How effective is birth Control Methods

Birth control methods are classified in to four major groups. They are hormonal methods, barrier methods, chemical methods and natural methods.

Hormonal methods: Works in one or more ways: by preventing females from ovulating (releasing eggs), by blocking the sperm from entering the cervix and by preventing the embryo from attaching to the lining of the cervix.
Barrier methods: Works by keeping the sperm from reaching the egg.
Chemical methods: Chemical birth controls create a reaction in the body that reduces the chance of fertilization (sperm connecting with the egg).
Natural Family Planning methods:Natural birth control is the methods like safe period calculation along with withdrawal method when a female is most likely to get pregnant without any side effects.

How birth control methods work?

Each of these birth control methods works different ways and most of the artificial birth control methods are associated with mild or serious health risks and side effects. Failure rate of birth control methods vary from method to method. Hormone pills, patches, shots, implants, or devices keep the eggs from being released. Gels, foam, vaginal sponge, and spermicides kill the sperm. Male and female condoms, diaphragm, and cervical caps block sperm from reaching the cervix. Some IUDs or hormones change the uterus lining structure, so that an embryo can't attach. Male and female sterilization block the passage of eggs through a female's fallopian tubes or sperm from a male's vas deferens.

Contraceptive method


Drawbacks and Side Effects

Typical use Effectiveness

Perfect use Effectiveness

Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills)

Birth control pills are the most common method of hormonal birth control. The hormones work in different ways by: a) blocking the sperm from entering the cervix; b) preventing a female from ovulating; or c) making it difficult for an embryo to attach to the lining of the uterus (called implantation). Each kind of birth control pill works in one or more of these ways, depending on the kind of hormones it contains. The pill works only if it is taken correctly. It works best when it is taken at the same time every day. If pills are skipped they do not give as much protection against pregnancy; they might offer no protection

Pill Side Effects may include nausea, weight gain (with higher dose pills), bleeding between periods, and headaches.



Hormone injection

This type of birth control is a hormone injection given every 1-3 months.

Side effects may include irregular bleeding between periods, or no periods at all, weight gain, and headaches. A side effect that may occur especially in teenagers is the loss of calcium stored in the bones, and this may not completely return once the injection is stopped. A rare side effect is depression. A health care professional must give the injection.



Emergency Contraception

The most common type of emergency contraception is birth control pills. High dose birth control pills are taken within 72 hours (3 days) of sex. These pills work in different ways. They may prevent females from releasing eggs (ovulation); may stop the sperm from entering the cervix, or may stop an embryo from attaching to the lining of the uterus. Emergency contraception is more effective the earlier it is used, and will not stop a pregnancy that has already begun (fertilization and successful implantation). The most common emergency contraception pill is known as Plan B (also referred to as the "morning after pill").

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, bloating, and headaches. Emergency contraception is usually prescribed by a health care professional. In some states, a female older than 18 years can get emergency contraception without a prescription, by going directly to a pharmacy. Females younger than 18 years still need a health care professional's prescription. Emergency contraception is not recommended as a regular way of preventing pregnancy.



Intraueterine Devices (IUD)

The IUD is a small, T-shaped, plastic device, put inside the uterus by a trained health care professional. It may contain copper or hormones. The hormonal IUD prevents pregnancy in one or more of the ways hormonal birth control methods work. The copper IUD prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg or prevents the embryo from attaching to the wall of the uterus. IUDs are not regularly prescribed for teens. The hormonal IUD can be used for 5 years while the copper IUD can be used for 10 years.

Intra Uterine Devices (IUD) is associated with several complications. Most common side effects of IUDs include heavier, longer periods and spotting between periods, cramping and vaginal discharge. Less common side effects include infection and, possibly, infertility. Rarely, some IUDs may expel out and some may pierce the wall of the uterus.




The implant is a small rod filled with progestin-only hormones that is inserted just under the skin of a female's upper arm. It must be inserted by a health care professional. The implant releases a steady, low dose of a hormone. The implant works to prevent the female from releasing eggs and by thickening the mucus in the cervix. The implant can last for three years.

Side effects of the implant include irregular bleeding, weight changes, mood changes and headaches.



