- Comparison chart of the most common types of birth control.
- Barrier Methods
- Hormonal Methods
- Other Methods
- Emergency Contraception
- Compiled using information from the following sources:
Comparison chart of the most common types of birth control.
|Method||What is it?||How does it work?||Effectiveness against pregnancy|
|Male Condom||A tube of thin material (latex rubber) that is rolled over the erect penis prior to contact with the vagina.||If used consistently and correctly every single time, the male condom is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy . However, during typical use, condoms are around 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms work by preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Benefits: They are the only contraceptive product that provides some protection against most STIs. Natural or lambskin condoms may help prevent pregnancy, but DO NOT provide as much protection against STIs as latex condoms. Risks: Rarely allergic reaction to latex may occur.|
|Female Condom||Is a lubricated, thin polyurethane pouch that is put into the vagina.||It keeps sperm from getting into her body. The female condom is 79-95% effective at preventing pregnancy, and may help prevent STDs. Benefits: May give some protection against STIs. Risks: Irritation and allergic reactions.|
|Method||What is it?||How does it work?|
|Birth Control Pills/ Oral Contraceptives||Pills that are taken daily as prescribed by your healthcare provider.||Uses hormones (estrogen and/or progestin) to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining the egg. The pill should be taken at the same time every day, whether or not you have sex, and requires a prescription. Prevents pregnancy 91-99% of the time. Benefits: Very effective at preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly. Risks: In some individuals it may cause: dizziness, nausea, changes in mood, weight gain, and very rarely women who take the pill develop high blood pressure. In extremely rare cases, some women will have blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes.. This risk is increases is you smoke/use tabacco products. If oral contraceptives are not used exactly as they are prescribed, the likelihood of an unintended pregnancy increases significantly. Does not provide any protection against STIs.|
|The Patch||An injection given by your health care provider that prevents pregnancy for three months.||It uses the hormones estrogen and progestin to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining with the egg. You put on a new patch after removing the old once every three weeks, and during the fourth week, you do not wear a patch and have a menstrual period. It requires a prescription. Benefits: It is 91-99% effective at preventing pregnancy , when used properly. Risks: May be less effective for women who weigh more than 198lbs. It will expose you to higher than average levels of estrogen than most oral contraceptives, and it is not known if serious risks, such as blood clots, are greater with the skin patch because of the greater exposure to estrogen. Does not provide any protection against STIs.|
|Injection/Shot||A shot of the hormone progestin that stops the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women.||It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining the egg. A doctor or nurse administers it once every 3 months. It requires a prescription. It is 94-99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Benefits: You do not have to remember to take a daily pill. Risks: Some women may have bone loss if they get the shot for more than 2 years. Potential bleeding between periods, weight gain, breast tenderness, and headaches. It does not provide any protection against STIs.|
|Vaginal Contraceptive Ring||A flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks, removed for one week, and then replaced with a new ring, releases estrogen and progesterone into your body.||It is put into the vagina and releases hormones (progestin and estrogen) to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining with the egg. Is put into the vagina by the wearer, and worn for 3 weeks, and then taken out for a week. It requires a prescription. Benefits: It is 91-99% at preventing pregnancy. Risks: May cause vaginal discharge, swelling of the vagina, and irritation. Other risks are similar to oral contraceptives (combined pill). Provides no protection against STIs.|
|Intrauterine Device (IUD)||A small plastic device containing copper or hormones that is inserted into the uterus by a medical professional||After it is put in, it can stay in place for 5 to 10 years, depending on the type. It requires a prescription. Is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Benefits: Does not require having to remember to take a pill or use other forms of contraception. Highly effective at preventing pregnancy. Risks: May cause cramps and bleeding. Very rarely, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, tear or hole in the uterus. Does not provide protection against STIs.|
|What is it?||How does it work?||Failure Rate for Pregnancy* (per 100 women)||Protection against STI|
|Withdrawal||Involves the removal of the erect penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation.||Not effective against pregnancy because a small amount of fluid leaks from the penis during sex before ejaculating||None|
|Female Sterilization||Involves the surgical closing of the fallopian tubes which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, procedure is referred to as a tubal ligation.||Less than 1%||None|
|Male Sterilization||Involves the surgical closing of tubes that carry sperm, procedure is referred to as a vasectomy.||Less than 1%||None|
|Spermicides||Chemicals that are designed to kill sperm, and are available as foam, jelly, foaming tablets and vaginal suppositories.||26%||None|
|Abstinence||The voluntary refraining from sexual activity, the only contraceptive method that is 100% effective in the prevention of both pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.||0%||100% effective against all STDs.|
|Fertility Awareness Method||Also known as Natural Family Planning and commonly called NFP, does not rely on devices or medications to prevent pregnancies, a contraceptive method that uses the natural functions of your body and your menstrual cycle to calculate ovulation, features of NFP involve recording of your body temperature and changes in your cervical mucus each day, requires periodic abstinence (approximately 7 to 10 days) during the ovulation period, some women choose to use a barrier method or withdrawal during this time frame.||25% (Periodic Abstinence)||None|
|Method||What is it?||How does it work?|
|Morning After Pill (Plan B)||It is one or two pills with hormones (a progestin alone) that are similar to other birth control pills.||It works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg or stopping sperm from joining with the egg or preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. It can be purchased over the counter if the individual is 15 years or older, and requires a prescription if younger. Can be used after unprotected sex (where birth control was not used), and can also be used if birth control did not work (ex: the condom broke). The majority of emergency contraception should be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. For the best chance to prevent a pregnancy, the pill must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Benefits: reduces the risk of pregnancy resulting from a single act of unprotected sex by 85-89%, if taken it within 72 hours. (certain brands can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex). Risks: Heavy menstrual bleeding, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and dizziness. It does not provide any protection against STIs.|
*Failure rates for birth control methods when used correctly and without conjunction with other types of methods.
**Contraceptive patch is less effective in women weighing more than 198 pounds.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
American Academy of Family Physicians (2005) Birth Control: Choosing a Method That’s Right for You. Retrieved September 11, 2006.
American Pregnancy Association (2006). Overview: Types of Birth Control. Retrieved August 1, 2007.
Plan B Consumer Home Page (2006). Plan B. Retrieved September 17, 2006.
Medical Institute, The (2006). Condoms & STDs. Retrieved August 1, 2007.
US Food and Drug Administration (2003). Birth Control Guide. Retrieved September 11, 2006.