Types of Birth Control

There are typically 5 different kinds of birth control: behavioral, barrier, hormonal, emergency contraception, and permenant.

Behavioral Methods


  • Abstinence and outercourse mean different things to different people. Generally, abstinence is descirbed as a decision to not have penetrative sex. Outercourse can be described either sexual activity without vaginal penetration or sexual activity with no penetration at all.

  • 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs with perfect use.

  • Difficult to maintain as a long-term birth control method.


  • The penis is withdrawn from the vagina before ejaculation.

  • It is 73% effective with typical use.

  • The person with a penis must have complete control of the ejaculation and be able to withdraw the penis from vagina and vulva before ejaculation.

  • Sperm can be found in pre-ejaculate.

  • There is a large margain or failure to prevent pregnancy, and does not prevent STIs.

Family Planning / Rhythm Method

  • A method of tracking one's ability to get pregnant on a daily basis to make informed decisions on when to have sex.

  • 95% effective with perfect use; 75% effective with typical use

  • These work by keeping track of ovulation and avoiding unprotected sex during and around the days of ovulation, when one is most likely to get pregnant.


  • Lactational Amenorrhea (LAM)

  • LAM is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy when:

    • You have given birth in the past 6 months, no longer.

    • The baby is exclusively breastfed. The baby must be fed every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.

    • One's period has not returned post-partum.

Barrier Methods

External condom

  • A latex or non-latex glove-like product that covers the penis and prevents sperm from entering the uterus.

  • 85% effective with typical use; 98% effective with perfect use

  • Always check the expiration date on the condom before opening.

internal condom

  • A tube-like rubber product made of plastic that works the same way as the external condom, except it is inserted in the vagina before sex.

  • 79% effective with typical use; 95% effective with perfect use

  • Only use one condom at a time (don't use an external and an internal condom in one sexual interaction)


  • A silicone cup that acts as a barrier to the uterus.

  • 88% effective with typical use; 94% effective with perfect use

  • A person places the diaphragm inside the vagina before sex. It covers the cervix to block sperm from entering the uterus. It must be used with spermicide to be most effective.


  • A circular sponge that serves as a barrier for sperm to the cervix.

  • 87% effective with typical use; 91% effective with perfect use

  • The sponge is placed inside the vagina before sex. It covers the cervix to block sperm from entering the uterus. It already contains spermicide. The sponge must be wet and then gently squeezed before placing inside the vagina in order to activate spermicide.

cervical cap

  • A silicone stopper that covers the cervix and prevents sperm from getting to the uterus.

  • 60-80% effective

  • The cervical cap is placed inside the vagina prior to sex. It covers the cervix to block sperm from entering the uterus. It must be used with spermicide in order to be more effective.


  • A gel, cream, foam, film, or suppository that is applied at the cervix to stop sperm from moving.

  • 74% effective

  • Spermicides are inserted deep into the vagina shortly before sex. Because they come in many forms, it is important to read the package prior to use.

hormonal Methods

birth control pills

  • A pill taken orally every day.

  • Contains hormones:

    • Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin.

    • Single-hormone pills: contain progestin

  • 91% effective with typical use; 99% effective with perfect use

the depo shot

  • An injection in the arm.

  • Contains progestin.

  • 94% effective with typical use; 99% with perfect use

  • The healthcare provider administers an injection in the arm or buttocks every three months.

hormonal iud

  • Small, T-shaped device that is placed in the uterus.

  • Effective for 3-5 years.

  • Contains progestin.

  • A health care provider inserts the IUD into a uterus in a relatively quick procedure. Localized hormones are released into the uterus.

the implant

  • A thin, flexible device (about the size of a matchstick).

  • Contains progestin.

  • 99% effective for 3 years

  • The healthcare provider will numb a small area of the upper arm. The implant is inserted under the skin. It lasts for 3 years, but can be removed at any point by a health care provider.

the patch

  • A thin, beige square plastic patch.

  • It contains estrogen and progestin.

  • For 3 weeks, place a patch on the skin of buttocks, stomach, upper arm, or back, rotating the location each week. On the fourth week, no patch is placed.

the ring

  • A small, flexible ring placed inside the vagina.

  • 91% effective with typical use; 99% with perfect use

  • Place the ring inside the vagina and leave in place for three weeks. The ring is taken out at the beginning of the fourth week.

emergency contraception

copper iud

  • Small, T-shaped device wrapped in copper. Lasts for 10-12 years.

  • 99% effective.

  • A healthcare provider inserts the IUD into the uterus in a quick procedure. The copper changes the environment in the uterus, which makes it toxic to sperm.

  • It is 99.9% effective within 5 days of protected or unprotected sex. It is therefore regarded as emergency contraception, though it lasts for a long time.

plan b / ella

  • Attempts to prevent or delay the release of an egg during ovulation after un(der)protected sex.

  • Plan B contains one hormone: progestin.

  • Ella contains one hormone: ulipristal acetate

  • 75% effective with typical use; 89% effective with perfect use

  • Take the EC pill by mouth within 3-5 days after sex.

permenant methods

tubal ligation

  • A one-time, irreversible surgery that blocks fallopian tubes. This prevents the sperm and egg from joining.

  • Nearly 100% effective.

  • Tubal ligation is the incision method of sterilization.

  • Non-incision based sterilization does not require surgery or anesthesia. Small implants are placed in fallopian tubes and cause scar tissue to form.


  • A one time, outpatient surgery that prevents sperm from leaving the testicles.

  • Nearly 100% effective.

  • A small incision is made to the vas deferens though the scrotum. Sperm will be unable to join semen.

  • Ejaculation and orgasm are unaffected.

  • There may still be sperm present in semen for a few weeks or months after the procedure is completed.

  • It is recommended to use an alternative method of contraception for at least three months after the procedure is completed.

  • In some cases, the vas deferens may regrow, this is called recanalization.

NOTE: Transgender men and transmasculine individuals may be able to conceive, even while taking testosterone. It is important to use proper and safe contraception methods both parties are comfortable with to prevent unwanted pregnancies or diseases.