Birth control (contraception) is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. There are many different types of birth control. Some work better than others at preventing pregnancy. The type of birth control you use depends on your health, your desire to have children now or in the future, and your need to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Your doctor can help you decide which type is best for you right now.
Broadly, birth control includes the following methods:
- Natural rhythm methods — Using birth control only on the days when you are most fertile. This is the least safe.
Barrier methods — Birth control you use each time you have sex. (condoms, diaphragms, sponge, cervical cap)
- Short-acting hormonal methods — Birth control that you remember to take every day or month. (pill, mini pills) The shot requires you to get a shot from your doctor every 3 months. The patch has to be changed frequently too.
- Long-acting reversible contraceptives or “LARC” methods — Birth control your doctor inserts one time and can last for 3 to 10 years, depending on the method (intrauterine devices, hormonal implants)
- Female and male sterilization — Birth control that prevents pregnancy for the rest of your life through surgery or a medical procedure i.e female tubal ligation / male vasectomy)
After Condoms, birth control pills are the most popular method of contraception. Today’s birth control pills have lower doses of hormones than in the past. This has lowered the risk of side effects and serious health problems.
Always talk to your doctor about the method of birth control that could be right for you.