HEALTH & WELLNESS

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

Pregnancy, particularly unexpected pregnancy, has been linked to being one of the number one causes of poverty for women. Fortunately, in the 21st century, pharmaceutical firms have developed numerous methods for women to take control of their bodies and futures.

Below is a list of the multiple forms of female contraceptives in the market today.

Natural Birth Control Methods

  • Efficacy: varies by method
  • Cost: free
  • Longevity: varies by method

How It Works: There are a few different ways you can avoid pregnancy without spending a dime.

For example, having your partner withdraw – commonly called ‘pulling out’ – can be an effective means of preventing fertilization if done correctly and carefully.

Pull-out sex can be effective if used with the fertility awareness method, in which a woman only has sex when she isn’t currently, or soon to be menstruating, or if she has recently given birth and is breastfeeding. In the latter case, the chemical signals released by the body during the day and night present a window of a few hours in which ovulation will not occur.

However, it is worth noting that among all of the methods presented on this list, natural pregnancy prevention requires an exceptional amount of careful planning and is the least effective.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

  • Efficacy: 99%
  • Cost: up to $1,300
  • Longevity: lasts between 3-12 years

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

How It Works: Also called intrauterine contraceptives (IUCs), these t-shaped devices comprise two types – hormonal-based and copper-based. The former releases small amounts of hormones which thicken the mucus in the cervix which blocks sperm from reaching a released egg and may also prevent ovulation altogether.

Copper-based IUDs weaken or destroy sperm cells so that they cannot reach an egg if one is released during sex.

Birth Control Implant

  • Efficacy: 99%
  • Cost: up to $1,300
  • Longevity: lasts up to 5 years

How It Works: Similar to hormonal IUDs, a birth control implant releases small amounts of the hormone progestin which thickens the mucus of the cervix and also prevents ovulation. Being about the size of a matchstick, the birth control implant is injected under the skin, usually in the upper arm.

If you decide that you do want to get pregnant before your implant expires, having this device removed is quick and easy.

Tubal Ligation

  • Efficacy: +99%
  • Cost: up to $6,000
  • Longevity: permanent

How It Works: This method involves either blocking or closing the Fallopian tubes so that the sperm cannot fertilize an egg. Also called sterilization or ‘getting tubes tied,’ this method is the most extreme form of female birth control and requires an extensive surgical procedure which will require one to three weeks of recovery. While healing, it is recommended that you not have sex.

Hormonal Pill

  • Efficacy: 91% effective
  • Cost: up to $50
  • Longevity: must be taken daily

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

How It Works: Perhaps the most commonly used female contraceptive, acquiring and taking the pill is easy in most jurisdictions. If you forget to take a pill within about a day of having sex, the best backup method to prevent pregnancy is to take an emergency contraceptive within three to five days after having sex.

Depo Shot

  • Efficacy: 94%
  • Cost: up to $100
  • Longevity: must be administered once every 3 months

How It Works: Just like the pill and patch, a Depo shot introduces hormones which thicken the uterine mucosal lining and halts ovulation.

Birth Control Patch

  • Efficacy: 91%
  • Cost: up to 150 USD
  • Longevity: replace weekly

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

How It Works: Being another form of hormonal contraceptive, the patch can be worn on the buttocks, upper arm, lower abdomen and most of the upper body. However, we do not recommend that you wear a patch on the breast or anywhere else where the patch might be regularly brushed up against.

Diaphragm or Cervical Cap

  • Efficacy: 71-86%
  • Cost: up to $90
  • Longevity: use every time before sex

How It Works: A diaphragm is a silicone cup (a cervical cap is similar but smaller) which must be securely placed inside the vagina to cover the cervix. When fitted correctly, and especially when used with spermicide, this barrier method is highly reliable at preventing sperm from coming into contact with an egg.

Spermicide

  • Efficacy: 71%
  • Cost: between $10 to $16
  • Longevity: use every time before sex

How It Works: Comprised of a chemical concoction which can be applied in the form of a film, foam, cream, gel or suppository, which kills sperm. Although it can be useful by itself, spermicide is used with other methods.

Keep in mind though, some women may have adverse reactions to spermicide. It could irritate the vagina and cause urinary tract infections.

Vaginal Ring

  • Efficacy: 91%
  • Cost: up to $200
  • Longevity: 3 weeks

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

How It Works: This is another hormonal method of female birth control, which uses estrogen and progestin to thicken mucus in the uterus and prevent ovulation. For three weeks, this device is effective, but must be removed from the proximal end of the vagina and replaced.

Sponge

  • Efficacy: between 76-88%
  • Cost: up to $15
  • Longevity: use every time before sex

How It Works: Similar to a diaphragm, birth control sponges are inserted into the vagina to soak up sperm before it fertilizes an egg.

Female Condom

  • Efficacy: 79%
  • Cost: between $3 to $14
  • Longevity: use every time before sex

Female Contraceptives: All the Options Available

How It Works: Made of a soft plastic called nitrile, female condoms are placed inside the vagina before sex to create a barrier to prevent fertilization. Unlike every other method of contraceptive on this list, this one is the only strategy which is effective at preventing pregnancy and also block sexually transmitted infection.