Birth Control Options

Birth control keeps you from getting pregnant during sex. There are many types of birth control. Some of the most common types are described below. New types are being tested all the time. Your healthcare provider can help you decide which type of birth control is best for you. But no matter which type you choose, you and your partner must use it the right way each time.

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Condom

A condom is a thin covering that fits over the penis. (The female condom fits inside the vagina.) A condom catches sperm that come out of the penis during sex.

 

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Spermicide

Spermicide is a gel, foam, cream, tablet, or sponge (although the sponge has barrier properties in addition to spermicidal properties). It is put in the vagina before sex to kill sperm.

 

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Diaphragm and cervical cap

Diaphragms and cervical caps are round rubber cups that keep sperm out of the uterus. They also hold spermicide in place.

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Intrauterine device (IUD)

An IUD is a small device that is placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

 

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The pill

The birth control pill is taken daily. It contains hormones that stop a woman’s body from releasing an egg each month.

 

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Other hormones

Hormones that stop a woman’s egg from being released each month can be delivered in other ways. These include injection, implant, patch, or vaginal ring.

Emergency contraception (EC)

Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Hormone pills (“morning after pills”) are available over the counter to anyone. A second type of EC, a copper IUD, needs to be inserted by a trained healthcare provider. Either type of EC can be used up to 5 days after sex, but it should be taken as soon as possible because the sooner it is used after unprotected sex, the more likely it is to be effective. EC will not work if you’re already pregnant.

Things to consider

  • Choose a type of birth control that is easy for you to use.

  • Read the package to learn to use your birth control the right way.

  • Most forms of birth control do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To protect against STIs, always use a latex condom.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 10/9/2013
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