Birth Control Options Treatment

Start treating your Birth Control Options today with online healthcare providers. Discover apps, medications, therapies, and online doctors so you can start treatment from the comfort of your home

Birth Control

Birth Control (contraception) is any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. Using birth control allows people to choose when they want to have a baby. There is a range of birth control options for both men and women to help prevent pregnancy. Some forms of birth control are more reliable than others and some are better at preventing pregnancy while other forms are better at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Oftentimes how well the method works is dependent on how carefully it is used. The type of birth control you decide to use depends on your health if you want children and your need to prevent STDs.


How do you know you need to use Birth Control?

There are many reasons women choose to use birth control and there can be more benefits than just preventing pregnancy. The main reason birth control is used is the prevention of pregnancy and STDs, however, the main ingredient in many birth control pills/oral contraceptives are hormones called estrogen and progesterone which means they can treat a variety of hormone-related problems.

  • Pregnancy prevention
  • STD prevention
  • PMS/PMDD relief-it can help with the mood swings some women get around their periods
  • Migraine relief-changing hormone levels around your period may trigger headaches and migraines, taking your birth control continuously could help by keeping your hormone levels steady.
  • Painful period relief-taking birth control can help prevent the painful cramping that some women experience during their period. The birth control works to prevent the painful contracting of the uterus.
  • Relief from heavy and irregular bleeding-some women don’t produce enough progesterone on there own which can lead to irregular or heavy periods. The use of birth control with progesterone in it can help to regulate your period.
  • Acne-birth control is not designed to treat acne breakouts, but used to balance hormone levels that typically can cause breakouts in some women.
  • Endometriosis-this is a painful disorder where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus starts to grow in other areas of the pelvis such as on the outside of the uterus, on the ovaries or fallopian tubes or even on the intestines. Birth control pills affect the tissue on the outside of the uterus in the same manner as the inside which can reduce tissue growth and reduce the pain associated with that tissue growth.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)-birth control works to reduce some of the symptoms of this disorder such as irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth. Birth control works to balance the “male” and “female” hormones that cause these issues in women with this disorder.

Where can you get birth control treatment online?

Birth control is a medication you do need a prescription for, however, with rapidly advancing technology many women can now get birth control without the hassle of having to go into a doctor's office to receive the prescription. There are many forms of birth control that can be prescribed through an online doctor. Depending on the method of birth control you are looking for you may be required to see a doctor or nurse in person. See below for our list of top online doctors.

  • Lemonaid Health
  • Rory
  • Maven Clinic
  • Wisp
  • Hers
  • Pandia Health
  • Gennev
  • Nurx

How does birth control work?

Typically, a woman becomes pregnant when an egg released from her ovary is fertilized by a man’s sperm. The fertilized egg then attaches to the woman’s womb (uterus) where it receives nourishment and grows into a fetus. Hormones in the woman’s body control the release of the egg from the ovary, this is called ovulation and prepares the body to accept the fertilized egg. Hormonal contraceptives contain a small amount of artificial estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones work to suppress the body's natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented due to a combination of factors. The hormonal contraception works to prevent ovulation from occurring and it changes the cervical mucus to make it hard for the sperm to get through the cervix to reach the egg. It also works by changing the lining of the womb making it unlikely for the fertilized egg to become implanted.


What are your birth control options, how effective are they, and are there any side effects?

When it comes to choosing birth control there are many things to think about. How effective is it? Will it protect against STDs? How critical are cost and convenience? We have done some research to help answer some of the questions you may have.

Birth control methods most effective to least effective:

Birth control implant

The birth control implant (known as Nexplanon) is a small thin rod about the size of a matchstick that releases the hormone progestin into your body to prevent you from getting pregnant. This does require you to be seen in an office setting where a doctor or nurse implants the rod under the skin of your upper arm. 

How Does it work?

