Birth Control Options
There are so many different birth control options avaible it almost boggles the mind. There are pills, surgeries (for both men and women), barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms, and even natural methods such as withdrawal. Here is an overview of the most common birth control options.
The Combined Pill
Combined pills are named as such because they combine both estrogen and progestin. Usually, estrogen/progestin pills are taken 21 days out of the month with 7 days off, although several newer types of pills can be taken every day so you don't get a period.
The progestin-only pill, or so-called mini-pill, works by thickening the cervical mucus membrane. The advantage of the progestin-only pill is the lack of estrogen. The disadvantage is that timing is critical. If you are more than 3 hours late taking your daily pill, you should use an alternative form of birth control, such as a condom, for at least the next 48 hours.
This birth control option is a progestin-only shot once every 3 months and works much the same way as progestin-only pills. Miss a shot, however, and its effectiveness decreases somewhat, though not dramatically.
Effectiveness: 99.9% if shots taken on time, 97% if you're off by a few days
The estrogen/progestin patch is attached to your skin once per week for three weeks, taking the forth week off. It works by slowly releasing progestin and estrogen into your blood stream over the course of the week. Side effects are much the same as with the estrogen/progestin pill otherwise.
Barrier methods such as diaphragms have the advantage of being hormone-free, so the risk of serious side-effects is small. On the downside, these types of contraceptives aren't nearly as effective. Additionally user error is common, further reducing effectiveness.
Effectiveness: 94% if used properly every time; however, with typical use effectiveness is around 84%
The Nuva Ring is inserted into the vagina once a month, releasing estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus. If you smoke or have high blood pressure, however, the Nuva Ring is not for you.
Condoms have the advantage of being extremely available and inexpensive to obtain. Additionally, it is one of the only forms of birth control which also helps prevent the spread of STDs. Condoms are best used in addition to rather than instead of another form of birth control due to the high rate of user error.
Effectiveness: 98% in theory, 85% in typical use
There are various forms of IUDs and implants with varying costs and levels of effectiveness. Some brands may even remain effective for decades, making them a good choice for women who are absolutely certain they don't want any more children. Consult your doctor for more information on these birth control options.