Which Birth Control Option Is Best For You?

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Types of Birth Control

Barrier methods include:

  • devices (diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges);
  • sheaths (male and female condoms); and
  • spermicide (in the form of gels, foams, creams and tablets), which block or stop sperm from traveling to the egg.

Some of these products are for one-time use (male and female condoms, sponges and spermicide), while others may be reused (diaphragms and cervical caps).

Hormonal methods work by preventing pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization and/or implantation of the fertilized egg using female hormones (estrogen and progestin). Hormones may be administered orally by ingesting a combination pill (estrogen and progestin) or the mini pill (progestin only).

This happens on a monthly or quarterly cycle, or applied internally through a vaginal ring or externally through a patch or an injection. The time interval between hormone dosages is one of the most important distinctions between the different hormonal options.

Implants are devices inserted into the body that can be kept in place for a few years. The primary device, known as an intrauterine device (IUD), affects the way sperm move and stops it from traveling to the egg. It also changes the lining of the uterus, making it harder for an egg to attach.