Male Condoms

A male condom is a thin tube that covers the penis. Condoms are made from different materials. The most common material for condoms is latex and studies show that latex condoms work best. It keeps sperm from going into the vagina. By doing that, it lowers the chance of pregnancy. It also reduces the chances of spreading an STD from one person to another during sex.

Some condoms have a lubricant or spermicide that can irritate the vagina. Sometimes, but rarely, a person can be allergic to the latex that condoms are made of. Less sensitivity.



Female Condoms

A female condom is a polyurethane (plastic) tube or pouch that lines the vagina. The female condom reduces the risk of pregnancy and some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It keeps the penis and sperm from coming into contact with the vaginal wall or cervix.
The female condom can be bought over-the-counter. The FDA recommends that a female and a male condom not be used at the same time.

Material may be noisy. The female condom may slip into the vagina during sex. Female condoms are expensive.



Cervical Caps

This is a small cap usually made of rubber or plastic that fits over the cervix at the top of the vagina. A health care professional must fit the cervical cap. The cervical cap is used with spermicide and can be reused for 2 years. It keeps sperm from entering the cervix and uterus.

If a cervical cap is left in too long, it may cause irritation or odor in the vagina. It may also increase the risk of getting a urinary tract infection.




A diaphragm is a round rubber dome put inside the vagina to cover the cervix. A health care provider must fit the diaphragm. The diaphragm is used with spermicide. It prevents sperm from going into the cervix and uterus.

A diaphragm can cause irritation if one is allergic to spermicide or latex. The diaphragm may also increase the risk of getting a urinary tract infection.



Contraceptive Sponge

The contraceptive sponge is a barrier device inserted to cover the cervix and release spermicide into the vagina. The sponge provides no protection for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. This birth control device is effective for up to 24 hours and for more than one act of sexual intercourse.

Timing is important: in order to prevent pregnancy, the sponge must stay in place for at least six hours after sex. However, since there is a low risk of Toxic Shock syndrome, or TSS, be sure to remove the sponge no later than 30 hours after intercourse.




Spermicides are placed into the vagina to kill sperm. They come in several different forms: cream, jelly, foam, film, and suppositories. They contain a chemical that kills sperm. When placed deep in the vagina, spermicides prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. Spermicides can be bought over-the-counter.

If too much spermicide is used the vagina may become irritated. Some may increase the risk of getting some STDs or urinary tract problems.



Contraceptive Patches

The contraceptive patch is a patch work on a female's skin to prevent pregnancy. It may be placed on her lower abdomen, buttocks, or chest (except breast), upper back or arm. The patch releases hormones similar to those found in oral birth control pills into the blood. A female changes the patch once a week for three weeks. During the fourth week, no patch is worn and a female will have her menstrual period. The birth control patch works by preventing ovulation and by blocking the sperm from entering the cervix.

Side effects and risks may include headaches, menstrual cramps, nausea, abdominal pain and skin irritation. The contraceptive patch may not work as well in females who weigh more than 198 pounds.



Vaginal Contraceptive Rings

The vaginal ring is a small plastic ring that is placed into the upper vagina. The ring releases hormones into a female's body. It is kept in the vagina for three weeks. During the fourth week, a female removes the ring and she will then have her menstrual period. The vaginal ring works by preventing ovulation and by blocking the sperm from entering the cervix.

Side effects of vaginal rings may include headaches, nausea, vaginal infections and irritation, and irregular vaginal bleeding.




Sterilization is surgery that permanently blocks the path for eggs or sperm. In women, the fallopian tubes are closed or cut. In males, the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm to the penis are closed or cut. Sterilization is meant to be a permanent way of preventing pregnancy. It does not change hormones in the body or the ability to enjoy sex.





The withdrawal method is a method of contraception which prevents the sperm from being released into the female's vagina during sex. The male must take his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation.

However, it is possible that some sperm may be in the fluid that comes from the penis before ejaculation, and the male may fail to withdraw his penis completely or in time, thereby decreasing the effectiveness of this method.



Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

Couples use these methods to tell what time of the month the female is most likely to get pregnant.

There are several ways to do this, including usage of safe period calculator and watching changes in the female's body, like temperature or the cervical mucus.

Safe method without any side effects.