Birth control, also known as contraception, is the use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy. There are many different types. Some are reversible, while others are permanent. Some types can also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Many elements need to be considered by women, men, or couples at any given point in their lifetimes when choosing the most appropriate contraceptive method. These elements include safety, effectiveness, availability (including accessibility and affordability), and acceptability. Voluntary informed choice of contraceptive methods is an essential guiding principle, and contraceptive counselling, when applicable, might be an important contributor to the successful use of contraceptive methods.
Reversible Methods of Birth Control
Intrauterine Contraception IUD:
Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD): The LNG IUD is a small T-shaped device like the Copper T IUD. It is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant.
Copper T intrauterine device (IUD): This IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a “T.” Your doctor places it inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Implant: The implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a women’s upper arm. Women get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor.
Combined oral contraceptives: Also called “the pill,” combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day.
Progestin only pill: Unlike the combined pill, the progestin-only pill (sometimes called the mini-pill) only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin.
Patch: This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (but not on the breasts). This method is prescribed by a doctor. It releases hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream.
Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring: The ring releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You place the ring inside your vagina.
Diaphragm or cervical cap: Each of these barrier methods are placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix to block sperm. The diaphragm is shaped like a shallow cup. The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped cup. Before sexual intercourse, you insert them with spermicide to block or kill sperm.
Sponge: The contraceptive sponge contains spermicide and is placed in the vagina where it fits over the cervix. The sponge works for up to 24 hours, and must be left in the vagina for at least 6 hours after the last act of intercourse, at which time it is removed and discarded.
Male condom: Worn by the man, a male condom keeps sperm from getting into a woman’s body. Latex condoms, the most common type, help prevent pregnancy, and HIV and other STDs, as do the newer synthetic condoms.
Female condom: Worn by the woman, the female condom helps keeps sperm from getting into her body. It is packaged with a lubricant and is available at drug stores. It can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual intercourse.
Spermicides: These products work by killing sperm and come in several forms—foam, gel, cream, film, suppository, or tablet.
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods
Understanding your monthly fertility pattern can help you plan to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant.If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you have about nine or more fertile days each month. If you do not want to get pregnant, you do not have sex on the days you are fertile, or you use a barrier method of birth control on those days.
Lactational Amenorrhea Methods
For women who have recently had a baby and are breastfeeding, the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) can be used as birth control when three conditions are met: 1) amenorrhea (not having any menstrual periods after delivering a baby), 2) fully or nearly fully breastfeeding, and 3) less than 6 months after delivering a baby.
Emergency contraception is NOT a regular method of birth control. Emergency contraception can be used after no birth control was used during sex, or if the birth control method failed, such as if a condom broke.
Copper IUD: Women can have the copper T IUD inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex.
Emergency contraceptive pills: Women can take emergency contraceptive pills up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but the sooner the pills are taken, the better they will work.
Permanent Methods of Birth Control
Female Sterilisation : Tubal ligation or “tying tubes”— A woman can have her fallopian tubes tied (or closed) so that sperm and eggs cannot meet for fertilization. The procedure can be done in a hospital or in an outpatient surgical center. You can go home the same day of the surgery and resume your normal activities within a few days. This method is effective immediately. Typical use failure rate: 0.5%.1
Male Sterilisation: Vasectomy—This operation is done to keep a man’s sperm from going to his penis, so his ejaculate never has any sperm in it that can fertilize an egg. The procedure is typically done at an outpatient surgical center.
Consult your gynaecologist to understand the method that suits you the most!