Birth Control Options

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Birth control facts

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  • Birth control methods can be broadly classified into barrier methods (that prevent sperm cells from reaching the egg), methods that prevent ovulation such as the pill, and methods that allow fertilization of the egg but prevent implantation of the fertilized egg inside the uterus (womb).
  • Condoms and diaphragms are examples of barrier birth control methods.
  • Birth control pills are an example of a birth control methods that prevents ovulation.
  • The decision about what kind of birth control option to use is extremely personal, and there is no single choice that is safest or best for all women or couples.
  • A woman should carefully weigh the risks and benefits, along with the effectiveness of each method before choosing a birth control method. A thorough and open discussion with a health care-professional can help in this decision process.
  • Different forms of birth control have different side effects and risk profiles.
  • The choice of birth control method depends on many factors, such as the desire for reversible birth control (preserving future fertility) or permanent birth control methods (surgical sterilization). Some birth control methods, such as barrier methods, may offer some protection against sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), while most methods do not.
  • No method of birth control is 100% effective in preventing STDs.
  • Some birth control methods have higher success rates than others, but no method of birth control is 100% effective in every case.

Types of birth control

Types of birth control methods include options that prevent sperm from reaching an egg, known as barrier methods; methods that prevent ovulation, and methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus.

Types of birth control include:

  • Hormonal birth control methods, including birth control pills and patches
  • Barrier birth control methods
    • Diaphragms
    • Condoms
    • Cervical caps
  • Natural birth control methods
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Emergency contraception
  • Surgical sterilization

Hormonal birth control options (including oral contraceptives pills)

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Hormonal options of birth control involve the use of hormones to prevent ovulation in a woman. Although oral contraceptive pills are the most widely used hormonal method, other options are available including the vaginal ring, hormone patches applied to the skin, and injections of progestin.

Common side effects of birth control pills can include

Heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes are more serious complications of oral contraceptives. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of these complications. This risk is greatest in women over 35 who are heavy smokers (>15 cigarettes/day).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2015

Patient Comments

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Birth Control Methods - Types Question: What type of birth control do you find most comfortable and effective?
Birth Control Methods: Hormonal Question: What type of hormonal birth control are you taking, or have you taken in the past; and what if any side effects did you experience?
Birth Control Methods: IUD Question: Please share your experience with the IUD birth control method.
Birth Control Methods: Surgical Sterilization Question: Please share your experience with tubal ligation or vasectomy.
Birth Control Options - Experience Question: Please share your experience with types of birth control.

Birth Control Types

Doctor's View on Birth Control Types

Birth control can be permanent or temporary. The woman and her partner, taking into consideration the ease of use, side effects, costs, and effectiveness of each method, must weigh the pros and cons of various birth control types.

  • Reversible methods of birth control
  • Permanent methods of birth control
  • Emergency contraception