Birth Control Methods According to Your Age

As you get older, you should change your birth control methods. Here are the birth control methods you should apply in your 20s, 30s and 40s.

What Are Birth Control Methods According to Your Age?

Whether you’re 20 or 50, one rule remains the same: If you haven’t gone through menopause and don’t want a baby, you need some form of birth control.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stay the same method for all your fertile years. In fact, it would be wiser to make some changes along the way. The best choice for you today is that in a few years your current method may no longer be as effective as it used to be and you may want to try a new method. So what is the ideal option for you right now?

To make your choice, you and your doctor should discuss several factors, including your age. Age matters, both because of health problems and risk factors, and because your lifestyle habits tend to change, says Mary Jane Minkin, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. Here’s a smarter guide to birth control in your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

For more articles on sexuality, see our “Sexuality” category.

Birth Control Methods in the 20s

The Pill is a popular choice in this era and may be ideal for you – perhaps not. Dr. Many young ladies in their 20s live hectic lifestyles, Minkin says. “Remember to take a pill every day? That’s a big question,” he says. “If you look at the scientific literature, you will see that the average number of forgotten pills can go up to 4 per month!” Each missed pill further reduces the effectiveness of this method, so it’s pretty risky to skip a few if you’re trying to avoid getting pregnant.

Fortunately, the pill isn’t your only option. Dr. “I have a patient, a very smart girl, a college student who forgets to take a pill, so she comes in every 3 months for a Depo-Provera shot,” says Dr. mink. (Depo-Provera relies on the hormone progestin to thicken cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach an egg.)

For other young and busy women, the NuvaRing might work. This is a hormonal method, it requires you to insert a ring into your vagina and remove it after 3 weeks; this can be more difficult than taking an oral medication every day. “You need to be comfortable touching your vagina,” says Dr. mink. If the idea of ​​wearing a ring bothers you, this is not for you. (The FDA has approved a vaginal ring called Annovera that can be used for a full year, but it likely won’t be on drugstore shelves until 2019 or 2020.)

Also worth remembering: If you have multiple partners, you should always use a condom against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), even if you use hormonal birth control. “A very young lady told me: ‘But I got the HPV vaccine!’ That’s great – I’m delighted – but there are many other dangers out there that he doesn’t protect,” says Dr. mink.

Birth Control Methods in the 30s

If you’re happy with the method you used in your 20s, you can go with it, but there are some important caveats. “If you’re over 35 and a smoker, you shouldn’t be taking birth control pills,” says Minkin. The same goes for rings and glue control methods, as hormones will increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or blood clot. These risks also apply to non-smokers and younger smokers, but are much lower.

Whether you smoke or not, one method you may want to consider in your 30s is an IUD. You can use an IUD at any age. After giving birth, your cervix stretches, so the insertion is less painful since you’re not having a baby – most women (including those who have never had children) can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Before the procedure and before you feel better, Dr. Minkin says.

And again, condoms, another form of birth control, are essential if you have more than one partner.

Birth Control Methods in Her 40s

You’ve probably heard that your fertility has been on a decline this decade, and that’s usually true. But there are plenty of “surprise” pregnancies among women in this age group. “I personally brought babies to three 47-year-old women who weren’t trying to get pregnant!” Dr. Minkin says.

If you’re dealing with perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and irregular periods and don’t smoke, low-dose birth control pills may be a good bet. “I use them a lot for women in their mid-40s because they help control their symptoms,” says Minkin.

Worried about your risk of breast cancer, which begins to increase in your 40s? Some research suggests that hormonal birth control may further increase the risk of the disease, but Dr. Minkin suggested that he wasn’t too worried. (He says any increase seems minimal.) If you’re still worried—perhaps because of a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors—consider a copper IUD. Dr. “If you have regular periods and you just want reliable birth control, ParaGard is great and no hormones,” says Minkin.

The contraceptive sponge available on the market may be a good choice for some women in this age group. Dr. “I wouldn’t recommend a young lady to use these sponges, but if you’re 48 and have been without use for a period of 9 months, your chances of getting pregnant are pretty slim,” says Dr. mink. “So if you want to stop the method you used before and use the sponge for some reason, it’s fine.”

Of course, if you have more than one partner – maybe you’re starting to date again after a long hiatus – you still need to use condoms, because you can get an illness at any age.

No matter how old you are, Dr. Minkin says it’s really important to find a birth control method that fits your individual needs. “I want to make sure patients are using something they’re comfortable with and that it’s compatible with their lifestyle,” she says.

Source:, Your Birth Control Should Probably Change as You Get Older—These Are the Best Options in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s, 2019.

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