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Hello, birth control

When it comes to birth control, you’ve got a lot of options.

This article was updated on July 18, 2014.

Birth control may seem like a modern idea, but it's actually been around for thousands of years.

They say women in ancient Egypt used crocodile dung suppositories to avoid pregnancy. (Um… ew!) Condoms made of animal intestines were used in Europe as early as the 17th century. And guys have been “pulling out” for as long as anyone can remember.

Lucky for us, there are lots more effective methods to choose from today. And remember, if a certain method doesn’t fit your life or your body, it’s easy to find another one that will.

Hormonal Methods

There are a bunch of hormonal methods out there—not just the pill. There’s the ring, the patch, the implant (or Implanon), and the shot (Depo), too. All of them release hormones into your body, but they work in slightly different ways.

Intrauterine Devices

Okay, first of all, “Intrauterine Device” is a horrible name for a really effective method. Intrauterine just means “in the uterus.” IUDs are little, t-shaped pieces of plastic (some also contain copper) that get put in your uterus to mess with the way sperm can move and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. Sounds odd, but they work like a charm.

Behavior-Based Methods

“Pulling out,” or withdrawal, is a method of birth control. So are Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (which means observing your body and counting the days of your cycle to figure out when you’re fertile). Both methods work better than nothing, but before you rely on one of them, consider this: These methods take a lot of self-control and 100% consistency on the part of both partners. Like, A LOT. You can’t say “just this once” and you can’t have any “oops” moments.

Barrier Methods

These methods literally block sperm from getting to the egg. The male condom is a perfect example. There’s also the diaphragm, the sponge, the female condom and the cervical cap. (Some of these have to be used with spermicide, which is a barrier method itself.) The only tricky bit with barrier methods is that you have to remember to use them every time you have sex. And sometimes, when you’re in the heat of the moment, finding a condom is the last thing on your mind.

What about the free/open method?: Have wild and crazy awesome sex, fall deeper in love, and possibly have a kid? What better sex is there than that?

2011-11-15 07:10:02 UTC


Will Power Method: Find many of the other ways to fall deeper in love. Enjoy each other's company! Go to a movie! Hang out with friends! Go skydiving! HAVE A FREAKING SNOWBALL FIGHT!! Find a hobby together! Trust me, I have never EVER in my entire life heard someone say "The deeper we fell in love, the WORSE THE SEX GOT!!!!" Never have I heard that practicing self control would made the body weaker than instantly gratifying the flesh. Focus people! Save some money, protect the environment, GO PLASTIC FREE!!!! Choose Will Power! You have it because you are beautiful enough to wait on! 

2011-11-15 07:23:43 UTC


Having a younger sibling Method: For those of you with younger siblings, this works for you, especially if you've had to help raise the poor little runts. LET'S HAVE SEX NOW, WHATTAYA SAY!!!?!?!? huh?. . not too sexually excited all of a sudden? Afraid your contraceptive isn't effective enough? Oh, you think it is? Ya, you're right 1:100 is pretty good odds! I'd do me given those numbers. . . NOT!!!! Tell me this, why do you buy a lottery ticket which has about 1,000,000:1 chances of winning? Don't give me the answer "I felt philanthropic today and wanted to make a donation to education through my state lottery". Unless you are addicted to gambling (hmm, much like being addicted to sex), how can you possibly reason out in your mind spending a single dollar of your money on the chance that you'll hit it big. I've NEVER EVER heard someone say: "DUDE, CHECK OUT THIS DEAL!!! YOU CAN GET A BOX OF 100 CONDOMS FOR $15.00 AT CVS TODAY. PLAYING BY THE ODDS, My girl can have one in the oven in the next 90 days!!!  I thought scratch offs were the way to go, hurhurhur, 'trojan man'!!!

