs regularly, whether or not you use condoms.