Pregnancy Prevention: Knowing Your Birth Control Options

(Photo: birth control decision
Photo Credit: Health Me Up)

While children are always a blessing, there are certain stages of your life when you know that you're just not ready for another bundle of joy. That's why we've collected some reliable and simple ways to help you decide which option best suits your needs. Many women feel restricted by the birth control options that have been made available to them, but we are here to tell you that you have plenty of choices. While condoms or the pill may be the most popular resources available to women today, there are a ton of other contraceptive methods out there that could suit your hectic lifestyle and your need for some independence.

Barrier Methods: Barrier methods inhibit the sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg. The most popular barrier methods include: (via Office on Women's Health)

  • Contraceptive sponge: a small, soft disk coated in spermicide that is inserted prior to intercourse.
  • Diaphragm: a latex  cup that prevents sperm from entering the cervix.
  • Cervical Cap: a latex thimble-like cap that keeps sperm from fertilizing the egg.
  • Cervical Shield: a silicone cup that has a one-way valve, which creates suction in order to fit against the cervix, preventing the sperm from entering and being fertilized.
  • Female Condoms: a condom worn inside a woman's vagina to keep eggs from being fertilized.
  • Condoms: a sheath placed over the penis to prevent the sperm from entering uterus.

The first 4 methods must be left in the uterus for 6 to 8 hours after sex to prevent pregnancy, and it's best to remove them within 24 hours of insertion.

(Photo: colored condoms
Photo Credit: More Than Stuff)

Hormonal Methods: These methods control a woman's hormones to strictly regulate and control her cycle in order to prevent pregnancy. Popular methods include: (via MedicineNet)

  • Oral Contraceptives: pills containing the hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg.
  • The Patch: a patch worn on the skin to release hormones, which will prevent the release of the egg.
  • Shot or Injection: a shot of progestin, which causes changes in the cervix to prevent sperm from connecting with the egg.
  • Vaginal Ring: a ring, inserted into the vagina, to prevent the release of the egg.

Natural Family Planning/Rhythm method: This method requires that you get to know your cycle really well. Women are fertile for about 9 days every month - 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation, as well as the day of ovulation - so you will need to track your period pretty closely. However, this method is only about 75% effective, so count carefully and use another form of protection as well if you truly wish to prevent pregnancy. (via Office on Women's Health)

Implantable Methods: These methods consist of devices that are placed into the uterus by a professional, and remain there for several years. (via Planned Parenthood)

  • Rod: a small rod that is placed under the skin on the arm and releases progestin in order to block the sperm from the egg.
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUD's): the two types of IUD's, hormonal and copper, are t-shaped objects that are inserted into the uterus. Hormonal IUD's release progestin to prevent the release of the egg, and copper IUD's release a tiny bit of copper into the uterus in order to keep the sperm from reaching the egg.

Permanent Methods: This option is only for women who are positive that they do not want to have any more children ever, as these methods are meant to be permanent. (via Office on Women's Health)

  • Sterilization Implant: a small, springy device is threaded through the uterus into each fallopian tube. Scar tissue forms around the coil, which prevents the egg and sperm from meeting.
  • Tubal Ligation: a surgical procedure in which a woman's fallopian tubes are clamped and blocked, or severed and sealed, in order to prevents eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization.

Abstinence: This method requires no sex at any time. If you're looking for a fail-proof plan to prevent pregnancy, total abstinence is the only 100% proven way. In addition to preventing pregnancy, abstinence is also the only guaranteed method for preventing sexually transmitted infections. (via Planned Parenthood)

If you are still feeling shaky about this decision, or feel you need more detailed information, see your gynecologist or check out these helpful sites:

Planned ParenthoodOffice on Women's Health, and MedicineNet