Primary Care Associates of Texas wants you to be healthy and strong, and that includes practicing safer sex and knowing your birth control options for optimum wellness. Whether you have never had a child, or you’ve conceived before but are not looking to grow your family at the moment, you have plenty of options for birth control. However, it’s worth noting that not all forms of birth control are as effective as others in preventing pregnancy, and only a few prevent sexually-transmitted diseases/infections (STDs).
Most Effective Types of Birth Control
While abstinence is the only surefire way to avoid pregnancy, different birth control types vary in how effective they are at preventing pregnancy. Note, no form of birth control prevents sexually-transmitted infections and/or disease except condoms. If you are sexually active and don’t have a monogamous partner, it is recommended you use a condom every time you have sex to prevent STDs.
What you need to know about the most traditional forms of birth control:
- Condoms: Every non-monogamous couple should use a condom every time they have sex. This will help prevent sexually-transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs). Condoms are the one and only method of preventing sexually-transmitted diseases. Plus, they up the effectiveness of your other birth control method, so the chances of getting pregnant are next to nothing! When used alone, they are 85% effective at preventing pregnancy.
How does it work? The condom makes a barrier between the penis and vagina, and even if the man ejaculates inside a condom in a woman’s vagina, the barrier prevents the semen from reaching her egg. Note: only latex, polyurethane, nitrile, or polyisoprene condoms prevent STDs. Lambskin condoms do not prevent STDs, only pregnancy.
- The birth control pill (often simply called “the pill”): This 91% effective form of birth control is taken daily and is perhaps the most common female form of birth control. It is safe and effective if you take the pill at the same time daily. The pill can have added health benefits, as well, such as clearing up hormonal acne.
How does it work? The pill works by stopping sperm from joining the egg, and the pill hormones stop ovulation. Because there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize, pregnancy cannot happen. The pill also thickens the cervical mucus, which blocks sperm from swimming to the egg.
- Intrauterine device (IUD): This form of birth control is 99% effective. The IUD is one of the absolute best ways, and most foolproof, of preventing pregnancy and lasts between 3 to 12 years. Upon removal, fertility is immediately restored. Many women prefer the IUD because you simply “set it and forget it,” as there is no daily regimen to adhere to (such as taking a pill daily), to make sure you don’t conceive. The IUD must be inserted by a gynecologist, and removed, or perhaps replaced, by a doctor within a certain number of years.
How does it work? This long-term, reversible form of birth control has 5 different FDA-approved brands. The IUD is “T” shaped, and prevents pregnancy by changing the way sperm moves so they can’t get to the egg. Hormonal IUDs also take it a step further by thickening the cervical mucus to block sperm, and preventing ovulation, which means there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. The copper IUD repels sperm, because sperm is averse to the metal. The copper IUD can also be used as a form of emergency contraception after unprotected sex.
- Birth control implant: Also 99% effective, this method of pregnancy lasts up to 5 years. The implant itself is about the size and shape of a matchstick, and it releases hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy. Once inserted, you’ll be protected from pregnancy for up to 5 years.
How does it work? The hormones in the implant prevent pregnancy by thickening your cervical mucous, which stops sperm from reaching your egg. It can also prevent ovulation, so there’s no egg to fertilize, which means you can’t get pregnant.
- Birth control shots: The Depo-Provera injections are administered every 3 months. This safe and convenient form of birth control is 94% effective.
How does it work? The hormone progestin stops a woman from ovulating, and when there is no mature egg to fertilize, pregnancy is impossible. The shot also works by thickening cervical mucus, which makes it impossible for the sperm to get through.
- Birth control patch: This 91% effective form of transdermal contraception is safe and simple to use, not to mention affordable. You can wear it anywhere on the belly, upper arm, buttocks, or back. A new patch needs to be put on every 3 weeks to release hormones and prevent conception. You can take the patch off the week before you repeat the 3-week cycle.
How does it work? The patch stops sperm from meeting an egg by stopping ovulation. With no ovulation, there’s no egg for sperm to fertilize.
- Vaginal rings: Also called the Nuva Ring, this method is safe and simple to use. It releases hormones into the body and is 91% effective when used correctly.
How does it work? The NuvaRing works by stopping sperm from fertilizing the egg, similar to the birth control pill. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, and the vaginal lining absorbs these hormones to stop ovulation and thicken cervical mucus.
- Diaphragm & Spermicide Combo: This 88% effective form of birth control is a shallow, bendable cup you push up the vagina before you have sex. It covers the cervix to prevent pregnancy.
How does it work? This barrier method covers the cervix, which stops the sperm from joining the egg. For added protection, you should use a spermicide along with it, which has chemicals that stop sperm from moving.
The Least Effective Birth Control Methods
Not all birth control methods work as well as others. While many people use them, usually it’s in an effort to avoid using condoms.
These methods include:
- Natural family planning: This is a way to track a woman’s ovulation to prevent pregnancy without any form of prescribed birth control. It is also called the “fertility awareness method” or “the rhythm method.” Fertility awareness helps you track your menstrual cycle so you know when you are at your most fertile during your monthly menstrual cycle. You can make a calendar charting your menstrual calendar, check if your cervical mucus is thin, and check your temperature daily before you get out of bed – all of which can be indicators of fertility.
Why isn’t it very effective? It’s not as effective as typical birth control methods, and as many as 25% of women who practice natural family planning with their partner become pregnant. The reason is because it is difficult to track, and sperm can live in a female’s body for up to 5 days.
- Withdrawal (also called “the pull out method”): Many couples are under the mistaken impression that if the man pulls out before ejaculating into a woman’s vagina, there is no possibility of pregnancy. Pulling out works only if you use a condom, but that is the very reason many people do utilize the pull-out method – because the man dislikes wearing condoms.
Why isn’t it very effective? Men often have pre-ejaculate fluid which may contain sperm, and if this gets into his partner’s vagina, it can cause pregnancy. Many men also mis-time the pull out, thus causing pregnancy. To make this method more effective, if you should also incorporate natural family planning so you only have sex outside of the female partner’s fertility window.
Interested in Birth Control? Contact Primary Care Associates of Texas.
If you want to discuss your birth control options, including cost, effectiveness, and how easy or inconvenient your preferred method could be, our physicians can help you decide what’s right for you. Contact our office today at for an appointment.