Other Birth Control Options
When you think of birth control options, what comes to mind? Birth control pills are a popular choice, but don’t stop there. Other birth control options abound and the choice is up to you.
If you need birth control only occasionally, over-the-counter male or female condoms might be appropriate birth control options. Condoms also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. The contraceptive sponge is another option that’s available without a prescription. If you’re most concerned about effectiveness, a prescription contraceptive such as the vaginal ring might be a better birth control option.
As you consider your birth control options, be open to all the possibilities. Get familiar with how different types of birth control work, as well as the risks and benefits of specific birth control options.
Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning may be an appealing birth control option if you can’t or choose not to use other contraceptives.
Popular types of natural family planning include the rhythm method, the cervical mucus method and the basal body temperature method. You can use these types of natural family planning to predict when you’ll ovulate, and when you need to avoid unprotected sex, if you don’t want to conceive. Another type of natural family planning is withdrawal, in which the man withdraws his penis from the vagina before ejaculation to prevent pregnancy.
Natural family planning requires motivation, diligence and self-control. Natural family planning isn’t as effective as other types of birth control, but it’s inexpensive and doesn’t have any side effects.
If you’re sure that you don’t want to be pregnant — or father a child — at any point in the future, you may consider sterilization.
For men, vasectomy is the only option for sterilization. During this straightforward surgery, the tubes that carry sperm into the semen are cut and sealed. After a successful vasectomy, a man isn’t able to father a child.
Women may choose a permanent sterilization method such as tubal ligation, a surgical procedure that cuts or permanently blocks the fallopian tubes.
Sterilization is an effective method of birth control. The decision to pursue sterilization must be taken seriously, however. Although reversal is sometimes possible after vasectomy or tubal ligation, sterilization of any type is considered permanent.
Emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception isn’t meant to be used in place of routine birth control — but it’s an option if you’ve had unprotected sex, your method of birth control failed or you missed a birth control pill.
To be effective, emergency contraception must be used as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Two types of emergency contraception are available: emergency contraceptive pills and the copper intrauterine device (IUD).
Emergency contraception pills are also known as the morning-after pill. Emergency contraception pills can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. However, the pills are more effective the sooner you take them.
Another option is a copper IUD (ParaGard). To prevent pregnancy, the IUD must be inserted within five days after unprotected sex.