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Types of Birth Control for Men and Women

Updated on December 3, 2008

There are many ways to prevent pregnancy. Contraception methods are available for both men and women. Some are permanent, while others are temporary. The two basic types of birth control methods are barrier and hormonal. Other methods include sterilization, withdrawal, natural family planning, and abstinence.

While most forms of birth control do prevent pregnancy (at various rates of effectiveness) they typically do not guard against sexually transmitted diseases.

Birth Control for Women

Natural Family Planning – This is sometimes called NFP, or the calendar or rhythm method and relies on tracking your body’s functions and the menstrual cycle to estimate when ovulation will occur. This includes recording body temperature and changes in cervical mucous daily. During times of fertility, practitioners abstain from sex or use a barrier method of birth control.

Female Condom – This is a barrier method. A polyurethane pouch is inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse. It covers the cervix, vaginal canal, and labial area to prevent sperm from entering the vagina.

Spermicide – Spermicides are strong chemicals that are poison to sperm. They may come in the form of foam, jelly, or tablets that are inserted into the vagina.

Diaphragm – A diaphragm is a rubber dome that can be filled with spermicide and then inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. This acts as a barrier method with a chemical backup.

Cervical Cap – This is just like a diaphragm but smaller, covering only the cervix and not the surrounding area.

Contraceptive Sponge – Sponges work like diaphragms, but they are disposable.

Hormones – While hormones may be administered in different forms, they all basically do the same thing, which is to trick your body into thinking it’s pregnant so that no eggs drop into the uterus. Types of hormones include:

  • Birth control pills, taken daily
  • Injections, like Depo-Prevera that lasts 3 months or Lunelle that lasts a month
  • Vaginal Ring, releases estrogen and progesterone directly to the cervix over time
  • Patch, hormones released into the blood stream via skin patch
  • IUD, device that goes inside the uterus to release hormones

Birth Control for Men

Note: Never rely on someone else to consider birth control!

Male Condom – This is the most popular barrier method. Condoms are tubes made from a thin layer of latex rubber that is rolled over the penis to prevent sperm from traveling into the vagina.

Withdrawal – Better known as ‘pulling out’ before ejaculation. This doesn’t work because small amounts of sperm can easily escape before he feels ejaculation.

Vasectomy – This surgery blocks and or severs the route sperm must travel to leave the penis. Also known as sterilization.

Birth Control for Men and Women

Abstinence - While not technically a birth control method, abstinence is still the only 100% sure way of not getting pregnant. If you really don’t want a baby, don’t have sex. As a bonus, you won’t get any nasty diseases.

Tubal Ligation - This surgery blocks and or severs the route eggs must travel to reach the uterus. Also known as sterilization, or getting your ‘tubes tied’.

Image Credit: nateOne, Flickr


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  • profile image

    gothic gal 6 years ago

    very interesting...........

    told me things i never knew. keep it up. more children are learning about this at school. so they need to know how to prevent pregnancy. thanks.

  • profile image

    romonique 7 years ago

    how does a lady control the intrauterine method

  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    You failed to mention the best one for teen girls: holding a dime firmly between their knees. :-)

    Excuse my flippancy. You provided good information which should be available in every high school comprehensive sex education class but unfortunately is not.