When it comes to taking control of one’s reproductive abilities, there are more options out there than birth control pills and condoms.
This range of choices means that there is something out there for everyone – depending on their physical needs as well as their comfort.
Whether you are trying to prevent pregnancy completely, or simply want to be cautionary, there is a birth control option for you:
1. Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The IUD is a little t-shaped piece of plastic or copper that is inserted into the uterus that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.
Intrauterine devices are inserted by a medical professional and can offer between 3-12 years of protection.
In order to get pregnant, you simply need to have the IUD removed – again, by a medical professional.
Popular brands of IUD include: Mirena, Paragard, Skyla, Kyleena and Liletta.
The implant is a small rod that is inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It’s small enough so it’s not visible at all.
It works by releasing progestin. This hormone keeps your ovaries from releasing eggs, thickens your cervical mucus and blocks sperm from reaching the eggs.
The implant is effective for up to 4 years.
The brand name for the insert is Nexplanon.
3. The Needle
Also known as the “shot”, this form of birth control is inserted via needle and remains effective for 3 months.
The needle also contains progestin, which prevents your eggs from releasing eggs and blocks sperm from reaching them.
The shot is often referred to as “Depo”, which is short for Depo-Provera, its brand name.
4. The Ring
The ring, also known as its brand name Nuvaring, is a small and bendable plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina.
It is then removed after three weeks – this is when menstruation will occur.
After the fourth week, a new ring is inserted.
Like most forms of birth control, the NuvaRing contains progestin.
5. The Patch
The patch is a thin piece of plastic, resembling a square band-aid, that is applied to your skin and releases hormones into your body.
The patches are changed weekly, meaning that you can replace your patch once a week for 3 weeks, then take a week off to have your period.
Ortho Evra used to be the brand name version of the patch, but they are no longer in production. This birth control can be found under its generic name, Xulane.
6. The Pill
One of the most common forms of birth control, the pill is an oral contraceptive that is swallowed daily, at the same time everyday.
There are a variety of pills available, so it is best to speak with your health care professional about which one is best for you.
While they all release hormones to prevent pregnancy, some have lower and higher doses of hormones. Nursing mothers, for example, are usually recommended to take a low-dose pill.
It is imperative that the birth control pill be taken everyday – even one missed day can increase the chances of pregnancy.
Diaphragms are a shallow, dome-shaped cup made of silicone that is inserted in the vagine. It covers your cervix to prevent sperm from reaching your uterus.
Some diaphragms can be washed and reused and many can be left in the vagina – although they should never be left in for longer than 24 hours.
Also important: If you plan on using a diaphragm, it can only be used effectively with spermicide.
Apart from the birth control pill, condoms are perhaps the most popular form of birth control. They are easy to use and highly effective.
Condoms are also crucial in reducing the risk of STIs by keeping the sperm out of the vagine completley.
They come in many shapes, sizes and styles.
Condoms are primarily made with latex, so be mindful if you or your partner have a latex allergy or sensitivity. If so, non-latex condoms are available.
9. Internal Condom
A lesser known style of condom is the internal condom, also known as a “female” condom.
This is a pouch that is inserted into the vagina and work the same way condoms do – they stop sperm from entering the vagina.
Although a female condom, or any condom really, can get “stuck” inside the vagina, there is no cause for alarm. Condoms are easy to remove and never go far enough into the vagina to cause damage.
10. Cervical Cap
Much like a diaphragm and female condom, a cervical cap is inserted into the vagina to block sperm from entering the cervix.
Unlike condoms, however, it does not prevent sperm from contacting the vagina, so it’s not effective against STI’s.
However, like the diaphragm, spermicide must be used in order for it to be effective in preventing pregnancy.
11. The Sponge
The sponge is a small round piece of white plastic form with a nylon loop across the top that is inserted high up in the vagina.
It blocks sperm from entering the cervix and continually releases spermicide.
The nylon loop makes it easy to remove and dispose of the sponge. It can be left in for no longer than 24 hours.
Spermicide is a product that contains chemicals that immobilize sperm and prevent them from moving.
Spermicides are available in creams, foams, gels, films and suppositories.
It needs to be inserted deep into the vagina but it will prevent sperm from getting through your cervix and into your uterus.
Other Forms of Birth Control
There are other methods of birth control that require no products – and even a way to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
These other methods, however, are not as effective as the ones mentioned above. Without a hormonal or physical barrier between the sperm and uterus, there is no way to 100% prevent a pregnancy.
The Rhythm Method
The Rhythm Method, or “fertility awareness” or “natural family planning” methods, involve tracking your menstrual cycle to determine which days you are most likely to get pregnant.
In order to do this, you need to pay very close attention to your body and menstrual patterns. Every woman is different, so there is no hard-and-fast rule of when one can become pregnant.
There are many different ways you can track your fertility..
The basis of conception is that sperm must reach an egg in order to conceive. While birth control products are designed to prevent this from happening, some couples decide to use the pull out method.
The issue with the effectiveness of this method is that men can often secrete small amounts of sperm before ejaculating.
That being said, there’s always a chance that one swimmer can reach an egg before the man even finishes.
Emergency contraception is a form of birth control that can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex and before pregnancy starts.
This is not the same as the abortion pill – it prevents a pregnancy, it does not terminate one.
There is a small window in which emergency contraception works, so it should be used as soon as possible.
Choose Your Protection
Depending on your situation and your needs, you have the power to choose how you want to control your reproductive abilities – and lots of options to choose from!
Tell us about your preferred method of birth control in the comments below!