When you think of birth control what comes to mind? Generally, women tend to think of the pill or condoms. But there are actually many other forms of contraception that you may not know about. While the pill and condoms are more popular choices, it doesn’t mean they work well for everyone. It’s important for women everywhere to know what other options are available to them. The best way to find out which contraception method is right for you is to experiment. Here’s a guide to the 12 types of birth control you need to know about!
1. Male Condoms
The male condom is made out of thin latex and used to put over the penis to stop sperm from entering the vagina. It’s one of the best ways to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and a reliable method of preventing pregnancy if it’s used properly. The male condom is 98 percent effective if used correctly, but in actuality it’s only 82 percent effective for the average woman. One of the other pros is that you only need to use them when you have sex – you don’t need to worry about any extra preparation. But just be careful, because a wrongly sized condom could slip off and break, making you more susceptible to an STD or pregnancy.
2. Female Condoms
Made of thin polyurethane, the female condom loosely lines the vagina to stop sperm from entering. Similar to the male condom, it can protect you and your partner from STDs and is a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. However, female condoms are not as readily available as male condoms so they may be harder to find. If used correctly, the female condom is 95 percent effective. But if not used properly, the female condom may get pushed into the vagina or split and tear, making it only 79 percent effective for the average woman.
Made out of latex or silicone, the diaphragm is a soft dome used with spermicide. It’s placed into the vagina to cover the cervix, and must be taken daily. It can be put in anytime before intercourse and removed six hours afterwards. You only need to use it during sex, and it has no serious health risks. The diaphragm is also 92 to 96 percent effective when used properly, but it’s not effective if taken over 3 to 12 hours late. It can also take time to learn how to use it correctly.
4. Contraceptive Cap
Similar to the diaphragm, the contraceptive cap is put into your vagina to cover the cervix. It is made of silicone and must be used with spermicide. It comes in different sizes and has to be fitted by a certified physician or nurse, but it is reusable. It can take time to learn how to use it, but once you do it is 92 to 96 percent effective just like the diaphragm. There are also no serious health risks while using it.
5. Combined Pill
This type of birth control pill is a daily oral contraceptive that contains both estrogen and progestogen. Like most contraceptive methods, it is 99 percent effective if taken correctly, but forgetting to take the pill can, of course, make it less effective. Some pros of the combined pill is that it’s easy to take and can make your periods more lighter and regular. However, the pill does have some side effects, including headaches, nausea, mood swings and increased breast tenderness. It’s also not suitable for women who are smokers, overweight or over 35 years old.
6. Progestogen Pill
This daily oral contraceptive is a progestogen-only pill that contains the progestogen hormone. It’s over 99 percent effective, and may stop periods altogether or make them lighter. Like the combined pill, it’s less effective if you miss a pill and can cause temporary side effects such as nausea, headaches and mood changes. It also must be taken daily at the same time and is not effective if you take it over 3 to 12 hours late. However, unlike the combined pill, women who smoke and are over 35 years old can take it.
7. Contraceptive Injection
The contraceptive injection is a reversible form of contraception that you don’t need to take daily. A certified physician or nurse injects the progestogen into your body, which will then last for 8 to 13 weeks depending on the type of injection used. It’s more than 99 percent effective, and the best part is you don’t have to remember to take the pill every day. The injection may also reduce painful periods, and offer some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease. However, once it has been injected it cannot be removed, so you may experience some side effects, such as weight gain and irregular periods, that you cannot stop. After stopping the injection, your period and fertility may also take time to return.
8. Contraceptive Implant
The contraceptive implant is a small, flexible rod that is placed under the skin of your upper arm by your doctor. It releases progestogen to stop ovulation and is over 99 percent effective. Like the contraceptive injection, it does not need to be taken daily and is long acting. The implant lasts for three years so you don’t have to think about it once it’s been implanted. It can be taken out sooner if you would like, and once removed your fertility returns to normal.
9. Intrauterine Device
Known as a “coil,” the intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic and copper device that is placed into your uterus. This contraception method is 99 percent effective and works instantly. It can stay in from 5 to 10 years, although it is reversible so your doctor can remove it at any time. Some pros of the IUD are that it does not contain any hormones, and when it’s removed your fertility returns to normal. However, there is a possibility that it could make your periods heavier, and a small chance that you may get an infection in the first 20 days after insertion.
10. Intrauterine System
Over 99 percent effective, the intrauterine system (IUS) is a small plastic device inserted into the uterus by a doctor. It slowly releases the hormone progestogen into the womb to prevent pregnancy. However, the hormones are localized so only small amounts enter your body. The IUS works for five years, but it is a reversible contraception method so it can be taken out earlier. Although it can make your periods shorter and lighter, it can also cause irregular bleeding or spotting for the first six months after insertion.
11. Contraceptive Patch
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a contraceptive patch. By sticking this small patch on your skin, it releases progestogen and estrogen to stop ovulation. The patch can make your periods lighter and more regular, as well as improve acne for some women. However, the patch is not effective for women who are overweight, smokers or over the age of 35. It can also cause temporary side effects such as mood swings, breast tenderness, nausea and headaches.
12. Contraceptive Vaginal Ring
The contraceptive vaginal ring is a tiny plastic ring in which you insert into your vagina every month that releases hormones to stop ovulation. You can use the vaginal ring for three out of four weeks so you don’t have to think about inserting it daily. It can also make your periods lighter and more regular. However, you must feel comfortable inserting and removing it by yourself. It is also not suitable for women who are smokers, extremely overweight or over the age of 35.
Gynecologist in West Orange, NJ
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully one of these contraceptive methods is the perfect fit for you. If you would like more information on the different forms of contraception or about STDs, schedule an appointment with one of our gynecologists at Women First Health Center (WFHC) in West Orange, NJ. At WFHC, we are committed to providing our patients with exceptional gynecology services and a warm, comfortable environment. Contact us today by calling us at (973) 669-5711!