Birth control methods vary far and wide. There’s a method for nearly every body and lifestyle. In fact, there are about 12 methods in total and counting. And those methods range from non-hormonal and hormonal to single use and long-lasting use.

 

Whether you’re thinking of trying a new birth control method or simply wanting to learn more about what’s out there, you’ve found the right place. We know the task of choosing the right birth control method can be daunting, so we’ve done some of the homework for you. Here’s what you need to know about several of the birth control methods out there to make the best decision for your body and lifestyle: 

  1. Permanent Birth Control

A surgical procedure that makes a person who can produce sperm unable to cause a pregnancy or a person who can ovulate unable to become pregnant. Permanent birth control is not reversible and prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. While women can choose from bilateral tubal ligation in the hospital (aka “having your tubes tied”) or a tubal block done in a health center, men may choose a vasectomy. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of a tubal ligation, tubal block or vasectomy 

  1. IUD (Non-hormonal/Hormonal)

A small t-shaped device that is placed inside of the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they use an IUD. Available in non-hormonal (copper) and hormonal (plastic) options, the IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control and can last anywhere between 3 to 10 years depending on which type you choose. Non-hormonal and hormonal IUDs work to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the IUD.

  1. Implant (Hormonal)

A small rod placed under the skin in the upper arm by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women a year will become pregnant using the implant. The implant, which lasts for 3 years, releases the hormone progestin to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs, and it thickens cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the implant.

  1. The Shot (Hormonal) 

An injection given by a medical professional of the hormone progestin in the arm or hip that lasts three months and prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the shot as directed. The shot, also known as Depo-Provera, stops the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the shot. 

  1. The Vaginal Ring (Hormonal)

A flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina each month for three weeks at a time that prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the ring as directed. The vaginal ring releases hormones that stop the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the ring.

  1. Patch (Hormonal)

The patch is applied (like a sticker) weekly anywhere on the skin (except for the breasts) and prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the patch as directed. The patch releases hormones that stop the ovaries from releasing eggs, and it thickens cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the patch.

  1. The Pill (Hormonal)

A pill that should be taken at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness, which is often used to reduce cramping and bleeding during periods and that prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they take the pill each day as directed. The pill releases hormones (progestin-only or a combination of hormones) to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the pill.

  1. Condoms (Non-hormonal)

Available in latex or polyurethane, condoms, which prevent pregnancy 98% of the time, are placed over an erect penis to stop sperm from entering the vagina during ejaculation. 2 out of 100 women whose partners use condoms will get pregnant if they always use condoms correctly.

Insertive/female condoms are inserted into the vagina and prevent pregnancy 95% of the time. This means that 5 out of 100 women will become pregnant if the insertive condom is always used correctly.

Not only are condoms arguably one of the most affordable, accessible forms of birth control, they also protect against STDs. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of condoms and insertive condoms.

  1. Emergency Contraception (Hormonal & Non-hormonal)

Emergency contraception can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. It can come in the form of a pill or copper IUD, which have varying degrees of effectiveness. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy from occurring by preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus, but it does NOT cause an abortion. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of emergency contraception.

10. Spermicide 

Made with sperm-killing chemicals, spermicides such as foams, suppositories or film (used separately, not in combination) prevent pregnancy 82% of the time. 18 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the spermicide as directed. Placed inside the vagina shortly before sex, spermicides block the cervix and keep sperm from joining with an egg. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of spermicides.

11. Fertility Awareness/ Natural Family Planning (Non-hormonal)

Natural family planning involves a woman tracking her monthly cycle from her period through ovulation to determine when she is most and least likely to get pregnant. When used correctly, this method prevents pregnancy 76% of the time. 24 out of 100 women who use natural family planning will have a pregnancy if they use the method correctly. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of natural family planning.

12. Withdrawal/Pull-out Method (Non-hormonal)

Withdrawal prevents pregnancy 73% of the time by pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation. 27 out of 100 women whose partners use withdrawal will become pregnant each year, even if used correctly. Remember, there is always a chance of pregnancy if sperm is introduced to the vagina. Learn more about the pros, cons and side effects of the withdrawal method.

Schedule a visit at a Planned Parenthood near you to get your birth control, or talk to your provider about which birth control method may be right for you.

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