5 signs you should switch up your birth-control method

5 signs you should switch up your birth-control method

  • If you've used the same birth control method since you started using contraception, you might want to re-evaluate if it's working for you, gynecologist Dr. Jessica Shepherd told Insider.
  • Painful or heavy periods, conditions like hypertension and high blood pressure, and a recent change in your relationship status are all reasons to consider a different method.
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Breaking out of your routine or comfort zone can feel scary, but sometimes it's a necessary and helpful step, especially when it comes to your birth control.

Research will help you narrow down your options, but trying various birth control methods for 8 to 12 weeks is the most effective way to find the one the best fits your body and lifestyle, University of Illinois at Chicago gynecologist Dr. Jessica Shepherd told Insider.

"I think that there's a comfort level when you think of birth control," based on what an individual's parents or education exposed them to, Shepherd said, adding that someone's hesitancy to switch up their routine could also contribute to a lack of experimentation.

But there are plenty of reasons you may want to consider trying a new one.

You bleed through tampons

Shepherd said in her experience, undesired period symptoms, like excessive bleeding to the point of consistently soaking through an entire large tampon, are a common reason birth-control users switch methods.

For some, the hormones in birth control pills and hormone-containing intrauterine devices (IUDs), like progestin and estrogen, can minimize menstrual bleeding.

Your menstrual cramps are very bad

Painful period cramps could be another symptom-related reason to swap methods, according to Shepherd.

Hormone-containing birth control methods including the pill, NuvaRing, some IUDs, and the arm implant can lighten some people's periods, which leads to less menstrual cramping. 

Others might experience more irregular periods when switching to hormonal methods though, which is why it's important to try a method for 8 to 12 weeks before considering side effects and deciding to move onto something else, Shepherd said.

Additionally, ome people with endometriosis, or when uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus and causes extreme pelvic cramps, who switched to hormonal IUDs from other birth-control methods reported less debilitating pelvic pain.

You forget to take your daily pill

Your current birth-control method might not mesh well with your habits or current routine, and that's a great reason to consider other methods, said Shepherd.

If you forget to take your daily birth control at least once a week, rendering it ineffective, for example, or travel often for work and find it difficult to get a prescription refill when you run out of a month's supply of pills, a more long-acting option could better suit you, according to Shepherd.

You've been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension

Birth control methods that have both estrogen and progestin, plus some with only estrogen, aren't suited for people with certain health conditions, Shepherd said.

That's because the hormones in these medications can increase a predisposed person's risk of blood clots, heart attack, liver tumors, and stroke.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, breast cancer, or blood clots, it's best to use non-hormonal methods like the copper Paragard IUD or progestin-only methods like the arm implant, according to Shepherd.

You just got into a serious relationship

If you've recently gotten into a serious long-term relationship and want a more fool-proof method than condoms or the pill, it could be worth switching to an IUD, implant, or vaginal ring because they all last multiple years, according to Shepherd.

"If it's someone who is longterm and you both have decided for family planning that that's in the future, but not right now, then that would be a good time to consider something that's long-acting," she said.

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