Different Types of Birth Control

By Contributing Writer

  • Overview

    Different Types of Birth Control
    There are many different types of birth control, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important to discuss your birth control options with your doctor, so you can fully understand the risks and benefits. Luckily, with so many options, you should have no trouble finding a birth control method that meets your needs.
  • Condoms

    A condom is typically made of latex or plastic and is put on a man's penis just before having sex. It prevents pregnancy by blocking semen from entering the vagina. According to the Mayo Clinic, male condoms are 85 percent effective when used properly and are even more effective when used with a spermicide. Condoms are popular because they are easy to use and inexpensive, and they are one of the few types of birth control that protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, some men report that condoms decrease their pleasure while having sex. You do not need a prescription for condoms and they are widely available at drugstores.
  • Birth Control Pills

    Birth control pills are the most widely used form of birth control in the United States, according to Mayo Clinic statistics. Most birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent a woman from ovulating and make it harder for sperm to enter the cervix. The pill must be taken every day, except for the week of your period, and they are 99 percent effective if you use them properly. However, there can be side effects, including weight gain, bloating and breast tenderness. Birth control pills can also increase your risk for blood clots and strokes, although this is very rare. You will need a doctor's prescription for the pill and can expect to pay $9 to $50 per month.


  • Other Hormonal Methods

    The patch is a relatively new contraceptive method delivering hormones directly through the skin, and it is 98 percent effective. Since the hormones in the patch are delivered through the skin, it exposes users to much higher levels of hormones than the pill. The vaginal ring provides hormones through the skin as well, and is inserted into the vagina for one month. The vaginal ring is only 92 percent effective. The side effects of the patch and the ring are similar to those of the pill. Finally, women also have the option of getting a shot of progestin, which is 97 percent effective at preventing pregnancy for three months. Each of these methods requires a doctor's prescription.
  • IUDs

    IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are small devices that are inserted directly into a woman's uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two types--copper and hormonal. Copper IUDs contain a small amount of copper that prevents fertilization. They can last up to 12 years and are 99.2 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs continually release small amounts of progestin and can prevent pregnancy for five years, with a 99.9 percent effectiveness rate. IUDs are popular among women who do not plan on having children for a number of years. However, IUDs can increase your risk of pelvic infections and there is a small chance that an IUD can pierce the wall of your uterus. Both types of IUDs need to be inserted and removed at a doctor's office and they cost approximately $300.
  • Barrier Methods

    There are also a number of non-hormonal options that are inserted directly into the vagina. Diaphragms and cervical caps are small rubber or silicone cups that are filled with spermicide and inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. Diaphragms and cervical caps are 84 percent to 86 percent effective and have very few side effects, although they may increase your risk of developing urinary tract infections. You will need to get fitted at a doctor's office for both the cervical cap and the diaphragm, and you can expect to pay around $50 to $70 per year. Finally, the sponge is a another type of birth control that is used with spermicide and inserted into the vagina to block the cervix. It is 84 percent effective and is available without a prescription at most drugstores.
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