Selecting Birth Control
Choosing the Right Contraceptive
Birth control is an important part of sexual heath, and your chosen method should not only prevent unwanted pregnancy, it should maintain or restore comfort. Find out the details about different birth control options and how to decide if they will be right for your body and your lifestyle.
Physical Contraception Methods
Birth control methods can be divided into several categories: barrier or physical methods, hormonal methods, natural methods and emergency contraception. For those who don't intend on having children, a vasectomy or tubal ligation may be a good choice. The best birth control for you will depend on if and when you want to get pregnant, your lifestyle and your risk factors.
Reversible kinds of birth control will allow for temporary infertility—a woman who may want children in the future should explore the range of reversible birth control options available. Perhaps the most widely used and easily obtainable mode of physical contraception is the condom, which can come in a dizzying array of designs, colors and materials. Typically, condoms are made of either latex or polyurethane, and are designed to be worn by both men and women.
Another popular form of barrier protection is the contraceptive sponge, which fits snugly on the cervix to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus. The sponge typically contains a spermicide called nonoxynol-9 to kill the sperm on contact, adding an extra level of pregnancy protection. Contraceptive jelly is a concentrated form of spermicide that is usually used with a diaphragm or cervical cap, while contraceptive foam is often used without any other physical barriers.
A more lasting physical birth control method is the intrauterine device, or IUD, which is inserted into the uterus where it will prevent pregnancy for over a decade. Traditional IUDs are made with copper wire and will prevent an egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus, but more recently IUDs have been manufactured to release a progestin hormone over the course of five years to reduce painful and uncomfortable menstrual periods that are often induced with the traditional copper device.
Hormonal Contraception Methods
The most popular hormonal method is the birth control pill, which uses estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation altogether. Many pills also bring lighter and more regular periods, clearer skin and reduced PMS symptoms, but they can also cause weight gain and emotional distress in some women. For those who already have regular menstrual cycles and shy away from the side effects of hormonal therapy, natural birth control may be a better choice. The natural method, or fertility awareness, will focus on tracking the distinct phases of your cycle to determine your most fertile days and least fertile times of the month.
Pregnant or planning a family? Mobile Mom is here to help. We have the tools you need from the friends you trust. Calculate when you’re most fertile, see if you might be pregnant, or get the support you need from other moms with apps by Mobile Mom.