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#WomensHealthAwareness: Birth Control Options

Growing up as a teenager who was only exposed to extremely biased sexual education in school, I was not aware of the plethora of birth control options that are available. Thankfully, my sister went to medical school and taught me about all the various options, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. Birth control is a very important topic that people should be more open about in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the subject. Every type of birth control is different, and there are so many options that it makes it super easy to find one that works best for you! Here are some of the various types!


1. Male condom

This is one of the most common types of birth control due to the wide availability, inexpensive cost and protection against STDs.  The disadvantages include only being effective if used correctly each time and the fact that they cannot be reused. It can be used with other birth control methods like the pill.

85 percent effectiveness

2. Female condom

This is a thin plastic pouch that goes inside the vagina. The benefits include its wide availability and some protection against STDs.  Drawbacks include not being as effective as male condoms and that they are not reusable.

79 percent effectiveness

3. Birth control pill

A very effective birth control option that requires a prescription. The most common type uses estrogen and progestin and prevents ovulation. Benefits usually include a more regular, lighter period or no period and less cramping. It’s also very effective if used correctly. Drawbacks include cost depending on the type, no STD protection and remembering to take it every day. It may also pose some health risks like blood clots.

 91 percent effectiveness 

4. Hormonal birth control patch

A good option for those who cannot remember to take a pill every day, it’s worn on the skin and changed once a week for three weeks, releases hormones and offers regular or lighter periods with no cramps. Drawbacks can include the cost, no STD protection and possible side effects like skin irritation.

 91 percent effectiveness 

5. Vaginal ring

Soft plastic rings that are placed inside the vagina, it releases hormones like the pill and patch. Two different types are available, and benefits include a lighter, more regular period and less frequent replacement. Drawbacks include the cost, no STD protection and possible side effects.

 91 percent effectiveness

6. Birth control shot

A hormonal shot that protects against pregnancy for three months. It works better than the birth control pill typically, and benefits include injection just four times a year and a high effectiveness.  Drawbacks include a high cost, no STD protection and side effects such as spotting.

 94 percent effectiveness

7. Birth control implant

A small rod that is placed in a woman’s upper arm, it releases the same hormone that’s in the shot and has a high effectiveness rate. Benefits include protection against pregnancy for three years.  Drawbacks include a steep price, no STD protection and side effects like irregular bleeding.

 99 percent effectiveness 

8. IUD

An intrauterine device, There are two types: the copper and the hormonal. Copper can last for as long as ten years, and hormonal must be replaced after three to five years. Benefits include how long it lasts, low maintenance and lighter periods (hormonal IUD). Drawbacks include irregular or heavier periods or other side effects and an expensive price.

99 percent effectiveness 

9. Emergency contraception 

Used after sex to help avoid pregnancy. If a person fails to use contraception or thinks that their method failed, they may turn to emergency contraception. These are typically over the counter pills and can be relatively expensive but offer comfort to those that are worried.


These are just a few of the birth control methods that are offered. The best way to learn about birth control is to have an honest and open conversation with your doctor. You should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about talking about birth control because it means you are being responsible. Web MD and Planned Parenthood also have awesome pages on their websites that you should check out to learn about even more methods!

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Raquel McLeod

Chapel Hill

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