• Compare Birth Control Options

    Birth Control Pill

    What is it?

    Also known as oral contraceptives or the Pill. This medicine usually contains two types of hormones, estrogens and progestins.

    How does it work?

    One pill is swallowed daily at around the same time. Stops a woman’s egg from fully developing each month. The egg can no longer accept a sperm and fertilization is prevented.

    How often is it taken?

    Daily

    Effectiveness

    >99% (when taken correctly, everyday around the same time)

    Do I need a prescription?

    YES

    Advantages

    No need for preparation before sexual activity. Easy to take.

    Risks

    Patients who are over 35, smoke, have severe high blood pressure or liver disease have a higher risk of blood clots and strokes.

     

    Contraceptive Ring

    What is it?

    A flexible, transparent plastic ring. Contains the hormones estrogen and progestin.

    How does it work?

    Inserted deep into the vagina and worn for three weeks. Removed for one week for menstruation before inserting another. Suppresses ovulation, keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg. Also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

    How often is it taken?

    Monthly

    Effectiveness

    98-99%

    Do I need a prescription?

    YES

    Advantages

    No need for preparation before sexual activity. Low maintenance. Doesn’t require a personalized fitting.

    Risks

    The Ring carries the same risk as the Pill in women who smoke, are over 35, have severe high blood pressure or liver disease. The main risk in these patients is blood clots and strokes.

     

    Depo-Provera

    What is it?

    An injection that contains the hormone progestin.

    How does it work?

    Injection suppresses ovulation, keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg. Also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

    How often is it taken?

    Every 3 months

    Effectiveness

    97%

    Do I need a prescription?

    YES

    Advantages

    No need for preparation before sexual activity. Very low maintenance.

    Risks

    There may be some loss of bone density over time. It may cause weight gain, headaches, breast tenderness and depression. It may take up to 10 months after stopping the shot to regain fertility.

     

    Intra-uterine Device

    What is it?

    A small T-shaped device that is inserted inside a woman’s uterus by a medical practitioner. There are two kinds: copper and those that secrete progestin.

    How does it work?

    Induces a foreign-body reaction in the endometrium. This inflammatory process is toxic to sperm.

    How often is it taken?

    5 years

    Effectiveness

    99%

    Do I need a prescription?

    Copper IUD –  NO; IUD with hormone – YES

    Advantages

    No need for preparation before sexual activity. Very low maintenance. Copper IUDs provide protection for up to 10 years. IUD with hormone is good for 5 years.

    Risks

    In extreme cases IUD’s may lead to uterine perforations. IUD’s may contribute to lower abdominal pain, cramping and abnormal bleeding. Increases risk of pelvic infections. Increases risk of ectopic pregnancies.

     

    Patch

    What is it?

    A thin plastic patch that sticks to the skin. The sticky part of the patch contains the hormones progestin and estrogen.

    How does it work?

    Applied to the skin and left on for one week. Suppresses ovulation. Also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

    How often is it taken?

    Weekly

    Effectiveness

    99%

    Do I need a prescription?

    YES

    Advantages

    No need for preparation before sexual activity. Low maintenance.

    Risks

    Smoking while using the patch greatly increases the possibility of having a heart attack or stroke.