To prevent conception or pregnancy, birth control uses various agents, devices, drugs, sexual practices, or surgical procedures.
It allows people to choose when they want to have a baby.
A range of devices and treatments are available for men and women that can help prevent pregnancy.
Some methods are more reliable than others. How well a method works often depends on the care with which it is used.
The contraceptive pill, for example, used correctly, is over 99% effective. However, because people make mistakes, up to 9 women per year will get pregnant while using it.
This article will look at a range of pregnancy prevention methods. It gives the actual efficiency rates, which take into account the possibility of human error.
Fast facts on birth control
- Birth control can help people decide when to have children.
- There are many types to choose from, including different types of barriers, drugs, and traditional methods that do not require additional resources.
- The effectiveness varies and often depends on the care taken in applying the method.
- Only a male condom offers protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Any type of device or medication is not involved in traditional birth control.
Abstinence: It is also known as celibacy or sexual abstinence which means avoiding sexual intercourse.
Withdrawal: Also known as interrupted coitus, this is when the man withdraws the penis from the vagina for ejaculation to occur outside the vagina. In theory, this prevents semen from depositing in the vagina.
According to the Office of Population Affairs of the United States Health and Human Services (HHS), each year, for every 100 women who use this method, 20 can become pregnant.
In other words, weaning is around 80% effective, but it depends on the caution and consistency of its use.
The penis does not need to enter the vagina for a pregnancy to occur. This can happen if semen enters the vagina during foreplay, for example.
The barrier devices prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. They can be combined with a spermicide, which kills the sperm.
The male condom forms a barrier and prevents pregnancy by preventing semen from entering the vagina. It is placed on the penis before the start of sexual intercourse. A condom is made of polyurethane or latex.
It can also help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
It is about 82% effective. About 18 in 100 women can conceive if their partner uses a condom.
Condoms are available at pharmacies, supermarkets and many other outlets. Health providers also provide them, sometimes for free. You can also buy them online.
Polyurethane is used to make the female condom, or femidom. It has a flexible ring on each end. One attaches behind the pubic bone to hold the condom in place, while the other ring stays outside the vagina.
Spermicides can be placed in the vagina before sex. Spermicide chemically kills semen. The product can be used alone or in combination with a physical barrier.
The female condom is 79% effective. About 21 women will get pregnant each year using this method.
It is less easy to find than the male condom. Only FDA approved FC2 is available in the United States. Health care providers can provide them, or you can get them at a pharmacy with a prescription. You can also buy them online from Amazon or the FC2 website.
A contraceptive sponge is inserted into the vagina. He has depression to hold it in place on the cervix. The foam is placed in the vagina using an applicator. The foam is a spermicide that destroys male sperm and the sponge acts as a barrier to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
Between 12 and 24 out of 100 women who use the sponge can become pregnant.
If a woman has already had a baby, it is less likely to work.
A diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber device that is inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix.
It is a firm but flexible ring that fits behind a woman’s pubic bone and helps it press against the vaginal walls.
Used with a spermicide, it is 88% effective. Used alone, it is between 77 and 83% effective.
A cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex rubber barrier device that fits over the cervix and prevents sperm from entering the uterus. The cap should be about one-third full of spermicide before insertion. It stays in place by suction.
It is about 88% effective when used with a spermicide and 77-83% without.
Contraceptive injection, or “the vaccine,” is a long-acting, reversible progestin-only contraceptive drug. The name of the medicine is Depo-Provera, also known as Depo shot or DMPA.
The vaccine is injected every 3 months in a doctor’s office. It prevents pregnancy by preventing the woman from releasing an egg.
It is 94% effective and the chances of pregnancy increase as the vaccine wears off. It is important not to forget to reserve another shot after 3 months to ensure its effectiveness.
It does not protect against STIs.
These range from pills that you can take to devices that are inserted by a doctor. You need to see a healthcare professional to get most of these types of birth control pills.
The intrauterine device (IUD)
The intrauterine device (IUD), or coil, is a small, flexible T-shaped device that is placed in the uterus by a doctor.
There are two types:
A copper IUD releases copper, which acts like a spermicide. This can last up to 10 years.
A hormonal IUD contains a progestin. By thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus, it prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.
It stays in place until pregnancy is desired.
Depending on the type, it will last 3, 5 or 10 years. It is over 99% effective.
The combined contraceptive pill is taken daily. It contains two hormones, estrogen and progestin. Hormones stop the release of the egg or ovulation. They also make the uterus lining thinner.
On average, it is effective for between 91 and 95 percent of women.
It is a transdermal patch applied on the skin. It releases synthetic hormones of estrogen and progestin.
The patch is worn weekly for 3 consecutive weeks, usually on the lower abdomen or buttocks. No patch is worn the fourth week, to allow the menstrual period. Patches are readily available.
It is estimated to be 91% effective.
The contraceptive vaginal ring is a flexible plastic ring that releases a low dose of progestin and estrogen for 3 weeks. It prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus so that sperm cannot move easily.
The woman inserts the ring into the vagina for 3 weeks and then takes it out for a week, during which time she will have a menstrual period.
It is also known as NuvaRing, the trade name for a combined hormonal contraceptive vaginal ring made by Organon.
It is 99% effective, but the risk of human error reduces it to 91%.
An implant is a rod which releases slowly a core of progestin. It is inserted under the woman’s upper arm skin.
The implant is effective for up to 4 years, but it can be removed at any time, then pregnancy is possible.
It is 99% effective in preventing conception, but it does not protect against an STI.
Emergency contraception “the next day”
Emergency contraceptive pills, or “morning after pill”, can prevent pregnancy after sex. It prevents fertilization, implantation or ovulation of an embryo.
It is different from medical termination methods because they work after the egg is already implanted in the uterus.
After unprotected sex, emergency contraception can be used for up to 72 hours. It is 95% effective during the first 24 hours, dropping to 60% in 72 hours.
Emergency contraception should only be used if primary methods have failed.
It is seen as a kind of abortion by some people, because the egg may have already been fertilized.
Sterilization is a permanent method of sterilization.
Tubal ligation: This is a type of female sterilization. The surgeon will block, burn, or cut the fallopian tubes, or a combination of these methods, to seal them and prevent future fertilization.
Tubal implant: a coil is placed in the female’s fallopian tubes. The tissue grows around it, blocking the tubes. It may take 3 months to work.
Female sterilization is over 99% effective.
Vasectomy: This is a surgical procedure aimed at making a man sterile. The tubes through which sperm pass into the ejaculate are blocked or cut. It is over 99% effective.
It is sometimes reversible, but with a higher abundance of abnormal sperm, which can lead to reduced fertility or birth defects.