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An Overview of the More Common Types of Birth Control Available
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There is a variety of birth control methods available for couples today.  They include:

  • Basal body temperature
  • Birth control pill
  • Calendar method
  • Cervical cap
  • Cervical mucus
  • Combination pill
  • Copper IUD
  • Diaphragm
  • Emergency birth control
  • Essure
  • Hormonal IUD
  • Injection (Depo-Provera)
  • Lactational amenorrhea
  • Morning-after pill
  • Shield
  • Skin patch
  • Spermicides
  • Sponge
  • Standard days
  • Symptothermal
  • Tubal ligation
  • Vaginal ring

Basal body temperature method is using a woman’s body temperature to determine when she is least likely and more likely to conceive.  Effectiveness rate is 80 percent, 20 out of 100 women practicing this method for one year will get pregnant.

The birth control pill is a very reliable means of contraception.  One of the advantages of the birth control pill is that it is quickly reversible.  Once ovulation resumes you can become pregnant, although this scenario is not likely. You have a one in five chance of becoming pregnant during your first cycle trying to conceive.

Taking birth control pills during your reproductive years offers reliable family planning and reduces your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

The calendar method of birth control attempts to predict ovulation using a woman’s menstrual history.  You must keep a written record of each cycle.  This record is used to determine when a woman is least likely to conceive. 

The effectiveness rate of the calendar method is about 87 percent.  The calendar method is not dependable if your cycles vary in length.

The downside of using the calendar method is the requirement for prolonged abstinence and the need to monitor your cycle for eight months before using the method.

The diaphragm method of birth control utilizes a reusable, dome-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim.  It is inserted into the vagina and held in place by vaginal muscles.

When used with spermicide the typical effectiveness rate for the diaphragm method of birth control is 84 percent. 

Women rarely experience side effects while using the diaphragm; however, there are some risks involved that include:

  • Vaginal irritation caused by the latex rubber or the spermicides used with the device
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vaginal infection
  • Toxic shock syndrome with prolonged use

Spermicides are substances that inactivate sperm before they enter the uterus.  They come in cream, gel, foam, vaginal contraceptive film, suppository and tablet.

Spermicides can be used alone, but are more effective when used with a condom, diaphragm or cervical cap.  The typical effectiveness rate of spermicides alone is 71 percent.  Vaginal douches that contain spermicidal agents are not reliable contraceptives.  Douching after sex is too late to prevent sperm from entering into the cervix.

Side effects and health risks of spermicidal agents are:

·        May irritate the vagina

·        Urinary tract infection

·        Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 do not protect against HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

·        Vaginal irritation from spermicides may increase the risk of STDs


Ask your doctor or local family planning clinic which method is right for you.

By Connie Limon
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