A Comprehensive View of Contraception

Cervical Cups (FemCap)

Many women are weary of contraception options that involve insertion, but this is a great option that doesn’t include any lifestyle changes such as hormones or monthly injections. Practice makes perfect for these types of things. So if you are serious about this type of contraception you need to be prepared to struggle with it at first.

It is a small silicone cup covered with spermicide. Insert into your vagina before sex to keep sperm away from the uterus (leave it in for six hours after sex). One thing to keep in mind, though is that a health care provider, preferably a gynecologist, must fit it. They last for years, so the investment is definitely worth it. Be cautious though, if you are allergic to any type of silicone or spermicide, this is not a viable option. Urinary Tract Infections are another possible outcome of this option, but keep in mind; most of these options can cause this.

Effectiveness: 71%-86%

Cost: $0-$275

Female Condoms

It may look a little ridiculous, but contrary to popular belief; female condoms are a great option for contraception. It is a plastic or synthetic rubber pouch with an open and closed end that you insert into your vagina to catch sperm. You can also cover the closed end with spermicide.

Like male condoms, they protect against STIs, do not alter hormones and there is no prescription needed, which can be a hassle—take it from someone who is tied to a prescription for contraception. The only downside to this condom is that it may reduce sensation, but let’s be honest ladies, there are other sensations that can make up for this.

Effectiveness: 79%-95%

Cost: $2-$4 (per condom)

Male Condoms

This is probably one of the most common forms of contraception because of its sheer availability to the general public. We all know what they look like. It’s a thin plastic that fits over your partner's penis to prevent sperm from entering you. This option has all the same advantages and disadvantages as a female condom, but seems to be a little more effective.

Effectiveness: 82%-98%

Cost: about $1 per condom

Diaphragm and Spermicide

Sure, this was the popular option for contraception in the '80s, but that doesn’t mean our mothers didn’t use an effective method. A diaphragm is a latex or silicone cup covered with spermicide. Insert into your vagina before sex to keep sperm away from the uterus (leave it in for six hours after sex).

Again, it has to be fitted by a health care provider. This is another non-hormonal option, if you are afraid gaining weight or mood swings. But, it is a very cost-effective option and if you are not allergic to silicone, it may prove to be a perfect (if retro) method.

Effectiveness: 88%-94%

Cost: $0-$40

Fertility Awareness (Rhythm Method)

This is a far more time intensive method. You cannot expect results if you do not take the proper precautions. This method involves closely tracking your periods, paying attention to your body's cues (like cervical secretions), and abstaining from sex on the days when you know you can get pregnant.

No hormones are needed for this, but you need to be hyper aware of your body. If you think this may be difficult, I suggest not leaving it to chance. It takes a lot of discipline and it requires abstinence and a backup plan. This may make the “free” aspect of this option obsolete.

Effectivenss: 76%-99%

Cost: Free (but you'll need a thermometer)

Implants (Nexplanon)

Implants can be a scary thought, especially if you are afraid of needles. Don’t be scared off by this, though. This tiny rod that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm that delivers hormones to keep your ovaries from releasing eggs is an extremely effective way of not getting pregnant. It lasts up to three years, too. So you won’t need a needle every month.

Other benefits include the reduction of acne and PMS symptoms, as well as protection against certain cancers and cysts. It can cause irregular bleeding though, and sometimes nausea. The most notable symptom, however, is decreased sex drive. So that may bum out your romantic getaway weekend, but at least you won’t have anything to worry about.

Effectiveness: more than 99%

Cost: $0-$800

IUD (Mirena, Skyla, Paragard, Liletta)

I know a lot of people who have chosen this form of contraception and have honestly thought about adopting it myself. It’s a T-shaped piece of plastic (or plastic and copper) inserted into your uterus to keep sperm from fertilizing an egg. Mirena, Skyla and Liletta IUDs release hormones. There are non-hormonal IUD options, though. It lasts 3 to 12 years.

It’s completely invisible since it’s inserted into your uterus and needs absolutely no maintenance. There are a lot of things to consider with this option. It can cause spotting and cramps and could even result in a heavier flow during a period, or no flow at all. That’s not great news to women who either want manageable periods, or a period as a monthly reminder of no pregnancy. Another thing to think about is the surgery itself. You will feel sore the first few days. If that’s not something that you’re into, this is not for you.

Effectiveness: more than 99%

Cost: $0- $850

The Pill

This is without a doubt that most common form of contraception women use today. It delivers hormones that both prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm out. It must be taken at the same time daily. This is not an exaggeration either. When the pill is taken at different times during the day it decreases the pill’s continual cycle of hormones that fool your body to think you are already pregnant.

The most notable pro of this option is the predictability of periods. That way, you almost immediately know whether or not you are pregnant. It can also reduce acne and PMS symptoms. This is not a definite, however. Every birth control is different and every women reacts to birth controls differently. Many women have noted weight gain and mood swings. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. There is a better birth control pill out there for you. Don’t suffer for no reason.

Effectiveness: 91%-99%

Cost: $0-$90 (per month)

The Ring (NuvaRing)

I’ve never been a fan of the ring, but many of my friends have recently converted to this option. It is a small ring inserted into your vagina that delivers hormones to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. It lasts three weeks. This is a cheaper option compared to pills in some cases. The most important thing to know about this method is that it actually uses less hormones as compared to other hormone options. You do need a prescription, though, and all the same symptoms of nausea and decreased sex drive are possible.

Effectiveness: 91%-99%

Cost: $0-$75 (per month)

The Shot (Depo-Provera)

I’m not a huge fan of shots, so this has never been an option for me. It’s a progestin-only shot that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It lasts three months. This may sound like a short amount of time, but for those of you who go to school far away from home, this may be more trouble that it’s worth. Most gynecologists recommend you receive it from the same doctor as much as possible. Unless you can take a flight home every three months, this may not work for you.

Beyond that, it is a wonderful option for women who can’t tolerate estrogen. The only way you would find this out would either be from a test or the use of other contraception methods that use estrogen. This shot also has correlations with increased weight gain and depression. Talk to your doctor extensively about this option before choosing.

Effectiveness: 94%-99%

Cost: $0-$120 (per shot)