If you want to prevent pregnancy, there are several birth control methods you can choose from. When choosing which birth control method is right for you and your partner, it's important to take efficacy, ease of use, cost, and availability into account. Several birth control options are available for both males and females. Which method or combination of methods works best for you will depend on your specific circumstances. It's best to talk about all of your options with your doctor and your partner when making a decision.
If you want to prevent pregnancy, there are several birth control methods you can choose from. When choosing which birth control method is right for you and your partner, it's important to take efficacy, ease of use, cost, and availability into account.
Several birth control options are available for both males and females. Which method or combination of methods works best for you will depend on your specific circumstances. It's best to talk about all of your options with your doctor and your partner when making a decision.
Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs): Fertility awareness methods are ways to track ovulation to help you avoid becoming pregnant. Fertility awareness methods are also referred to as the rhythm method and natural family planning. This method has a lot of room for error and should only be used if you and your partner are willing to except the risk of pregnancy.
FAMs help you determine when you will ovulate each month. Ovulation occurs when your ovaries release an egg. The days around ovulation are your most fertile days. Avoiding intercourse or using another birth control method, such as a condom on your most fertile days can help you prevent pregnancy.
There are several ways in which you can track ovulation. You can take your temperature, measure your cervical mucus, or keep track of your menstrual cycle to determine when you'll ovulate.
When FAMs are used properly, they can be up to 90% effective. You must be diligent about tracking your fertile days and either avoiding intercourse or using another birth control method on your most fertile days in order for this method to work. You can learn how to track your ovulation from your physician.
It's important to note that this method will not work well for women who have irregular menstrual cycles.
Spermicide: You put spermicide into the vagina before intercourse to help prevent pregnancy. Spermicide contains chemicals that inhibit sperm from reaching an egg.
Spermicide is most effective when it is used with another method of birth control. Spermicide used alone is approximately 70-80% effective. When spermicide is used with a condom, the combination is about 97% effective.
Cervical Cap: A cervical cap is a silicone cup that's inserted into the vagina before intercourse. The cap covers the cervix so that sperm cannot reach the egg. Spermicide must be used with the cervical cap to be effective. You must put spermicide into the vagina each time you have intercourse. You can leave a cervical cap in for up to 48 hours.
A woman must get a cervical cap from a physician. A woman must be fitted for the cap. Cervical caps should be replaced every year.
A cervical cap can be difficult to insert properly. If the cap is not inserted properly, pregnancy may occur. The cap can also be dislodged during intercourse. It's important to note that the cap is less effective for women who have given birth before.
Birth Control Sponge: The sponge is a small, round sponge made of soft plastic that fits against a woman's cervix to prevent pregnancy. The sponge contains spermicide and provides a continuous source of it for 24 hours. You do not need to put additional spermicide into the vagina each time you have intercourse during this period.
The sponge is readily available for purchase without a prescription. It's important to note that the sponge is less effective for women who have given birth before.
Diaphragm: A diaphragm is similar to a cervical cap and a sponge in that it's inserted into the vagina before intercourse to cover the cervix, preventing sperm from getting to an egg. A diaphragm must be used with spermicide. Spermicide should be inserted into the vagina each time you have intercourse.
A woman must go to her healthcare provider for a pelvic exam so that a diaphragm can be fitted to her. If you gain or lose 10 to 15 pounds, you may need to be refitted for a diaphragm. Approximately 12% of women get pregnant annually despite using a diaphragm.
Female Condom: A female or internal condom is a flexible plastic tube containing a ring at each end. One end of the condom is closed. The closed end of the condom is inserted into the vagina and covers the cervix. Internal condoms are also effective at helping prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Internal condoms can be used when a woman is menstruating. These condoms need to be taken out immediately after intercourse.
Internal condoms are readily available for purchase without a prescription. Despite the use of an internal condom, approximately 21% of women get pregnant each year.
Male Condoms: A male condom is a thin covering made from latex, animal membrane, or plastic that's rolled over an erect penis to prevent pregnancy. Latex and plastic condoms are effective at protecting against STDs while condoms made of animal membrane are not.
Condoms are readily available for purchase in drugstores, grocery stores, and department stores. You should only use water-based lubricants with condoms because oil-based lubricants can cause condoms to break or leak.
Condoms are about 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. You need to use a new condom every time you have intercourse.
Combined Hormonal Contraception: Combined hormonal contraceptives include birth control pills, birth control patches, and the vaginal ring. You must use these methods on a schedule for them to be effective. Birth control pills must be taken at the same time every day. The patch must be changed every week. The vaginal ring is changed monthly.
If you use these methods perfectly, they're up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but in the real world, they are approximately 91% effective.
You need a prescription to obtain combined hormonal contraceptives. Contraceptives containing estrogen can increase the risk of blood clots. Contraceptives containing estrogen are not recommended for women over the age of 35 who smoke. If you don't smoke, you can continue to use these contraceptives until you reach menopause.
These contraceptives have some health benefits, including regular periods and less menstrual cramping. Women who use birth control pills may notice improvements in PMS, acne, and menstrual headaches. Pill users also have a lower risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
Birth Control Injection: The birth control shot or injection contains the hormone progestin. Progestin prevents a woman from ovulating, which prevents her from getting pregnant. Additionally, progestin thickens cervical mucus, making it impossible for sperm to get through.
You must get the shot every three months in order for it to be effective. You will need to get the shot at your doctor's office. The shot is about 94% effective.
Intrauterine Device (IUD): An IUD is a small device that's inserted into your uterus. IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm cells move so that they cannot reach the egg. IUDs are effective at preventing pregnancy for a number of years, depending on which brand of IUD you choose.
IUDs can be taken out easily if you decide you want to become pregnant. You can get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed.
Implant: The birth control implant is a thin rod approximately the size of a matchstick that releases hormones into a woman's body so that she doesn't become pregnant. The implant contains progestin, which thickens cervix mucus, making it impossible for sperm to reach the egg. Progestin can also stop ovulation.
The implant can be used for up to three years. It can be removed if you decide you want to get pregnant. You should be able to get pregnant shortly after the implant is removed. The implant must be placed under the skin in the upper arm by a physician. It's the most effective form of reversible birth control.
Emergency Contraception: Emergency contraception, also called the “morning-after” pill, can be taken by a woman up to five days after having unprotected intercourse. The pills work by delaying ovulation.
While some over-the-counter emergency contraception pills are available for purchase at pharmacies, the prescription emergency contraception pill is twice as effective. Emergency contraception pills are up to 90% effective when they are taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Tubal Ligation: Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure where a woman's fallopian tubes are burned or sealed shut so that an egg cannot travel to the uterus. This procedure also prevents sperm cells from traveling to the ovulating ovary where fertilization typically happens.
This procedure is almost 100% effective. Tubal ligation cannot be reversed.
Vasectomy: A vasectomy is a simple surgical procedure that involves cutting or blocking the vas deferens, the tubes that transport sperm in a male's reproductive system. Vasectomies are nearly 100% effective, but it's important to note that in rare cases, vasectomies fail.