Contraception is the prevention of pregnancy. Contraception, or birth control, also allows couples to plan the timing of pregnancy. Some methods can also protect against infections. Choosing a particular method of birth control depends on many factors, including a woman’s overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family medical history. Individuals should work with their health care provider to choose a method that is best for them. It is also important to discuss birth control methods with one’s sexual partner.
General methods of contraception include:
- Barrier—physically interferes with conception by keeping the egg and sperm apart
- Hormonal—regulates ovulation by changing the balance of hormones related to development and release of the egg; changes cervical mucus to impair sperm function or transport
- IUDs—small devices inserted into the uterus that change the conditions in the cervix and uterus to prevent pregnancy as well as inhibiting the transit of sperm from the cervix to the fallopian tubes.
- Sterilization—surgical procedures that make a woman permanently unable to get pregnant and a man unable to get a woman pregnant
Some forms of birth control combine methods, such as IUDs that also release hormones.
Some types of birth control may carry serious risks for some individuals. For specific information about birth control, individuals should talk to their health care providers.