There are many birth control and contraception methods available to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Options vary from oral contraception (birth control pills) to birth control shots, to abstinence. It is important that you weigh your options and find the right birth control plan for you. You should always consult with your doctor for more information before making any medical decisions. Here you will find a general overview of available birth control and contraception methods.
Hormonal Birth Control
Birth Control Pills
Birth control oral medication, often referred to as “The Pill”, is the most commonly used form of birth control. Birth control medication works by changing the amount of hormones available in the reproductive system.
The extra estrogen in birth control pills stops the pituitary gland from producing hormones that cause ovulation. It also prevents breakthrough bleeding (mid-cycle bleeding) by strengthening the uterine lining, which typically breaks down and sheds, causing the bleeding associated with menstruation.
Progestin also helps in stopping the pituitary gland from producing hormones related to ovulation. The hormone makes it more difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg or for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine lining. Progestin achieves this by thickening the cervical mucus.
Most birth control pills contain both progestin and estrogen, but some only contain progestin. Certain individuals have intolerable side effects to the combination birth control pills and so choose to use the progestin-only pills.
Find birth control pill discounts here.
Birth Control Shot
Depo-Provera is the birth control shot. It contains progesterone. The birth control shot is about as effective as birth control pills. Unlike the pill, fertility may not return immediately. It can take up to 6-18 months to return to your normal hormone cycle. Therefore, the birth control shot may not be the best choice for temporary birth control.
Depo-Provera has some beneficial side effects, like a reduced risk of certain cancers, less cramping and lighter/fewer periods. However, many women also experience a weight gain and increase of appetite. Depo-Provera may also affect your mood and sex drive.
You can find your Depo-Provera birth control shot discount here.
Emergency Contraception and Birth Control
Emergency contraception is used after an unprotected sexual encounter to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the brand of emergency contraception, you can use it up to five days (120 hours) after the unprotected sex.
The most well-known emergency contraception, Plan B, is not as effective for people who have a BMI higher than 25. If your BMI is above 25, you should use ella, a more effective pill for those with a BMI between 25 and 30.
Emergency contraception pills are usually made of levonorgestrel. Emergency contraception pills should not be your main method of contraception, as they are significantly less effective than other forms of birth control, including but not limited to birth control pills, condoms or IUDs.
You can find emergency contraception discounts here, including Plan B discounts.
Vaginal Ring Birth Control
Vaginal rings, like NuvaRing, are a form of birth control inserted directly into the vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy. Each ring is inserted for three weeks, then removed for one during the period. Vaginal ring birth control is a private, easily inserted birth control method.
Vaginal rings should not be prescribed to individuals who smoke or who are over the age of 35. NuvaRing or other vaginal rings should not be used while breastfeeding.
You can find vaginal ring birth control discounts here.
Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs)
Intra-Uterine Devices, more commonly known as IUDs, are small plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. Some types of IUDs also contain copper.
IUDs affect the way that sperm swim to stop fertilization from occurring. IUDs can also stop eggs from leaving the ovary, the process called ovulation. Using an IUD often minimizes bleeding during periods or even ends it completely.
Find more information on IUDs here.
Patch Birth Control Methods
Birth control patches work in a similar manner to birth control pills. They contain the same hormones: estrogen and progestin. A birth control patch is placed on the skin of your arm for three weeks, then removed for one week.
The hormones in the patch thicken the cervical mucus and prevent eggs from leaving the ovary (ovulation) so that they cannot be fertilized. Like the pill, the patch may cause mild side effects for up to three months that typically dissipate with time.
You can receive birth control patch discounts and coupons here.
Non-Hormonal Birth Control Methods
Both male and female condoms can be used as birth control. Remember that hormonal birth control methods do NOT protect against STDs and STIs, including HIV/AIDS. It is typically recommended that two forms of birth control, with one being a barrier method like condoms, are used during sexual encounters to ensure participants’ safety.
Find more information on condoms here.
Spermicide is a chemical solution that kills or immobilizes sperm to prevent pregnancy. Spermicide prevents pregnancy about 85% of the time, making it less effective than other forms of birth control. Find more information on spermicide here.
A diaphragm is another barrier form of birth control. It is inserted into the vagina to create a seal around the walls and prevent the entrance of sperm. Spermicide is inserted into the diaphragm before its insertion into the vagina. You can leave a diaphragm in for up to 24 hours. The diaphragm should be left in place for 6-8 hours after any ejaculation.
Diaphragms should be replaced every one to three years (latex) or every ten years (silicone). Find more information on diaphragms here.
Birth Control: Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I miss a dose?
Birth control pills should be taken daily at the same time for maximum effect. When they are taken at different times, the effectiveness will continue to decrease. In order for the pill to work the way it is intended, it should be taken consistently, on a regular schedule. However, if you do miss a dose check the manufacturer directions that should be attached to the prescription. Typically, you will want to take the missed dose immediately and finish the pack as directed.
Can I miss my period while on birth control?
When you are on birth control, the last seven pills are placebo or inactive pills. This is the time that you should get your period. It is common that you may miss your period every now and then. However, if you miss your period for more than two months, you may want to take a pregnancy test to be sure.
Birth Control and Antibiotics
There have been many rumors that antibiotics decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. However, these reports are false. There is only one antibiotic that will make the pill less effective, Rifampin. No other known antibiotic will have an effect on the pill. To be completely safe though, another form of birth control should be used when taking antibiotics.
Can I stop taking birth control pills at any time?
Yes. Stopping birth control may effect your menstrual cycle but there are no other known harmful effects to stopping the pill.
Does birth control make you gain weight?
Many users have stated that birth control has made them gain weight. However, studies show that birth control does not have a big influence on a woman’s weight. Women that continue to live a healthy lifestyle should not be affected by this.