The good news is that there are more birth control options than ever. The downside is that all those options can make choosing one challenging. There are pros and cons to each type of birth control depending on your lifestyle, health, and personal traits.
At Park Avenue Women’s Center, we put together this list of the different types of birth control. Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each type to help you choose the best option for your body.
Barrier methods prevent pregnancy by keeping the sperm and egg apart. These include:
- Birth control sponge
You can use barrier methods when you need to, and you can choose not to use them (like when you want to get pregnant).
Except for the diaphragm, you don’t need the help of a medical professional to acquire these birth control devices. They also contain no health risks.
One of the most striking benefits of using a condom is that it’s the only birth control method that also prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
On the other hand, barrier methods are the least effective of the available methods of birth control, so if you’re not OK with a possible pregnancy, you should use birth control that’s more effective. You also have to use these methods every time you have sex, which can be inconvenient.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives
For women who may want to have children in the future but not right now and who don’t want to have to think about birth control, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are a good option. LARCs include:
Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Contraceptive implants
- Contraceptive injections
A hormone-free copper IUD is effective for up to 10 years. You can use an IUD with progestin for three to five years. An implantable rod, which also releases progestin, is good for up to three years, and a contraceptive injection protects you against unwanted pregnancy for three months.
Each LARC has various side effects and benefits, and none of them protects against STDs. These methods are highly effective and prevent 99% of unwanted pregnancies.
Short-acting hormonal methods
If you don’t mind taking a pill every day, or most days, birth control pills and other hormonal contraception methods offer protection against pregnancy and also help decrease menstrual cramps. Some brands of the pill can also help your skin look better by reducing acne.
These short-term methods include:
- Combination pill (containing estrogen and progestin)
- Mini pill (progestin only)
- Birth control patch
- Vaginal contraceptive rings
You can go off these methods of birth control as soon as you decide you’re ready to have a baby. But these methods are only about 91% effective and do not protect against STDs.
Contraceptive hormone methods that contain estrogen may not be a viable option for women with high blood pressure, estrogen-sensitive cancer, migraine with aura, severe diabetes, or a history of blood clots or heart disease. If you smoke and are over 35, your doctor will recommend another contraceptive option.
Permanent birth control
There are two more permanent options for birth control. A tubal ligation procedure seals off the fallopian tubes. You can also entirely remove the fallopian tube, which can reduce the risk of ovarion cancer. Although both procedures are permanent, it’s important to note that neither protect against STDs.