Birth Control Methods

Birth Control Methods

The type of birth control you choose will depend on whether you are just trying to prevent pregnancy or whether you want protection from Sexually transmitted diseases ("STDs") as well. Such diseases include: AIDS, herpes, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. You can talk to your family doctor about which birth control method is right for you.


This prevents pregnancy by killing the sperm. Spermicides come as foams, jellies, creams and vaginal suppositories. When used alone they are not that reliable, but work best when combined with another method of birth control such as condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps.


Condoms can prevent pregnancy and STDs. Be sure to use only a latex condom since the AIDS virus can get through condoms made from animal membranes (such as 4X). Condoms work best when used with spermicide that is placed inside the vagina as well as inside the condom. Use only water-based lubricants. Petroleum based products (such as Vaseline and many massage oils) can weaken the latex and cause it to break.

Sponge, Cervical Cap, Diaphragm

All of these methods help prevent pregnancy by covering the opening of the uterus (cervix) and preventing the sperm from passing through. They also help protect against some STDs.

The Sponge can be purchased without a prescription. It contains spermicide and will help prevent pregnancy for 24 hours after insertion. You can have sex more than once during this 24 hour period without changing the sponge. It must be left in place for six hours after the last time you have sex.

The Cervical Cap and diaphragm must be fitted and prescribed by your doctor. They must be used together with a spermicide and left in place for at least six hours after the last time you have sex. The cervical cap can be left in place for up to three days without adding spermicide. The diaphragm can be left in place for up to 24 hours.


IUD's are made of flexible plastic and must be inserted into your uterus by a doctor. The IUD works by stopping the fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterus. IUDs may increase the risk of getting a pelvic infection (PID), which can lead to infertility if not diagnosed and treated early. Due to the small risk of infertility, this method is usually offered to women who know that they do not want to have any more children.

Tubal Ligation & Vasectomy

These are good choices for women and men who know that they do not want to have any more children.


Birth control pills, hormone implants and shots work by stopping ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary). Implants are placed in the upper arm by a minor surgical incision. They last for five years, but can be removed by your doctor if you decide to get pregnant. Hormone injections must be repeated every three months. The Pill must be taken every day.

All hormones can have side effects and create certain health risks. They are very effective in preventing pregnancy but they do not prevent STDs. You can talk more about the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Rhythm Method

This method requires that you know when in your menstrual cycle you are likely to become pregnant. Then, you avoid sex during those days. This requires careful planning and good discipline. Your doctor can explain more about how this works.

Withdrawal Method

This is when the man pulls his penis out of the vagina just before ejaculation ("coming"). This method is not reliable and is not advised because there is a small amount of sperm- containing fluid that comes out of the penis just before ejaculation. This is enough to cause pregnancy.