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Understanding the Many Types of Female Contraception

As college and adult women, it’s important to be aware of our needs in our feminine health. There is a common misconception that when women use birth control, it is solely for the purpose of sexual intercourse, however there are a wide variety of uses and purposes to certain forms of birth control that can be very beneficial to women’s health. In terms of sexual health, I hope we can all agree that pulling out or abstinence aren’t practical forms of birth control. In reality, we’re human and we’re more likely to have urges. Also, if your plan during intercourse doesn’t go as you thought, the likelihood of the thing we didn’t want to happen has a greater chance of happening, and the stress is probably not worth it. Besides birth control’s general use of pregnancy prevention, it can also be used to diminish acne, regulate irregular menstrual cycles and control harsh period pain. In addition, not all birth controls work for all women, and it’s important to recognize that the birth control you use should fit your needs the best. So, if you’re in need of a new birth control, want to start using a birth control or just want to learn more information on different types of birth control, here are some options that might fit your needs best!


1. Condoms and Female Condoms

These are one of the more common types of birth control used. Using a condom during intercourse is pivotal and essential in preventing STIs. Also, condoms have an 88% success rate when used. When used properly, condoms are 99% effective. Condoms come in several varieties, so there is always one for you and your partner. In addition, it’s important to remember that there aren’t just male condoms, but female ones as well, so that way women can get in on all the condom fun as well!


2. Birth Control Pills

Another common type of birth control are birth control pills. These pills can either be combination pills, which have both estrogen and progestin in them, or progestin only pills. This is a form of birth control that prevents pregnancy, BUT NOT STIs, so be sure to use a condom as well. If you are organized, have a perfect schedule, and  do things in a timely manner, this is the birth control for you! However, if you don’t see yourself as a person who can commit to taking pills at the same time everyday, then this one might not be for you. It’s vital that you stay consistent with these pills, because if you just so happen to miss one day, it could potentially throw your cycle off completely, and you would have to wait a certain amount of time before having sex without another form of protection. So keep that in mind the next time you consider birth control pills.


3. Vaginal Ring

The Vaginal Ring is another easy form of birth control that can be used to prevent pregnancy, but don’t forget to use a condom as well to avoid spreading infection. This method involves the insertion of a bendy, plastic ring into the vagina for three weeks. From there, it will release hormones daily for about three weeks. Thereafter, you’ll take it out during the time that your period would happen. This is an easy and efficient way to have birth control especially if you’re super forgetful and can’t take the pill everyday.


4. IUD

This form of birth control is one of the more long lasting birth controls that are available. The IUD comes in either a hormonal or copper form. Shaped like the letter “T,” the IUD is really effective  in preventing pregnancy over long periods of time. The hormonal IUD, depending on the kind that you get, can last for three to seven years. The hormonal IUD is very efficient in releasing hormones daily for this prolonged period of time. The copper IUD can last for upwards of seven  years, and has a spermicide that hormonally and physically blocks the sperm from entering the cervix. Just like several other forms of birth control, this form only prevents pregnancy, and does not prevent sexually transmitted infections, so be sure to use condoms to prevent extracting those infections.  


5. Morning After Pill

Right off the bat, one thing that should be taken GREATLY into consideration, is that the morning after pill is NOT birth control. I know that this article covers the main types of birth control, but something that should really be emphasized is that this is a helpful tool only in emergencies; it should not be relied on as birth control. The purpose of the morning after pill, is that in the scenario of unprotected sex, the pill is taken within a maximum of five days, and the morning after pill would be more likely to prevent pregnancy in emergency situations. The morning after pill is not made to be used on a regular basis. This is an emergency method to help prevent pregnancy.


6. Birth Control Implant

Lasting up to four years, the birth control implant is a form of birth control that is inserted through the arm. This is a very effective type of birth control that inputs a tube like structure in the backside of the upper part of your arm. Here, the tube will releases hormones into that body that hinder ovulation. While this birth control is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, this form of birth control isn’t able to suit everyone and their health needs. It has had more reports of strange and painful symptoms including weight gain, continuous menstrual cycles and excessive mood swings. Although this birth control might take some getting used to, its benefits in preventing pregnancy soar greater than its side effects.


7. Birth Control Shot

This form of birth control is one that I personally like to express as a happy medium for people who can’t intake birth control pills daily or the want elongated commitment to the IUD. The birth control shot is delivered every three months into the backside of your upper arm. This method is delivered quarterly, so four times every year. In addition, it must be administered by a nurse at your doctor’s office, so they are more than likely to remind you when it is time to get your next shot. This form of birth control allows the common user a low stress, but organized and timely method of  preventing pregnancy. The shot ranges from prices of $40- $60 per shot, but be sure to check with your doctor and insurance if this is the best monetary and healthy option for you!


8. Birth Control Patch

Another common form of birth control is the birth control patch. This method acts like  a sticker and works in a similar fashion of the vaginal ring and the pill on a timely scale. The bandage-type method is placed on your butt, lower belly or upper part of the arm. The patch works on a weekly basis and will need to be replaced every week. The effectiveness rate of the patch reaches 91%, and often tends to be used as an alternative to a prominent form of birth control just to be safe in preventing pregnancy.


9. Diaphragm

One form of birth control that a lot of people might overlook is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a form of birth control in the shape of a shallow cup made of silicone. The proper way to use this form of birth control is similar to that of the vaginal ring. This cup is bent in half and inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. This is turn blocks the sperm from reaching your ovaries. Note that this form of birth control needs to be inserted 18 hours prior to intercourse to be most effective. In addition, the diaphragm is 88% effective, so it might be useful to use spermicide along with it to be the most effective at preventing pregnancy.


10. Birth Control Sponge

Similar to the diaphragm, this soft sponge is also inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It  functions as a diaphragm with already inserted spermicide. This sponge absorbs the sperm and dispels it with the help of the spermicide. This acts as a block to the sperm entering the vagina, and inhibits the speed at which the sperm travel, allowing the most effective form of birth control. One thing to consider about the birth control sponge is that its effectiveness ranges from 76%-88%, which, in comparison to the other forms of birth control on this list, is  fairly low. Keep in mind that this method may not be the most effective form of birth control.


11. Cervical Cap

Cervical caps work similarly to the previous birth control methods on this list. The cervical cap is a little cup made out of silicone, and is shaped like sailor’s hat. For use, this method is also inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. This prevents the sperm from joining with an egg. However, much like the sponge, the effectiveness rating at preventing pregnancy is 76-88%, which is seemingly very low.  This method should be used with an alternative form of birth control such as condoms.


12. Spermicide

The final birth control method on this list is the product spermicide. While spermicide contains the lowest effectiveness rating, it  is very beneficial as a secondary form of birth control. Spermicide is an inexpensive way to prevent pregnancy and is 71% effective. The main purpose of this form of birth control is that it prevents the sperm from getting to an egg, which can always be utilized in emergency situations. This should always be applied prior to intercourse; it offers an easy and safe way to prevent pregnancy.


One thing that I would really like to emphasize is that I am not a professional doctor or an all knowing expert of all the birth control methods in the world. While I have pursued research to display common information about these birth control methods, the purpose of this article is not so I can type the word vagina all over the HerCampus interface. The purpose is ultimately to display the many varieties and types of methods that are only meant to be positive enhancers of sexual and feminine health. If you see some methods that you’re interested in, feel free to look up more about the topic and ask your personal doctor for more information. It never hurts to be positively conscious and curious of your feminine health, ladies!  


Kailla Sam


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