BIRTH CONTROL OPTIONS
The information presented in this section does not take the place of a discussion with your physician or other healthcare professional about the risks and benefits of each of these methods of birth control.
Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill is a small tablet taken orally for either 21 or 28 days or continuously. It releases synthetic hormones, preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries. A physician or other healthcare professional must prescribe oral contraceptives. The pill is more than 99% effective when used correctly.
Birth Control Patch
The weekly patch prevents pregnancy by delivering continuous levels of progestin and estrogen through the skin, preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries. The patch, which must be prescribed by a healthcare professional, is applied once a week for three consecutive weeks; the fourth week is “patch-free.” The patch is 99% effective when used correctly.
A diaphragm is a soft cup that requires fitting by a physician or other healthcare professional. When it is properly fitted and inserted it covers the cervix. The diaphragm is designed to stop the sperm from entering your cervical canal and hold a spermicidal jelly or cream which kills sperm that may manage to swim around the rim of the diaphragm. When used correctly in combination with spermicide, this method can be up to 94% effective.
Available without a prescription, the male condom is a tubelike sheath, closed at one end that is fitted over the erect penis before penetration. When ejaculation occurs, the semen collects inside the condom, preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. Condoms may offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. When used correctly, a male condom can be up to 97% effective.
Available without a prescription, a female condom is a plastic sheath with rings on each end. The ring on one end is open and remains outside the vagina, covering part of the labia. The ring on the other end is closed with plastic and looks like a diaphragm. It’s placed in the vagina so that it covers the cervix, preventing sperm from entering the uterus. The sheath between the two rings forms a pouch to line the entire vaginal area. Condoms may offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. When used correctly, the female condom is 95% effective.
Spermicides are non-prescription, non-hormonal chemical foams, creams, jellies, or suppositories inserted into the vagina before intercourse. Spermicides create a barrier that kills sperm upon contact and inhibits their movement into the cervix, preventing fertilization of an egg. They can be used alone or coupled a condom or the diaphragm. With perfect use, spermicides can be 94% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Implants are a long-term reversible means of contraception. A hormone-containing capsule is implanted in a woman’s upper arm. Once in place a small, steady dose of progestin is delivered into the system. Progestin prevents conception by suppressing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from entering the uterus. The capsules must be inserted and removed every five years by a trained healthcare professional. This method is 99.9% effective.
Like the pill and implants, contraceptive injections contain hormones. A healthcare professional injects the contraceptive at regular intervals. Injections containing both estrogen and progestin must be administered once a month. Injections containing progestin-only must be administered once every three months. Injections are more than 99% effective.
IUD is a small device placed in the uterus by a physician or other healthcare professional. IUDs are made of soft, flexible plastic, shaped like a T. The shaft and parts of the crosspiece of one are wrapped with copper; the other is filled with a synthetic progestin. IUDs are more than 99% effective when inserted correctly.
Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning by periodic abstinence is designed to help a couple figure out which days during a woman’s menstrual cycle she is likely to become pregnant. At those times couples can practice birth control by avoiding intercourse. Your physician or other healthcare professional can provide you with detailed information this method. Depending on the type of method, natural family planning effectiveness can be as high as 90%.
A soft, flexible vaginal ring delivers low doses of estrogen and progestin into the body. This helps prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from entering the uterus. The ring is inserted into the vagina and left for three weeks. It is then removed for one week, during which a woman menstruates, and a new ring is inserted after the one-week “break.” The vaginal ring is at least 98% effective.
Abstinence is the total avoidance of sexual activity. This method is 100% effective against pregnancy and STDs
For women, tubal sterilization involves closing both fallopian tubes by tying or sealing them so that the eggs and sperm cannot come together. A non-surgical sterilization alternative involves the placement of a soft, flexible micro-insert into each fallopian tube through the woman’s natural pathways. The male version of sterilization, the vasectomy, involves cutting and tying the vas deferens. Sterilization is more than 99% effective.