What Are the Different Types of Contraception?

March 09,2022

Contraception is used to prevent unwanted pregnancies. There are many options available out there tailored to suit your needs. We will help you figure out which contraception method will work the best for you.

The type of contraception you want to use is entirely your decision. Here are all the options you can explore:

Contraceptive Pills

Contraceptive pills, commonly known as birth control pills, are oral contraceptives containing a small number of hormones that prevent pregnancy by releasing an egg from the ovary and pausing your ovulation process. Some of the pills even change the lining of your uterus, making it less likely to fertilise an egg.

They come in a pack based on the 28-day cycle. You have to take one pill daily, preferably in the same time frame, to keep your hormones high and minimise pregnancy risk. There are two types of contraceptive pills:

  1. Combined Contraceptive Pills

    Combined contraceptive pills, or combined oral contraceptives (COCs), contain synthetic oestrogen and progestin. They come in a 28-day pack with a combination of active and inactive pills. The active pills have hormones, while the inactive pills do not contain hormones.

    • How Do They Work?

      There are two different ways in which a combined contraceptive pill works. It either won’t let your ovaries release an egg and prevent ovulation or thicken your cervical mucus - the fluid that lets sperm swim to your uterus for fertilisation. A thick cervical mucus would not allow sperm to reach the uterus, preventing fertilisation.

    • How To Use Them?

      A combined contraceptive pill needs to be taken daily for 21 days, and then you should take a break of 7 days. This break time is generally during your menstrual cycle. Once you are done with your periods, continue taking the pill.

    • How Effective Are They?

      If you take these pills correctly and do not skip any of the dosages, they are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that 1 in 100 people who take this contraception have a chance of getting pregnant.

  2. Progestin-only Pills

    Progestin-only pills are another contraceptive pill containing progestin, the synthetic form of progesterone. These are also commonly known as minipills.

    These contraceptive pills are an excellent alternative for people who cannot tolerate oestrogen due to a history of stroke, heart disease, deep vein thrombosis and peripheral vascular disease.

    • How Do They Work?

      These pills work by thickening your cervical mucus and thinning your endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of your uterus where your egg implants after fertilisation. Thinning this lining will make it difficult for the egg to implant and prevent pregnancy. While thickening your cervical mucus will not allow the sperm from reaching your uterus.

    • How To Use Them?

      Progestin-only pills come in 28 pills a pack. You need to take one pill daily, either within 3 hours of the same time every day or within 12 hours of the same time every day. There should be no breaks between your pill packs - if you finish one pack, immediately start with the next.

    • How Effective Are They?

      Typically progestin-only pills are only 91% effective. Although, it's efficacy can be increased upto 99%, with correct usage.

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Condoms

Condoms are the most popular contraceptive method used to create a barrier during intercourse. They are widely popular because they are cheap and easily available. Moreover, along with preventing pregnancy, they also prevent STDs.

There are two main types of condoms:

  1. Male Condoms

    Male condoms, also known as external condoms, are the most popular and the least expensive methods of contraception. They are available at every pharmacy, convenience store and supermarket.

    A male condom is a thin, fitted sheath that must be worn over the penis during intercourse. It forms a barrier between the vagina (even mouth or rectum) and the penis, preventing semen or other body fluids. As the barrier blocks semen, you can also use male condoms during oral and anal sex.

    Avoid using oil-based lubricants with latex condoms as it can damage the material and tear the condom. Look for water-based lubricants instead.

    • How To Use Them?

      It is a lot easier to use male condoms. Once your penis becomes erect, carefully open the pack and unroll the condom by 1/2 inch. Place the condom on the top of your penis as you continue pinching the tip of it. This is a crucial step because when you pinch the tip of the condom, you remove the air and make space for semen, preventing the condom from breaking. Then roll the condom down till it covers your entire penis. Smooth out all the air bubbles.

      To remove it, hold the base while you withdraw your penis from your partner’s vagina, anus or mouth, and throw it away. Always withdraw your penis while it's still erect, or the condom may slip.

    • How Effective Are They?

      The effectiveness of any contraception is based on typical and perfect use. The former means that a person isn’t always using the contraception correctly, while the latter means that a person uses the contraception perfectly every time they have to.

      Male condoms have an efficacy rate of 87% for typical use and 98% for perfect use. In contrast, their failure rate for typical use is 13% and 2% for perfect use.

  2. Female Condoms

    Female condoms, also known as internal condoms, are another excellent contraception. Like male condoms, female condoms form a barrier and prevent the sperm from entering the vagina during intercourse. They have a flexible rubber ring on both ends. One end of the ring is inside your vagina, holding the condom as an anchor, while the other end stays on the outside of your vagina.

    It is intended for one-time use and should never be reused after one round of vaginal sex. Additionally, you should never use more than one condom at a time because it may cause friction between the two, causing it to tear.

    You can leave internal condoms inside the vagina even after ejaculation; however, it is not recommended. Remove it before you stand up to avoid semen coming in contact with your vagina.

    • How To Use Them?

