Contraception Options

Most of us don’t want to have a baby the first time we have sex, or when we’re older and we’ve decided our family is complete. Thinking about contraceptives before having sex is a responsible and healthy thing to do. Here’s some information about different options for contraception.

What is contraception?

Contraception can come in different forms and methods. Your healthcare provider can help you decide what the best options are for you. All methods of contraction prevent pregnancy. Some protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), too.

Contraception is not the same as abortion. Contraceptives prevent the implantation of an egg but cannot prevent pregnancy once a fertilized egg has implant.

What are the different types of contraception?

Over-The-Counter Options

These methods are widely available for purchase and do not require a prescription.

Condoms

Condoms are rubber sleeves that cover the penis. They prevent pregnancy by creating a barrier between the sperm and the egg. Because they create a physical barrier, they can also protect you from STDs. If a condom breaks, you could become pregnant or you could be exposed to STDs. Condoms should be used every time you have sex, in addition to other forms of contraception, in order to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs. There are also female condoms that you can put inside your vagina.

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a small circular device inserted into the vagina to prevent sperm migration through the cervix. It does require custom fitting to your body that can be done by a healthcare provider. Diaphragms do not prevent STDs.

Foams, Films, Gels, Sponges

These are products you can put inside your vagina to discourage sperm from reaching an egg. They reduce the chance for pregnancy, but do not prevent STDs.

Behind-The-Counter Options

These methods require a prescription from your healthcare provider.

Pills

Birth control pills have been around for decades. They are very effective in preventing pregnancy if you remember to take it every single day. They do not prevent STDs.

Long Acting Reversable Contraception (LARC) Options

These methods last for several years and can be placed by a healthcare provider. For more detailed information, see our page dedicated to LARC.

The Implant

The implant is a form of LARC that lasts for 3-5 years, depending on the brand. The implant is a small rod that is placed in your arm. It’s a simple procedure that can be done in your healthcare provider’s office. The implant releases synthetic hormones that prevent pregnancy. It does not prevent STDs.

The IUD

The intra-uterine device (IUD) is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. It must be replaced every 3-10 years, depending on the model. Some models are hormone-based, others are made from copper. A healthcare provider can help you decide what model is best for you. IUDs prevent pregnancy but do not protect against STDs.

The Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring is a thin, polymer ring, containing a small amount of synthetic hormone, that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks at a time in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. There are two types of rings – the 1-month ring and the 1-year ring. It is removed every three weeks and after a week of possible withdrawal bleeding, you will either insert a new ring or the same one as before depending on the brand. Like other hormonal contraceptives, the ring does not protect against STDs.

The Patch

The patch is small adhesive contraceptive that is worn in a discrete location on the body and changed weekly to protect against unwanted pregnancy. The hormones in the patch are absorbed through the skin, but act in a manner similar to that of the pill or hormonal IUD. The patch does not protect against STDs and is not a good option for patients weighing over 198 lbs., but it is a good option for those may find taking a pill daily difficult and are looking for something less long term than the injection or LARC.

The Shot

The shot is a routine injection that you get every three months. You visit your healthcare provider for those appointments. The shot prevents pregnancy but does not protect against STDs.

Surgical Options

If you decide you have had all the children you want to have, or you decide not to have children, you can have a permanent procedure to cut, remove, or block your fallopian tubes so that eggs cannot reach your uterus and be fertilized.