Birth control refers to the use of various devices, methods, drugs, agents, sexual practices, surgical procedures to prevent conception and pregnancy. It helps people choose when to start a family with a range of devices for both men and women. The effectiveness of any method depends entirely on how carefully it is used. The best birth control method is the one that suits your body and your lifestyle, as it is a very personal choice.
Thankfully, there are a variety of methods available that can suit nearly every lifestyle, but it is important to remember that no method or device is completely effective. With that being said, the following are the more common types of birth control:
1. Permanent and non-permanent methods of birth control
Permanent birth control methods are sterilization in women or vasectomy or sterilization in men.
Non-permanent birth control methods include birth control pills, birth control patches, birth control implants, intrauterine devices or long-acting reversible contraceptives, diaphragm and cervical caps, contraceptive injections, vaginal rings, and condoms.
2. Birth control pills
Oral contraceptive or birth control pills are taken regularly. Every day, this pill must be taken at the same time to prevent pregnancy. When the estrogen and progestin hormones are released by these chemically made pills, the body’s natural hormonal balance is disrupted, which prevents pregnancies.
3. Birth control patch
Working on a similar concept like the pills, birth control patches are more effective when used along with other methods of contraception, like a condom. Administered in a tri-weekly cycle, the transdermal contraceptive patch releases hormones that prevent pregnancies.
4. Birth control implants
Similar to the pills and patches, birth control implants are a compact flexible tubular medical device that fits under the skin on the arm. They release hormones that disrupt ovulation and/or the development of the sperm, thus preventing pregnancy.
5. Intrauterine devices or long-acting reversible contraceptives
IUD is a lasting, reversible, and effective birth control method. A tiny, often T-shaped birth control device is inserted into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. This helps prevent pregnancy better than a condom, pill, patch, ring, or shot. There are copper IUDs that prevents pregnancy for up to 12 years and hormonal IUDs that prevents pregnancy for up to 7 years.
6. Diaphragm or cervical cups
Inserted into the vagina to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus, diaphragm or cervical cups are made of silicone. Used with a medicated gel or cream called spermicide, these act as physical barriers to prevent pregnancy.
7. Contraceptive injections
Progestin, one of the hormones found in birth control pills, is injected into the bloodstream via an injection. Preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs, pregnancy is prevented by causing the cervical muscles to become thick, and the uterus lining thins out. This prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.
8. Vaginal rings
A safe and convenient birth control method, the vaginal ring is worn inside the vagina. This helps prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones and obstructing fertilization if used correctly. Like a patch, the vaginal ring must be replaced every few weeks.
A male condom covers the penis and prevents the sperm from entering the vagina. A female condom is similar and acts as a physical barrier, preventing the sperm from entering the woman’s body.