Try contraceptive sponges.,
Ask your doctor about prescription barrier methods.,
Ask your doctor about a copper IUD.,
Use natural methods with caution.,
Consider permanent solutions.,
Follow instructions carefully.,
For many people, condoms are a fantastic method of birth control: they are relatively cheap, readily available at drugstores and supermarkets, and effective when used correctly. They also provide protection against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), making them a top choice for people who are not in monogamous relationships.
Although the male condom is more familiar to most people, note that female condoms – plastic pouches that cover the inside of the vagina – are also available. These are a good alternative if you want to control the contraceptive method yourself rather than relying on your partner.
People with latex allergies should not use latex male condoms. If you have an allergy to latex, though, you can still use the female condom.;
, Sponges, which are made of foam and cover the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus, are now available over the counter, making them relatively inexpensive and easy to purchase.
Sponges are much more effective for women who have never given birth. Be aware that if you have given birth in the past, they may not be the best option for you.
Women with sulfa allergies should not use contraceptive sponges.
, Your doctor can prescribe barrier methods that are fitted to your body, including the diaphragm and cervical cap (flexible silicone devices that cover the cervix).
Both the diaphragm and the cervical cap may need to be re-fitted if you gain or lose a significant amount of weight.
The cervical cap, like the sponge, is much more effective for women who have never given birth. If you’ve given birth in the past, a diaphragm is a better choice.
, There are different kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs) on the market, but the “Copper-T” IUD does not use hormones. Your doctor can insert the IUD into the uterus, where the copper will prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Copper IUD’s are very effective, and they can last more than ten years; once in place, you can quite literally go a decade without thinking about birth control. They are, however, very expensive unless your insurance covers the cost.
Unlike most other non-hormonal methods of birth control, copper IUDs can produce unwanted symptoms in some women, including cramping and heavier menstrual bleeding.
Because they stay in your uterus all the time, copper IUDs also allow you to be completely spontaneous about sex; there’s no pre-planning necessary.
, There are a variety of methods available for tracking your menstrual cycles and predicting which days you are most and least fertile. Women who use natural methods simply avoid sex on their fertile days. If you have a predictable cycle and use these methods very carefully, they can be relatively effective; however, it’s best not to rely on natural planning if avoiding a pregnancy is extremely important to you. There are simply too many variables involved.
The most common natural methods are tracking your ovulation and menstruation days on a calendar, taking your temperature daily and watching for changes that signify ovulation, and checking for changes in your cervical mucus. The most effective way to approach natural birth control is to combine all of these methods.
If you want to try natural methods, there are many books and classes available – and, now, even apps for your phone – that can help you.
, If you are in a committed relationship, your partner can choose to get a vasectomy, a surgery that seals the vas deferens to prevent sperm from entering your partner’s semen. Alternatively, you can have a tubal ligation, a surgery that ties or cuts the fallopian tubes to prevent eggs from being fertilized. Both can sometimes be reversed, but this is not always possible, so it’s best to think of them as permanent solutions.
If your partner has a vasectomy, you must use a back-up method of birth control for several months, until a follow-up test confirms the absence of sperm in your partner’s semen. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
, All of the methods above – except for the copper IUD, which your doctor inserts for you – are less effective if you do not follow instructions exactly. Don’t assume that you know how to use any of these methods, and don’t assume that your partner knows how to use any of these methods. Read instructions and follow them to the letter.
, You can almost always increase the effectiveness of your birth control by combining methods. For example, if your partner wears a male condom, you can also use a sponge, diaphragm, or cervical cap. Or you can combine natural methods with a barrier device.
, Many of the options discussed above work best when combined with spermicidal foams, films, gels, or suppositories. Spermicides contain a chemical, nonoxynol-9, that destroys most sperm. They aren’t reliable enough to use alone, but they make condoms and other barrier devices much more effective.
Be aware that spermicides don’t prevent STDs at all, though it was previously believed that they did. In fact, some studies suggest that spermicide use alone can actually increase your risk of contracting HIV and other STIs because the chemical can cause irritation. Use spermicide with a condom unless you are in a monogamous relationship.