Birth control’s main use is to prevent pregnancy. There are several birth control choices to think about, including:
- The pill
- Skin patch
- Vaginal ring
- Birth control shot
- Cervical cap
FAQ about the types of birth control
There are many methods of birth control. Talk with your doctor to find out which method is right for you.
Hormones are natural chemicals in the body that help it work. The pill method of birth control contains hormones that help to prevent pregnancy. You take the pill daily.
There are different kinds of pills. Talk with your doctor about the differences between them and what's right for you.
When taking the pill, read the directions carefully so you know what to do in case you miss a day or have any questions.OR
A birth control skin patch is worn on your skin and slowly releases hormones into your body to prevent pregnancy. You wear each patch for a week at a time, for three weeks in a row. During the fourth week, you don't wear a patch and you'll have your menstrual cycle.OR
You place a flexible plastic ring into your vagina that releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. You wear it for 21 days and then remove it for seven days.
During the seven day period, you'll have your menstrual cycle. After the seven days, you need to put in a new ring.OR
Your doctor gives you a shot in your upper arm or your buttocks every three months. The shot has hormones in it to prevent pregnancy.OR
An IUD is an intrauterine device. It's a t-shaped plastic device inserted into your uterus (womb) by your doctor.
If you choose a hormonal IUD, it releases a hormone called progestin. The progestin makes it hard for sperm to fertilize your eggs. Depending on what brand you choose, it can stay inserted for three to six years.
If you choose a copper IUD, it releases a small amount of copper to stop sperm from moving and reaching your eggs. A copper IUD can stay inserted for up to 10 years.OR
Spermicide is a chemical placed into the vagina to stop sperm from moving. There are a number of types of spermicide such as foam, gel, cream, film/thin sheets and suppositories.
Using spermicide regularly increases your chances of catching HIV. Only use spermicide if you have a low chance of getting HIV. Before using spermicide, it's a good idea to get yourself and your partner tested.OR
Condoms come in male and female versions. A male condom covers the penis and catches sperm after ejaculation. A female condom lines the vagina and stops sperm from reaching the uterus.
Condoms are most effective at preventing pregnancy when used in combination with spermicide. Only use spermicide if you have a low chance of getting HIV.OR
This small device is dome-shaped and made of latex or silicone. It fits inside the vagina to cover the cervix (lower part of the uterus). Your doctor can prescribe one after a pelvic exam to find your size.
Diaphragms are most effective at preventing pregnancy when used in combination with spermicide. Only use spermicide if you have a low chance of getting HIV.OR
A cervical cap is a latex or plastic dome, prescribed by your doctor, that fits tightly over your cervix. Your doctor can prescribe one after a pelvic exam to find your size.
Cervical caps are most effective at preventing pregnancy when used in combination with spermicide. Only use spermicide if you have a low chance of getting HIV.OR
This device is donut-shaped and made of soft foam coated in spermicide that covers your cervix. The sponge is available without a prescription at pharmacies. Since it has spermicide in it, only use a birth control sponge if you have a low chance of getting HIV.OR
FAQ about birth control
These methods result in less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year:
- Sterilization (surgery to stop future pregnancy)
These methods result in six to 12 pregnancies per 100 women in a year:
- Vaginal ring
- Birth control shot
These methods result in 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women in a year:
- Cervical cap
- Male condom
- Female condom
- Fertility awareness-based methods
If you have sex without birth control or if your birth control fails, you can use an emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. You should only use this method in case of an emergency and never use it as regular birth control.
An emergency contraceptive is most effective when taken right after having unprotected sex. It doesn't protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).OR
There are two main types of emergency contraceptives. Both need to be used within five days after having unprotected sex:
- A doctor inserts a copper IUD
- Taking an emergency contraceptive pill
- Progestin only
- Combined birth control pills taken in certain amounts as prescribed by a doctor
- Ulipristal and combined birth control pills are only available by prescription
- Progestin pills can be found at your local pharmacy without a prescription