2. Choosing contraception
Do your homework. Most women spend more time planning a one-week vacation than choosing what contraception they're going to rely on. The good news is that there are more choices than ever, but women have a responsibility to educate themselves about their options. Investigate some of the new contraceptives on the market by starting at the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals' site at arhp.org, or visit Planned Parenthood's at plannedparenthood.org.
Assess your needs. To help narrow down the choices, ask yourself the following questions: Do you want a contraceptive that's reversible (e.g., a barrier method like the diaphragm, or a hormonal method, such as the pill or Depo-Provera) so you can have children in the future, or one that's permanent (such as Essure, in which a flexible, coiled-springlike device is inserted into each fallopian tube to prevent fertilization) if you're done having children or don't want any? Do you also need protection from sexually transmitted diseases? (The answer is yes if you're not in a mutually monogamous relationship.) If so, consider condoms. A diaphragm and condoms are good choices if you want methods that can be applied right before sex. (The pill is the most reliable form of contraception, but it must be in your bloodstream long before you have intercourse.) Are you prone to urinary tract infections (UTI)? If so, diaphragms, which can boost UTI risk, may not be best for you.
Use what you choose. The biggest contraceptive failure is failure to use contraception. No matter how good the method is, it doesn't work if it's in the drawer.