Exploring Five Different Types of Birth Control

With all the methods of birth control available to women today, it is especially important to compare options to find what works best for you. While each method has its own particular set of pros and cons, choosing a form of birth control remains a highly individual process. It is far from one size fits all. Fortunately, there is no need to fret. Read on to learn more about a few of the ways you can avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

  • The Pill – The birth control pill (commonly shorted to “the pill”) is a hormonal tablet that fools your body into thinking it is pregnant. Consequently, you will not ovulate and any sperm present will have nothing to fertilize. The hormones additionally cause your cervical mucus to become thicker, making it especially challenging for sperm to reach the egg. With typical usage, oral contraceptives are 91% effective. They generally work best if taken at the same time every day.
  • The Patch – Worn on your skin, the patch releases hormones that stop ovulation and result in thickened cervical mucus, creating an additional hurdle for sperm. You change the patch once a week for three weeks, skip the fourth week (and get your period during this time), then restart the cycle. Like oral contraceptives, in real-life situations this method is 91% effective. The adhesive might peel off or a woman might not remember to replace it at the right time.
  • The Shot – The shot is an injection of the hormone progestin to prevent ovulation. Progestin thickens cervical mucus, as well. It is 94% effective, and faithfully scheduling follow up injections every three months increases this percentage.
  • The Sponge – The sponge is a small, circular piece of white plastic foam. It is placed deep into the vagina up to 24 hours before sex, serving as a physical barrier to sperm by covering the cervix. It also contains spermicide that helps destroy sperm. For women who haven’t had children, this method is 88% effective. For mothers, it is only 76% effective. The sponge may fall out if not inserted properly, and some women find they are sensitive to spermicide and unable to use this form of contraceptive comfortably. To increase its effectiveness, your partner can wear a condom or avoid ejaculating inside you.
  • The IUD – Short for “intrauterine device”, the IUD is made of plastic and shaped like the letter T. Intrauterine devices are either copper or hormonal. Both interfere with how sperm move. Sperm do not fare well in the presence of copper, and hormonal intrauterine devices serve to thicken cervical mucus and may stop ovulation from occurring in the first place. At 99% effective, IUDs are one of the most reliable forms of birth control around because there is no possibility of a woman using it incorrectly. In under five minutes, a nurse or a doctor inserts the device into your uterus.

Regardless of which birth control you choose, remember that you are free to try something else if you are not pleased with the method you are currently practicing. Also keep in mind that none of these types of birth control protects you from sexually transmitted diseases. Use a condom each time you have sexual intercourse to lessen your chance of contracting one of these infections and boost the effectiveness of your primary form of birth control. Making an informed decision will improve not only your sexual experience, but that of your partner as well.