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There are many types of birth control available for women who don’t want to become pregnant. The decision on which method is right for you should be made with your health care provider, as well as your partner.
Types of Birth Control
Options that don’t require a prescription from your health care provider include:
- Male condom. A thin tube made of latex or a natural material that is placed over the penis.
- Female condom. A liner made of latex or natural material that is placed inside the vagina.
- Natural family planning. Timing intercourse to avoid “fertile” days using various methods of monitoring body temperature, watching for changes in cervical mucus, and the use of ovulation prediction kits. The method, often known as the “rhythm” method, has a high risk for pregnancy.
These options require a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Medications taken daily that prevent ovulation by controlling pituitary hormone secretion. Usually, oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.
- Mini-pill. Unlike the traditional birth control pill, the mini-pill has only one hormone, progestin. Taken daily, the mini-pill thickens cervical mucus and prevents the sperm from reaching the egg.
- Implant. A capsule containing the synthetic hormone etonogestrel, implanted under the skin in the upper arm of a woman, which continuously prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg for up to three years.
- Injection. A progesterone-like drug given by injection to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. The effects last about three months and another injection must be given to continue birth control effectiveness.
- Patch. This is a skin patch worn on the body that releases the hormones estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream. It is most effective in women who weigh less than 200 pounds.
- Diaphragm or cervical cap. A dome-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim that is inserted through the vagina to cover the cervix. This type of birth control must be inserted prior to having sexual intercourse.
- Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring. A ring that is placed inside the vagina around the cervix. The ring releases the hormones estrogen and progestin.
- Intrauterine device (IUD). Devices placed in the uterus through the cervix by a health care provider. The IUD works by thickening cervical mucus to make it diff icult for sperm to enter the cervix or by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.
Surgical options for permanent birth control result in the inability to become pregnant include:
- Tubal ligation or tubal occlusion (“tying the tubes”). Designed to be a permanent birth control method, tubal ligation is surgery to cut, cauterize, or band the fallopian tubes to prevent the egg from being transported to the uterus.
- Vasectomy for your partner. Cutting or clamping the vas deferens, the tubes that carry the sperm from the testes. This is a permanent male birth control measure.