Birth control is the use of various devices, drugs, agents, sexual practices, or surgical procedures to prevent conception or pregnancy.
It enables people to choose when they want to have a baby.
A range of devices and treatments are available for both men and women that can help prevent pregnancy.
Some methods are more reliable than others. How well a method work often depends on how carefully it is used.
The contraceptive pill, for example, used correctly, is over 99 percent effective. However, because people make mistakes, as many as 9 women each year will become pregnant while using it.
This article will look at a range of methods of preventing pregnancy. It gives the actual rates of effectiveness, which take into account the possibility of human error.
Fast facts about birth control
Birth control can help people decide when they want to have children.
There are many types to choose from, including different types of barrier, medications, and traditional methods that need no additional resources.
Effectiveness varies and often depends on how carefully the method is applied.
Only a male condom offers any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Traditional birth control does not involve any type of device or medication.
Various methods of birth control are available.
Abstinence: Celibacy or sexual abstinence means avoiding sexual intercourse.
Withdrawal: Also known as coitus interruptus, this is when the man removes the penis from the vagina so that ejaculation occurs outside of the vagina. In theory, this prevents the sperm from being deposited in the vagina.
According to the United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Population Affairs, each year, for every 100 women who use this method, 20 may become pregnant.
In other words, withdrawal is about 80 percent effective, but this depends on how carefully and how consistently it is used.
The penis does not need to enter the vagina for pregnancy to occur. It can happen if sperm enters the vagina during foreplay, for example.
Barrier devices prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. They may be combined with spermicide, which kills the sperm.
The male condom forms a barrier and prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from entering the vagina. It is placed over the penis before sexual intercourse begins. A condom is made of polyurethane or latex.
It can also help to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
It is around 82 percent effective. Some 18 women in every 100 may conceive if their partner uses a condom.
Condoms are available from drugstores, supermarkets, and many other outlets. Health providers also supply them, sometimes for free. You can also purchase them online.
The female condom, or femidom, is made of polyurethane. It has a flexible ring at each end. One fixes behind the pubic bone to hold the condom in place, while the other ring stays outside the vagina.
Spermicides may be placed in the vagina before intercourse. A spermicide kills sperm chemically. The product may be used alone or in combination with a physical barrier.
The female condom is 79 percent effective. Around 21 women will become pregnant each year with this method.
The femidom is less easy to find than the male condom. Only the FDA-approved FC2 is available in the United States. Health providers may supply them, or you can get them from a drugstore on prescription. You can also buy them online from Amazon or from the FC2 website.
What are female condoms and how are they used?
Click here for more details about the female condom.
A contraceptive sponge is inserted into the vagina. It has a depression to hold it in place over the cervix. Foam is placed into the vagina using an applicator. The foam is a spermicide that destroys the male sperm, and the sponge acts as a barrier to stop the sperm from reaching the egg.
Between 12 and 24 women out of every 100 who use the sponge may become pregnant.
It is less likely to work if a woman has already had a baby.
A diaphragm is a barrier method that is best used with spermicide.
A diaphragm is a rubber, dome-shaped device that is inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix.
It fits into place behind the woman’s pubic bone and has a firm but flexible ring that helps it press against the vaginal walls.
Used with spermicide, it is 88 percent effective. Used alone, it is between 77 and 83 percent effective.
A cervical cap is a thimble-shaped, latex rubber barrier device that fits over the cervix and blocks sperm from entering the uterus. The cap should be about one-third filled with spermicide before inserting. It stays in place by suction.
It is around 88 percent effective if used with spermicide, and 77 to 83 percent effective without.
The contraceptive injection, or “the shot,” is a progestin-only, long-acting, reversible, birth-control drug. The name of the drug is Depo-Provera, also known as the Depo shot or DMPA.
The shot is injected every 3 months at a doctor’s office. It prevents pregnancy by stopping the woman from releasing an egg.
It is 94 percent effective, and the chance of pregnancy increases as the shot wears off. It is important to remember to book another shot after 3 months to ensure its effectiveness.
It does not protect against STIs.
These range from pills you can take to devices that are inserted by a doctor. You need to see a health provider to obtain most of these types of birth control.
The intrauterine device (IUD)