The hormone progestin works to thicken the mucus on your cervix to stop the sperm from reaching the egg and it also stops eggs from leaving the ovaries (ovulation). When ovulation does not happen you can’t get pregnant.  If you get the implant with the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle you are protected immediately, if you get it any other time it is recommended you use another form of birth control for a week after the procedure. 

How Effective is it?

The implant is 99% effective and can last up to 5 years. The implant is so effective because there is zero chance of making a mistake. The implant is in your arm doing all the work on its own protecting you every day for up to 5 years.

Benefits of the implant

The main benefit of the implant is how effective and convenient it is, but it also has many other benefits. The implant can also make your period more tolerable, it can cut down on cramps and many women even stop getting their periods within a year. The implant contains only one hormone, whereas, other hormonal birth control methods contain two, estrogen and progestin. The implant won’t affect your fertility, once you are ready to have it removed it is possible to get pregnant right away. The implant is also safe for women who are breastfeeding.

Disadvantages and Side effects of Nexplanon

Some people may experience side effects after getting their implant, but many of the side effects go after a few months. It is extremely rare to have any serious side effects from the implant. The most common side effect is irregular bleeding/spotting typically within the first 6 months to a year. Sometimes it can cause longer and heavier periods, but for most women periods do get lighter. Other less common side effects include headaches, breast pain, nausea, weight gain, ovarian cysts, pain or bruising at the implant site, or infection at the implant site. You should notify your doctor or nurse if you notice any of the following: bleeding, pus, redness, or pain in your arm near the implant incision, yellowing of your eyes or skin, abnormally heavy or long bleeding from your vagina or if the implant seems to have moved. The implant is one of the best birth control methods, however, it does not protect against STDs. To protect against pregnancy and STDs you will need to use a condom in addition to the implant.


IUD(intrauterine device)

An IUD is a small device, made of plastic in the shape of a T, that is placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are currently 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved in the US. There are copper IUDs (Paragard) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla). The Paragard IUD does not have hormones and can protect you from pregnancy for up to 12 years. The hormonal IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy and they all vary in how long they protect you from pregnancy. Mirena can last up to 7 years, Kyleena up to 5 years, Liletta up to 7 years, and Skyla for up to 3 years. This does require you to be seen in an office setting where a doctor or nurse implants the IUD in your uterus. 

How does it work?

The two different types of IUDs work to prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm from getting to the egg. If the sperm can’t reach the egg pregnancy will not happen. Paragard uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm does not like copper so it makes it near impossible for the sperm to reach the egg. The hormonal IUDs use the hormone progestin to help prevent pregnancy. The hormone progestin works to thicken the mucus on your cervix to stop the sperm from reaching the egg and it also stops eggs from leaving the ovaries (ovulation). When ovulation does not happen you can’t get pregnant. 

How effective is it?

99% effective and can last from 3-12 years. IUDs are so effective because there is zero chance of making a mistake. The IUD is doing all the work on its own protecting you every day for 3 to 12 years.

Benefits of an IUD

Beyond being extremely effective and convenient IUDs have many other benefits. IUDs do not affect your fertility, once removed it is possible to get pregnant right away. The hormonal IUDs help make your periods more tolerable, they reduce cramping and in some cases it stops you from getting your period at all. The copper IUD is great because it is hormone-free and because it is an extremely effective form of emergency contraception. If you get one placed within 5 days of unprotected sex it is still 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. IUDs are also safe for women who are breastfeeding.

Disadvantages and Side effects of an IUD

Some women may experience side effects after getting their implant, but many of the side effects go after a few months. Some side effects are, pain during IUD placement, cramping and backaches for a few days after placement, spotting between periods, or irregular/heavier periods. There are potential risks with an IUD but serious problems are rare; the IUD could slip out of place and you could become pregnant, you could get an infection after IUD placement, and the IUD could push through the wall of your uterus. Signs you should be aware of: you can feel the IUD coming out through your cervix, bad cramping, pain or soreness in your lower belly, pain or bleeding during sex, unexplained fever, chills, or having trouble breathing, abnormal vaginal discharge, or abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding.  IUDs are one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, however, it does not protect against STDs. To protect against pregnancy and STDs you will need to use a condom in addition to the IUD.



