Birth Control

What are the most effective birth control methods?

The best birth control method for you may not be the one that other women choose. Your most effective method gives you control over when you have sex and when you choose to get pregnant.

The most effective way to prevent pregnancy is through sterilization, such as tubal ligation for women or a vasectomy for men, but these methods aren’t reliably reversible, so they’re best suited only if you’re certain you don’t want to have more children.
Intrauterine devices are a very reliable way to prevent pregnancy while also retaining your ability to have a pregnancy at a later date. Available with both hormone and non-hormone-based devices, there are options for women who can’t use or choose not to use hormone-based methods.

Birth control pills are one of the most popular options. When used with another birth control method, such as condoms, patches, or vaginal rings, the reliability of the pill ranks with the best birth control methods for preventing pregnancy. Used alone, the pill is still effective, but it does depend on you to take each dose reliably.

Contraceptive injections, typically given once every three months, are very effective at preventing pregnancy, but it may take up to 18 months to become pregnant after discontinuing use.

What factors influence my choice of birth control?

There are several factors to consider that may help you narrow your birth control options. These factors include:

Your age

Adolescents and smokers over age 35 are generally advised not to use birth control pills for potential health complications.

Overall health

Hormonal birth control methods using estrogen are not recommended for women with heart disease, high blood pressure, advanced diabetes, migraines with aura, liver problems or a family history of estrogen-based cancers.

Number of sexual partners

Many effective birth control methods offer little or no protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Risk management

For some women, pregnancy due to failure of a birth control method may be adaptable into their lifestyle, while it may not be for others, making high reliability important

Are there non-estrogen hormonal birth control methods?

If you can’t take estrogen, you still have highly reliable options for hormone-based contraceptives. Instead, the active hormone is progestin. It’s available in:

  • Progestin-only pill: Suitable for breastfeeding mothers and must be taken each day at the same time to be effective
  • Mirena® IUD: Uses only progestin as its hormonal component
  • Depo-Provera®: An injection-based contraceptive administered four times per year