Picking the right birth control in a sea of options
Contraception is an important part of engaging in safe, consensual sex, but there are so many forms of contraception available today that it can be daunting to figure out what’s right for you. Talk to your doctor and check out the list below for quick facts on the pros and cons of each major form of birth control.
Function: Refraining from having sexual intercourse or any form of sexual contact.
Pros: While there are a variety of reasons for practicing abstinence, the most popular may be this one: abstinence is the only fully effective form of birth control and prevents transfer of sexually transmitted diseases.
Cons: You don’t have sex.
Function: There are two types of birth control pills: combination and extended-cycle. Each has its own special characteristics, but both perform the same job — they keep a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg, which prevents sperm from joining with an egg. A woman’s cervical mucus also becomes thicker, further inhibiting sperm from achieving their goal.
Pros: Being on the pill doesn’t slow things down when you’re hot and ready, and they can help reduce other medical conditions, such as acne and endometriosis.
Cons: Because of the hormones, pills are known to cause weight gain, sore breasts, lighter periods and nausea. Users may also have a hard time remembering to take them at the same time every day.
Function: Also known as the NuvaRing, this transparent ring is inserted into a woman’s vagina and releases hormones every day for four weeks.
Pros: While it serves the same function as a pill, all side effects seen with birth control pills are lessened with a vaginal ring.
Cons: It’s a one-size-fits-all ring, so some women may have a hard time if it is not inserted correctly. There are also several conditions that make it unsafe for women to use the ring, including as long-term diabetes, liver disease and uncontrolled high blood pressure, so be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe for you to use the vaginal ring.
Function: Diaphragms are dome-shaped silicone cups that are inserted into the vagina and cover up the cervix, preventing sperm from moving into the uterus and coming into contact with an egg.
Pros: If you are going to have sex multiple times, this is a good option – it protects from pregnancy for about six hours. You can also safely remove it, clean it and reuse it for up to two years.
Cons: It doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted diseases, and it’s also a bit pricey, emptying your wallet of about $40.
Function: An intrauterine device is for those who don’t plan to have a kid for at least five years, making it one of the most popular forms of contraception. It is inserted into a woman’s uterus, with some types lasting up to ten years.
Pros: You don’t have to worry about becoming pregnant for at least five years, unlike trying to remember to take a pill every day.
Cons: It doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections from unprotected sex. It has also been known to fall out or puncture the uterus.
Function: One of the few methods of contraception for men. Most condoms are made of latex.
Pros: Condoms are cheap and lower the risk of the transferring sexually transmitted diseases.
Cons: Since most condoms are made of latex, they cannot be used if a woman is allergic to latex. Condoms can also break, and you have to put a new one on every time you have sex.
Function: Contraceptive sponges produce a physical barrier during sex, which traps sperm from passing through the cervix and causing pregnancy.
Pros: These are good for people who have sex multiple times a day. You don’t need a prescription for it, and it can stay inserted for up to 24 hours.
Cons: It won’t protect you against STI’s and can’t be removed for six hours after having sex. It can also increase urinary tract infections in women.
Function: This is inserted into a woman’s arm as a small rod, emitting small streams of hormones every day, preventing pregnancy for up to three years.
Pros: This is a great method for those who need long-term contraception, as it lasts from one to three years.
Cons: It doesn’t protect against STI’s and minor surgery is required in order to add and remove the device