Birth Control Shot

The birth control shot (known as the depo shot, Depo-Provera )or DMPA is an injection that contains the hormone progestin. It is given once every 3 months to prevent pregnancy.

How does it work?

The depo shot uses the hormone progestin to help prevent pregnancy. The hormone progestin works to thicken the mucus on your cervix to stop the sperm from reaching the egg and it also stops eggs from leaving the ovaries (ovulation). When ovulation does not happen you can’t get pregnant. Typically a doctor or nurse must give you the shot, but in some cases you may be able to get a prescription for the shots to give to yourself at home. If you get the shot within the first 7 days of your period you are protected immediately, if you get the shot any other time you will need to use another form of birth control for the first week after getting the shot.

How effective is it?

The depo shot is typically about 94% effective, when used perfectly it can be more than 99% effective. The decrease in its effectiveness is due to the fact that you have to remember to get it done about every 12 weeks. You can get your followup as soon as 10 weeks after your last shot or as late as 15 weeks after your last shot for it to remain effective.

Benefits of it the Birth Control Shot

The shot, when used correctly, is a simple and effective form of birth control. The shot can make your period lighter and less often. The shot can protect you from uterine cancer and ectopic pregnancy. The shot is temporary so you are able to get pregnant after you stop using it, there may be a delay of up to 10 months where you may be unable to get pregnant after you stop receiving shots.

Disadvantages/Side effects

The main disadvantages of the shot are that you have to remember to get it done every 3 months and it does not protect you against STDs. Some women do get side effects that typically go away within 3 months. The most common side effect is a change in your period; longer periods, spotting between periods, or possibly not getting a period. Many women who use the shot stop getting their period about a year after they start using it. Other side effects are nausea, weight gain, headaches, breast pain, depression, bruising around the site of the shot, or rarely a tiny permanent dent in the skin at the site of the shot. You should notify your doctor or nurse if you notice any of the following: bleeding, pus, redness, or pain where you got the shot, yellowing of your eyes or skin, abnormally heavy or long bleeding from your vagina, severe depression, or migraine with aura (a bad headache where you see bright flashing zigzags). Lastly, you may not be able to get pregnant immediately after discontinuing the shot, oftentimes there is a delay up to 10 months.


Birth Control Vaginal Ring

The birth control vaginal ring (known as the NuvaRing) is a small flexible ring when inserted in your vagina, that prevents pregnancy because of the hormones estrogen and progestin.

How does it work?

The NuvaRing contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, your body absorbs these hormones through the vaginal lining. The hormones work to thicken the mucus on your cervix to stop the sperm from reaching the egg and it also inhibits ovulation. When ovulation does not happen you can’t get pregnant. The ring does need to be replaced every 3-6 weeks depending on the schedule you choose. You can choose if you want to get your period or if you want to skip your period. If you want to get your period you wear a ring for 3-5 weeks, then remove it for 7 days, that is when you will get your period, then replace the ring and start over again. If you want to skip your period, wear a ring for 3-5 weeks and replace it immediately with a new one. Each NuvaRing contains enough hormones to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 weeks.

How effective is it?

The NuvaRing is typically 91% effective, when used perfectly it can be 99% effective. The decrease in its effectiveness is due to the human error in using the ring correctly. There are also some medications when used alongside of the NuvaRing that decrease its effectiveness. Antibiotics that interfere with the ring are Rifampin, Rifampicin, and Rifamate. An antifungal medication that interferes with the ring is Griseofulvin. There are also certain HIV medications and anti-seizure medications that can reduce NuvaRings effectiveness. St John’s Wort is an herb that can interfere with the NuvaRing.

Benefits of a Vaginal Ring for Birth Control

Besides being an effective way to prevent pregnancy the NuvaRing has many other health benefits. The NuvaRing can make your period lighter and help reduce menstrual cramps. The ring can also help reduce or prevent: acne, bone thinning, breast and ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency, and PMS. Another great thing about the NuvaRing is that you can get pregnant within about a month or two after you stop using it.

