The Basics of Birth Control


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Sex is nothing to be ashamed of –– 97% of adult Americans have done it. With sex often comes concerns of pregnancy. Certainly, there are queer or infertile couples who don’t face this issue, but most do. If you plan on having sex and want to avoid the pregnancy bit — don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


That being said, birth control isn’t just for preventing pregnancy. It can help lessen periods, or remove them altogether. It can help with acne or help with disorders like PCOS, and so much more.


We’re here to break down all the advantages and disadvantages that come with each method of birth control, and to help you figure out what’s best for you.


All of these methods of birth control can be acquired for a range of prices. Most of them come out to be $0 with insurance. To learn more visit Planned Parenthood’s website or contact your insurance provider.


Birth Control Implant

99% effective

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The implant is a small rod inserted under the skin on the patient's arm. It’s not visible and prevents pregnancy for up to four years.

  • Low maintenance

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • Placed by doctor or nurse

  • Progestin-only and no estrogen

IUD

99% effective

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IUDs are small, t-shaped pieces of plastic inserted into the uterus to prevent insemination. There are three kinds of IUDs, and each offers a different set of benefits and drawbacks. You can learn more here.

  • Low maintenance

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • Placed by doctor or nurse

  • No hormones in copper IUD

  • No estrogen in hormonal IUDs

Birth Control Shot

94% effective


The shot, also known as Depo, is given once every three or so months and prevents fertilization. It’s inserted in the arm or buttock and requires a prescription.

  • Used on schedule

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • Given by doctor or nurse

  • Progestin-only and no estrogen

Birth Control Vaginal Ring

91% effective

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The ring works like the pill but only needs to be inserted once a month. It’s a small, flexible piece of latex-free plastic and can’t be felt during intercourse if inserted properly.

  • Used on schedule

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • You need a prescription from a doctor or nurse

Birth Control Patch

91% effective

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The patch also works like the pill, but only needs to be applied once a week. It’s a small, flexible piece of plastic that looks like a regular bandage. It can be worn on your arm, back or buttock.

  • Used on schedule

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • You need a prescription from a doctor or nurse

Birth Control Pill

91% effective

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The pill contains estrogen and progestogen. It needs to be taken daily to prevent pregnancy and it’s one of the most common forms of birth control.

  • Used on schedule

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Helps make periods and cramps lighter or go away altogether

  • You need a prescription from a doctor or nurse

Condom

85% effective

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Condoms are seath-shaped barriers worn on the penis. They can help prevent pregnancy and protect from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • Use every time

  • Helps prevent STIs

  • No hormones

Internal Condom

79% effective

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Internal condoms are pouches inserted into the vagina or anus before sex. It can help prevent pregnancy and protect against STIs just like an external condom.

  • Use every time

  • Helps prevent STIs

  • No hormones

Diaphragm

88% effective

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To work effectively, diaphragms need to be inserted hours before sex and used with spermicide. It’s a silicone dome inserted in the vagina that prevents sperm from reaching the egg.

  • Use every time

  • You need a prescription from a doctor or nurse

  • No hormones

  • Reusable

Birth Control Sponge

76-88% effective


The sponge is a small piece of foam inserted into the vagina hours before sex.

  • Use every time

  • No hormones

Spermicide and Gel

72-86% effective


Available at any convenience store, spermicide and gel kill sperm, which prevents it from reaching the egg.

  • Use every time

  • No hormones

Cervical Cap

71-86% effective

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To work effectively a cervical cap needs to be used with spermicide. It can be inserted up to six hours before sex and prevents pregnancy.

  • Use every time

  • You need a prescription from a doctor or nurse

  • No hormones

  • Reusable

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

76-88% effective


FAM involves tracking the menstrual cycle so the user is aware of their ovulation days and fertile days. It’s a more complicated method of birth control and should be thoroughly researched if used. You can read more here.

  • Lifestyle

  • No hormones

Withdrawal (Pull Out Method)

78% effective


The pull-out method is the practice of removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation to prevent pregnancy from occurring.

  • Lifestyle

  • No hormones

Breastfeeding as Birth Control

98% effective

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For the first six months of a child’s life, if you do not have your period, this is a usable birth control method. The parent needs to exclusively breastfeed the child, meaning no formula, and feed them approximately every six hours.

  • Lifestyle

  • No hormones

Outercourse and Abstinence

100% effective


Not engaging in sex or strictly staying above the waist makes pregnancy impossible. This is the only method of birth control that’s foolproof.

  • Lifestyle

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • No hormones

Tubal Ligation

99% effective

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This surgery is the sterilization of the uterus. The fallopian tubes are tied to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg.

  • Permanent

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Surgery performed by doctor or nurse

  • No hormones

Vasectomy

99% effective


This surgery is the sterilization of the penis. It cuts off the supply of sperm so it’s unable to reach the semen during ejaculation.

  • Permanent

  • Best at preventing pregnancy

  • Surgery performed by doctor or nurse

  • No hormones


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If you had unprotected sex, a condom broke or anything went wrong and you want to be sure there’s no chance of pregnancy, Plan B is an option and can be purchased for approximately $50 at most convenience stores. If you’re already pregnant and wish to terminate the fetus, you can look into abortion laws in your state.