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Birth
Control

Many elements need to be considered by women, men, or couples at any given point in their lifetimes when choosing the most appropriate contraceptive method.

Definition

Birth control is also known as contraception. It is the prevention of pregnancy through the use of medicines, devices, or surgery. Women can choose from many different types of birth control. Some methods of birth control are reversable, while others are permanent. Some types can also protect against infections and help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Choosing the Best Option

Methods of contraception include oral contraceptives (such as birth control pills), contraceptive vaginal rings, condoms, intrauterine devices (also called IUDs), injectable and implantable products, and sterilization.

Take the time to understand how each type of birth control works and how you use it. The type of birth control you use depends on your health and your desire to have children now or in the future. Your doctor can help you decide which type is best for you right now.

The most effective form of birth control is to not have sexual intercourse (abstinence), but there are many birth control options available.

Methods of Birth Control

In choosing a method of contraception, dual protection from the simultaneous risk for HIV and other STDs also should be considered. Although hormonal contraceptives and IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, they do not protect against STDs, including HIV.

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Barrier methods

Male and female condoms, as well as the diaphragm, cervical cap and contraceptive sponge.
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Hormonal methods

These methods use hormones to prevent ovulation or change the conditions in your uterus and cervix. There are some hormonal medications that require daily use (short-acting) and others that your provider inserts into your arm or your uterus (long-acting).
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Intrauterine device (IUD)

A small, T-shaped device that a provider inserts into the uterus. This is done in the provider’s office. IUDs can last from 3 to 10 years. There are two types: hormonal IUDs and copper IUDs.
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Female and male sterilization (female tubal ligation or occlusion, male vasectomy)

Birth control that prevents pregnancy for the rest of your life through surgery or a medical procedure.
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Fertility awareness

Fertility awareness uses natural methods to prevent pregnancy. This is also called natural family planning.

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists