Types Of Birth Control

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 4 Minutes

“We want far better reasons for having children than not knowing how to prevent them.”

~ Dora Russell

Contraception is a term used to describe types of birth control. In other words, contraceptives prevent pregnancy. Various types of birth control options are available for both males and females. Some of these options must be taken daily while others are given every few years.

Most birth control options are either hormonal or a type of blockage or barrier (to prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg). Other birth control options include withdrawal (pull-out method), surgical sterilization, sexual avoidance during ovulation, and/or abstinence (no sex at all).

Understanding birth control

To determine which birth control methods are right for you, you’ll need to learn and thoroughly understand the different available options. It is important to understand that although birth control methods are designed to help you prevent or avoid pregnancy, some do not prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV and AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital warts, chlamydia, HPV, or herpes.

Moreover, the majority of birth control methods have a high failure rate. What does that mean? It means there is a chance you will still conceive while using birth control. Therefore, it is important that you take a pregnancy test if you suspect that you may be pregnant.

Types of birth control

Listed below are various types of birth control:

Abstinence (no sex)

A type of birth control that involves purposely refraining from or avoiding sexual intercourse or sexual activity is abstinence. It is the only birth control method that is fool-proof (100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDS).


A common form of birth control is condoms. And, guess what? Both men and women can use condoms to prevent pregnancy. Yes, there are male condoms and female condoms. The male condom is basically a tubular piece of latex, also referred to as a “rubber,” that is rolled over an erect penis before sexual intercourse to prevent sperm from reaching a woman’s egg. The male condom is the most popular form of “barrier” birth control.

A female condom, on the other hand, is shaped like a 7in. pouch made of polyurethane with two stretchy or “supple” rings. Before sexual intercourse, this pouch is inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. A female condom “protects” or covers a woman’s cervix and vaginal canal, including the areas surrounding the vagina.

Cervical cap

A cervical cap consists of a small latex or plastic cup (cap). Before sex, a woman fills the cup up with spermicidal jelly or cream, then inserts it into her vagina. The result? A cap that completely covers her cervix.

NuvaRing (vaginal ring)

NuvaRing (vaginal ring) is a stretchy estrogen/progesterone-based ring, placed in the vagina for approximately three weeks. Once that time has elapsed, it is removed for a week and then replaced with a new vaginal ring. It’s a cyclic form of birth control.

Ortho Evra Patch/Birth Control Patch

Ortho Evra Patch is an adhesive hormone patch placed directly on the skin, typically on the hip, upper arm, or buttock. A new patch is placed on your body every week for three weeks. Then, during the fourth week, the patch is removed to trigger menstruation.

Withdrawal (Pull-Out Method)

Withdrawal (Pull-Out Method) involves removing (pulling-out) an erect (hardened) penis from the vagina before ejaculation. This form of birth control is tricky because its effectiveness comes down to timing.


There are two forms of sterilization – female and male. Female sterilization, also known as tubal litigation, involves surgically-suturing (closing) the fallopian tubes, the reproductive anatomical structures that transport a woman’s eggs from her ovaries to her uterus. Male sterilization, also referred to as a vasectomy, involves surgically-suturing a man’s vas deferens (the tubes that transport sperm from the epididymis to the penis).

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, soft, and flexible device that is filled with hormones or copper, placed in the uterus by a gynecologist. Understand that an IUD will not prevent sperm from entering into a woman’s uterus; however, it can change a woman’s cervical mucus and trigger changes in her uterine lining, thus, lowering the risk of fertilization or preventing implantation.


The diaphragm is a soft, rubber dome stretched over a flexible ring. The dome is filled with a spermicidal cream or jelly, then the diaphragm is then inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix no more than 3 hours prior to intercourse.


Spermicides are toxic substances or chemicals that kill sperm before they can reach an egg and can be purchased in jelly, fizz, foam, and vaginal suppositories.

Contraceptive Sponge

A contraceptive sponge is a soft and flexible oval-shaped polyurethane-foam contraceptive that contains spermicide and is placed in the vagina to prevent pregnancy.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are one of the most common types of female birth control. The pills are typically taken daily and must be prescribed by a gynecologist, physician, or other medical professionals.

Depo-Provera & Lunelle

Depo-Provera is an injection that a gynecologist or physician administers. It prevents pregnancy for approximately three months at a time. Lunelle is another injection that prevents pregnancy, but only for a month at a time.

Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for you. So, keep your options open.

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Actionable Steps


Read the longer version

You can learn more about types of birth control by reading the following articles: 12 Types of Birth Control by Health.com, Birth Control Methods by Women’s Health, and How to Pick the Birth Control Method That’s Right for You by the Cleveland Clinic.


Consider your gender

The type of birth control you’ll ultimately select will partially depend on your gender because birth control methods are categorized by hormones and one’s reproductive anatomy. Thus, whether you’re male or female will play a role in the birth control methods that are available to you.


Determine your goals

Another thing to consider is your reason for wanting the birth control. Do you want birth control to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), or to balance your hormones, help with period flow and cramps, or reduce acne?
If you are only having sex with one person or you want it to balance your hormones or reduce acne, you may not need a strong version of birth control. On the other hand, if you have multiple partners, you may want to have the strongest, most effective method to combat pregnancy and STDs.


Consider what you have used in the past

You may also want to write down all of the forms of birth control you and/or your partners have used in the past. Why? Because, your physician will want to know what worked and did not work for you before prescribing a new birth control method for you.
What did you like and dislike about your previous birth control methods? If you were taking birth control pills, did you miss days? If so, how often and why? Did you experience any side-effects, such as nausea, vaginal dryness, acne, reduced sex drive, headaches, or depression/anxiety from them? Did you experience any spotting from the pills or IUD?
Most gynecologists prescribe low-dose estrogen birth control pills at first. As a result, some women experience vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and/or breakthrough bleeding while on them. In this case, a physician may prescribe a different type of birth control.
Other women may be highly-sensitive to progestin, a common hormone found in birth control pills. In this case, it can cause mood swings. If this occurs, the physician may switch a woman to a form of birth control that has a lower amount of progestin in it.
Keep in mind that it may take trial and error to find the right birth control for you and your body.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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