18 Most Effective Birth Control Methods

The topic of birth control is surprisingly controversial in certain countries. This is hard to believe when one considers that we are well into the 21st… Simi - October 4, 2018

The topic of birth control is surprisingly controversial in certain countries. This is hard to believe when one considers that we are well into the 21st century. Even in countries where it has been fully legalized, there is still a shockingly inadequate amount of information on the topic.

Women are left to sift through various websites providing equal amounts of fact and fiction. The problem is not only incorrect information but also bits and pieces that are wildly inaccurate. At the end of the day though, it is a woman’s choice. It is her body, and she should be fully equipped with all the information needed to make an informed decision.

Not all birth control methods are created equal, and not all methods are suited for every single woman. Side effects accompany each one, and they are limited in their effectiveness. The fact is that human beings are made to reproduce. It can happen very quickly, and if one wanted to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, one would need to consider a method.

The list that follows outlines various methods available and how effective they are. One should always bear in mind that abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control. While some methods can be very dependable, you can never be too careful, so it might be necessary to use more than one method.

18. The implant

This method falls into the hormonal category. It is completely reversible and will not affect long-term fertility. The process is relatively simple. A doctor places the implant just underneath the skin on the top of a woman’s arm. Once this small procedure has been completed, there is not much more to think about.

The small device, which closely resembles a matchstick, releases small amounts of progesterone into the bloodstream for a couple of months. This hormone travels through the blood until it reaches the reproductive system of the woman.

Here, it does two things to prevent pregnancy. First, it can prevent ovulation. This will probably not happen every month. Even if in a certain month, the hormone is not able to prevent ovulation altogether and has another mechanism to prevent pregnancy.

Progesterone also thickens the mucus of the cervix. This thickening means that it is far more difficult for the sperm to make its way to the egg. This method of birth control is very effective but, as stated, it is hormonal and therefore not suited for women who do not do well with hormonal changes.

17. Male sterilization

This surgical procedure is more commonly referred to as a vasectomy. The process is quite simple and involves blocking or cutting a tube in the penis called the vas deferens. This tube transports the sperm from the testicles to the end of the penis.

By blocking this channel, the semen cannot make it to the egg, and therefore no fertilization will occur. This procedure is most useful for couples who only have one partner and is generally opted for over female sterilization.

Female sterilization is much more invasive than a vasectomy, and the chances for complications are much higher. If a couple wanted to avoid unwanted pregnancies, this could serve as a very effective contraceptive method.

This procedure is not permanent. There is an option of having it reversed if the time came to conceive a child. A man getting a vasectomy should generally not have plans to reverse it in the future, but the option is open if necessary. Provided the couple is only having intercourse with each other, this method is generally incredibly effective.

16. Hormonal IUD

A hormonal IUD is a device that is inserted into the uterus. It is T-shaped and releases hormones directly into the uterus and the vagina to prevent pregnancy. There are 4 options when it comes to hormonal IUDs, each of which differs slightly.

Generally, they release the hormone progesterone. This hormone works to thicken the mucus around the cervix thus making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus and reach the egg.

While the longevity of each device differs, they each last for at least 2 years. The insertion procedure is quite simple and is performed by a medical professional. The process does not take long, but can be painful for women who have not had children.

There is also an adjustment period which can take anywhere from 3-6 months. During this time the woman may experience cramps, pain and bloating. While uncomfortable, these symptoms should subside and can be managed with simple painkillers. This method does not require any upkeep and is very effective.

15. Female sterilization

This surgical procedure works to prevent pregnancy by making sure that the egg never reaches the uterus. If there is no egg in the uterus, there is no chance of fertilization even if sperm reaches the area.

This method is incredibly effective, but it is surgery, and therefore it comes with some considerable risks. First and foremost, it requires general anesthesia. Secondly, it is generally not a reversible procedure.

The aim is to either block or cut the fallopian tubes in a woman’s body. The egg typically travels down these tubes to reach the uterus. While this procedure can be quite invasive, it is attractive to many women because it has no hormonal or physical impact on their cycle. Ovulation occurs, as usual, the difference being that the egg is unable to travel where it needs to go.

If a woman has a troublesome cycle, it may be best to consider hormonal options as this procedure does not influence the natural hormones in her body. This is also an incredibly effective method for women who do not have a single partner.

14. Copper IUD

The most common brand on the market is a device called ParaGard. It is quite similar to the hormonal IUD in the fact that it is T-shaped, but that is basically where the similarity ends. The copper IUD has, as its name suggests, a copper wire coiled around the device. This device is then placed into the uterus by a medical professional.

Again, the insertion process can be painful, and there is also an adjustment period that can last up to 6 months. Women may have heavier periods and more severe pre-menstrual symptoms during this time. There is also the chance of cramping and back pain.