      As you remove the condom from the package, you will see two ends: a closed inner end and an open outer end. Use your thumb and index finger to insert the closed inner end into your vagina and push it up the vaginal wall until it sits comfortably. The open end should stay outside your vagina.

      After the intercourse, twist the outer end and pull it gently to avoid spilling the semen. ALWAYS throw condoms in a trash can and never flush them to avoid blocking the drainage.

    • How Effective Are They?

      The efficacy of internal condoms is lower than external condoms, with a success rate of 79% for typical use, while for perfect use, it is 95%. They have a 21% failure rate for typical use and a 5% failure rate for perfect use.

Morning-after Pills

Emergency contraception, also known as morning-after pills, are oral contraceptives that prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. It does not act as a barrier to protect you from STDs or STIs and does not end an ongoing pregnancy.

This pill is taken when you forget to take your regular contraception pills before or after sex, had unprotected vaginal sex or the condom breaks while having intercourse.

    • How Do They Work?

      This over-the-counter medication works in two ways: it stops fertilisation from happening or pauses the process of egg implantation.

      Morning-after pills stop the ovaries from releasing an egg, so sperm gets nothing to fertilise, preventing pregnancy. However, if a sperm fertilises the egg, these pills prevent the fertilisation from implanting in the uterus - avoiding pregnancy altogether.

    • How To Use Them?

      Emergency contraception needs to be taken within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the pill, consult your doctor for more advice. Moreover, it is recommended to see a doctor 3 weeks after taking the pill. They can check whether it has worked or not.

    • How Effective Are They?

      If you take the pill within 72 hours, this method of contraception reduces the pregnancy risk by 75 to 89%. However, certain medications can reduce the effectiveness of this contraceptive. If you take any of the following medications, consult a healthcare professional:
      • HIV medication
      • Seizure medication
      • Rifampin
      • Griseofulvin

IUD

An Intrauterine Device (IUD) serves as one of the best alternatives to contraceptive pills. It is a small T-shaped device inserted into your uterus by a doctor, providing reliable and long-lasting protection against pregnancy risk. Moreover, it is reversible.

Let’s look at the two most common forms of IUD:

  1. Hormonal IUD

    While they are an effective way to prevent pregnancies, IUDs also lighten your periods and reduce cramps. Some brands of IUDs get rid of your periods completely. One thing to keep a note of is that your periods will be unpredictable for the first three to six months after IUD insertion.

    • How Do They Work?

      After the IUD is inserted, it will slowly release the hormone progestin in small amounts to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. Like hormonal contraceptive pills, even IUDs prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs.

      Moreover, the hormones from hormonal IUD also thickens your cervical mucus to prevent sperm from swimming to the egg. It also thins your uterine lining to stop the implantation of the fertilised egg.

    • How Effective Are They?

      All types of hormonal IUDs are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Fewer than 1 out of 100 people who use hormonal IUD are likely to get pregnant each year.

  2. Copper-T

    The copper-t is a long-lasting, reliable, non-hormonal contraceptive inserted in your uterus by a doctor. This IUD is wrapped in copper wire that releases copper, unlike hormonal IUDs that release hormones. Once inserted, a copper-t is effective for up to 10 years.

    Moreover, copper-t is also one of the most reliable and effective methods of emergency contraception. If this device is inserted within five days after having unprotected sex or facing a contraception failure, it is almost 100% effective against unplanned pregnancy.

    • How Do They Work?

      In contrast to hormonal IUD, copper-t releases copper to stop the sperm from colliding with the egg. The released copper creates a toxic environment for the sperm by releasing copper ions. It also changes the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus, creating an unfavourable environment for the sperm.

      Copper repels sperm and changes their swimming pattern. It also changes the microbiome of your vagina, making the environment around it less favourable.

    • How Effective Are They?

      When the copper-t is inserted correctly, it holds more than a 99% efficacy rate and lasts for almost 5 to 10 years.

Contraceptive Implant

A contraceptive implant is a hormonal contraceptive that releases the hormone progestin (synthetic progesterone) into your body to avoid pregnancy. It is a matchstick-sized small plastic rod that a doctor inserts into your upper arm.

    • How Do They Work?

      After the implant is inserted, it releases the progestin hormone - etonogestrel in your body. This hormone blocks the ovaries from releasing an egg and thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.

      The contraceptive implant is the most effective against pregnancy if you get it within the first five days of your period. If inserted at any other point, keep a contraceptive backup for seven days.
    • How Effective Are They?

      Hormonal implants are the most effective reversible contraception methods with only a 0.05% failure rate for typical use.

Diaphragm

This reusable birth control method is a small, dome-shaped cup that needs to be inserted inside your vagina to block sperm from entering. It creates a physical barrier between the vagina and the sperm and prevents pregnancy.

    • How To Use It?

      To use a diaphragm, you need to get a prescription from a gynaecologist. Before you insert it, you have to remember that they are the most effective with spermicide. Hence, apply a teaspoon of spermicide into the dome and spread it on the rim.

      Inserting a diaphragm is similar to inserting a tampon or a menstrual cup. Find a position in which you can comfortably insert it. You can either lie down, squat, or stand with one leg popped up - whatever you are comfortable with.

