Women have taken their sexual health into their own hands and most will use birth control at some point in their life. There are a number of birth control options available to choose from. Identifying the best contraception which will work for your lifestyle and family planning can be extremely rewarding because it lets you direct your life the way you want.
Don’t get intimidated by the different options out there which can take up a lot of your time, money and energy as you try out the different types. We’re here to help by giving you a breakdown of all the types that can fit your lifestyle.
Types of birth control
There are five categories of birth control methods with each method working in a different way. Some prevent sperm from getting to an egg whilst others may discourage your body from releasing eggs.
Your body’s natural estrogen or progestin levels are adjusted by hormonal contraception to make pregnancy much less likely. The most common methods include:
- birth control pillsyou take every day
- the patch you replace every week
- a vaginal ring you change every month
- a shot your doctor gives you every three months.
All the above mentioned methods require a prescription from your doctor. They are between 91% to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy for most women.
The side effects associated with hormonal birth control can vary, even more so when you’re starting out. A beneficial side effect that women notice is a decrease in period pain, frequency or flow.
For a low maintenance contraception option, Long-term birth control can be a good choice if you want an effective, long lasting contraceptive. You have the choice of having an implant inserted into your arm or an intrauterine device (IUD) placed in your uterus.
These methods have a 99% effectiveness rating at preventing pregnancy, working for 3–10 years, which is dependant on the particular method you choose. Implants and hormonal IUDs work by adjusting your body’s progestin levels over time. Copper IUDs do not use hormones. Instead, the copper stops sperm from fertilizing your eggs.
Once your doctor puts in the device, you’re set. However, if your plans change and you want to have kids, go to your doctor to get the implant or IUD removed.
One-time barrier contraception
The purpose of this type of contraception is to create a sperm “barrier” during sex which acts to physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Barrier contraceptives don’t require a prescription and they are readily available over the counter at many stores and online.
The most common barrier contraceptives are:
- Cervical caps
You only use barrier contraception when you’re actually having sex and also need to use barrier contraception correctly for it to be most effective. Due to this, barrier contraceptives don’t usually work as well, helping prevent pregnancy by 71% to 88%, depending on the method. In addition, condoms help protect against STIs, being the only birth control method that does so.
Surgical procedures such as Tubal ligation – for women, or vasectomy – for men are designed to make pregnancy impossible. They’re almost 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and are a great option if you’re certain you don’t want to have children in the future.
In the case of tubal ligation, you’ll still get your period. Nothing will change in your day-to-day, the only exception is that you won’t fall pregnant. Permanent contraception is the most convenient birth control option. Having a tubal ligation or vasectomy reversed is possible, but there is no guarantee your fertility will return.
In the event you have sex without using a contraceptive or your birth control fails – for a number of reasons – emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy. There are two types of pills available as well as a copper IUD in the case you need emergency birth control. Regardless of which method you prefer, you’ll need to use emergency contraception as soon as possible after intercourse for it to be most effective.
Emergency contraception mustn’t be used as your primary birth control method, rather as a backup in case something doesn’t go as planned.
One thing to remember: Birth control and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention are NOT the same thing. Only condoms protect against STIs when used correctly.
Get protected! Find your nearest Marie Stopes centre and pop in to get the facts about contraception, then find the right option for you.