Sexual Health

Birth Control Methods

Written by Dr. K Sneha and medically reviewed by Sree Gouri Sr

Image: Birth Control Methods


Devices or treatments done to prevent unwanted pregnancy are called birth control methods. There are various methods available for both men and women, which enables them to choose when they want to have a baby. The effectiveness and reliability of each method rely on how carefully it is used. In this article, I am going to discuss all the available permanent and reversible birth control methods that you can use to plan your pregnancy.

The thing to remember is, except for condoms and abstinence, no other birth control method gives protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). So always engage in safe to prevent getting infected with infections like HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea.

Some Facts About Conception:

  1. If you have irregular periods, there is a chance that you might get pregnant while on your period.

  2. You can get pregnant if you have sex on a hot tub or swimming pool also.

  3. Urinating or douching after sex does not prevent pregnancy.

  4. Avoid using toothpaste or seeds in the vagina, as they will not prevent pregnancy.

  5. Using two condoms together will not give extra protection.

  6. A woman can still get pregnant while breastfeeding.

What Are the Types of Birth Control Methods?

The different birth control methods are:

I) Natural Methods

  • Abstinence.

  • Withdrawal.

II) Reversible or Semi-Permanent Birth Control



  • Birth control pills.

  • Birth control patch.

  • Hormonal intrauterine device.

  • Birth control or vaginal ring.

  • Birth control implants.

  • Emergency contraceptive pill or the morning-after pill.


III) Permanent Contraception

  • Female sterilization.

  • Male sterilization.

If you are using reversible or semi-permanent birth control method and want to get pregnant, then just stop using the device or stop taking the pills, and you will be able to conceive again.


Restraining oneself from indulging in sexual intercourse is called abstinence or celibacy. There are two types of abstinence:

  • Complete abstinence - no sexual contact.

  • Contraceptive abstinence - such people engage in all sexual activities except the once requiring penis and vagina contact.


Withdrawal is when the man ejaculates outside the vagina. It is only 80 % effective, as precum can also result in pregnancy.

Male Condom:

A condom is a thin cover made of latex or polyurethane, which is put on the penis, that forms a barrier and prevents pregnancy by stopping the sperm from entering the vagina. It is 82 % effective. In addition, it also prevents the transmission of sexual infections.

male condom

image source: avert

Female Condom:

Female condoms are made of polyurethane with flexible rings at both ends. The inner ring holds the condom in place behind the pubic bone, and the other ring stays outside the vagina. A female condom is placed inside the vagina before sexual intercourse. It is 79 % effective.

Female condom

image source: avert

Birth Control Sponge:

A contraceptive sponge is a soft disc-shaped polyurethane foam, which prevents sperm from entering the uterus. The sponge also contains spermicide that blocks and kills sperm. The sponge has a depression in the middle which holds it in place over the cervix. It is from 76 to 88 % effective.

The sponge needs to be thoroughly wet to activate the spermicide, so do not forget to wet is properly before inserting it.

Birth Control Sponge

image source: img.webmd

Diaphragm Birth Control:

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped barrier device made of rubber, which is placed behind the woman’s pubic bone. For more effectiveness, it is used along with spermicide or contraceptive jelly. The spermicide is filled in the dome-shaped structure before inserting. It is 88 % effective.

Diaphragm Birth Control

image source: i.ytimg

Cervical Cap:

A cervical cap is a deep silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. It tightly fits over the cervix due to suction. It has to be filled with spermicide before inserting and is 88 % effective.

Cervical Cap

image source: img.webmd

Copper Intrauterine Device:

A copper intrauterine device is a T-shaped plastic body with copper wrapped around its stem. It can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if it is inserted within five days after unprotected intercourse. Once inserted by the doctor, it can last for up to 10 years. It is 99 % effective.

Copper Intrauterine Device

image source: coopersurgical

Birth Control Pills:

Birth control pills contain two female hormones, that is progesterone and estrogen. These pills work by preventing ovulation or by thickening the mucus around the cervix or by altering the uterine lining. There are two types of hormonal birth control pills:

  • Combination pills - They are the most effective and contain both the hormones.

  • Mini-pills or progestin-only pills - This contains a low dose of progesterone, and is slightly less effective.

  • If you take the tablets as prescribed without missing any pills, they are the most effective.

Birth Control Patch:

It is a transdermal patch, which when applied on the skin prevents pregnancy by releasing synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone hormones. The patch is worn for 3 weeks on the lower abdomen or buttock, and it is not used on the fourth week for periods. It is 91 % effective.

Hormonal Intrauterine Device:

This intrauterine device releases progestin, which prevents ovulation. It will last for 3 to 5 years.

Hormonal Intrauterine Device

imagesource: drugwatch

Birth Control Ring:

Vaginal or birth control rings are made of plastic flexible rings, which release a continuous low dose of progesterone for 3 weeks. It works by preventing ovulation and by thickening the cervical mucus, thus preventing the sperm from entering the uterus. Due to human errors in placement, it is 91 % effective.

Birth Control Ring

image source: medlineplus

Birth Control Implants:

A 40 mm flexible tube is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm, which prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones. It is 99 % effective. The most common types of implants used are:

  • Single-rod Etonogestrel implant.

  • Double-rod Levonorgestrel implant.

Birth Control Implants

image source: cdn-img

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP):

Pills used to prevent pregnancy by women who have had unprotected sexual intercourse or when the other birth control method has failed are called ECP or morning-after pills. This has to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The earlier you take it, the more effective it will be. These pills either contain Levonorgestrel or Ulipristal acetate.


The contraceptive injection is a long-acting progestin-only birth control drug, which is injected once in 3 months. It prevents ovulation and is 94 % effective. It is available under the brand name Depo-Provera.

Female Sterilization:

These are surgical procedures done to prevent a woman from getting pregnant permanently. These procedures are 99 % effective. The two procedures used are:

  • Tubal Ligation - It is a surgical procedure where the woman’s fallopian tube is cut or clamped or sealed to prevent the egg from reaching the uterus for implantation.

  • Tubal Implant - Here, the fallopian tubes are blocked by placing a coil in them, which results in tissue growth around the coil.

Male Sterilization:

Male sterilization or vasectomy is a surgical procedure, where the vas deferens are cut or tied or sealed to prevent sperm from entering the penis from the testes.

No birth control method is 100 % effective in preventing pregnancy. So consult your doctor and combine two methods to get extra protection. If you are still not sure about which birth control to choose, consult a gynecologist online, who will guide you in selecting the best method suited for you.

Last reviewed at: 22.May.2019



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