Choosing The Birth Control Method That’s Right For You

People use birth control for a variety of reasons, whether that is the desire for a more regular period, the desire for a shorter and lighter period, relief from cramps, treatment for endometriosis, or to feel protected from pregnancy once becoming sexually active. Whatever the reason you decide to use birth control, there are a ton of different options.

So how do you know which method is right for you? Don’t fret dear Lala readers, we’ve broken down 13 different methods of birth control so you can feel educated in choosing one that’s right for you.

1. Penile condom

A penile condom is essentially a sheath (commonly made of latex) that fits over the penis and catches the sperm after ejaculation.

Pros: In addition to preventing pregnancy, condoms protect against STDs

-relatively cheap and can be purchased at any drug store or grocery store, sometimes even online

-many different kinds to choose from

Cons: If latex condom is used, you must use water based lubricant

-Some people are allergic to latex, but if you are, there are non-latex condoms out there

-Some argue that putting on a condom “takes away” from the moment, but we think STDs or unwanted pregnancy are bigger turn offs

2. Vaginal Condom

Similarly to penile condoms, vaginal condoms act as a barrier method and prevent sperm from going into the vagina. You pinch the top of the condom and insert it into the vagina, allowing the tube of the condom to line the walls of the vagina and wrap around the labia.

Pros: Many non-latex options, so they’re good to use if either partner has a latex allergy

-Fun way to switch it up and explore new sensations

-STD protection

Cons: A little more difficult to put “on” than a penile condom

-Not as effective as penile condoms

3. Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped barrier made out of rubber or latex that essentially caps off your cervix.

Pros: Doesn’t use hormones to prevent pregnancy

-Neither partner has to put something over their genitals possibly decreasing sensation

Cons: It must be inserted several hours before sex and worn several hours after

-In order to be effective, you must use spermicide with it

-Not as effective as a condom

-Some wearers get UTIs after wearing

4. Spermicides

Spermicides are foams, gels, or suppositories that are inserted deep into the vagina to stop sperm from moving.

Pros: Nonhormonal and no prescription needed

Cons: Taste bad

-Don’t work extremely well on their own and are most effective coupled with a condom or diaphragm

-No STD protection

5. IUD

An IUD is a t-shaped device made of copper or plastic inserted into the uterus. The IUD slightly inflames the uterus and creates an environment where implantation cannot occur. It also thickens the cervical mucus, aiding in preventing implantation.

Pros: Extremely effective and last several years

-Once you get it inserted, you don’t have to worry about it

-Two different kinds depending on if you want hormones or not

Cons: They can be expensive

-You have to go to a doctor for it to be inserted

-No STD protection

-Some users have extended periods after initial insertion

6. The Pill

The pill is an oral contraceptive that must be taken at the same time every day to be effective. The pill uses hormones (most commonly estrogen and progestin) to shut down ovulation and thicken cervical mucus to prevent implantation.

Pros: It’s reliable and reversible

-Doesn’t interfere with spontaneity or sensation

-Can treat endometriosis and cause shorter and lighter periods

Cons: No STD protection

-You have to take it at the same time every day in order for effectiveness

-Becomes ineffective when on certain antibiotics

7. The Shot (Depo-Provera)

This method is a shot of high dose progestin, a hormone that shuts down ovulation. You get the shot every 3 months, and you’re covered until your next visit.

Pros: Once you get the shot, you don’t have to do anything else

-A hormonal option for those who don’t’ want additional estrogen

Cons: Requires a prescription

-No STD protection

-Can lead to loss of bone density over an extended period of time

8. Transdermal Patch

The patch is a Band-Aid-like patch that releases estrogen and progestin over a period of time. It works similarly to the pill in preventing pregnancy through hormones.

Pros: You only have to change it weekly

Cons: No STD protection

-You must be sure to put the patch in a different spot every week

9. Vaginal Ring

Most commonly known as NuvaRing, it’s a bendable ring you insert into your vagina for three weeks, then take out the fourth week for your period. It works similarly to the pill releasing estrogen and progestin.

Pros: Once it’s inserted you don’t need to worry about it for several weeks

Cons: No STD protection

-You need a prescription

10. Implant

The implant is a small match shaped rod that is inserted into the arm and prevents pregnancy for three years. It releases progestin to shut down ovulation and thicken the cervical mucus.

Pros: Long lasting

-Don’t need to worry about it once it’s inserted

Cons: No STD protection

-Can sometimes cause irregular bleeding

11. Fertility Awareness

Also known as natural family planning, this method of birth control consists of different methods of tracking fertility. Check out for the specific ways to use this method.

Pros: You don’t need a prescription or any additional hormones

Cons: You have to pay extremely close attention to your body

-It’s not always the most effective

-No STD protection

12. Withdrawal

This method is when the penis is withdrawn from the vagina before ejaculation.

Pros: It’s free

Cons: It’s not incredibly effective

-It must be done perfectly every time

-It’s possible that precum contains sperm as well depending on how long it’s been since the last ejaculation

-No STD protection

13. Emergency Contraceptives

Emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy from happening after unprotected sex occurs. Emergency contraceptives prevent implantation from occurring and are not the same as the abortion pill.

Plan B: An over the counter, high dose progestin pill that can work up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but its effectiveness decreases each day.

Ella: A prescription option that works up to 5 days after unprotected sex and does not decrease in effectiveness each day.

Copper IUD: Have an IUD inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

Birth control pills: You can use certain birth control pills as emergency contraceptives if you follow these guidelines and take a higher dosage. Not all pills work for this method, so make sure you know yours does before doing this. This method works up to 3 days after unprotected sex and is very ineffective after that.

Phew, that was a lot if information, but look at you, you made it through and are more educated now. Different folks prefer different methods, and that’s okay- there’s no right or wrong method. Bottom line, you should choose a method that makes you feel comfortable and confident living your life.

For more detailed information about failure rates and side effects for each method, check out

Sources: Understanding Human Sexuality by J.S. Hyde and J.D. DeLamater and


Image via Sarah Nichole


Bekah Pollard

Contributing Editor, Butler University Major: Art + Design Her heart belongs to: unicorns, cereal, life chats with friends, coffee shops, and the Internet Her guilty pleasures: One Direction, The Real Housewives of anywhere, and slam poetry

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