Birth Control - An Overview

Today, there are oodles of options for birth control. The tricky thing is to decide exactly which type of birth control is right for you and your lifestyle. If you're informing a teenager about birth control methods for the first time, it's even more important to emphasize certain methods that will help to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Not all methods are equally as effective in preventing pregnancy and in keeping you from contracting an SDT.

Abstinence is Always Best

Certainly, the only sure way to know that you will not contract an SDT or become pregnant is through abstinence. While many people will not choose this form of birth control, it is very important to mention it. You can become pregnant or contract an SDT from just one sexual encounter. If you decide not to stay abstinent, then you're taking on a big responsibility to understand your birth control options and to use them consistently and correctly. When evaluating if a method is correct for you, you should consider how easy the method is to use, how much it costs and whether you have health considerations or medications that might influence the efficacy of the birth control.

Hormone Methods

Any birth control methods that use hormone regulation are a reliable form of control. They come in two main ways. Some hormone methods, which include some birth control pills, skin patches and rings, use a combination of both estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone). Birth control pills are taken every day - usually at the same time each day and they need a back-up method during the first week. Patches work for a week at a time and go on a private area of your body. The ring is placed inside the vagina and is changed monthly. You use it for three weeks and then take it out for one week a month. These methods are very effective forms of birth control, with approximately a 95% success rate. They are not, however, effective at all against STDs. The other form of hormone birth control is a progestin-only pill or injection. These are right for people who can't take estrogen because they are nursing or have other problems with estrogen. These pills have to be taken at exactly the same time each day to be fully effective.  Also check out our articles on depo provera, and implanon.

Barrier Methods

These are birth control methods that create a barrier between the sperm and the egg. They are intended to keep the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. These methods include the diaphragm, cervical cap, male condom, female condom, spermicidal foams, sponges, gels and others. Condoms are the best known method for preventing STDs and they should be used consistently if you are worried about contracting an STD. The barrier methods are not always as effective as the hormone methods, but they have less side effects. Each one does interrupt intimacy, as it needs to be put on at the right time.  Also find out about other methods of blocking sperm.


The IUD is a very effective form of birth control with less than 1% failure rate. It must be put into the uterus by a medical professional and can be used for between 5 and 10 years, depending on the type that you get. It's important to make sure that you don't have an STD when the IUD is inserted, as it can cause the STD to spread into the uterus. It does not prevent STDs at all, but is highly effective for preventing pregnancy.

Rhythm Method And Other Natural Methods

The rhythm method is the trickiest and the least effective natural form of birth control. It requires the woman to chart her cycle and to be highly in tune with her fertility. The couple avoids having sex during the times when the woman is most fertile. This method is about 75% effective for adult women, but has been found to be much less effective for teenagers, as they don't always have a consistent cycle yet.

Other natural methods of birth control are charting, the standard days method, withdrawal and breastfeeding (LAM).  Find out more.


Check out our articles on tubal ligation and on tubal ligation reversal, if you should happen to change your mind.  Also find out about vasectomy and the less permanent method of sterilisation: adiana sterilisation.

Additional Information

For more inforation about the many varieties of birth control then check out our article on modern contraception and on the new inventions for male contraception.  Maybe one of these new male forms of birth control are right for you.  Also find out more about birth control statistics and decide which type of birth control protects you best.

Knowing your birth control options should make it easier to make an informed choice. It is important for each person and each couple to decide which method is best for their needs. It is also important to consider which methods prevent STDs and which are best for your particular lifestyle.

Check out our forum on birth control for more information on birth control options.

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