2011-11-15 07:35:34 UTC


don't have sex at a young age period if you cant' take care of a baby its not a good idea

2011-11-16 15:21:02 UTC


Trolls aside, really appreciate accurate information being made available to young people in an engaging, open, and NON-JUDGEMENTAL way. Pre-marital sex is a fact, and no one should be punished for pleasure with a baby or an STD.  Contraception works, and that seems to really bother some people. Let them ruin their own lives—or their kids' more likely— with fear, lies, and guilt. Terrible sex seems to go hand in hand with a closed mind... making some commenters a bit cranky. Too bad they want the rest of us (usually meaning women, of course) to suffer.

2011-11-22 01:50:22 UTC

Red Apple

"Punished for pleasure with a baby"?  Huh?  Wow, so I guess your parents were punished when you were conceived? That makes absolutely no sense. The act of sex, which is naturally designed for BOTH babies and bonding, is actually "working" when a baby is conceived. If you're not ready for parenthood, you're not ready for sex.  "Nuff said...

2011-11-23 02:39:12 UTC


Statements like that are dangerous.  What you should have said is, "You shouldn't have sex at a young age if you can't take care of a baby.  However, if you choose to have sex, make sure to educate yourself about how to protect yourself from the consequences - both STDs and pregnancy - to do so, explore sites like this one."

2011-11-30 22:14:04 UTC


To make your comment helpful to young people, you should add that if you choose not to wait, explore and education yourself on how to prevent unintended consequences of having sex, such as STDs and pregnancy.  Let's make sure to prepare young people properly, by educating them not only on waiting to have sex - but to educating them on how to "do it right" when they choose to stop waiting.

2011-11-30 22:19:06 UTC


Statements such as "If you're not ready for parenthood, you're not ready for sex" are dangerous for young people.  We need to educate the young on the consequences on such actions, should they choose to take them.  While encouraging the delay of sex is a positive message for young people, we must educate them on the consequences of their actions for when they decide they want to have sex.  This includes education on both STDs and birth control.  While certainly having a baby is not a "punishment" and I think Red Apple's statement could have been worded better, I think what he/she intended to express was the idea that sex is a healthy activity for humans - which it is - however, the consequences of not "doing it right" by being educated about birth control and STDs need to be taken into consideration by each man and woman involved.

2011-11-30 22:27:40 UTC


Nickman420, your comment is quite an incoherent rant of ideas.  Your main point seems to be more about the lottery than birth control.  However, I did want to clear up a potential misconception (no pun intended) with your odds of birth control.  When it comes to birth control, 1:100 does not mean 1 out 100 times a person has sex results in pregnancy.

2011-11-30 22:41:22 UTC


Because most young people don't want 18 plus years of responsibility for another person, or nasty STDs

2011-12-06 20:32:00 UTC


Because we all know that telling kids not to have sex is the best form of preventing teenage pregnancy, right? Oh, wait, Texas has abstinence-only education, which is essentially just that. And they have the second highest rate of unwanted teen pregnancy in the United States. Somehow, I don't think it's working.

2011-12-11 05:41:47 UTC


It's upsetting that so many people choose to argue for not educating kids on how to stay safe.  My son is 10 and I've already discussed condoms, STD's and more with him.  I've also made it clear that it's important for him to wait until he is ready to have sex and that it's for adults.  But I feel very strongly that he needs to have both pieces of information, because without them he'd be flying blind with insane teenage hormones driving the train...I'd like to give his brain a little bit of ammo in the hopes it will take control of the vehicle and make good decisions, when the time comes for him to have sex.  I would be very upset if his lack of information ever created a situation, where a young lady had to deal with the results.  Not so long ago, men who impregnated women were considered scoundrels for a reason...gentlemen understood that for women, the visibility of pregnancy and requirements of motherhood had an unequal impact on the future prospects women.  I think that sex education is an important tool to empower BOTH young women and men to be protective of each other and themselves.  I applaud the efforts of this site and will certainly send the link to every teenager I know. 

2011-12-19 17:01:53 UTC

Melina Martinez

I can see your working for the site, but your opinion whether your paid for it or not isn't fact. I would try approaching people with a more open message rather than "Your wrong this is the way to do this." Great educators know that stating your opinion as if it's fact is a great way to push others away. Either way thank you for trying to keep the conversation going, all opinions should be welcome here.

2012-01-09 18:13:38 UTC

Sheople Herder

It is a fact that people who aren't ready for parenthood aren't necessarily not ready for sex. "If you're not ready for parenthood, you're not ready for sex" is as fallacious as "If you're not ready for being fat, you're not ready to eat a hamburger". The statement is in fact dangerous because taking an abstinence-only stance on sexual education doesn't take into account the fact that teens are pulsing with hormones and sexual urges, and will likely have sex regardless of the terrifying consequences they've been taught to fear.Encouraging the delay of sex is in fact a positive message. It promotes self-control and raises sex to be a much more powerful way to bond with a partner. It is a fact that contraception prevents pregnancy. It is also fact that if a young person is having sex for the first time and he or she hasn't been educated, he or she will not be prepared for the potential consequences. So abstinence-only education is not the correct way to educate. Having a baby isn't a punishment, but it can bring with it many negative consequences (e.g. A single mother who is forced to drop out of school and pick up some minimum-wage job isn't exactly being "punished," but I can tell you that she isn't having the time of her life). I don't know which part of praticaltruth's reply you thought was an opinion, Sheople Herder, but it's all factual.

2012-02-04 08:59:17 UTC


i am 17 and i have a bunch of friends some older some younger some having sex some not. a lot of the time they come to me because i usually know more than them about this stuff because i spend a lot of time on this website and others like it and usually i send them here because its a great place for info tho i like to find about the same thing on another trusted website and send that link to because i think teens should be informed and where i live they tell you to just not have sex but if you do this is what could happen but they dont talk about condom and birth control

2012-02-06 05:00:08 UTC


i am a married mother of 3 girls, i don't want any more babies. what can i do?

2012-02-13 15:05:07 UTC


I think that people interested in "pulling out" should see some statistics, so- Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 4 will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly.Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don't always do it correctly. ( I used the pull out method (7 times to be exact) and I happened to get pregnant. So, honestly in my opinion, pulling out does not work in the least bit. Believe me, I wish that I had gotten any type of birth control because that would have been way easier and less expensive than what I had to go through. I just don't want people to make the same stupid mistake I did, it wasn't fun and it's something that I have to live with the rest of my life.

2012-02-13 23:12:37 UTC


Tubal ligation (getting your tubes tied) is a fantastic option if you no longer want children. Most insurance plans cover it. I've had my tubes tied for seven years and have never looked back, it's the most liberating decision I've ever made. 

2012-02-17 05:02:42 UTC


There are many adults  in caring, healthy relationships (read: married!) who either already have children and don't want more for financial or other reasons or don't want children at all. Should those married adults never have sex? Ridiculous. Following through on your reasoning, individuals who are physically unable to conceive should never have sex with their spouses, since the only reason for sex is both babies AND bonding and if you don't have one of those necessary conditions, well, you're just screwed (or not). Finally, there are seven billion people in the world and that number is growing. Saying that each of us should want to conceive every time we have sex is irresponsible, particularly if you care about the children who are already stuck here fighting over rapidly dwindling resources. 

2012-02-17 05:09:28 UTC


I really wish there was a dislike button for this comment.

2012-02-17 06:15:15 UTC


several problem with the above statement, when it comes to sex not many people think of anything but the enjoyment of "that" moment, and when we were younger "it" was her responsibility to take care, Ie, the pill. Of cause most of the younger male generation carried their 2 bob insurance, but in the heat of the moment it got torn or not fitted properly and little Mary or who ever got a bun in the oven.

2012-02-23 13:08:17 UTC


I spent time and money on good sexual education books and talks with my son at an early age only to be told "you don't know what it like out there these days" and he was only twelve or thirteen then.  Like most younger males, if the female was willing why should he worry about protection. To him females were put on this earth for "his" pleasure.

