Birth Control Options


There are 2 types of oral contraceptive pills. The combination pill and the mini pill. Combination pills contain both progesterone and estrogen. Mini pills contain progestin only. Combination pills prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg and cause cervical mucous to thicken. Mini pills cause cervical mucous to thicken but do not always prevent the release of an egg. For this reason, mini pills are prescribed to breastfeeding women only and once they start to wean they are put on a combination pill. Advantages of OCP’s, they are 99% effective when taken correctly. They can also decrease risk of certain types of cancers. Disadvantages: must remember to take daily. Increase risk of blood clots, heart attacks and stroke, especially in smokers greater than age 35. Common side effects: Nausea, weight gain, headaches and spotting.


Injection of progestin given once every 3 months. Progestin stops the release of an egg from the ovary.
Advantages: Effectiveness is 99% and does not contain estrogen. Disadvantages: a delayed return to fertility, irregular bleeding with first injection, weight gain, headaches, decreased sex drive, stomach cramps. The initial Depo Provera injection should be given during the first five days of period.


For women, the tubes are sealed, tied or clamped (tubal ligation). This is permanent form of birth control and should not be considered unless absolutely sure do not plan on having any more children.
Sterilization is 99% effective and is usually performed under general anesthesia.


Condoms prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from entering the vagina. Condoms are 88 to 98% effective when used correctly. Effectiveness is increased when used with spermicide. Advantages: can purchase over the counter, good method for preventing STD’s. Disadvantages: reduced sensation, less sexual spontaneity, and possible breakage.


A small “T” shaped device inserted into the uterus. IUD’s work by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. Copper IUD’s last up to ten years. 97 to 99% effective.
Side effects: menstrual cramps, infection, prolonged periods, anemia and uterine perforation. This form of birth control is for a person in a monogamous relationship and is not planning on trying to conceive for several years.


A soft, rubber dome shaped cup that is stretched over a flexible wire ring. The diaphragm blocks sperm from entering the uterus. The diaphragm must be filled with spermicide before insertion. Diaphragm can be placed up to six hours before intercourse. Effectiveness: 82 to 94%.

Diaphragm should be checked yearly at your annual exam. Size may need to be altered due to weight gain or weight loss.


Creams, foams, jellies and suppositories. 79 to 97% effective. More effective if used with another barrier method. Disadvantages: Insertion has to be within ½ hour of intercourse. Need to reapply for repeated intercourse.


80 TO 90% effective. The key advantage is no other interventions are necessary. Disadvantages: careful planning and motivation are essential. Prohibits intercourse up to ½ cycle and cannot be used in women with irregular cycles.


Requires no other interventions but is only 72% effective. Disadvantages: leakage of sperm before ejaculation is only up to the male and it requires a great deal of control.


Sub dermal, up to 5 years protection, reversible, 99% effectiveness.


Like the diaphragm yet it can be inserted ½ to 48 hours before intercourse.


Seals off ducts that carry sperm. 99% effective. Permanent form of birth control for males.

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