While this may sound unpleasant, once the device has settled it can be left in the uterus for up to ten years. The copper IUD does not have to be checked or replaced and is very effective in preventing pregnancy. It does this by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg, and the copper reduces the motility of the sperm once it has made its way into the uterus.

This method is favorable for women who do not want artificial hormones in their bodies. On the whole, their cycle will not be affected, but they will also be thoroughly protected from unplanned pregnancies.

13. A birth control injection

This hormonal birth control method involves having progesterone injected into a woman’s body once every three months. The injection needs to be administered every three months without fail, or it will not be effective. Even if the injection is given a few days late, there is a chance of pregnancy.

The hormone involved thickens the cervical mucus and may at times prevent ovulation. A thickened cervical mucus means that it is more difficult for the sperm to reach the uterus, while skipped ovulation indicates that there is no egg to be fertilized.

The hormonal injection may be very effective in preventing pregnancy, and it doesn’t require maintenance once it has been administered, but there are drawbacks. It can result in considerable weight gain. Statistically speaking, a woman is more likely to gain weight using this method than compared to other hormonal methods.

It is, however, quite a good option for women who do not have ready access to birth control or those who are not that consistent when it comes to taking a birth control pill every day.

12. The Pill

When the topic of birth control comes up, this is generally the method that comes to mind first. While it may be a method a lot of people know about, it is far more complicated than people realize.

Not all pills are created equal, and there are many different types of options available, depending on the specific needs of each patient. There are progesterone pills, combination pills and pills that lengthen the cycle.

There are many types of pills on the market and a couple of different brands for each type. Most work to prevent ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus. When these are combined, there is little chance of pregnancy. This is only the case if the pill is taken at the same time every day. There is, at most, 2 hours of wiggle room here, but the delay should not be longer than this.

For the pill to work, a woman must be very accurate with her timing, lest she becomes pregnant unexpectedly. Some apps are available to help with this. A simple daily reminder on one’s phone would do the trick.

11. The patch

This method is similar to the pill and the injection. Its application and the length of time that it is effective vary, however. The patch needs to be applied every week to be effective. It is not worn while a woman is on her period but needs to be in place for the rest of the month.

The pro of this method is that it only needs to be placed once a week. It does, however, need to be placed correctly and must be checked on quite frequently. If it falls off, the wearer can become pregnant, and she may not even know that it has fallen off.

There may also be a problem with placement. The patch cannot be put on any piece of skin. Some areas are more effective and some are completely unsuitable. The patch cannot be placed on a woman’s breast, but it can go on her arm, belly, back or butt.

These patches have estrogen and progesterone. Combined, these hormones prevent ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus.

10. The Ring

Upon first hearing about the ring, one could be forgiven for thinking it is an object worn on a finger. In this case, the ring is inserted in a woman’s vagina. The point is to push it up as far as possible and then leave it there for three weeks.

Once a woman’s period starts she can take out the ring, but it must be reinserted as soon as menstruation has stopped.

The ring releases estrogen and progesterone. It is quite like the patch and the pill. The difference is that it does not necessarily require as much maintenance. If placed correctly, it can theoretically be left there for three weeks. It can even be taken out for the act if it is getting in the way.

This method should be done very cautiously as the ring can only be left out for about half an hour and then reinserted to heighten its efficacy.

9. The Diaphragm

This method is not very invasive and utilizes absolutely no hormones, but it is also not the most effective of methods. It is about 88% effective. Considering that the copper IUD has efficacy rates of higher than 99%, this can be quite concerning. But, the method is less effective mostly because of human error.

There is nothing wrong with the device itself. The problem is that it needs to be left in after an act for at least 6 hours. This waiting period exists because of how the device works.

A diaphragm must be made for each woman because one size does not fit all. Once this has been done, it is placed over the cervix. When in place, it works to stop the sperm from entering the uterus. Spermicide should also be included in this method to increase its efficacy.

A diaphragm is generally inserted before one has an act and six hours after the deed is done. If it is removed too soon, there is a chance of the surviving sperm making its way into the uterus.

8. The Male Protection

The condom is another birth control method that is known globally. Every physically active person should have come into contact with one of these at some point. There are hundreds of brands, all offering varying experiences.

On the whole, they work by stopping sperm from entering the vagina. Those are generally made from latex, but there are versions available made from other ingredients for those who are allergic to latex.

Those are very common, but they can be quite tricky. They can break during physical activity, rendering them useless. There is also a problem of when to put it on. Contrary to popular belief, they need to be on the penis for the duration of intercourse. There is the chance of becoming pregnant long before ejaculation, provided the penis has entered the vagina.

A condom can be relied upon to a certain degree to prevent pregnancy, but to be safe, it should be used in conjunction with another contraceptive method. If it is the only method on hand, it is sufficient if used correctly. The condom is about 82% effective and very affordable and convenient, making it a popular choice.

7. The female Protection

The female condom is similar to the male one, but it is far less effective and does not prevent STDs. The primary reason for its decreased efficacy is that it does not fit over a rigid body part. When a penis is erect, a male one slides on relatively quickly and will not come off if it is used within reason.

The female one, on the other hand, lies over the cervix in a woman. This is not rigid, and this could shift during intercourse. Another issue is that it needs to be placed 8 hours before the act.

People do not always plan to have intercourse that long in advance. This method is only 79% effective, but it is quite attractive regardless, as it is within the woman’s power to use. She does not need to rely on her male counterpart to provide one if she carries her own.

To increase its efficacy, the female condom should be used with spermicide, and it should be placed quite a while before one starts having intercourse. It might be uncomfortable, but it can work if used correctly.

6. Withdrawal

This is more commonly referred to as the pull-out method. If you have experimented with contraceptive methods, you have probably heard about this one. It involves the man withdrawing his penis right before he is about to ejaculate. This must be done perfectly if conception is to be avoided.

If even a tiny bit of sperm enters, there is a chance of pregnancy. There is also the problem of pre-ejaculation. This is the fluid that accumulates at the head of the penis before full ejaculation.

It is possible to become pregnant from pre-ejaculate. There are traces of sperm found in this fluid. The withdrawal method is generally chosen by people who do not like the feel of condoms, or because the woman does not like the idea of hormonal contraceptives.

While it is possible to prevent pregnancy using this method alone, it is only 78% effective. These are rather large odds when comparing it to some other methods.

5. The Sponge

This method is relatively uncommon. This has nothing to do with its efficacy, but rather with the fact that a lot of people don’t know that it exists. The sponge works kind of like a diaphragm and a female condom. It is placed over the cervix and its goal is to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.

There is also a spermicide involved so if any sperm passes the barrier, they shouldn’t live long.

The sponge can be relatively effective, but if it is not placed correctly, it could shift, leaving the cervix unprotected. This is mainly a problem for women who have given birth. A woman who has not had a child will find this method to be more effective. Even then, the efficacy is only 88%.

One thing that makes this method quite attractive is that it can sit in the vagina for 24 hours. This means you can put it in when you leave the house in the morning and take it out at least 6 hours after intercourse.

4. Period tracking

The entire premise of this method is based on a woman tracking her period. She needs to know when her period is coming and when she is going to ovulate. If she is careful enough, she can track this quite accurately by observing changes in vaginal discharge and body temperature.

Once a woman is aware of when she ovulates, all she needs to do is refrain from having intercourse three days before ovulation and three days after.

If done correctly, this method can be 77% effective. This is not a very inspiring figure, but it is a method chosen by women who do not believe in birth control. Period tracking is not a contraceptive, but instead a timetable for abstinence.

If a woman is not against contraceptive methods, it is recommended she combine this method with others. Period tracking does not require hormones or devices, but it could use these from time to time.

3. Spermicide

This is a substance that is mentioned alongside a couple of contraceptive methods. Spermicide has chemicals specifically suited to kill or immobilize sperm. If the sperm is dead or unable to move, it is not able to fertilize the egg. There is nothing wrong with this logic, but this does not happen all the time.

A dab of spermicide does not kill sperm that makes its way into the female body. There are always a couple that survives. In fact, this method only works 72% of the time.

This number is the reason people generally opt to combine spermicide with another method. It is easy to carry around and does not require preparation hours before the act, but it is also quite risky to use only spermicide to avoid pregnancies.

There is also the issue of STDs. The only thing that can prevent an STD is a male condom. Spermicides are designed to kill sperm, not bacteria or viruses.

2. Emergency Contraceptive

If one of the former contraceptives has failed, or you didn’t use protection at all, emergency contraceptives might be your answer. There are two options when it comes to this route.

The first is a pill. It is generally actually two pills that need to be taken a maximum of 72 hours after the act. It prevents pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The emergency contraceptive should be taken as soon as possible, as it decreases with efficacy as the hours go by.

The second option is the copper IUD. If it is placed a maximum of five days after the unprotected act, it will prevent pregnancy. This device can then be left in the uterus for up to ten years to avoid any further unplanned pregnancies. The copper IUD can be a painful process, however.

Contraceptive methods may be a hassle, but it is entirely worth it when one considers the consequences of not using them.

1. Abstinence

This is not a contraceptive method, because it simply suggests not having an act. While there is nothing wrong with abstinence, it can be quite limiting. This can be a very loaded debate, and people tend to get heated when the topic arises. But it is the individual’s choice.

If you do not agree with contraceptive methods but do not want to become pregnant, this is the only option.

If the aversion to contraceptive methods is a religious one, an option to consider is tracking one’s period. This method is quite risky, but the Catholic church approves it.

The choice to abstain from physical activity will save you from unwanted pregnancies and do not participate in any oral acts, STD’s will not be a problem, either. If you feel you are ready to have intercourse and don’t want to become pregnant, there are many options. It is up to you to find the one that best suits your needs.