Disadvantages/side effects

The main disadvantage to the NuvaRing is you have to remember to stay on your schedule, if you leave it in too long or forget to put a new one in after your week off you may not be protected from pregnancy. The NuvaRing also does not protect against STDs. Some common side effects include: spotting between periods, breast pain, nausea, or headaches. These side effects commonly go away after about 2-3 months once your body gets used to the medication. Very rarely there can be serious side effects due to the estrogen in it. These uncommon side effects are heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. Most women who use NuvaRing have no problems, but there are some possible signs you should look out for. If you have any of these signs while on NuvaRing call a doctor right away: Sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating or trouble breathing, chest pain, achy soreness in your legs, trouble breathing, severe pain in your belly, sudden bad headache, aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines), or yellowing of your skin or eyes.


Birth Control Patch

The birth control patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. You wear the patch on your skin and it releases hormones through your skin to prevent pregnancy.

How does it work?

You wear the patch on your belly, upper arm, butt, or back and your skin absorbs the hormones to prevent pregnancy. The hormones work to stop ovulation and to create a thick mucus on your cervix that blocks sperm and prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. Each patch has enough hormones to prevent pregnancy for 7 days, so do not wear the same patch for longer than a week. You can choose if you want to get your period while using the patch or not. If you want to get your period wear a new patch every week for 3 weeks, on week 4 do not wear a patch and all and you will get your period. Repeat this cycle to continue to get a monthly menstrual cycle. If you want to skip your period wear the patch every week, never skipping a week.

How effective is the birth control patch?

If the patch is used perfectly it is 99% effective, however, due to human error the patch is really about 91% effective. The better you are at replacing the patch on time the more effective it is. You need to replace the patch every week for it to be effective. If the patch falls off for 2 days or more you will be more likely to become pregnant. There are also some medications and supplements that will make the patch less effective. Antibiotics that interfere with the patch are Rifampin, Rifampicin, and Rifamate. An antifungal medication that interferes with the patch is Griseofulvin. There are also certain HIV medications and anti-seizure medications that can reduce the effectiveness of the patch. St John’s Wort is an herb that can interfere with the patch.

Benefits of the patch

The patch is an effective and convenient way to prevent pregnancy. The patch can make your period lighter and reduce menstrual cramps or even allow to not have a period at all. The patch can also help reduce or prevent: acne, bone thinning, breast and ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency, and PMS. Another great thing about the patch is that you can get pregnant within about a month or two after you stop using it. However it can take some people up to 6 months for their period to return to normal.

Disadvantages/side effects of the patch

The main disadvantage to the patch is you have to remember to stay on your schedule, if you leave it on too long or forget to put a new one on after your week off you may not be protected from pregnancy. The patch also does not protect against STDs. Some common side effects include: spotting between periods, breast pain, nausea, or headaches. These side effects commonly go away after about 2-3 months once your body gets used to the medication. Very rarely there can be serious side effects due to the estrogen in it. These uncommon side effects are heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. Most women who use the patch have no problems, but there are some possible signs you should look out for. If you have any of these signs while using the patch call a doctor right away: Sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating or trouble breathing, chest pain, achy soreness in your legs, trouble breathing, severe pain in your belly, sudden bad headache, aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines), or yellowing of your skin or eyes.


Birth Control Pill

Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent pregnancy. They come in a pack and you take one pill by mouth daily.

How does it work?

The hormones in the birth control pill work to stop ovulation and prevent sperm from reaching an egg. If there is no ovulation then there is no egg waiting for sperm to fertilize it therefore you can not get pregnant. The hormones also thicken the mucus of the cervix which blocks sperm from reaching an egg.

How to use birth control pills

There are two types of birth control pills, combination pills and progestin-only pills, and there are many different brands. The most common type of birth control pills are the combination pills, these contain 2 hormones estrogen and progestin. You must take 1 pill daily to prevent pregnancy, it does not need to be taken at the same time every day. Progestin-only pills (aka Mini Pills) only have one hormone progestin. You must take this Mini Pills within the same 3 hours every day to prevent pregnancy. If you start combination pills within 5 days of starting your period you will be protected from pregnancy immediately, if you start any other time you will need to take the pill for 7 days before you will be protected from pregnancy. You can start taking progestin-only pills at any time of the month and you will be protected from pregnancy after 2 days of use.


Combination pills come in a 28-day, 21-day, or 91-day packs. For the 28 day pack you take 1 pill every day for 28 days and then start a new pack. The last week of pills in the 28-day packs do not contain hormones, they are just “reminder” pills to help keep you on track with taking your pill daily. During this hormone-free week you get your period. For the 21-day packs you take 1 pill daily for 21 days then you don’t take any pills for the next 7 days. During the 7 day break you will get your period. For the 91-day packs you take one pill daily for 12 weeks and then take one week of “reminder” pills. This makes it so you only get your period every 2 months. 


 The progestin-only pills only come in 28-day packs. You take one pill daily for 28 days, each pill contains hormones. You will never have a hormone-free week and you may still get your period in the fourth week.


The pill works best if taken every day, but there are times where you may forget to take it. Every brand of birth control may have different instructions but it typically recommends that you take it as soon as you remember even if its the next day. If you remember the next day take 2 pills that day. If you forget for 2 days then take 2 pills the day you remember and 2 pills the next day this will have you back on track. 

How effective is the pill?

If the pill is used perfectly it is 99% effective, however, due to human error in missing pills it is really about 91% effective. The better you are at taking your pill daily the more effective it will be. Because this pill is ingested other things like vomiting and diarrhea can change how effective it is at preventing pregnancy. There are also some medications and supplements that can decrease the effectiveness of the pill. An antibiotic that interferes with the pill is Rifampin. An antifungal medication that interferes with the patch is Griseofulvin. There are also certain HIV medications and anti-seizure medications that can reduce the pill’s effectiveness. St John’s Wort is an herb that can interfere with the pill.

Benefits of the pill

As long as you take the pill every day as instructed it is an effective way to prevent pregnancy. The pill can make your period lighter and reduce menstrual cramps or even allow to not have a period at all. The pill can also help reduce or prevent: acne, bone thinning, breast and ovarian cysts, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency, and PMS. Another great thing about the pill is that you are able to get pregnant after you stop taking it. It can take a few months before your period returns to its normal cycle after you stop taking it.

Disadvantages/side effects of the pill

The main disadvantage to the pill is you have to remember to take it every day to be protected from pregnancy. The pill also does not protect against STDs. Some common side effects include: spotting between periods, breast pain, nausea, or headaches. These side effects commonly go away after about 2-3 months once your body gets used to the medication. Very rarely there can be serious side effects due to the estrogen in it. These uncommon side effects are heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. Typically the progestin-only pills don’t have these risks. Most women who take the pill have no problems, but there are some possible signs you should look out for. If you have any of these signs while taking the pill call a doctor right away: Sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating or trouble breathing, chest pain, achy soreness in your legs, trouble breathing, severe pain in your belly, sudden bad headache, aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines), or yellowing of your skin or eyes.


Male Condom

Condoms are thin, stretchy pouches made of latex, plastic, or lambskin worn on your penis during sex. They provide protection from both pregnancy and STDs and are easy to use.

How does it work?

Condoms cover your penis during sex and collect semen. Condoms stop sperm from getting into the vagina and therefore prevent sperm from reaching an egg and thus prevents pregnancy. Latex and plastic condoms prevent STDs by covering the penis and preventing contact with semen and vaginal fluids, it reduces skin to skin contact that could spread STDs. Lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs.

How effective are condoms?

Condoms are about 85% effective if used perfectly every single time they can be up to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. To increase the effectiveness make sure to wear the condom during sex the whole time, start to finish. You can also increase your protection from pregnancy by using a condom along with another form of birth control, like the pill or an IUD.

