Do You Need To Switch Up Your Birth Control After A While?

There's a lot to know about the different methods of birth control available, and there are also some signs that you should switch the birth control method that you're using. If you aren't noticing any negative side effects and like the form of birth control that you have been using, though, is there any reason why you should consider switching to another form of birth control?


Based on the advice given to Self by a number of doctors, there are some important reasons why you might want to consider switching up your birth control method from time to time. We should note that these reasons also depend on your individual circumstances, and what could be right for you may not be right for someone else using the same form of birth control. Keeping that in mind, we're breaking down at what point, if any, you should think about trying another form of birth control and why.

You may be able to continue using the form of birth control you're on

According to OB/GYN Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, who spoke with Self, "It's not 'wrong' to stick to the same birth control method over a period of many years, especially if it is working well for you. However, you should be aware of the potential risks and the birth control options you have — and be open to making changes as needed."


Medical News Today points out that you might want to reassess your options, for instance, if you have had a lifestyle change that could affect the form of birth control you've been using. We would also add that this is applicable if you are looking to get pregnant in the near future. Given the many different circumstances that could come into play here, this should be a conversation between yourself and a medical professional, especially if you are someone who has been using birth control to manage other health conditions.

Your birth control is not intended for long-term use

One reason you should consider switching the form of birth control you use is that not every form of birth control is intended for long-term use. Per Healthline, looking at the long-term, some birth control pills could increase your risk of health issues including cancer, so it's vital to assess your risk if this is applicable to you. And certain forms of birth control, are only intended for use over a certain period of time; for example, an intrauterine device (IUD) is meant to be used for a number of years before it needs to be replaced.


There are also other health concerns associated with different types of birth control, so it's important to know what potential risks are related to what you're using. As one example, WebMD reports that extended use of Depo-Provera, an injectable form of birth control, can lead to bone density loss.

Ultimately, it's up to you and any medical professionals you see on a regular basis to decide if you should discontinue the use of any form of birth control due to its potential long-term effects on your health.

You have received a new medical diagnosis

Per Self, another prominent reason why switching your birth control method could be in your best interest is if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that you didn't have when you started using it. OB/GYN Donna Baick, MD, told the outlet, "Elevated blood pressure; migraine; or a diagnosis of blood clots, stroke, or cancer may indicate a need for a change in birth control method."


It isn't just about your diagnoses themselves, though, because the medications you take might also play a role. WebMD noted that there are a variety of medications that could interact with the birth control you use, with everything from medications used to treat HIV to anti-seizure medications listed as leading to possible adverse interactions. If you have been prescribed any form of medication that has been found to interact with your birth control method of choice, reconsider your options for the right contraceptive going forward.

Your birth control didn't work for you

An additional reason to switch up your birth control method is if the method of birth control you were using resulted in pregnancy. Different birth control methods have been found to result in different rates of pregnancy, with the use of spermicide alone having been linked to the highest rate of pregnancy (via Office on Women's Health).


Healthdirect Australia notes there are multiple possible reasons for birth control failure. Because of this, you need to determine what could have led to the failure of your birth control method so you can avoid having it happen again. While they attribute many of the reasons for birth control failure to user error, this might not be the case depending on the type of birth control you've been using. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, for instance, discusses how pregnancy while using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control can occur — although it is rare — when not inserted properly.

You're non-binary or transgender

Lastly, we're going to address some basics surrounding what you need to know about remaining on birth control specifically if you are someone who is non-binary or transgender. WebMD clarifies that hormone therapy will not work as well as birth control: something to think about if you could become pregnant or impregnate someone else by having penile-in-vaginal sexual intercourse.


Regarding patients with a uterus and ovaries, OB/GYN Beth Cronin, MD, told WebMD, "We generally counsel patients that if they're on [testosterone] and are having that type of sex, they could get pregnant and they should be using contraception." Likewise, remember that those who have not had a vasectomy or orchidectomy could impregnate someone with a uterus and ovaries through penile-in-vaginal sex, even if the former is on estradiol therapy.

In other words, you'll want to keep assessing your birth control options over time even if you aren't cisgender. Depending on your identity and how you have chosen to transition, in combination with other health factors, a medical professional will be able to advise you further.