Common Birth Control Methods

Birth control techniques although many and varied, can be classified under barrier methods, hormonal methods, devices or natural methods for the most part.

Some are more convenient than others but provide more spontaneity in lovemaking or have other benefits. For a delineation of these, please refer to the charts.

 

Barrier Method Contraception

Type What is it? How It Works Benefits Side Effects & Risks
Condom Sheath of latex or lamb skin worn over penis during intercourse -87-90% effective-Blocks sperm from entering cervical canal -Convenient-can be purchased in any drugstore without Rx

-Easy to use

-Comes in colors

-Lubricated, dry or with spermicide

*Protects against sexually transmitted diseases (STD)

-Effective for 5 yrs.-Must fit properly over erect penis
Sponge -Soft, 2-inch round foam with spermicide inside that is inserted into the vagina -80-91% effective-Blocks sperm from entering cervix

-Inhibits sperm motion with spermicide

-Convenient-can be purchased in any drugstore without Rx-One size fits all

-Easy

-Can be inserted up to 30 hours before sex

-Can be used while nursing

-May be difficult to remove-May fragment

-Can irritate

-May cause dryness

-Must remain in vagina for 6 hours after intercourse

-Can’t use with sulfa allergy

-Can’t use with history of toxic shock syndrome

-Can’t use with infection

-Can’t use with bleeding

Cervical Cap Small, thimble-shaped dome-Latex or rubber

-Used with a spermicide

-80% effective-Inserted over cervix

-Prevents sperm from entering cervical canal and killing sperm

-Can remain for 48 hours-Spermicide does not need to be added with each sexual encounter -Requires fitting by M.D. or N.P.-May be difficult to insert

-May be inserted improperly

-Does not protect against STDs

Diaphragm Soft, flexible dome-like cup of various sizes, inserted into the vagina -82% effective-Spermicide is added to both sides of cup

-Blocks sperm from entering cervix

-Inhibits sperm motion

-Reversible-Safe -Need to be fit by M.D. or N.P.-Need prescription

-May not be inserted properly

-Can’t use with latex allergy

Spermicide Many forms available -jellies, foams, creams, films, suppositories -74% effective-Inserted into vagina and melts to coat entire surface

-Kills sperm or prohibits motion of sperm

-Creates barrier between sperm and cervix

Convenient-can be purchased in any drugstore without Rx -Needs to be in vagina at least 15 minutes prior to intercourse-must be inserted each time coitus is planned

-2-4% allergies

-Can be messy

 

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods rely on delivery of estrogen or progesterone or a high dose of progesterone. They decrease a women’s fertility by preventing ovulation, thinning uterine walls and thickening cervical mucus.

 

Type What is it? How it Works Benefits Side Effects & Risks
Birth Control Pills -Daily pill by mouth-Comes in packs of 28 with estrogen and progesterone -92-99.7% effective-Pill taken same time daily-Prevents ovulation

-Thins uterine lining

-Prevents fertilization

-Decreases menstrual flow-Decreases period cramps-Decreases risk of ovarian cancer

-Increases spontaneity

-Headaches-Nausea-Weight gain

-Increased blood pressure

Vaginal Ring Flexible 2 inch ring inserted vaginally -92-99.7% effectiveKept in for 3 wks each month-Prevents fertilization

-Thickens cervical mucus

-Prevents ovulation

-Decreases menstrual flow-Decreases period cramps-Increases spontaneity -Nausea-Headaches-Weight gain

-Breast tenderness

-Increases blood pressure

-Vaginal irritation

Depo-Provera -Injection of synthetic progesterone-Given every 3 months -97-99.7% effective-Deters output of estrogen and progesterone-Prevents ovulation

Thickens cervical mucus

Thins uterine lining

-Prevents fertilization

-Lighter or no period-Spontaneity-Decreases ovarian and uterine cancer risk -Weight gain-Irregular bleeding-Acne

-Mood swings

-Depression

-Headaches

-May increase risk of osteoporosis

Contraceptive Patch Adhesive Band-Aid with estrogen and progesterone -92-99.7% effective-Rx for weekly application-Prevents ovulation

-Thins uterine lining

-Thickens cervical mucus

-Prevents fertilization

-Easy to use-Period flow and cramps decrease -Headaches-Breast tenderness-Nausea

-Weight gain

-Fluid retention

-Skin irritation possible

-May increase risk of breast cancer

 

Other Methods

Type What is it? How it Works Benefits Side Effects & Risks
Intrauterine Device (IUD) -Small plastic device (often 7 or T-shaped) with string attached-Inserted in professional office by M.D. or N.P.  -99% effective-Decreases the possibility of fertilization-Changes uterine lining to prevent implantation if fertilization occurs -In place for 3-5 years-Offers spontaneity -Rx and clinic visit required-May cause irregular bleeding-Slight risk of ectopic pregnancy

-Increased risk of pelvic infection

Withdrawal Removal of erect penis from vagina before ejaculation -73% effective-Also known as pulling out or coitus interruptus-Sperm cannot fertilize egg -Free-Convenient-No side effects -Ejaculation may not be properly timed-Sperm may still be present on penis from first encounter
Natural Family Planning (NFP) -Rhythm method-Daily temperature taken to determine ovulation dates.-Abstain from coitus for 7 days each month (around ovulation time)

 

-75% effectiveThe basal body temperature is taken each morning at rest. Fertility occurs 2-3 days before the temperature rises. By tracking the temperature daily you may be able to predict ovulation time. Then you can avoid unprotected sex during this fertile time. -Free after initial purchase of thermometer-Healthy and natural-Abides by some religious beliefs -May not take accurate reading-Cannot take temperature if you forget and then remember after rousing-May not gauge correctly
Sterilization Male:Vasectomy – Surgical closure of tubes that carry sperm 

Female:

Tuba legation – Fallopian tubes are blocked so that the eggs can’t travel and unite with sperm

Male:Vas deferens from each testicle is clamped or cut preventing semen from containing sperm-99.98% effective

 

Female:

Fallopian tubes are cut and sealed on both sides during surgery preventing eggs to travel for fertilization.

-99.5% effective

 

-Permanent-Allows spontaneity Male:-Permanent-Surgical risks

-Inflammation

-Takes several months after surgery for all sperm to be ejaculated or absorbed

 

Female:

-Permanent

-Surgical risks

-Tiny risk of ectopic pregnancy

-Risk of adhesions

 

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