Birth Control Options: What’s Right For You?

There are a lot of options out there for birth control

After news over the weekend that some birth control pills were sent out in the wrong packaging, possibly causing them to not work, some women may be looking for new options in their contraceptives.

There are a lot of them out there. Whether you’re looking for hormones in another form or a different approach to the problem altogether, there’s no shortage of ways to keep from getting pregnant. We’ve rounded up a list of all the choices. To compare how effective any given method is, check out Planned Parenthood’s site. Some of the data might surprise you.

For example, the much-mocked “pull-out” method is about as reliable as using a condom. Breastfeeding is more reliable than either of those choices, at least for the first six months after you give birth. And a fellow in Germany has invented spray-on condoms to give guys a custom fit.

  • The Pill 1 of 22
    The Pill
    About 12 million women in the United States pop these little pills every day to prevent pregnancy. After a major recall by one company, some of these ladies may be looking for another option.
  • Outercourse 2 of 22
    Who says you have to risk pregnancy to have a good time? There's lots of sexy sex to be had without having intercourse.
  • Hormonal Implant 3 of 22
    Hormonal Implant
    These slow release hormonal implants give you the protection of a pill without having to take a pill every day. That sounds like a good deal, but some women have experienced unpleasant side effects.
  • Condoms 4 of 22
    Pregnancy prevention and protection from STIs, too! Condoms are super easy to use, totally reversible and basically without side effects.
  • Cervical Caps 5 of 22
    Cervical Caps
    These aren't very popular in the United States, but have a devoted following in Europe. An internal barrier, they work cover the cervix to keep the sperm out.
  • The Shot 6 of 22
    The Shot
    Depo-provera is a three-month hormone shot that stops your body from ovulating. It's a relatively inexpensive option, and you don't have to think about it every day.
  • Diaphragm 7 of 22
    Like the cervical cap, this will keep the sperm away from your cervix. You use it in combination with spermicide. They're not as reliable as condoms or pills.
  • Essure 8 of 22
    A simple sterilization process, Essure inserts a tiny spring into your fallopian tubes and seals them off. It's easy, safe and permanent.
  • Female Condom 9 of 22
    Female Condom
    These plastic condoms line the vagina rather than fitting over a man's penis. They sound a bit like you're making love to a grocery bag, but work well enough.
  • Abstinence 10 of 22
    For some people, the best way to get pregnant is not to have sex at all.
  • Fertility Awareness Method 11 of 22
    Fertility Awareness Method
    Some people love natural family planning, and swear by it. I will just warn you that Planned Parenthood puts it's failure rate at higher than twenty-five percent.
  • IUD 12 of 22
    The IUD got a bad rap in the 70s when the Daikon shield perforated uteruses. Today's IUDs, in contrast, are safe and effective. The Mirena hormonal IUD is even more effective than a tubal ligation.
  • The Ring 13 of 22
    The Ring
    A hormone releasing ring you wear inside your hoo-ha, the ring works about the way any other hormonal birth control does. You just have to think about it once a month when you swap out the ring.
  • Breastfeeding 14 of 22
    A lot of women like to tout the power of breastfeeding to stop you from getting knocked up again. Turns out, they're onto something. Breastfeeding is pretty effective for the first six months after birth.
  • The Patch 15 of 22
    The Patch
    This is a hormone releasing patch that you wear on your skin. See also: pill, shot, ring, implant. The hormones stop you from ovulating and you don't get pregnant.
  • Plan B 16 of 22
    Plan B
    As the name implies, this is nobody's first line of defense. However, if you know your birth control has failed and you want to head off a possible pregnancy, Plan B is your friend.
  • Spermicide 17 of 22
    Spermicides are chemicals that are toxic to sperm. They come in gels or foams, and are often used in conjunction with other barrier methods. Watch out, they can also upset sensitive lady parts.
  • Sponge 18 of 22
    The sponge has gone on and off the market several times, but is currently available. It's a simple barrier method that you can buy over the counter, and it comes already soaked in spermicide.
  • Spray-on Condoms 19 of 22
    Spray-on Condoms
    Not every birth control innovation can be a good one. A German inventor created these spray-on condoms, which use liquid latex to make a custom-fitted condom. The problem: they take about 10 minutes to dry.
  • Tubal Ligation 20 of 22
    Tubal Ligation
    A simple surgical procedure, tubal ligation used to be the only option for women who wanted a permanent solution to their birth control problem. Now you can choose between this and Essure.
  • Vasectomy 21 of 22
    Better than getting your tubes tied, have your man take care of it on his side. Vasectomy is extremely safe, effective and sometimes reversible.
  • Withdrawal 22 of 22
    We all love to joke about pulling out being a fast track to parenthood, but Planned Parenthood says that withdrawal is actually about as effective as condoms, if done correctly.


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