      After you apply the spermicide to the diaphragm:
      1. Point the dome shape down, fold it in half with one hand and use your other hand to hold the vagina open.
      2. Place the diaphragm inside your vagina and take it as far as it can go.
      3. Wrap the front rim up behind your pubic bone using your finger.

Once you have inserted the diaphragm, double-check by inserting a finger inside your vagina and see if you can feel your cervix. You should only feel the cervix through the diaphragm. If you feel otherwise, remove the diaphragm and insert it again.

If you plan to have sex again, you can leave the device for another 6 hours. However, do not leave it for more than 24 hours as it may lead to a bacterial infection called toxic shock syndrome.

    • What To Do Next?

After removing the diaphragm, rinse it out and let it dry. Check for damage by filling it with water to see holes or leaks. Once it dries, store it in a cool and dry place.

    • How Effective Are They?

A diaphragm is effective 92-96% at preventing pregnancy with perfect use. Applying spermicide to it increases its effectiveness.

Vaginal Rings

The vaginal ring is a flexible, small plastic ring that needs to be placed inside your vagina. It is about 4mm thick and 5.5cm in diameter and is only available through a proper prescription.

    • How Do They Work?

Vaginal rings work by releasing oestrogen and progestin into your bloodstream. These hormones prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg and thicken the cervical mucus to stop the sperm from reaching the egg for fertilisation.

    • How To Use Them?

You have to leave the ring into your vagina for 21 days and then take a break of seven days before inserting a new one for the next 21 days. Before inserting the ring wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then remove the ring from the packet, squeeze the sides until it becomes narrow and insert it in your vagina.

Remove the ring after 3 weeks by hooking your finger under the edge of it. You should wait for a week before inserting a new ring again. Try to insert and remove the ring on the same day of the week - if you remove it on a Wednesday, insert it on a Wednesday after 3 weeks.

    • How Effective Are They?

With perfect use, the effectiveness of a vaginal ring is 99%. However, with typical usage, the failure rate of these rings is 7%. It is better to keep backup contraception if you take the following medications:

      • HIV medications
      • Medications for seizure
      • Rifampin

To increase the efficacy of vaginal rings, try to insert and remove the ring on the same day of the week. Moreover, if the ring accidentally falls out for more than 3 hours, use your backup contraception.

Sterilisation

Sterilisation is a surgical procedure to permanently prevent pregnancy by removing the pathways through which the egg and the sperm travel. Both men and women can undergo sterilisation.

  1. Vasectomy (Male Sterilisation)

    A vasectomy is a male form of contraception that prevents sperm from being released during ejaculation. This method aims to have no sperm into male semen for preventing pregnancy. It can be reversible; however, that does not work in every case. So only undergo one when you are certain that you do not want any or any more kids.

    • How Does It Work?

      Vasectomy should be done in a medical facility or your doctor’s clinic. This surgery is performed by urologists, individuals who specialise in treating conditions related to the urinary tract and male reproductive health.

      During this surgery, a tube called vas deferens is blocked or cut. This tube carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra. There are two common types of vasectomies: conventional and no-scalpel.

      • Conventional Vasectomy: Small cuts are made in your scrotum to reach the vas deferens tube in this procedure. A piece of the tube is removed to create space between the two ends. Then either the tube is tied together, or tissue is put between the space.

      • No-scalpel Vasectomy: Instead of making small cuts, the urologist will feel the vas deferens tube and hold it with a clamp from outside your scrotum. A needle will be used to make a tiny hole in the scrotum through which the vas deferens are pulled out and cut. Then they are stitched or tied by their ends.

    • How Effective Is It?

      Vasectomy is the most effective contraception method wherein pregnancy occurs only in 1 out of 2,000 couples. However, it does not show immediate effects. The sperms that already exist in your body need at least 3 months to clear out. So keep using a barrier method until you follow up with your urologist about your sperm count.

  2. Tubectomy (Female Sterilisation)

    This permanent surgical procedure prevents pregnancy by blocking the fallopian tubes. If you have decided you do not want any or any more kids, tubectomy is the best contraception method.

    • How Does It Work?

      Female sterilisation is done to block or seal your fallopian tubes to prevent the egg from reaching the uterus and prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. This procedure needs to be performed in a doctor’s clinic or a hospital. There are two types of tubectomy:

      • Tubal Ligation: In this procedure, your abdomen is inflated with gas, and a small incision is made to gain access to your reproductive organs with a laparoscope. After this, your fallopian tubes are sealed by removing a few sections of the tube, cutting and folding the tube or blocking the tubes with bands.

      • Nonsurgical Sterilisation: A device is inserted in each of your fallopian tubes through the vagina and cervix. This device works with your body and acts as a barrier to prevent pregnancy. Scar tissues will form around the coil blocking your fallopian tubes.

    • How Effective Is It?

      Female sterilisation is nearly 100% effective against pregnancy. Tubal ligation is effective immediately, while it may take up to 3 months for nonsurgical sterilisation to become effective.

Conclusion

There are so many options to choose from! Based on your medical history and comfort level, our experts at MedsNow will recommend a contraceptive method that will work the best for you.