6 Birth Control Options

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

View Birth Control Slideshow Pictures

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

Quick GuideBirth Control Pictures Slideshow: Methods, Side Effects and Effectiveness

Birth Control Pictures Slideshow: Methods, Side Effects and Effectiveness

Birth control facts

  • 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) such as the IUD.
  • Condoms and diaphragms are examples of barrier birth control methods.
  • Birth control pills are an example of a hormonal birth control method 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.

How does birth control work?

Birth control works to prevent pregnancy in different ways.

  • Hormonal birth control methods work by preventing ovulation, so that a woman is temporarily infertile.
  • Barrier methods of birth control to prevents the man's sperm from reaching an egg.
  • Barrier methods include
    • diaphragms,
    • condoms, and
    • cervical caps.
  • Spermicde is a chemical that destroys sperm to prevent them from reaching the egg.
  • Birth control methods such as intrauterine devices work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and causing a pregnancy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/26/2016
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