“With every birth control there’s something to consider—whether it’s regular use, whether it’s around having to have an IUD inserted, or having to go back to a clinic for a shot every few months,” says Dr. De-Lin.
3. You simply want something you don’t have to think about.
Some people have no problem taking a pill every day, while others would prefer to very rarely have to think about their birth control. For the latter group, LARC methods like the IUD and the birth control implant are ideal, because you can essentially set it and forget it, says Dr. De-Lin. They’re also very hard to mess up, which is why their effectiveness for “perfect use” and “typical use” are basically the same, whereas other methods like the pill and condoms have notably lower efficacy when not used consistently and correctly every time, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
4. You’re experiencing side effects.
“Most people will get minimal to no side effects, but there is a small percentage of people who will get a number of side effects or side effects that are really unpleasant, that are not tolerable,” board-certified gynecologist Staci Tanouye, MD, tells SELF.
That might include things like severe mood changes, headaches, nausea, or irregular bleeding. While mild side effects aren’t uncommon when you first start a birth control method, they should gradually subside over the first few months. So if you’re truly miserable or they don’t seem to be going away, definitely bring it up with your provider. “Anything like that would definitely warrant a discussion of: Do we need to switch dosage, do we need to switch brands, or do we need to switch methods completely?” says Dr. Tanouye.
5. You want birth control that comes with perks.
Pregnancy protection is kind of a given, but there are other perks you can expect from various birth control methods. For instance, maybe you want a method that may give you a lighter period, like a hormonal IUD. Or maybe you want to switch to a combination birth control pill (one with estrogen and progestin) that’s especially good at taming hormonal acne or PMS symptoms. Maybe you want to skip your period entirely using birth control, which is a thing you can do with certain methods like some combination pills as well as the contraceptive ring and patch (just talk to your doctor first).
6. You’ve developed a health condition that doesn’t play well with your current method.
Every birth control method comes with some contraindications, just like any other medication. You probably went over this list with your doctor when you first started birth control, but if that was quite some time ago, it’s worth having another conversation about it. That’s because certain health conditions might determine which contraceptive options you can use safely, and you may have developed those health conditions over the course of your birth control journey.
For instance, if you’ve developed a blood clot, if you have migraine with aura, or if you now have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease (like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend taking estrogen-containing birth control methods like the combination pill, the patch, and the ring, as these methods may further increase the risk of stroke. Having breast cancer is typically another reason to stop taking hormonal birth control, since it could be a hormone-mediated cancer, says Dr. Tanouye.