Not all contraceptive methods are appropriate for all situations, and the most appropriate method of birth control depends on a woman's overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases. Individuals should consult their health care providers to determine which method of birth control is best for them. Some types carry serious risks, although those risks are elevated with pregnancy and may be higher than the risks associated with the various methods.
The different methods of contraception include:1,2
Designed to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, barrier methods are removable and may be an option for women who cannot use hormonal methods of contraception. Types of barrier methods include:
A diaphragm should be replaced after 1 or 2 years. Women also need to be measured again for a diaphragm after giving birth, having pelvic surgery, or gaining or losing more than 15 pounds.3 Newer diaphragms, such as the Silcs diaphragm, are designed to fit most women and do not require fitting by a health care provider. The Silcs diaphragm is currently in clinical trials for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies.
Hormonal methods of birth control use hormones to regulate or stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy. Ovulation is the biological process in which the ovary releases an egg, making it available for fertilization. Hormones can be introduced into the body through various methods, including pills, injections, skin patches, transdermal gels, vaginal rings, intrauterine systems, and implantable rods. Depending on the types of hormones that are used, these pills can prevent ovulation; thicken cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from reaching the egg; or thin the lining of the uterus. Health care providers prescribe, monitor, and administer hormonal contraceptives.
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A health care provider inserts the device. An IUD can remain and function effectively for many years at a time. After the recommended length of time, or when the woman no longer needs or desires contraception, a health care provider removes or replaces the device.
Sterilization is a permanent form of birth control that either prevents a woman from getting pregnant or prevents a man from releasing sperm. A health care provider must perform the sterilization procedure, which usually involves surgery. These procedures usually are not reversible.
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