Benefits of condoms

Condoms are easy to use and easy to get and are an effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Condoms have no side effects unless you have a latex allergy. In the case of a latex allergy try switching to a plastic condom. 

Disadvantages of condoms

Condoms are not as convenient as other forms of birth control. You have to use them correctly every time you have sex.


Internal/Female Condom

The internal condom is an alternative to a regular condom, it provides the same protection from pregnancy and STDs, instead of going on a penis the internal condom goes inside your vagina.

How does it work?

Internal condoms are soft plastic pouches that you place inside your vagina. They cover the inside of your vagina and block sperm from reaching an egg and thus preventing pregnancy. The internal condom also prevents STDs by limiting skin to skin and bodily fluid contact.

How effective are internal condoms?

When used perfectly every time an internal condom is 95% effective, but in reality they are about 79% effective due to the imperfect nature of humans. To increase the effectiveness make sure to wear the condom during sex the whole time, start to finish. It is recommended that you NOT use a regular condom and an internal condom together as each condom was designed to be used on its own. However, using a condom along with another form of birth control, like the pill or an IUD, will give you greater protection from pregnancy and STDs.

Benefits of using a female condom

Internal condoms help prevent STDs. Condoms are the only method of birth control that also helps to prevent STDs. Internal condoms are not made with latex so they are a good option of birth control for those with latex allergies.

Disadvantages

Internal condoms are not as convenient as other forms of birth control. You have to use them correctly every time you have sex.


Birth Control Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a reusable, small, flexible cup that you place inside your vagina that covers your cervix during sex to prevent pregnancy. Diaphragms are typically made of soft and thin rubber or silicone.

How does it work?

The diaphragm is placed inside your vagina and covers your cervix, it provides a barrier that prevents sperm from reaching an egg. The diaphragm works best when used with spermicide, which is a cream or gel that kills sperm. When spermicide is added to the diaphragm prior to placing it in your vagina it increases its effectiveness. You can put your diaphragm, with spermicide, in up to 2 hours before having sex, if you wait any longer you will need to apply more spermicide prior to having sex. You must leave the diaphragm in place for at least 6 hours after you had sex, but no longer than 24 hours. Follow the instructions that come with your diaphragm on how to put it in and remove it.

How effective is it?

When a diaphragm is used perfectly every single time it can be 94% effective, but in reality they are about 88% effective because there is so much room for error. To increase your diaphragms effectiveness use it every time you have sex, follow the instructions on how to place it properly, and use spermicide.

Benefits

Diaphragms are convenient, reusable, and hormone-free. When used properly they are an effective method of birth control, and you can get pregnant as soon as you stop using it.

Disadvantages/side effects

For a diaphragm to work it needs to be used every time you have sex and it needs to be used correctly. There are many different size diaphragms, you should be fitted for one by a doctor or nurse. It can take time to get used to inserting your diaphragm and it can potentially get moved out of place if not inserted correctly. Diaphragms do not work well on their own, you need to stay on top of making sure you have enough spermicide in place. Spermicide may cause vaginal irritation which can increase the risk of STDs making it easier for the STD germs to enter your body. Using a diaphragm you are not protected against STDs. Some women who use diaphragms get urinary tract infections (UTIs) a lot, if this happens you may need a different size diaphragm. Using a diaphragm may cause burning with urination, spotting or bleeding, vaginal soreness and itching, abnormal vaginal discharge. Rarely, a diaphragm can cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Some signs of TSS to look out for are; sudden high fever, a rash that looks and feels like sunburn, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, achy muscles/joints, dizziness, faintness, and weakness. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms.


Birth Control Sponge

The birth control sponge (AKA the contraceptive sponge, or ‘the sponge for short) is a small, round sponge made of soft porous plastic that contains spermicide. You put it inside your vagina before sex, where it covers your cervix to help prevent pregnancy. Each sponge as a loop attached to make it easier to remove.

How does it work?

The sponge works because it fits against your cervix creating a barrier so sperm can’t reach the egg. The sponge contains spermicide which slows sperm down and prevents them from reaching an egg. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before sex and should be left in place for at least 6 hours after sex. The sponge should not be left in the vagina for more than 30 hours total.

How effective is it?

If the sponge is used perfectly every time you have sex and is used by a woman who has never given birth it is about 91% effective. If you have given birth and use the sponge perfectly every time you have sex it is about 80% effective. Due to the sponge being difficult to use perfectly, in reality it is about 88% effective for women who have never given birth and about 76% effective for women who have given birth. To increase its effectiveness it is critical to follow the instructions on how to use it, you could also use another form of birth control along with the sponge. 

Benefits

The birth control sponge gives you 24 hours of protection against pregnancy. It is a convenient and hormone-free method of birth control.

Disadvantages/side effects

The sponge needs to be used every time you have sex and is difficult to use perfectly. The sponge does not protect against STDs, so you will need to add a condom for added protection. The spermicide in the sponge can actually increase the risk of STDs because it can irritate your vagina and make it easier for an STD to enter your body. Using the sponge can increase your risk of getting toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs of TSS: sudden high fever, a rash that looks and feels like sunburn, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, achy muscles/joints, dizziness, faintness, and weakness. To lower your risk of TSS do not leave the sponge in longer than 30 hours, do not use the sponge soon after abortion, giving birth, or miscarriage, DO NOT use the sponge during your period.


Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is a little cup made from soft silicone that you insert into your vagina to cover your cervix. Used in conjunction with spermicide it can prevent pregnancy. The cervical cap differs from a diaphragm in that they are shaped differently, the diaphragm is shaped like a saucer and the cervical cap is shaped like a sailor hat.

How does a cervical cap work?

The cervical cap covers your cervix, which stops sperm from reaching an egg. In order for the cervical cap to be most effective it must be used with spermicide (a cream/gel that kills sperm). The cervical cap blocks sperm and the spermicide slows down or kills sperm to help prevent pregnancy. The cervical cap must remain in place for at least 6 hours after the last time you have sex, but it can not remain in place for more than 48 hours.

How effective is it?

For women who have never given birth the cervical cap is 86% effective, for women who have given birth the cervical cap is 71% effective. To make your cervical cap more effective use it every time you have sex and make sure you are using it correctly by following the instructions in the packaging.

Benefits

Cervical caps are reusable and do not contain hormones. You are able to get pregnant immediately after you stop using it. 

Disadvantages/side effects

The cervical cap needs to be used every time you have sex and it is difficult to use correctly. Cervical caps can be easily shifted out of place during sex and they do not work as well if you don’t use enough spermicide. The cervical cap does not protect against STDs, so you will need to add a condom for added protection. The spermicide used with the cervical cap can actually increase the risk of STDs because it can irritate your vagina and make it easier for an STD to enter your body. Cervical caps come in different sizes, so you need to make sure yours is fitted appropriately. You or your partner may feel pain or discomfort when using the cervical cap. Your cervical cap may cause vulvar or vaginal swelling, itching or redness, abnormal discharge, or bladder infections. Using a cervical cap can increase your risk of getting toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs of TSS: sudden high fever, a rash that looks and feels like sunburn, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, achy muscles/joints, dizziness, faintness, and weakness.


Spermicide

Spermicide is a chemical (cream, gel, foam, film, or suppository) put in your vagina prior to sex to stop or slow sperm from reaching an egg, therefore, preventing pregnancy.

How does it work?

You need to use spermicide with a diaphragm or cervical cap in order for it to work. Spermicide prevents pregnancy by slowing or stopping sperm so it can not move well enough to reach an egg. There are many different forms of spermicide, it is important to follow the directions included in the packaging to make sure you are using it appropriately. 

How effective is it?

Spermicide is about 71% effective. To increase spermicide's effectiveness it is important to use it every time you have sex and to use it correctly. To make it even more effective ant preventing pregnancy it is best used with other forms of birth control.

