font size

Birth Control Methods

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Introduction to birth control methods

The choice of birth control method depends on many factors, such as the desire for reversible birth control (preserving future fertility) or permanent birth control methods (sterilization). The choice also depends upon a woman's lifestyle, overall health status, and personal preferences. Some birth control methods, such as barrier methods, may offer some protection against sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), while most methods do not. No method is 100% effective in preventing STDs. Some birth control methods have higher success rates than others, but no method of birth control is 100% effective in every case.

Birth control methods can be broadly classified into barrier methods, that prevent sperm cells from reaching the egg, such as condoms and diaphragms, methods that prevent ovulation such as the pill, and methods that allow fertilization of the egg but prevent implantation of the fertilized egg inside the uterus (womb). An example of the latter type of birth control is the IUD or intrauterine device.

A brief summary of the different types of birth control methods follows. Please refer to the individual articles for more information.

Hormonal birth control methods (including oral contraceptives pills)

Hormonal methods of birth control involve the use of hormones to prevent ovulation in a woman. Although oral contraceptive pills are the most widely used hormonal method, other methods are available including the vaginal ring, hormone patches applied to the skin, and injections of progestin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2015


Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations