Kimberly R Faucher, M.D.
Contraception
There are various birth control methods that are both safe and effective, and every woman may discover a specific method that works best for her individual needs. Learning about your options as well as consulting with us can help you make your choice. There are side effects and precautions to each method that you need to be aware of before beginning to use it. Always remember that some methods work to prevent pregnancy but not sexually transmitted diseases. Using a condom or female condom alone or with another method reduces the risk of infection. 
  • Pills
  • Medication taken daily
  • Releases estrogen and progestin (combination) or only progestin
  • More than 99% effective if used daily (and around the same time daily if only progestin)
  • Fairly convenient and may reduce premenstrual symptoms, regulate periods, prevent acne, and more

  • Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)
  • Small, flexible ring inserted into the vagina for 3 weeks each month
  • Releases estrogen and progestin
  • More than 99% effective if used correctly, and still 90% effective if not always used correctly
  • Similar benefits of pills (can prevent acne, regulate periods, prevent premenstrual symptoms, etc.)  but maintained monthly

  • Implant (Implanon, Nexplanon)
  • ​Small, flexible plastic rod placed in the arm
  • Releases a hormone (progestin) that offers protection for about 4 years
  • More than 99% effective
  • Long lasting, simple, convenient

  • Patch (Ortho Evra)
  • Thin, beige, plastic patch replaced weekly 3 weeks out of the month
  • Releases estrogen and progestin
  • More than 99% effective if used correctly, and still 90% effective if not always used correctly
  • Similar benefits of pills (can prevent acne, regulate periods, prevent premenstrual symptoms, etc.)  but maintained weekly

  • Shot (Depo-Provera)
  • Shot in the arm or rear lasting 3 months
  • Releases progestin
  • More than 99% effective if given regularly, and still 95% effective if not always used correctly
  • Long lasting, convenient, and private

  • Cervical cap (FemCap)
  • Silicone cap placed into vagina over the cervix
  • Blocks sperm from entering the uterus, to be used along with spermicide
  • 86% effective if used correctly (checked for placement before intercourse and used with spermicide) and if one has never been pregnant or given birth vaginally
  • Can be inserted up to 6 hours before intercourse and doesn't release hormones

  • Sponge (Today Sponge)
  • Plastic foam sponge containing spermicide inserted deep into the vagina
  • Blocks the cervix and continuously releases spermicide
  • About 90% effective when used correctly for those who haven't given birth
  • Can be inserted for hours before intercourse and taken out up to 30 hours after intercourse, and doesn't release hormones

  • Diaphragm
  • Flexible, dome shaped, silicone cup inserted into vagina
  • Blocks sperm from entering the uterus, to be used along with spermicide
  • About 95% effective if used correctly
  • Can be inserted hours before intercourse and doesn't release hormones

  • Female condom
  • Pouch with flexible rings on each end inserted deep into vagina
  • Covers the vagina and blocks sperm as well as helps protect against STDs
  • About 95% effective if used correctly
  • Helps to protect against infection as well as to prevent pregnancy, easy to acquire, and doesn't release hormones

  • IUD
  • "Intrauterine device", a T-Shaped device made of flexible plastic with either copper (ParaGard) or progestin (Mirena or Skyla/Liletta)
  • Blocks sperm and/or prevents egg from leaving the ovary, lasting multiple years (ParaGard, 12; Mirena, 6; Skyla/Liletta, 3)
  • More than 99% effective and inserted by a medical professional, ParaGard can be used as emergency contraception up to 5 days after intercourse and is the most effective form of emergency contraception
  • Long lasting, very effective, and may reduce menstrual cramps and lead to lighter periods

  • Spermicide
  • Chemical-containing cream, gel, foam, etc inserted deep into vagina shortly before intercourse
  • Stops sperm from moving, used alone or with diaphragm/cervical cap
  • Not very effective when used alone, more effective when used with another method such as diaphragm, cervical cap, or female condom
  • Easy to use, doesn't release hormones

  • Tubal Sterilization
  • Surgical procedure procedure that closes or blocks fallopian tubes
  • Irreversible form of birth control that prevents eggs from passing through the fallopian tubes into the uterus
  • Permanent and nearly 100% effective, in very rare circumstances pregnancy can occur in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy) which can be life threatening
  • Lasts for life and doesn't affect hormones, appropriate for women who do not want or should not have children/more children

  • Morning after pill (Emergency contraception)
  • Pill taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse as emergency contraception
  • Either with ulipristal acetate (ella) by prescription or levonorgestrel (Plan B One Step, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, My Way, AfterPill, etc) which is like a synthetic progesterone, works by stopping ovaries from releasing an egg
  • Around 90% effective depending on a few factors such as the stage of menstruation, how soon after intercourse, BMI (Body Mass Index), etc
  • To be used in emergency circumstances

  • Abstinence
  • Depending on one's definition, either refraining from all sexual intercourse or just vaginal intercourse (may be called outercourse)
  • Effectively and surely keeps sperm out of the vagina
  • 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs
  • May not be right for everyone, but is the safest and most effective form of birth control and protection from infection; can be temporary, for physical or emotional healing, due to religious beliefs, to focus on one's education/career/etc, due to one's sexuality, etc, and overall is a very personal decision