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Birth Control: What Exactly Do You Know?

Updated on May 1, 2017

What is Birth Control?

Birth control is any device or method used to prevent pregnancy. There are approximately 61 million women in the United States from the ages of 15-30 that use some form of birth control. Over the course of time there has been much controversy over the issue of birth control. Because some people are for using birth control while others are against it, there is a great argument over birth control. In this article you will find answers to many of your questions about what the different methods of birth control are, how do they affect the body, and are they good or bad for the human body.

Methods of Birth Control

There are many different birth control methods in the world today. When deciding which birth control method is best there are factors that have to be considered. These factors include: how the birth control method works, how effective is the birth control method, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of the birth control method. It has to be remembered that birth control can affect its users in different ways depending on the person and the method of birth control that they use, so if a certain method affects one person one way, it may or may not affect another person in the same way. Some of the methods of birth control include:

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are pills with hormones that are supposed to be taken every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy. The pills’ job is to stop the sperm from meeting the egg by deterring a female’s ovulation process. The way that the pill does this is by releasing hormones into the body which keep a female’s ovaries from releasing eggs and also thicken the female’s cervical mucus. With the ovulation process being stopped there is no egg in the uterus for the sperm to meet, therefore preventing pregnancy.

The birth control pills have a theoretical effectiveness of 99.7% if used perfectly, but the actual effectiveness of the birth control pill is around 92%.

Advantages of taking the birth control pill include: helps to clear acne, eases hormonal swings, and helps with heavy menstrual cycles.

Disadvantages of taking the birth control pill include: nausea, breast tenderness, bloating, and headaches.

Birth Control Shot

The birth control shot is an injection into the arm or buttocks that is delivered once every three months. The birth control shot contains the hormone progestin which prevents ovulation. When the shot is given the hormone makes its way to the ovary and prevents the egg from being released into the uterus. Without an egg present for the sperm to meet pregnancy is prevented.

The birth control shot has a theoretical effectiveness of 99.7% and an actual use effectiveness of 93%.

Advantages of taking the birth control shot include: it is convenient and private, allows women to get their menstrual cycle less often, and it is temporary

Disadvantages of taking the birth control shot may include: irregular bleeding, weight gain, and nausea.

Birth Control Patch

The birth control patch is a thin piece of plastic that looks similar to a square Band-Aid. The patch sticks to your skin and gives off hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. A new patch is placed on the skin once a week for three weeks in a row which is followed by a patch-free week. Like other birth control methods, the patch releases the hormones estrogen and progestin into the body which keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs into the uterus and also makes cervical mucus thicker which keeps sperm from getting to the eggs.

The birth control patch has a theoretical effectiveness of 99% and an actual use effectiveness of 91%. Also, the patch may be less effective for those who weigh over 200 pounds.

Advantages of using the birth control patch may include: easy to use, lighter menstrual cycles, may clear up acne, and can reduce menstrual cramps

Disadvantages of using the birth control patch may include: bleeding between periods, breast tenderness, nausea, and irritation where the patch sits on the skin.

Birth Control Ring

Often called NuvaRing, the birth control ring is a small, bendable ring that is to be inserted into the vagina. It is to be left in the vagina for three weeks at a time and taken out on the fourth week. Like other birth control methods, the birth control ring releases hormones into the uterus which stops the ovaries from releasing eggs and also thickens cervical mucus so that it is harder for sperm to reach the eggs.

The birth control ring has a theoretical effectiveness of 99.7% is used perfect and an actual use effectiveness of 92%.

Advantages of using the birth control ring include: easy to use, short and lighter periods, clear up acne, and can reduce menstrual cramps.

Disadvantages of using the birth control ring include: bleeding between periods, sore breasts, nausea, and increased vaginal discharge.


The IUD is a little, t-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUD stand for intrauterine device which basically means a device inside your uterus. There are two different types of IUDs. Copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. The copper IUDs does not have hormones. It is wrapped in a little bit of copper and because sperm cells do not like copper, makes it almost impossible for the sperm to get to the egg. The hormonal IUDs use the hormone progestin like other birth control methods to stop fertilization and ultimately prevent pregnancy.

The copper IUD has a theoretical effectiveness of 99.4% and a use effectiveness of 99.2%. The hormonal IUD has theoretical and use effectiveness is the same at 99.9% effective.

Advantages of using the IUD include: it is easy to use, long-lasting, reduce menstrual pains and makes menstrual cycles lighter.

Disadvantages of using the IUD include: spotting between menstrual cycles, cramps, backaches, and IUD slipping out.


Abstinence is the act of not having sexual intercourse at all. Abstinence is the best and most effective way to prevent pregnancy. It is 100% effective against pregnancy. There are many reason that people may practice abstinent. Some include, to prevent pregnancy, to prevent getting any STDs, and also wait until they find the right partner. The only disadvantage to abstinence is some may find it difficult to abstain from sexual intercourse for long periods of time.


A condom is a thin, stretchy covering made of latex or plastic that covers the penis or is inserted into the vagina during sexual intercourse. Condoms stop sperm from getting into the vagina and also helps to prevent STDs. Condoms can be used with other forms of birth to make the effectiveness of preventing pregnancy greater.

Male Condoms have a theoretical effectiveness of 98% if used perfectly and an actual use effectiveness of 85%. Female condoms have a theoretical effectiveness of 95% and an actual use effectiveness of 79%

Advantages of wearing condoms include: it protects against STDs, cheap and easy to get, little to no side effects

Disadvantages of wearing condoms include: some may be sensitive to certain kinds of lubricant or allergic to latex.


Spermicide is different substance such as creams, films, foams, and gels that contain chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Spermicide is normally used with other birth control methods, but it can be used on its own. Spermicide is inserted into the vagina before intercourse to block the cervix and restrict the movement of sperm.

The theoretical effectiveness of spermicide on its own is 82% and has a use effectiveness of 71%

Advantages of spermicide include: easy to use, convenient, and does not affect hormones.

Disadvantages of spermicide include: can be messy, might irritate vagina or penis, some may be allergic to it.


A diaphragm is a shallow piece of domed-shaped silicone cup with a flexible rim that is to be inserted in to the vagina to cover the cervix. When it covers the cervix it keeps the sperm out of the uterus. The diaphragm is typically used with spermicide in order to increase its effectiveness.

The theoretical effectiveness of the diaphragm with spermicide is 94% if used perfectly and has an actual use effectiveness of 84%.

Advantages of the diaphragm include: it does not affect hormones, cannot be felt by either party, and it immediately effective.

Disadvantages of the diaphragm include: may be difficult to insure, may be pushed out of place, and can cause vaginal irritation.

Birth Control Sponge

The birth control sponge is a round piece of soft, white, plastic, foam with a dimple on one side and is about two inches in diameter. It has a loop made of nylon on the bottom to make removal easier. The sponge is filled with spermicide that is continuously released during intercourse and it also blocks the cervix so that the sperm cannot enter the uterus. The sponge is used by wetting the sponge, squeezing it to activate the spermicide, and then inserting it into the vagina as far as it can go.

The theoretical effectiveness of the birth control sponge is 91% if used perfectly and the actual use effectiveness is 84%.

Advantages of using the birth control sponge include: it does not affect hormones, cannot be felt, can be inserted up to 24 hours in advance, and is convenient.

Disadvantage of using the birth control sponge include: may be difficult to insert, may cause vaginal irritation, and may cause intercourse to be messier or dryer.


The withdrawal method also known as the pull out method is one of the oldest methods of birth control known and also one of the least effective. Withdrawal is what it sounds like, the removal of the penis from the vagina before ejaculation. It is used to prevent pregnancy but like mentioned before is one of the least effective forms.

The withdrawal method’s theoretical effectiveness is 96% is performed perfectly every time and its actual use effectiveness is 73%.

Advantages of the withdrawal method include: its free, no hormonal side effects, and is convenient.

Disadvantages of the withdrawal method include: difficult to perform every time, a lot of self-control, and is not very effective.

Who Uses Birth Control?

After the initial research was found, interviews were conducted to find out exactly who uses birth control and why or why not. Out of thirty women from the ages of 15-30 interviewed about 90% uses a method of birth control while 10% do not. The women who were interviewed were asked questions such as: are they using a method of birth control? If so, which method do they use? and why or why not? The number one method of birth control used by about 60% of the women interviewed were the birth control pills, 2 of the women interviewed uses the shot, 1 uses the patch, 3 uses the IUD, 3 uses condoms only, and 3 do not use any form at all. When asked why they use a method of birth control, the main answer that the women gave was that they were trying to prevent pregnancy overall. The women who were not using any method of birth control at all were either still virgins and not having sexual intercourse or were trying for a baby with their spouse.

Which method of Birth Control do you use?

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Is Birth Control Good or Bad for the Body?

The main question that is to be answered is if birth control is good or bad for the human body. There is much controversy over this topic as a whole. There are many side effects of the different birth control methods both good and bad ones. Because of the many different side effects, both good and bad, there are effective arguments on both sides of this topic. For example, in Carolyn Dean’s Article “Just Say No to Birth Control Pills” she is very adamant of the fact the birth control is “very dangerous” and should not be used. Meanwhile in Louise Sloan’s article “Birth Control is Safer Than Ever (and Sometimes It’s Even Good for You)” she explains that birth control “can be good for you” by listing what the pill can do to help the body. Each side of this issue can be equally argued, however the ultimate decision on whether birth control is good or bad for the body is based on personal preference. Before deciding to utilize birth control, conducting research is very important. The goal is to do what you determine is best for your body no matter what others have to say.

Works Cited

"5 Reasons to Say "thanks!" for Birth Control." Bedsider. N.p., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Almendrala, Anna. "RELATIVE EFFECTIVENESS OF BIRTH CONTROL METHODS*." RELATIVE EFFECTIVENESS OF BIRTH CONTROL METHODS* | Options for Sexual Health. Huffington Post, 27 May 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Dean, Carolyn. "Just Say No to Birth Control Pills 10/27/04." Mercola, 27 Oct. 2004. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Fetters, K. Aleisha. "Birth Control Side Effects: What You Need to Know About Contraceptives." Parents. Parents, 11 June 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Green, Catey. "How Worried Should You REALLY Be About All Those Birth Control Risks?" Women's Health. N.p., 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Parenthood, Planned. "Birth Control Methods." Birth Control Options. N.p., 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Perdomo, Daniela. "Unhappy With Your Birth Control? 10 Methods You May Want to Try." Alternet. Alternet, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Pietrangelo, Ann. "The Effects of Birth Control on the Body." Healthline. Ed. George Krucik. N.p., 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Schreiber, Katherine. "19 Known Side Effects of Going On the Pill." Cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan, 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Sloan, Louise. "Birth Control Is Safer Than Ever (and Sometimes It's Even Good for You).", 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.


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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      10 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Good article, but you left out, Vasectomy. It is easier and more effective to get the male to get a one time operation than to continually take a pill, shot or use a device. The male could make a sperm donation into a sperm bank before the operation.

      Please address the reasons people should use Birth Control.


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