Birth Control Methods

Hormone Medications, Contraceptive Devices, and Permanent Sterilization

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many of your birth control options are fully covered by most insurance companies. We provide appropriate counseling and initiation of all available types of contraception. You will find a listing and overview of options including hormone medications, contraceptive devices, and sterilization. Emergency contraceptives are also available in case of a “method failure” (i.e.-“the condom broke”). Please call us immediately for a consultation to avoid unwanted pregnancy. The choice of an appropriate contraceptive is personal and varies with each patient. Appropriate selection should be based on the risk of the method failing, the risk of the method itself and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Be sure to look at the chart for the effectiveness of different forms of birth control. Contraception (birth control) is the term used for the prevention of pregnancy. There are many ways to try to prevent pregnancy while having intercourse. Some are more effective than others. Different types of birth control include use of hormone medications, barrier contraceptive devices, avoiding sexual intercourse completely, and surgery. Remember that you need to consider whether the method you choose will also protect you from getting sexually transmitted diseases. Sometimes you may need to use more than one method to prevent pregnancy AND disease. The latex male condom is the best protection currently available to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. It is the only way to reduce your risk of getting HIV/AIDS during sex. Birth control methods such as hormones, withdrawal, and natural family planning do not give any protection against disease.

Contraception takes three primary forms

  1. Hormone medications – Birth control pills, Depo-Provera, Implanon
  2. Contraceptive devices – IUD, Condom, Diaphragm, Spermicide
  3. Sterilization procedures – Permanent Sterilization

Hormone Medications

Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) contain manufactured forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (these are naturally produced in a woman’s body). Depo-Provera and Implanon only have progesterone. The birth control pills, Depo-Provera, and Implanon stop a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg every month. Without releasing an egg, a woman cannot get pregnant A woman takes birth control pills according to a daily schedule prescribed by her health care provider. Depo-Provera is given by injection and prevents pregnancy for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, a woman receives another injection. The Mirena IUD is good for 5 years and can be removed at any time when the woman wishes to conceive.

Contraceptive Devices

Most contraceptive devices are physical and/or chemical barriers that stop sperm from entering a woman’s uterus. Male Condom – The male condom is a tube of thin material (latex rubber is best) that is rolled over a man’s erect penis before any contact is made with a woman’s genitals. The male latex condom provides the best protection against disease. The female condom is a 7-inch-long pouch of polyurethane with two flexible rings. It is inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It covers the cervix, vagina and area around the entrance to the vagina. The female condom is less effective against sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. Spermicides are sperm-killing chemicals that are available as foam, jelly, foaming tablets, vaginal suppositories, or cream. They are inserted into the vagina no earlier than 30 minutes before intercourse. Spermicides – Spermicides should not be used alone. They should be used with another contraceptive, such as a condom, for increased effectiveness. Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 provide some protection against viruses. However, in general, spermicides do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms and spermicides can be purchased at drug and grocery stores without a prescription. Diaphragm – The diaphragm is a soft rubber dome stretched over a ring. No more than 3 hours before intercourse, the diaphragm is filled with spermicidal jelly or cream and is inserted into the vagina and over the cervix (opening of the uterus). The intrauterine device (IUD) – A small plastic device containing copper or hormones. Instead of stopping sperm from entering the uterus, the IUD changes the physical environment of the uterus. The changes do not allow a fertilized egg to stay and grow in the uterus. A medical professional inserts an IUD into the uterus. Depending on the type of IUD, it may be kept inside the uterus for 1 to 10 years before it must be replaced. The diaphragm and IUD require a visit to your health care provider for proper fitting and insertion.


Sterilization is the closing of the tubes that normally carry sperm or eggs. A woman or man who undergoes sterilization will no longer be able to conceive or father children. In a vasectomy, a doctor cuts and seals off the tubes inside a man’s penis that carry sperm. With this procedure, a man is still capable of performing sexually and can still experience orgasm. A bilateral tubal interruption is a procedure where a woman’s fallopian tubes (which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) are sealed off. A vasectomy is a more minor surgical procedure than female sterilization.

Birth Control Effectiveness Rates

Birth Control Method Percentage of women experiencing accidental pregnancy in one year of use
Spermicides 85%
Periodic Abstinence 20%
Withdrawal 19%
Diaphragm 18%
Condom Female – 21% Male – 12%
Birth Control Pills 3%
IUD Between 0.8% and 2.0%
Depo-Provera 0.3%
Female Sterilization 0.4%
Male Sterilization 0.15%
As you can see, other than sterilization, the hormone medications and IUD are the most effective methods of birth control. However, the diaphragm can be nearly as reliable if they are used properly. The least reliable methods are natural family planning (periodic abstinence), withdrawal method, the female condom, and spermicide alone.