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What Are the Different Types of Birth Control Methods?

There are many types of birth control, including hormonal, permanent, emergency, barrier, and natural methods. Deciding which one is best for you is a personal decision that factors in your health needs and each method’s effectiveness rate.

Hormonal Birth Control

The following birth control methods use hormones to prevent pregnancy:

  • Pill: Pills must be taken daily and contain estrogen and progestin (combination pills) or just progestin (progestin-only pills/mini-pills). With typical use, they’re 91-99% effective.
  • Patch: Patches contain estrogen and progestin and are applied directly to your skin once per week. They’re 91-99% effective.
  • Ring: The ring is inserted into the vagina once per cycle so it can release progestin and estrogen. It’s at least 91% effective.
  • Shot: Shots containing progestin are given once every three months. They’re at least 94% effective.
  • Implant: The implant is a thin rod inserted under the skin once every three years. It releases progestin and is 99% effective.
  • IUD: Intrauterine devices (IUDs) release progestin to prevent pregnancy. They’re more than 99% effective for up to five years.

Nonhormonal Birth Control

The following birth control methods do not use hormones to prevent pregnancy:

  • Copper IUDs: These nonhormonal IUDs are more than 99% effective and last up to 10 years.
  • Permanent, barrier, and natural birth control (see below).

Permanent Birth Control

Female sterilization is a form of permanent birth control that cannot be reversed. It requires a tubal ligation procedure to close the fallopian tubes. It is 99.5% effective.

Emergency Birth Control

Women can take emergency contraceptive pills up to five days after having unprotected sex.

Barrier Birth Control

Barrier methods prevent the egg and the sperm from meeting and must be taken each time you have sex.

  • Condoms (male and female).
  • Diaphragms or cervical caps.
  • Contraceptive sponges.
  • Spermicides.

Natural Birth Control

Natural birth control prevents pregnancy without the use of hormones or birth control devices. These contraceptive methods include:

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