Every Contraception Method Out There

A comprehensive list.

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Maurizio Di Iorio

Here at Marie Claire, we are staunchly sex-positive, especially for women. The government might not agree (as evidenced by the slew of regressive and misogynistic laws being passed in a clear attempt to restrict reproductive freedom across the country), but we believe that women deserve to have true agency over every aspect of our lives, and that includes what goes down between the sheets.

A big part of being in the driver's seat of your sex life means being able to decide whether or not you want to get pregnant. Whether it's a planned romantic night with your significant other or a sexy, spontaneous romp as a result of sliding in the DMs, things happen...and situations can get a little tricky nine months later if there's no protection involved. But birth control, when utilized regularly and correctly, can help.

While it can be difficult to determine which type of birth control to use since there are so many options out there, that's actually a good thing; because each of our individual bodies and sex lives are unique, we need an array of birth control methods to choose from! There are the obvious and more common choices like condoms and the pill, but there are still others that are easy to use and, more importantly, super effective—you probably just haven't heard of them before.

Here, a comprehensive list of birth control options for your reference.

Cervical Cap + Spermicide (FEMCAP)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A small silicone cup covered with spermicide is inserted into the vagina before sex to keep sperm away from the uterus (leave it in for six hours after sex). Must be fitted by a provider.

How effective it is (typical use vs. perfect use): 71 percent – 86 percent

Cost: $0–$275

Pros: No hormones; cost-effective since the cap lasts for years; effective immediately.

Cons: Not for those allergic to silicone or spermicide; can be tricky to insert; may lead to more urinary infections.


Condoms (female)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A plastic or synthetic rubber pouch with an open and closed end that you insert into your vagina to catch sperm. You can also cover the closed end with spermicide.

How effective it is: 79 percent – 95 percent

Cost: $2–$4 (per condom)

Pros: Protects against STIs; no hormones; no prescription needed.

Cons: May reduce sensation; can "interrupt the moment."


Condoms (male)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A latex, synthetic, or lambskin sheath that fits over your partner's penis to prevent sperm from entering you. Need to use a new one each time you have sex.

How effective it is: 82 percent – 98 percent

Cost: About $1 per condom

Pros: Protects against STIs; easily available; no hormones; no prescription needed.

Cons: May reduce sensation; can break during sex; can "interrupt the moment."


Diaphragm + Spermicide

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A latex or silicone cup covered with spermicide. Insert into your vagina before sex to keep sperm away from the uterus (leave it in for six hours after sex). Must be fitted by a provider.

How effective it is: 88 percent – 94 percent

Cost: $0–$40

Pros: No hormones; cost-effective since the diaphragm lasts for years; effective immediately.

Cons: Not for those allergic to silicone or spermicide; can be tricky to insert; may lead to urinary infections.


Fertility Awareness/ Natural Family Planning (Rhythm Method)

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How it works: Involves closely tracking your periods, paying attention to your body's cues (like cervical secretions), and abstaining from sex on the days when you know you can get pregnant.

How effective it is: 76 percent – 99 percent

Cost: FREE (but you'll need a thermometer)

Pros: No hormones; no prescription needed; no side effects; cost-effective.

Cons: Takes a lot of discipline; requires abstinence or a backup method.


Implant (Nexplanon)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A tiny rod inserted under the skin of your upper arm that delivers hormones to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Lasts up to three years.

How effective it is: More than 99 percent

Cost: $0–$800

Pros: Can reduce acne and PMS; protects against certain cancers and cysts.

Cons: Can cause irregular bleeding, sore breasts, nausea, or decreased sex drive.


IUD (Mirena, Skyla, Paragard, Liletta)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A T-shaped piece of plastic (or plastic and copper) inserted into your uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta IUDs release hormones. Lasts three to 12 years.

How effective it is: More than 99 percent

Cost: $0–$850

Pros: Invisible; low-maintenance; no hormones for ParaGard users.

Cons: Can cause spotting and cramps; can cause heavier flow for ParaGard users.


The Patch (Xulane)

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How it works: A Band-Aid-like square that adheres to your skin and delivers hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Change every week.

How effective it is: 91 percent – 99 percent

Cost: $0–$85 (per month)

Pros: Can reduce acne and PMS; protects against certain cancers and cysts.

Cons: Can cause irregular bleeding, sore breasts, nausea, or decreased sex drive.


The Pill (more than 100 brands including generics)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: Delivers hormones that both prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm out. Must be taken at the same time daily.

How effective it is: 91 percent – 99 percent

Cost: $0–$90 (per month)

Pros: Predictable periods; can reduce acne and PMS; protects against certain cancers.

Cons: Need a prescription; can cause irregular bleeding, sore breasts, nausea, or decreased sex drive.


The Ring (NuvaRing)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A small ring inserted into your vagina that delivers hormones to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Lasts three weeks.

How effective it is: 91 percent – 99 percent

Cost: $0–$75 (per month)

Pros: Lower hormone dose than other hormonal methods; can reduce acne and PMS.

Cons: Need a prescription; can cause irregular bleeding, sore breasts, nausea, or decreased sex drive.


The Shot (Depo-Provera)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A progestin-only shot that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. Lasts three months.

How effective it is: 94 percent – 99 percent

Cost: $0–$120 (per shot)

Pros: Invisible; low-maintenance; good for those who can't tolerate estrogen.

Cons: Can cause irregular bleeding, increased appetite, decreased sex drive, depression, or nausea.


Sponge

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: A piece of white foam filled with spermicide inserted into your vagina before sex to block your uterus.

How effective it is: 71 percent – 86 percent

Cost: $0–$15 (for pack of three)

Pros: No hormones; no prescription needed; can be inserted in advance.

Cons: Can be tough to insert; not for those allergic to sulfa drugs or polyurethane.


Sterilization (tubes tied)

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Design by Betsy FarrellGetty Images

How it works: Permanent blockage of your fallopian tubes, where your eggs meet sperm, done through surgery or a nonsurgical procedure called Essure that places inserts in your tubes.

How effective it is: More than 99 percent

Cost: $0–$5,000

Pros: The ultimate "set it and forget it."

Cons: You can't "untie" your fallopian tubes; possible complications can occur.


Withdrawal (pulling out)

How it works: Your partner withdraws before he ejaculates.

How effective it is: 78 percent – 96 percent (rare)

Cost: Free

Pros: No hormones; no prescription needed; pairs well with other methods.

Cons: Super-risky. Not a "method" as much as "better than nothing."

Need help choosing? Head to bedsider.org for more information.

This article is a part of a series on birth control. See the rest here.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2015 issue of Marie Claire.

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