Contraceptive Methods & Where to Get Them
There are many different forms of birth control out there, and we want to empower you to choose which birth control is best for you. If you’re looking for the right method, you’ve come to the right place. Read about various contraceptive options and reach out to a FPCI clinic to receive quality care, education, and the options you are looking for.
Which Birth Control Method is the Best?
Birth control is not a one-size-fits-all approach. What is best for your friend may not be best for you due to lifestyle differences, underlying health conditions, personal preference, and more. Work with your clinician to evaluate your options and come to a decision that is best for your unique circumstances.
Types of Birth Control
Oral Contraceptives are a daily pill containing hormones that work to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. Oral contraceptives contain either combined estrogen/progestin or a progestin-only hormone option. It is important to take a pill every day at around the same time to maximize the effectiveness of this method.
This method of birth control is similar to an oral contraceptive to keep the ovaries from releasing an egg, but it contains only the progestin hormone and is given in the form of a shot rather than a pill. If you choose this option, you must return to the clinic for a shot every 11-13 weeks.
The contraceptive ring is similar to the pill and patch because it releases low-dose hormones (estrogen and progestin) so the ovaries don’t release an egg. This method of birth control is a soft ring that fits inside the vagina and should be worn for three weeks and removed for the fourth week. The exact position in the vagina is not important.
This method of birth control is a small, thin, smooth patch containing estrogen and progestin that is put on your skin. You can choose to place the patch on the buttocks, shoulder, or the front or back of the upper arm (but not the breasts). It releases low-dose hormones every day so the ovaries don’t release an egg.
Each patch stays on your skin for one week before you must change it and put on a new patch. No patch is worn on the fourth week. This method will stay on regardless of swimming, bathing, showering, and being in humid weather.
An IUD is a small device made of plastic that contains progestin and is inserted into the uterus by a trained clinician. The progestin device can stay in the uterus for 3-7 years. IUDs prevent an egg and a sperm from meeting by thickening the mucus of the cervix. This slows the sperm’s traveling ability to meet the egg and achieve fertilization.
Copper Intrauterine IUD
Similar to a standard IUD, the Copper IUD is a small device inserted into the uterus by a trained clinician. Instead of progestin, which works by thickening the cervical mucus, copper acts as a spermicide. The copper IUD can stay in place 10-12 years. All IUDs are safe and effective for women of all ages, even those who have never had a baby, including adolescents.
The implant is a small, flexible contraceptive rod, the size of a toothpick, placed under the skin in your upper, inner arm. The progestin hormone is slowly released to keep the ovaries from releasing an egg. This contraceptive method must be inserted and removed by a trained clinician and is effective for four years.
Also called the external condom, this is a covering that a man wears over his penis during sex, which can be made of latex, polyurethane, or a natural material. The condom catches the semen and sperm that comes out of a man’s penis during ejaculation. This keeps sperm from getting into the vagina and traveling to meet an egg. Latex condoms also help protect against some infections, including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
*These methods also protect against STIs
The female/internal condom is a loose-fitting nitrile barrier that fits inside the woman’s vagina or inside the rectum. It catches the semen and sperm that comes out of a penis during ejaculation. The condom covers the cervix, the opening to the uterus, so sperm can’t get through to fertilize an egg. It also protects against some infections including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The internal condom is only available with a prescription.
*These methods also protect against STIs
The diaphragm is a soft rubber dome-shaped cup placed in your vagina and used with a spermicidal cream or jelly. It is inserted before having sex and must be kept in place for 6 hours after sex. The diaphragm covers the cervix (the entrance to her uterus) and spermicide kills or stops sperm from getting into the uterus.
Avoiding sexual intercourse (abstaining) is a guaranteed effective method of birth control. Even when relying on abstinence, it may be a good idea to possess a backup contraceptive such as a condom in case of an unexpected sexual interaction.
Fertility Awareness-Based Methods
This is a natural way of avoiding pregnancy without the use of synthetic hormones like progestin or estrogen. This method gives you the empowerment of learning about your body’s natural cycle as you identify your “fertile window”. Your fertile window is the time during your cycle in which you are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex.
There are many ways to track your fertile window, and you can work with your clinician to assess what may be best for you. The Standard Days and Calendar Rhythm Methods are based on simply tracking your menstrual cycle. The TwoDay and Billings Ovulation Methods involve monitoring the presence or absence of cervical mucus. The Symptothermal Method involves both looking at cervical mucus and taking your body temperature each morning.
Many women choosing a fertility awareness-based method utilize smartphone applications that make it easy to track fertility signs. Once you identify when you are fertile, you must avoid sex or use a barrier method (such as a condom) during those fertile days.
This is a type of birth control that can be taken after unprotected sex. It can be used after a condom breaks, after a sexual assault, or any time you are unprepared and have unprotected sex. EC pills must be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex, but it is most effective when taken within 24 hours. The sooner it is taken, the better it works. If a woman is already pregnant, it will not end a pregnancy and the EC pills will not harm the baby.
Two brands of EC pills have a progestin hormone in them (Next Choice® and Plan B One-Step®) and are available without a prescription for women (and men) of any age. Ella® pills and the ParaGard® IUD are available to all women with a prescription. The IUD must be inserted into your uterus by a trained clinician.
It is helpful to have an EC on hand in case you need it, rather than waiting to obtain an EC after having unplanned and unprotected sex.
This is a surgical procedure and is intended to be a permanent method of birth control. There is no guarantee that it can be reversed. Sterilization is one of the safest, most effective, most cost-effective and most widely used contraceptive methods in the world. It is available to both males and females.
Female sterilization involves a tubal ligation procedure that blocks the fallopian tubes of a woman and prevents the egg and sperm from meeting. It is effective immediately. Male sterilization involves a vasectomy to cut and block the tubes that carry sperm out of a man’s body through his penis. It does not affect the ability to get an erection or ejaculate. When ejaculation does occur, no sperm will be in the semen. The procedure does not take effect immediately, so another method of contraception must be used until a test confirms the absence of sperm.