2012-02-23 13:24:49 UTC


My husband and I have successfully prevented unwanted pregnancy by using the withdrawal method for more than 10 years.   This method takes a LOT of self control and physical awareness, probably more so than other forms of birth control.  I'm fortunate enough that even with irregular periods, I know when I'm ovulating, when I'm fertile and when I'm not.  For me, those signals and body changes are very obvious.  This may not be the case for everyone which can reduce the effectiveness of withdrawal.  There's also information that may not be known when people try this method, such as not knowing that pre-come may have sperm in it if a man has recently ejaculated.  Something as simple as this can completely defeat the purpose of withdrawing. Unfortunately, just like any form of birth control, it isn't 100% and it is best to know as much about it as you can.  Some forms are more effective than others and no one type is one size fits all.  You are completely right, in that everyone needs to know as much about the different options for preventing pregnancy as they can.

2012-02-26 21:58:49 UTC


I just got off of the Nuva Ring after 7 months and it made me gain weight, i went from 104 to 117... and I am not tall so it was not okay at all.. We are just pulling out now, I dont want to gain weight or have acne or mood swings or any other side effects.. ADVICE PLEASE..

2012-06-19 22:50:47 UTC

M Roro16

that is an oxymoron. Those who believe in will power do not consider other methods as right just because they don't choose will power. There are no other "right" ways once you given up on self control. People do not choose not to wait, They give up on waiting. Just like people to not choose and unhealthy diet. The choose to give up on the healthy diet

2012-07-07 15:45:36 UTC


Abstain from having sex when you are fertile. It is only about 7 days a month. I am sure you go more than 7 days a month already without having sex right? If so no you just need to pick the right 7 days which is very easy to do with some practice. Abstaining is no big deal and I am sure you were abstaining from sex while you typed your question? If not you are very talented

2012-07-07 15:49:01 UTC


I am sure all of those parents of the teenagers you know are glad you are sending them this link. You probably know better than their own parents do on how to educate their children. You are a saint

2012-07-07 15:55:41 UTC


A majority of students at _____ High School become heroin users. we must teach them safe practices of heroin use? Your logic for educating kids on birth control methods is what is dangerous. It's not a matter of education it is a matter of parenting. Parents (not schools) need to do better at having this discussion with their kids. If all of this effort and time spend educating on birth control was redirected to promoting better parenting the problem would better be fixed. But you want to accept the problem as the norm and enable it because it is easier. But in the long run it will be the down fall of our society. Birth control does not promote responsibility as much as yall like to pretend it does. It encourages irresponsibility. If you believe in the facts that sex is meant for married couples then you can not deny the benefits and effectiveness of the best method out there and that is Natural family planning. "Educate" our children on the importance of keeping sex in marriage and that sex is much more than a cheap thrill that feels good. It goes much deeper emotionally, psychologically, and for some spiritually. If that was the discussion we were having and promoting despite what "most" people are doing, we would see a much more long term difference in the problem of people who are not ready for children having them. I am not sure why people think abstaining is such a big deal. I am willing to bet that if you are reading this you are abstaining at this very moment? Yet we let our kids know that we understand that they can't control them self so here you go have sex but use this. When you tell a kid that why would many of them bother working hard to learn self control when you just showed them an easy way out but irresponsibly did not educate them on the negative emotional, psychological, and spiritual effects of sex without consequences.

2012-07-07 15:56:15 UTC


Weight gain on most methods isn't that likely, but it's true that some women may see this happen. Have you had similar weight gain with any other methods in the past? IUDs don't interfere too much with weight. If you want to totally avoid all hormonal side effects, ParaGard IUD is a good non-hormonal option.

2012-08-22 20:50:26 UTC

Bedsider Medical Advisor

Birth Control methods that alter natural hormones are not safe or natural to the body or brain.

2012-09-11 22:53:43 UTC


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