Frequently asked questions about Birth Control

birth control

What is birth control?

Birth control is a term used to describe ways to prevent pregnancy. Another word for birth control is contraception.
Different types of birth control include medicines, devices, and procedures. Some types of birth control are used by women, and others are used by men. Some types need to be used every time a person has sex. Other types can prevent pregnancy for long periods of time. Some types need a doctor’s prescription, and others do not.

Which type of birth control should I choose?

Choosing birth control can be tough because no birth control is perfect. Your doctor can help you choose the type that is right for you. To help you make a decision, think about:

  • How well it prevents pregnancy – No birth control works 100 percent perfectly all the time, but some prevent pregnancy better than others.
  • How often you have to use it – For example, women who use birth control pills must take them every day.
  • How easy it is to use
  • Its side effects or downsides
  • Its cost
  • If you want to get pregnant in the future – Some types of birth control are permanent, meaning they prevent you from ever getting pregnant. Other types of birth control prevent pregnancy only for a limited amount of time. After that time, you can still get pregnant.
  • Whether it protects you from infection – Only male and female condoms can reduce your chance of getting certain infections called STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

What are the different types of birth control and how do they work?

Different types of birth control prevent pregnancy in different ways and have different levels of effectiveness. Each of the main types is discussed in more detail elsewhere. They include:

  • Barrier methods, such as condoms
  • Hormonal birth control, such as the pill
  • Long-acting methods, such as the IUD (Mirena, Kyleena & Paragard) or arm implant (Nexplanon)
  • Permanent sterilization

What about natural forms of birth control?

There are a few forms of natural birth control, which require no medicines or devices. But they are not as effective as the other forms of birth control. Natural birth control methods include:

  • Withdrawal – This is when the man pulls out before he ejaculates.
  • Fertility awareness – This is when the woman keeps track of her menstrual cycle so she can predict when she is most likely to get pregnant each month. Then, she avoids sex during that time or uses some form of birth control then, such as a condom.
  • Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding can decrease a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Some women use it as a form of birth control for the first few weeks after a baby is born. But for it to work, breast milk should be the baby’s only food. The medical term for this method is lactational amenorrhea method, or LAM. If you decide to try this method, discuss it with your doctor.

What if I have problems with my birth control?

Let your doctor know if you have any side effects or problems with your birth control. Sometimes, side effects will go away after a few months. If they don’t, you might need to work with your doctor to find a different type of birth control.


This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Nov 21, 2018.