Everything you need to know about birth control

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When it comes to birth control, there are many options out there. Whether you’re looking to prevent pregnancy or have other health concerns you’d like addressed, we’ll walk you through the major birth control methods available today.

The Pill

The pill is a daily medication that contains hormones that are absorbed by the body. The pill must be taken every day at the same time, and it’s 99% effective when used correctly. The most common side effects of the pill include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and weight gain.

To use the pill effectively:

  • Take your first active pill on the first day of your period or within 5 days after taking inactive pills as directed by your doctor
  • Take one active pill each day until you finish all 21 or 28 tablets, then start a new pack right away with either no gap or with a 4-day gap (for example: take 7 active pills in a row followed by 4 placebo pills). Do not go more than 7 days without taking an active tablet if you are using monophasic brand; do not go more than 24 hours without taking an active tablet if you are using biphasic brand; do not go more than 3 days without taking an active tablet if you are using triphasic brand

The Patch

How does the Patch work?

Similar to the Pill, the Patch is placed directly onto your skin and is a form of contraception that prevents pregnancy through absorption into your bloodstream. Once inside, it releases hormones (estradiol and progesterone) which prevent ovulation from occurring. If this occurs during the week when you have not been wearing your Patch, then you are still protected by its contraceptive properties as they continue to be released into your body each day until you take it off.

The patch may also help reduce menstrual cramps, although some women report more bleeding or spotting between periods with this method than with others.

The Implant

The implant is a small rod that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It works for up to 3 years, but can be removed at any time if you’re not happy with it. It releases hormones into your body to prevent pregnancy—it doesn’t protect against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

The Ring

The ring, also known as NuvaRing, is a small flexible plastic ring that’s inserted into the vagina. The hormone progestin keeps it in place for three weeks at a time.

The ring prevents pregnancy in two ways: 1) thickens cervical mucus so sperm can’t get through and 2) stops ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). In addition to preventing pregnancy, it may also help with heavy menstrual bleeding and acne.

After inserting the ring, you’re protected from pregnancy immediately—no hormones need to build up in your body first. The NuvaRing will remain effective for one month (three weeks), after which you should remove it and insert a new one on either Sunday or Monday of any week 4 days after removal (so you insert it during the fourth week).

Your doctor may recommend using backup birth control for seven days if you have unprotected sex within those first seven days after removing your last NuvaRing. You’ll also want to use backup birth control if you have vaginal bleeding between changing rings or if your menstrual period is more than seven days late.

The Shot

The shot is a form of contraception that’s injected into the arm or buttocks every 3 months. It’s effective at preventing pregnancy, and it lasts for 3 months after you get your last injection. The shot can be reversed if you decide to become pregnant in the future.

However, this type of birth control isn’t as effective as other methods such as the pill or male condoms because it only protects against pregnancy 97% of the time—which means that out of 100 women using it, three women will become pregnant each year on average.


An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor. It can last up to 12 years, depending on the type you choose.

IUDs are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy—that means less than one in 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant over the course of one year. They’re also very safe, with few side effects other than mild cramping during insertion or removal. If you decide to have it removed, a doctor can do so at any time and it doesn’t affect future fertility (in case you want to try for another baby).


  • How does it work?

The NuvaRing releases hormones that prevent you from getting pregnant. The contraceptive ring contains two hormones: estrogen and progestin (progestin-only methods, such as the progestin-only pill, use only one hormone). These hormones are absorbed into your bloodstream through the vaginal wall.

  • How is it applied?

You insert the NuvaRing high in the vagina for three weeks in a row, remove it for one week, then repeat this cycle. You can insert the vaginal ring at any time of day and leave it in place for three weeks straight before removing it and inserting a new one on day 1 of your next menstrual period or other appropriate time frame if you want to prevent pregnancy right away again after taking out an active ring (for example, during your period). If you’re using condoms for protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), wait at least five minutes after putting on a condom before inserting the vaginal ring; otherwise you might have some side effects from using both at once!

  • How long does it last?

Up to three months depending on when you take out each ring—the number of days between each insertion will depend on how many days are left until your next menstrual cycle starts up again after taking out either type of birth control device

Side Effects

Birth control side effects are a common concern for many women who take oral contraceptives. While some people experience no side effects, others experience a variety of unwanted symptoms including headaches and weight gain.

The most common birth control side effect is irregular bleeding or spotting between periods. If this occurs, you should discuss this with your doctor to determine if the medication needs to be changed or discontinued altogether.

Birth control is not a one-size fits all solution.

Birth control is not a one-size fits all solution. You need to find the right birth control method for you, your partner, and your lifestyle.

You’ve probably heard of at least one type of birth control—the pill, IUDs and implants, condoms, diaphragms—and that’s great! But here are some other methods you might not know about:

  • Natural Family Planning (NFP) uses tracking your body’s natural cycles to prevent pregnancy. It’s perfect if you want to understand how your body works without any chemicals or devices getting in the way. NFP involves taking your temperature each morning before getting out of bed (your basal body temperature), recording it on a chart along with other information like cervical mucus consistency and position of cervix during ovulation time (ovulation typically occurs 12–16 days after the first day of menstrual bleeding). A doctor can also help with this method as well!


The best way to decide on the right birth control method is to speak with your doctor. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of different types of birth control, including hormonal and non-hormonal options. This is especially true if you have a history of certain medical conditions or are concerned about potential side effects that might affect your health. For example, hormonal contraceptives like the pill can increase a person’s risk for blood clots, while long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs may lower it. Your doctor will take into account what risks are acceptable for you when deciding on an appropriate contraceptive option.


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