There is a lot to consider when choosing the right birth control. The bottom line? The best one for you is the one you will use correctly and consistently.
When thinking about trying a new contraceptive method, it can be helpful to ask questions like:
With tons of birth control medicines available today, there is something to suit practically everyone. And if you’d like to get a birth control prescription online, a convenient $15 consultation with Dr. B is just a click away!
The earliest known forms of birth control date over 4,000 years ago to ancient Egypt, when physicians recommended putting a mixture of honey and crocodile dung or acacia leaves into the vagina. (Surprisingly, the low pH of these substances may have helped immobilize sperm!) Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks and Romans relied on amulets and condoms made from animal bladders.
The 1839 breakthrough discovery of vulcanized rubber made (reusable) condoms and other early devices easier to produce. And in the 1920s, condoms made from latex appeared on the market.
Prescription birth control treatments prevent pregnancy in different ways. Some contain hormones that change the body to make pregnancy less likely. Other types create a barrier that stops sperm from entering the uterus and reaching an egg.
When used correctly, birth control can:
Only barrier methods—like male and female condoms—protect against sexually transmitted infections. To protect against STIs and maximize pregnancy prevention, combine hormonal medications like the pill, patch, ring or implant with barrier methods like condoms.
The two main types—non-hormonal and hormonal. Each comes with its own benefits and downsides.
Non-hormonal birth control physically prevents sperm from meeting the egg. Some of the below are available over-the-counter (like condoms). Others require a visit to the doctor.
Types of non-hormonal methods include:
Hormonal contraception uses hormones to prevent the body from releasing an egg each month. (Without an egg, you can’t get pregnant.) Some hormones also thin the uterus lining so a fertilized egg won’t implant. Some make the mucus over the cervix thick and sticky, which keeps sperm from swimming through.
Hormonal birth control includes:
Different types of birth control pills include combination pills (which contain estrogen and progestin), the minipill and low-dose pills. Some have other benefits, like making periods lighter and less painful. And the implant and IUDs can be left in place for years, making pregnancy prevention easier.
Birth control is very effective when used perfectly. But in real life? Effectiveness can depend on which type you use and how well you use it.
Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly. In real life, 18 out of 100 people become pregnant if they only rely on condoms.
Similarly, when used perfectly, the pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. But as it can be hard to remember to take the pill at the same time every day, 9 people out of 100 get pregnant every year while using the pill.
This window is why the most effective form of birth control is the one you don’t have to think about. The most reliable forms include:
These methods of birth control are highly effective because human error is unlikely after they’re correctly in place. But these forms are not right for everyone. Some people don’t want to alter their hormones. Others may want to get pregnant soon.
Birth Control Effectiveness
Adapted from Contraception
|Method||Effectiveness with typical use, %||Effectiveness with perfect use, %|
|Male sterilization (vasectomy)||99.85||99.9|
|Female sterilization (tubal ligation or “tying your tubes”)||99.5||99.5|
|Fertility awareness||76||95 - 99.6|
Birth control is generally safe for most people. Depending on your health history, some forms may not be appropriate. For example, women over 35 who smoke should not take combination birth control pills.
Some people who are breastfeeding or have a history of certain cancers might consider hormone-free or progestin-only birth control. If you want to try prescription birth control but are unsure of your risk, ask your healthcare provider. They can help you choose a method appropriate for your specific situation.
The most common side effects of hormonal methods (like the pill or implant) are headache, nausea, sore breasts and changes in your period or spotting. Most side effects are mild and get better after 2-3 months.
Serious side effects are uncommon and depend on the kind of birth control you’re using. And sometimes, it takes a few tries to find the right contraceptive option for you. If your side effects don’t get better in a few months or are really bothering you, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you learn more about specific risks and benefits.
When it comes to getting the pill or ring online, you have options! Start a $15 consultation for birth control online—with insurance or without insurance.
A licensed provider will help you find the most appropriate and affordable option for you. If you have health insurance, you may even be able to get your birth control online for free! Start a consultation today.
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