Benefits

Spermicide is a cheap, hormone-free, and easy to use form of birth control.

Disadvantages

Spermicide does not provide protection from STDs. It may actually increase your risk for STDs because the chemical in spermicide can irritate your vagina and make it easier for the germs to enter your body.


Permanent birth control methods

Sterilization/tubal ligation

Tubal ligation (AKA sterilization or “getting your tubes tied’) is a surgical procedure that provides permanent pregnancy prevention.

How does it work?

Tubal ligation surgically closes or blocks your fallopian tubes. The fallopian tube connects your ovaries to your uterus. Every month an egg leaves one of your ovaries and travels through one of your fallopian tubes where it waits for a sperm to fertilize it. You get pregnant when a sperm cell reaches an egg, and the fertilized egg implants itself in your uterus. Tubal ligation works because it blocks sperm from reaching an egg.

How effective is it?

Tubal ligation is one of the most effective methods of birth control. It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Benefits

Tubal ligation is one of the most effective methods of birth control and is permanent so no need to worry about making a mistake. Tubal ligation is a hormone-free method of birth control and doesn’t change your periods or mess with your hormones.

Disadvantages

Tubal ligation is permanent so you must be sure you are ready to never be able to get pregnant again. It is very expensive and complicated to have it reversed, and reversal doesn’t always work. Tubal ligation does not prevent STDs. Because tubal ligation is a surgery it does come with some risks, these include rash, swelling, trouble breathing, fever, pain in your belly, abnormal discharge/odor from your vagina, fainting spells, or bleeding/pus from the incision. It is extremely rare, but there is a chance that your fallopian tubes can reconnect or become unblocked. If this happens you could possibly become pregnant and the pregnancy could possibly develop in your fallopian tube, this is called ectopic pregnancy which is very serious. Watch out for signs of ectopic pregnancy; irregular bleeding from your vagina, severy pain in your belly or shoulder, sudden weakness, or fainting.


Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure for men, it is a permanent way to prevent pregnancy.

How does it work?

Sperm are made in your testicles, sperm leave the testicles through two tubes called the vas deferens and mixes with other fluids to make semen. The sperm in your semen is what can cause pregnancy if it gets in the vagina and reaches an egg. A vasectomy blocks or cuts the vas deferens tubes and keeps the sperm from leaving the testicles. Sperm cells stay in your testicles and are absorbed by your body. About 3 months after a vasectomy your semen won’t contain any sperm thus preventing pregnancy.

How effective is it?

A vasectomy is one of the most effective methods of birth control, it is almost 100% effective. A vasectomy is not immediately effective after surgery. It takes about 3 months after surgery to become effective. Your doctor will do a test on your semen to analyze if there are still sperm in it. You will need to use another form of birth control until your doctor clears you.

Benefits

Vasectomies are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy. A vasectomy can take the stress and pressure of preventing pregnancy off of your partner which can help to improve your relationship.

Disadvantages

A vasectomy is a permanent solution to pregnancy prevention so you need to be 100% sure you don’t ever want to get someone pregnant. Vasectomies do not prevent STDs. Because a vasectomy is a surgical procedure it does come with some associated risk, these include pain, bleeding, or pus from incision, swelling, infection, or fever. These side effects can typically be treated with medication and ice, or often times may go away on their own. It is extremely rare, but the cut ends of your vas deferens could grow back together which could make it possible for pregnancy to occur.


There are many forms of birth control on the market today, there are a few that require you to be seen by a doctor or nurse, but most methods of birth control only require a prescription from a doctor and there are many less efficient forms of birth control that you can get over the counter at your local drug store. With the use of telehealth your sexual and reproductive health is made easier. Booking an appointment with a healthcare provider online is an easy way to get your questions answered and get you well on your way to pregnancy prevention. We have compiled a list of our top online doctors who can help you make an informed decision on which type of birth control is best for your lifestyle. Click here to get started today.