There are many birth control options. While the American Pregnancy Association suggests that abstinence is the only way to guarantee a woman will not become pregnant, a no-sex lifestyle is not a reasonable option for many people. Knowing the different birth control options available helps people make the right decision to fit their contraceptive needs and lifestyles.
Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning, or NFP, involves tracking a woman’s ovulation schedule and abstaining from sex on her most fertile days. The most common NFP method involves daily charting of a woman’s basal body temperature and cervical mucus. While this method of birth control is inexpensive and generally accepted by most religions, the FDA reports that it is only 80 percent effective.
Condoms, diaphragms and spermicides are all considered barrier methods of birth control. These different birth control options work to prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from entering the cervix. When used perfectly, they can be fairly reliable–each method is between 82 and 98 percent perfective. However, few people use barrier methods perfectly. Often diaphragms and condoms are used incorrectly and sometimes even skipped in the throes of passion. This is why it is estimated that the actual success rate is closer to 75 percent in most cases. To get the most from barrier methods of birth control, it is best to use two of these options. A male condom combined with spermicide is between 95 and 99 percent reliable.
Some of the most popular kinds of birth control are hormonal methods for women. The first type of hormonal birth control was the contraceptive pill, introduced in 1960. Since then, several other types of hormonal birth control options have become available: the patch, hormonal intrauterine devices, the ring, mini-pills and hormone shots. While hormonal methods of birth control cannot prevent sexually transmitted diseases, they do boast a highly impressive 97 to 99.9 percent success rate in preventing pregnancy.
Unfortunately, these highly effective types of birth control can come at a cost. Common side effects of hormonal contraceptives include mood swings, nausea, weight gain, decreased sexual desire and tender breasts. Additionally, the health education center at Brown University warns that more serious side effects like blood clots, hypertension, cervical cancer and gallbladder disease may result from long-term use of hormonal birth control.
Aside from abstinence, sterilization is the most effective of the birth control options, with a consistent 99.9 percent success rate. For women, sterilization involves severing the fallopian tubes to prevent her eggs from being exposed to sperm. Men go through a similar process, in which their vas deferens are cut and cauterized to halt sperm production. While these procedures are reversible, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is greatly reduced after a reversal. These surgeries can also be costly for the uninsured. Sterilization is a drastic step for those who are positive they will never want another child.