What are the Different Types of Contraceptives?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2020
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There are a few types of contraceptives available, with various options within each group. One of the most popular kinds is the barrier method, which consists of female and male condoms, cervical caps, contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, and spermicide. There are also hormonal methods, such as birth control pills, hormonal injections, patches, vaginal rings, and intrauterine devices. Other types of contraceptives include an emergency pill and natural family planning.

One of the most common types of contraceptives includes the male condom, but there is a female equivalent available that is worn inside the vagina, covering the cervix. Similarly, both the diaphragm and the cervical cap are put over the cervix a few hours before intercourse, and then filled with spermicide, which is used to kill sperm. The contraceptive sponge is also filled with spermicide, and then placed over the cervix so that sperm will likely not reach the egg. Though spermicide is most often used in these barrier types of contraceptives, it can also be used on its own to kill or paralyze sperm so that it is unlikely to move enough to reach the egg.


The birth control pill, which usually contains a combination of estrogen and progestin, is what usually comes to mind when hormonal types of contraceptives are discussed. Of course, there are various other kinds, such as an injection of the hormone progesterone, which is given about every three months. Another type is a ring that is placed in the vagina that releases both estrogen and progesterone. While the ring should be replaced about once monthly, the birth control patch, which sticks to the skin to release hormones continuously, needs to be replaced weekly. Finally, the intrauterine device, usually called an IUD, is a small mechanism that is placed inside the uterus by a doctor in order to make the cervical mucus and uterine lining inhospitable to sperm or implantation.

If one of these types of contraceptives does not work, it may be necessary to get the emergency birth control pill, which is usually a high dose of hormones that can prevent ovulation if taken within about five days of intercourse. Of course, it is usually more effective when taken soon after intercourse. It can help prevent a pregnancy if conception has not already occurred, but it does not usually abort an existing pregnancy. Those not interested in using any of these types of contraceptives might use natural family planning, which relies on the woman keeping track of her cycle so that she and her partner can avoid intercourse when she is ovulating. This typically requires her to take her temperature everyday, check her cervical mucus, or use an ovulation test kit in order to pinpoint ovulation.



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