Women who seek birth control often find themselves needing or wanting different birth control methods as they go through lifestyle changes. Although birth control is available for all women, they are not one-size-fits-all, and it can even become overwhelming trying to figure out which method to use. To effectively prevent unwanted pregnancy, and plan the timing of the pregnancy, decide which of these nine types of birth control is the perfect fit for your sex life.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods block the sperm from reaching the egg in the uterus during sexual intercourse. Using a barrier method with spermicide can give partners the best possible barrier method protection. The spermicide kills most of the sperm that enters the vagina, while the barrier method blocks any possible remaining sperm from passing through the cervix from fertilizing an egg.

1. Male And Female Condoms To Protect Against STDs

Effectiveness: 90-95%

Condoms are the staple of birth control because they are easy to purchase and are the only form of birth control available that also protects against sexually transmitted disease (STDs). They are easy to purchase, relatively inexpensive, and may offer the best protection. “If used perfectly, less than two percent of users will become pregnant after a year. But with typical use, 18 percent of users will become pregnant after one year,” said Sally Rafie, PharmD, and an assistant clinical professor of health sciences at the University of California, San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences told Medical Daily in an email. “That makes them less effective than the pill, patch, ring, injection, implant, IUDs, and permanent methods.”

2. Sponges For Women Who Have Never Given Birth

Effectiveness: 75-90%

The sponge is a soft, round, and 2 inches in diameter contraceptive made of plastic foam that contains spermicide. It contains a nylon loop attached to the bottom for removal and is inserted deep into the vagina before intercourse. Currently, the Today Sponge is the only brand of contraceptive sponge available in the U.S.

The sponge is more effective for women who have never given birth. If women who have never given birth always use the sponge as directed, according to Planned Parenthood, nine out of 10 will become pregnant each year. However, if women who have never given birth don’t always use the sponge as directed, 12 out of 100 will become pregnant each year.

The contraceptive sponge does not protect you against STDs, but the use of a latex condom can reduce the risk of infection.

3. Diaphragms For All Women

Effectiveness: 90%

Although diaphragms are not used as much anymore, they are still available. Dr. Wendy Askew, practicing obstetrics and gynecology, wrote in an Institute for Women’s Health blog post: “A patient has to be fitted for a diaphragm by her gynecologist, and instructed on how to use it, and it is intended to be used with spermicidal agent as well.” The diaphragm must be left in place for six to eight hours after having sex to prevent pregnancy. It should be taken out within 24 hours.

Hormonal Methods

These methods help prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization, and/or implantation of the fertilized egg. Hormonal methods use various types of female hormones to prevent ovulation so it cannot be fertilized by sperm from a man. They come in a variety of forms such as a pill, a patch worn on the skin, a shot, and a ring inserted in the vagina, an implant in the arm, or a device inserted in the uterus.

Rafie said: “age is not a factor in determining whether these methods are safe to be used. But other medical conditions should be considered. There are side effects with any medication, so younger women electing to use these methods should be informed of side effects and how to mitigate them.”

1. Contraceptive Ring For All Women

Effectiveness: 98%

The contraceptive ring is a small, flexible device that is placed inside the vagina and left for three weeks at a time. It is taken out for the other week of the month. The ring releases both estrogen and progestin in a low steady dose, according to Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, lower than the birth control pill or the patch. This process is repeated each month.

2. Injection (Depo-Provera) For Those Without History Of Osteoporosis

Effectiveness: 99%

The birth control shot, known by its brand name Depo-Provera, provides you with the hormone progestin. This is administered in the buttocks or arm every three months. There is a new type that is injected under the skin. This shot helps prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg in most women and causes changes in the cervix to prevent the sperm from joining with the egg.

According to Womenshealth.gov, the shot should not be used more than two years in a row because it can lead to temporary loss of bone density, increasing the risk of fracture and osteoporosis if used for a long time. Women who plan to become pregnant should plan ahead of time if they opt to use these hormone shots. It can take anywhere from three to 18 months to start ovulating again after stopping use.

3. Patch For Women Without History Of Blood Colts, High Blood Pressure, And Migraines

Effectiveness: 97%

The patch is a small piece of plastic that sticks on your stomach, buttock, arm, or torso, which is replaced weekly. It can continuously allow you to skip periods and can be more effective if used exactly as instructed. The patch is not meant for all women. It can cause skin reactions and side effects, such as spotting, headaches, bloating, and breast tenderness. Women who are predisposed to blood clots, have high blood pressure, and get migraines should also avoid the patch.

4. The Pill For Women Without History of Blood Clots, Breast, Liver, or Endometrial Cancer

Effectiveness: 97%

The pill contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, and is taken daily to keep the ovaries from releasing an egg. It causes changes in the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus to keep the sperm from joining the egg. “A woman can rely on pills but there are more effective methods,” Ralfie said. “If there are concerns about the pill being effective, condoms can always be used in addition.’

Women on antibiotics may want to talk to a doctor about a backup method of birth control if they need to take antibiotics. Antibiotics can reduce how well the pill works in some women.

Implantable Devices

Implantable devices, intrauterine devices (IUDs) are inserted into the body, and left in place for a few years. They are the most effective but yet the most hazardous methods. They are typically good for three to 10 years. “IUDs and the implant are in fact more effective than the other birth control methods and there are far fewer contraindications (or medical conditions that would make a woman ineligible to use a particular medication),” Rafie said.

1. Hormonal Implants for Most Women

Effectiveness: 99%

This piece of plastic contraception contains progestin and is inserted by your doctor under the skin of the upper arm to prevent pregnancy for three years. Women won’t have to worry about birth control during this time, as it is as effective as an IUD. Less than one in 100 women will get pregnant with this method of birth control.

2. Cooper Implant for Most Women

Effectiveness: 99%

This small plastic device with cooper wire wrapped around its stem is placed inside the uterus by a doctor to prevent pregnancy. The IUD has a fine nylon string attached to it so the string comes out through the cervix and into the top end of the vagina. You can feel the string high in your vagina with your finger to check, and know that the IUD is still in place.

These nine birth control methods will help you decide which one is best for your current lifestyle to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

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