By Stacy Lloyd
With so many types of birth control to choose from, it can be hard to determine what’s right for you. Here are some basic facts about many types of birth control.
Hormonal types include the birth control pill, shot, skin patch and vaginal ring.
The birth control pill contains estrogen and progestin. Taken daily, it prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg. The pill also causes changes in the uterine lining and cervical mucus to keep sperm from joining the egg.
Both the skin patch and vaginal ring (a thin flexible ring) release estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. The patch and the vaginal ring also thicken the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining the egg.
Birth control shots are shots of progestin that are given every three months. The shots will stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. They also cause cervical changes to keep sperm from joining with the egg. Don’t use shots for more than two years straight, though, as they can cause temporary loss of bone density.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are inserted into the uterus by a doctor. The two main types of IUDs are copper and hormonal.
The copper IUD releases a small amount of copper into the uterus, which prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. It can stay in the uterus for 5-10 years.
The hormonal IUD releases progestin into the uterus, which keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg and thickens the cervical mucus so sperm can't reach the egg. It can stay in the uterus for up to five years. If fertilization does occur, both IUDs keep the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining.
Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, caps, shields and sponges.
The female condom, made of thin, flexible, man-made rubber, is worn inside the vagina. It can be inserted up to eight hours before having sex. Don't use it and a male condom simultaneously, however. Male condoms are made of latex, polyurethane and lambskin. Oil-based lubricants weaken condoms, causing them to tear or break.