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Understanding Your Birth Control Options

Understanding Your Birth Control Options

Birth control has a lot of options beyond the condom and the diaphragm. While these barrier methods are still available, women can choose between multiple types of birth control that work with their hormones, schedule, and long-term family goals. 

Several forms of birth control are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, and many others are 90% effective or greater. Effectiveness is only one factor when considering which birth control option is right for you. 

The OB/GYN team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland can help you weigh the pros and cons of different forms so you effectively prevent pregnancy and manage your health.

Here’s what we want you to know about birth control, your body, and your sex life.

What to consider when weighing your birth control options

Of course the effectiveness of a birth control method is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider. For example, abstinence or female or male sterilization through surgery are the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy, but they don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) nor are they easily reversible if you want a family in the future. 

Factors to keep in mind when weighing your birth control options include:

Certain types of birth control afford benefits, such as lighter periods and reduced premenstrual symptoms. Ask us thorough questions before just deciding a certain type is right for you because you saw an ad or your friend is on it. 

Birth control methods work in different ways

Not all birth control works in the same way. Depending on which type you use, your birth control may prevent pregnancy by:

Each of these strategies can effectively prevent pregnancy, especially when the birth control method is used correctly. The birth control implant, sterilization, and intrauterine devices are the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy. 

The least effective methods are the “pull-out” method and fertility awareness. If you choose these methods, you should be prepared to potentially get pregnant. 

Here are the types of birth control

We can help you determine which birth control method is best for you. If you’re in a relationship, discuss your options with your partner as well so you can consider their comfort and family goals, too.

These are the categories of birth control methods:

Barrier methods

Examples of barrier methods include condoms and the diaphragm. You insert or apply this method every time you have intercourse.

Hormonal medications and devices

These methods prevent ovulation (release of an egg) and change the hospitality of your uterus and cervical mucus. Hormonal types of birth control include the various types of “the pill,” arm inserts, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are placed into your uterus.

Fertility awareness

Also known as natural family planning, you track your cycle and the consistency of your cervical mucus so you can avoid intercourse on your fertile days.


A tubal ligation (for women) or vasectomy (for men) are surgical methods of preventing pregnancy permanently.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception shouldn’t be a regular practice of birth control. It can be used if your normal form of birth control fails — if a condom breaks, for example. 

So what form is best?

The best form of birth control depends on your needs, family goals, and sexual habits. If you have multiple partners, for example, using two forms of birth control might be best. Use a highly reliable form, like an IUD, to protect against pregnancy and a male or female condom to protect against STDs. 

Take the next step toward getting the birth control you need. Call Capital Women’s Care or use this website to set up your visit. We can help you determine the method that’s best for you.

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