Wondering what type of birth control is best for you? You have a lot of options, from condoms to caps to pills. Find one that you're confident with -- and that you can honestly commit to using every time you have sex.
Hormonal Birth Control
You need a prescription for these. They use hormones -- similar to the ones in your body -- to stop the release of an egg so that it cannot get fertilized by sperm.
Options include birth control pills, stick-on patches, insertable vaginal rings, shots, and implants. With typical use, most hormonal birth control is about 90% effective. But if you make sure to use it correctly all the time, it prevents pregnancy over 99% of the time. The implant is about 99% effective too.
Ask your doctor how long you should use another form of birth control until the pill takes effect.
Barrier Birth Control
Just like the name suggests, these create a barrier to keep sperm from reaching an egg. You can get most of them at a pharmacy with no prescription.
Male condomsare a reliable and cheap way of preventing pregnancy. Latex condoms are a good choice. They're durable and may be more effective against sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs) than “natural” or “lambskin” condoms. With typical use, the male condom is about 80% effective. If used perfectly every time, it prevents pregnancy 98% of the time.
When we talk about how effective the following types of birth control are, we’re assuming “typical” use -- that is, not always perfect.
A female condom is a plastic tube that you would partially insert into your vagina, creating a barrier. Female condoms may also help against STDs. Female condoms are about 80% effective.
Other types of barrier birth control work well in preventing pregnancy but don't protect you from STDs. They may be best if you're in a committed relationship.
The sponge is another non-prescription option. It's a small piece of foam, treated with spermicide, that you place high up in your vagina. It's between 68% and 84% effective. You can also use spermicides -- gels, creams, and foams -- with other birth control or on their own. Alone, spermicides are about 70% effective.
A few options -- like the diaphragm, cervical cap, and cervical shield -- are available only by prescription. They're rubber or silicone barriers that you place far up in your vagina. They're about 90% effective in preventing pregnancy.