Different Types of Birth Control: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about the different types of birth control methods available today, including barrier methods, hormonal methods, intrauterine devices (IUDs), sterilization, natural methods, and emergency contraception. Make informed decisions about your sexual health with this comprehensive guide.

Medriva Correspondents
New Update

Different Types of Birth Control: A Comprehensive Guide

Birth control, also known as contraception, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. It has long been a topic of interest and controversy, but regardless of the views regarding it, the undeniable fact remains - understanding birth control is fundamental to sexual health. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to different types of birth control methods available today.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of birth control block sperm from reaching the egg. Examples of barrier methods include male and female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and contraceptive sponges.

1. Condoms

Condoms are a popular form of birth control that also has the added benefit of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are generally easy to use, accessible, and inexpensive. However, they must be used correctly every time to be effective.

2. Diaphragms and Cervical Caps

Diaphragms and cervical caps are devices that are inserted into the vagina before intercourse. They work by blocking the cervix, thus preventing sperm from reaching the egg. These devices must be used with spermicide to be effective and require a prescription.

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods of birth control work by regulating or stopping ovulation, preventing the sperm from meeting the egg. Examples include birth control pills, patches, shots, vaginal rings, and emergency contraceptives.

1. Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are one of the most commonly used methods of contraception. They contain hormones that prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg. To be effective, the pills must be taken daily.

2. Birth Control Shots

Birth control shots, such as Depo-Provera, are injections that prevent ovulation. A shot is effective for three months. However, it may cause side effects like irregular periods.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

IUDs are small, T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus by a healthcare provider. There are two types: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Copper IUDs can be effective for up to 10 years, while hormonal IUDs can last between 3 to 7 years depending on the type.


Sterilization is a permanent method of birth control. For women, this involves tubal ligation or 'having the tubes tied,' and for men, a vasectomy. These procedures are over 99% effective but should be considered only by those who are certain they do not want to have children in the future.

Natural Methods

Natural methods of birth control involve tracking menstrual cycles and abstaining from sex during fertile periods. While these methods can be effective, they require a high degree of diligence and self-awareness.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is used after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure (like a condom breaking) to prevent pregnancy. It is not intended as a regular form of birth control but can be a useful backup.


Understanding the variety of contraceptive options available can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual health. It's essential to discuss these options with a healthcare provider to determine the best method for you.

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