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Birth Control Methods - Facts and Types

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Birth Control Methods - Facts and Types

5 min read


Devices or treatments done to prevent unwanted pregnancy are called birth control methods. In this article, all the available permanent and reversible birth control methods have been discussed.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sree Gouri. S. R

Published At May 9, 2019
Reviewed AtOctober 5, 2023


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. 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 it 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 three 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 three to five 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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions


How effective is birth control?

Birth control's effectiveness depends on the method of birth control, how you use it, and other factors. For example, birth control pills are 99.9 % effective if you take them regularly, but if you miss a tablet, the effectiveness reduces to 91 %. The same goes for all other methods.


How does birth control work?

- Most birth control methods, including pills and implants, provide estrogen and progesterone to the body, which prevents the body from ovulating. These hormones also thicken the cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to reach the uterus.
- If the birth control method only releases progesterone, they mainly work by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the endometrium (lining of the uterus).
- Physical barriers, such as condoms and vaginal cups, block the entry of sperm into the uterus.


How long does it take for birth control to work?

If appropriately used, barrier birth control methods provide immediate birth control action. Birth control pills, however, will take anywhere from 2 to 7 days to start working.


What happens if you take birth control pills while pregnant?

Some old studies suggest that continuing to take birth control pills even after conceiving can increase the risk of congenital abnormalities. According to a study conducted in 2015, taking pills when you are pregnant will not increase the risk of major birth abnormalities. A study conducted in 2016 showed that babies born to mothers who took birth control pills are more prone to wheezing and rhinitis.


What is the best form of birth control?

Implants and IUD (intrauterine devices) are known to provide the best birth control, as they are the most convenient to use. The other methods, like condoms, pill, ring, patch, and injection, also are good options, provided you use them correctly.


How to get birth control pills without a doctor?

Birth control pills, like all other medications, have some side effects. These side effects can be severe if combined with a pre-existing condition or interaction with some other drug you are on. To prevent this, it is crucial to consult a doctor and take birth control pills only if he or she prescribes them.


How to stop spotting while on birth control pills?

Spotting is commonly seen in the first 3 to 4 months of using birth control pills. This can be prevented or reduced by taking the pill at the exact same time every day.


What medicines can interact with birth control pills?

The following pills can make birth control pills less effective:
- Antibiotics (Rifampicin).
- Antifungal drugs (Griseofulvin).
- Antiepileptic drugs (Phenobarbital, Phenytoin)
- Drugs used to treat HIV.


How long do antibiotics affect birth control?

The antibiotic Rifampin is known to reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. So to prevent pregnancy while on this antibiotic, use a condom or some other barrier birth control method during the antibiotic treatment and until a week after.


What happens if a man takes birth control pills?

It will not make much difference if a man takes one or two birth control pills, as the levels of female hormones in the pills will not be enough to result in hormonal imbalance. But, taking these pills regularly for a prolonged period can result in breast enlargement, shrinking of testicles, decreased facial hair, and decreased sex drive. The hormones might protect against heart attacks.


What is the best time of day to take birth control pills?

You can take pills at any time during the day, but make sure you take them at the same time every day. It is easier to remember if you take it before breakfast or before going to bed.


Which contraception has the least side effects?

All birth control methods have some degree of side effects associated with them. IUD and implants are one with the least side effects.
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Dr. Sree Gouri. S. R

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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