By Laura Beil
Christen Childs woke up on September 12, 2009, in the pitch dark of early morning with what she thought was a pulled muscle in her leg. She reached down to massage the cramp, trying to fathom how her left calf could be so achingly sore when she hadn't made it to the gym in weeks. This was a Saturday — by Monday, her leg was swollen and hot, and when she tried to stand, jolts of pain shot up to her spine. She consulted her brother-in-law, a doctor, and he told her to go to the ER immediately...
How much effort do you want to make to prevent a pregnancy?
If you're a woman, does it matter if your period is affected?
Will you some day want to have a child?
You can compare facts about birth control methods in the sections below, including the basic ways they work.
Behavior: Something you or your partner has to do
Barrier: Goes on or in your body before you have sex to block the sperm from getting to the egg
Hormonal: Changes a woman's body chemistry. (Depending on the specific hormones, it stops ovaries from releasing eggs, thickens the mucus around your cervix to keep sperm from reaching the egg, or thins the lining of the uterus.)
Medical: A procedure that changes your body
When doctors talk about how effective a birth control method is, sometimes there are different rates when it's used "ideally" -- meaning exactly the way it was designed -- versus how the average person uses it in real life. "Typical" use takes into account that people can't or don't always use birth control correctly or consistently.
Keep in mind, out of every 100 women who don't use any form of birth control, you can expect about 85 to get pregnant within a year.