Fallen out of love with your birth control? Maybe you’re put off by side effects. Or remembering to pop a pill isn’t your strong suit.
Problem is, going without isn’t a good choice, even as you get older: Nearly 40% of pregnancies among women in their 40s, for instance, are unplanned.
Which one is best for you? We’ve assembled some popular choices here. (However, there are other methods, such as the diaphragm, female condom, NuvaRing, and the Patch, that we didn’t include).
Combo pill : Who can try it?
Almost all women.
Surprised? Truth is, a growing body of research debunks some myths surrounding this 99%–effective form of contraception—like the notion that it brings on menopause or ups the risk for some cancers.
The Pill can ease maddening perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes, hormonal mood swings, and irregular bleeding.
What’s more, it may help prevent ovarian and uterine cancers.
Combo pill : Who should avoid it?
If you’re a migraine sufferer, you may want to steer clear; the Pill is thought to trigger headaches and raise the risk of stroke in some migraineurs. (Experts aren’t sure why, but the dip in estrogen during the “off week” is one suspect.)
And smokers older than 35—that includes the I-only-light-up-when-I-drink crowd—should avoid the Pill, as both estrogen and smoking cause blood to clot more easily.
Progestin-only pill : Who can try it?
Women who are breast-feeding (this oral contraceptive will not lower milk supply), or those who can’t take estrogen-based pills due to cardiovascular disease or blood-clot risks, or because they smoke.
Like the combo type, this “mini-Pill” protects against pregnancy via a low dose of hormones, but it’s estrogen-free.
Note: The progestin-only Pill is slightly less failure-proof than the combo kind.
Progestin-only pill : Who should avoid it?
If you’re schedule-challenged, take heed: Progestin-only pills must be taken every day at the same time to be fully effective; use a backup method if you get off-schedule.