Birth control

Birth control (contraception) is used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods work by preventing the woman's ovary from releasing an egg (ovum), preventing the male's sperm from fertilizing the egg, or preventing implantation of the egg in the lining of the uterus.

Health benefits and risks, convenience, cost, religious beliefs, and a partner's preference may all affect which birth control method is chosen. One method may work better than others for an individual or for a couple. Available methods include:

  • Barrier methods, such as condoms.
  • Hormonal methods, such as the Pill, skin patch, implant, shot, or vaginal ring.
  • Fertility awareness, also called the calendar method.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Sterilization surgery (vasectomy or tubal ligation).

Last Updated: May 22, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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