Knowing your birth control options

KEY POINTS

  • Birth control helps keep you from getting pregnant. Examples include intrauterine devices (also called IUDs), implants, the pill and condoms. 

  • If you’re not ready to get pregnant, use birth control until you’re ready. 

  • If you’ve had a baby, use birth control to help you wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. 

  • Talk to your health care provider about the right birth control for you.  

What is birth control?


Planning your pregnancy helps you be in control of having a baby when you’re ready.  Until you’re ready to start a family, birth control or contraception helps keep you from getting pregnant.  Your provider can help you understand how different methods work, how well they prevent pregnancy and if they have any side effects.  

Other than abstinence, no birth control method is 100 percent effective.  But some methods come close.

Implants and IUDs work well at preventing pregnancy because they’re low maintenance. This means that once you get them from your health care provider, they work for a long time and you don’t have to worry about or remember how or when to use them. Using simple, worry-free birth control like an implant or IUD can help reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

See the table below for some quick information on different types of birth control.  For more complete descriptions about each specific method you can visit our site here.  

Here are some questions to ask when deciding which birth control to use:

  • How well does it work to prevent pregnancy? If you’re having sex, IUDs and implants work best to prevent pregnancy. The next best are other hormonal methods and barrier methods. Natural family planning is the least effective method.
  • How much effort does it take from you? IUDs and implants are low maintenance. You don’t have to do anything to make them work. Other methods take more effort from you. For example, if you’re taking the pill, you have to remember to take it every day. If you’re using condoms, you need them handy when you’re ready to have sex. Learning how to use birth control, like condoms and diaphragms, correctly can take time and practice. If you use them incorrectly, they may not work.
  • Do you want to have children soon? If you think you’re ready to get pregnant soon, you may want to use birth control, like a barrier method, that’s easy to start and stop using. If you’re not ready to get pregnant for a while, IUDs and implants work for several months and even years.  
  • Does it prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? If you think you or your partner is at risk for STIs, you may want to choose a barrier method of birth control, like a male or female condom.
  • Does it have side effects? For example, some methods of birth control may cause spotting or bleeding between periods.  

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