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Understanding the Different Methods of Birth Control

Understanding the Different Methods of Birth Control

If you want to have sex but don’t want to have a baby, you have multiple birth control options. Dr. Jerome T. Washington and our team at LUNA MED SPA & WASHINGTON OB-GYN, P.A., in San Antonio, Texas, offer every type of contraceptive available, which can make the decision seem overwhelming. 

Don’t worry. We walk you through the pros and cons of each and help you make the best choice for you and your body. Here’s a rundown of the types of birth control and how they work.

Barrier-based birth control

The simplest form of birth control is the barrier method, which blocks the path between sperm and egg. Keep in mind, however, that you must ensure your barrier of choice is in place before each act of intercourse. Your barrier options are:

The upside to male condoms is that they can also prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 

Hormone-based birth control

One of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy is by manipulating your hormones. The female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone control your reproductive system and prepare your body for fertilization and pregnancy. If you control those hormones, you can prevent conception. There are several forms of hormonal birth control available.

Oral contraceptives

One of the most popular ways to prevent pregnancy has been around since 1950. Commonly known as the Pill, this oral contraceptive is 99% effective if you remember to take it as directed daily. 

With some prescriptions, you may skip a few periods throughout the year or stop them altogether; others don’t affect your periods at all. 


You can choose to get your hormones by injection, which eliminates the daily chore of taking an oral dose. You simply come in every three months for a shot, and you’re good to go. Like the Pill, the injection is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy unless you miss your appointment for your next shot.

Inserted devices

Consider a vaginal ring or an intrauterine device (IUD) if you want a low-maintenance birth control option. 

The vaginal NuvaRing® is a small, flexible device you can insert at home. We teach you how to do it here in our office so you’re comfortable with the process. It’s similar to inserting a tampon. The ring releases hormones steadily for three weeks, and then you replace it with another. The vaginal ring is 98% effective when used as directed.

An IUD is another type of inserted device, but this one requires Dr. Washington’s expert skills. Instead of a ring, the IUD is a T-shaped device that nestles into your uterus and delivers a constant dose of hormones. Popular brands include Kyleena®, Mirena®, and Skyla®. IUDs can prevent pregnancy for up to five years and can be removed whenever you’re ready to have children. 

Implanted hormones

You may also choose to have your hormones implanted into your arm using the Nexplanon® method. The steady release of hormones allows you to have sex without getting pregnant for several years and is 99% effective.

Permanent solutions

If you’re finished having kids or never want them, you may consider permanent sterilization, available for both men and women.

For women

Tubal ligation, also known as tying your tubes, is a surgical procedure that permanently blocks or cuts your fallopian tubes. Because these tubes are the pathway between your ovaries and uterus and the location where fertilization occurs, tubal ligation prevents the possibility of pregnancy, but you still get your periods.

Although tubal ligation can be reversed in some cases, the pregnancy rate after tubal ligation reversal is about 50%-80%.

For men

The male sterilization procedure is called a vasectomy, an in-office procedure that prevents the testes from delivering sperm. A vasectomy doesn’t interfere with the man’s ability to ejaculate or have an orgasm; it only prevents sperm from traveling.

Which birth control method is best?

Each type of birth control has pros and cons. Some require you to interrupt your sexual activity, while others are fix-it-and-forget-it solutions. Some have side effects, and some require surgery. 

Dr. Washington discusses each option with you in detail and advises you according to your health history and your personal preferences. With so many methods available, one is bound to fit your lifestyle. Call us today to schedule an appointment, or book online at your convenience.

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