Condoms are a barrier method of contraception that literally act as a barrier preventing sperm from penetrating into the female body. The condom is applied to the erect penis at the time of sexual activity and must be used with every sexual act to effectively prevent conception. The condom is also the only form of contraception that can prevent STDs. It is recommended that regardless of method of birth control, that a condom is used in addition.
Oral contraceptive pills
Birth control pills (also called oral contraceptive pills and the “Pill”) are a type of female hormonal birth control method and are very effective at preventing pregnancy. The pills are small tablets that you swallow each day. The pill contains hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs as well as thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm penetration. Birth control pills can have a positive effect on your period by regulating or decreasing bleeding and may often be recommended for medical reasons in addition to contraceptive reasons. Efficacy of the pill is approximately 97% if used correctly every single day.
Nuvaring (vaginal ring)
The Nuvaring is a small, pliable ring that you insert into the vagina. You leave it in place for three weeks at a time, then take it out for the fourth week. If used appropriately, you should not be able to feel the ring when it is in place. The ring works by giving off hormones, much like the hormones in the pill, that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. When used properly, the Nuvaring is very effective and may improve menstrual bleeding in addition.
Orthoevra (the patch)
Ortho Evra is a contraceptive skin patch containing a combination of female hormones that prevent ovulation. This medication also causes changes in your cervical mucus and uterine lining, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus and harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. The patch is changed on a weekly basis and left off for one week at the end of every month for a “placebo week.”
Depo provera (the shot)
Depo Provera is a shot that is injected into the arm or buttocks every 12 weeks. It is made of a hormone similar to progesterone. Progesterone thins the lining of the uterus thereby preventing a hospitable surface for implantation of a fertilized egg. Because the lining is so thinned out, it is not abnormal to have no menstruation during the time that a patient is using the shot.
Nexplanon is a small, soft, and pliable birth control implant. Your doctor places it under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. This means it’s hidden from view. The implant releases etonogesterol, a progestin hormone slowly over time. Like Depo Provera, this thins out the lining of the uterus often resulting in changes to menstruation. Nexplanon provides up to 3 years of continuous pregnancy prevention.
Mirena intrauterine device
Mirena is a type of long-acting, reversible birth control called a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). An IUD is a small, flexible, T-shaped device that is implanted in the uterus. Mirena uses a progestin birth control hormone and slowly releases a small amount into the uterus over time and thins the lining of the uterus at the same time it creates an inflammatory effect within the uterus. Because the Mirena releases hormones directly into the uterus, it releases a lower level of hormones into the body than oral contraceptive pills. It often will also prevent menstruation while the Mirena is in place. The Mineral IUD is effective for up to 5 years.
Paragard intrauterine device
Paragard is an intrauterine device (IUD) that is inserted into the uterus for long-term birth control. The T-shaped plastic frame has copper wire coiled around the stem and two copper sleeves along the arms. Paragard produces an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that is toxic to sperm, which helps prevent fertilization. Paragard is the only copper IUD available in the U.S. and is the only IUD that does not contain hormones. Paragard prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years after insertion and should not have long term effects on menstruation in any way.