Contraception is any method used to prevent unwanted pregnancy, often referred to as birth control. Different types of contraception have different rates of effectiveness, and not all birth control prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. If you are interested in practicing safe sex and would like to learn more about birth control, read on to learn more about contraception methods to consider.


Hormonal Contraception

Hormonal methods of contraception protect against pregnancy by using hormones to prevent the release of an egg each month during ovulation. These hormones can be delivered in birth control pills, through the skin with the birth control patch, or via birth control shots (Depo-Provera). Another type of hormonal contraception is Implanon, a small rod implanted inside the upper arm that lasts up to three years. The Nuva-Ring is a small, flexible ring that is placed into the vagina for three weeks each month and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. Birth control side effects can be challenging depending on the type of pill, so this type of contraception must be taken under a doctor’s care.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of contraception prevent unwanted pregnancy by literally creating a barrier between the sperm and the egg. The most popular barrier method is the condom, but there are many other options. For example, the sponge is a foam disk inserted into the vagina that blocks sperm from entering the cervix. It also contains spermicide to provide extra protection. The cervical cap and diaphragm are different types of silicone cups that fit over the cervix and can also be used with spermicidal lubricant. The female condom is similar to the male condom, but is fitted into the vagina to prevent sperm from entering the cervix. Some barrier methods also protect against STDs.

Other Methods of Contraception

Abstaining from sexual intercourse completely is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy. While some people prefer to refrain from all sexual activity outside of the context of marriage, others are comfortable with types of sexual activity that cannot lead to pregnancy. Some people chart their fertile periods on a calendar and abstain from sex only during those times, usually a technique known as the fertility awareness method.

Another common contraceptive method is the IUD, a T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus to prevent sperm from joining with eggs. One type of IUD, the Mirena, also releases hormones.

Permanent Contraceptive Options

Men and women who do not plan to ever have children may consider permanent contraception. Women can opt for either a tubal ligation or the Essure procedure which blocks the fallopian tubes, while men can become sterilized through a vasectomy.

If you have more questions about how to prevent pregnancy, talk with your family doctor. He or she can help you choose the best contraception method for your health and lifestyle.