If you are planning on preventing pregnancy, you should choose a birth control method at your premarital exam. Here is an overview of many of the birth control methods available.
CONDOMS: A male condom is a latex barrier worn on the penis during intercourse. When used correctly, condoms are 98% effective. If you choose to use condoms, you will need to have them in place before any intercourse or there is an increased risk of pregnancy. Pre-ejaculate (the fluid that leaks from the penis during arousal) does contain trace amounts of semen.
A female condom is different that a male condom in that instead of going on the penis, the soft, plastic pouch is inserted into the vaginal canal. Female condoms provide the same effectiveness as traditional condoms, so long as they are used correctly.
ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES (The pill): Birth control pills are a widely used contraceptive that consist of a blend of hormones that prevent pregnancy. There are many different brands of pills, and so long as you take them every day, around the same time each day, you can expect 99% protection from pregnancy. If you miss a day, you will need to take it as soon as you remember and use a back up form of birth control (such as a condom) for the next 7 days.
NUVA RING: The nuva ring is a small, flexible ring that you wear inside your vagina, and change once a month. It is a safe, simple and affordable birth control method and, when used correctly, is 99% effective. The ring is activated by body heat, and releases hormones into your body. It can come out during intercourse, but can simply be rinsed and reinserted immediately.
INTRAUTERINE DEVICES (IUDs): There are two types of IUDs: the Mirena and the Paragard. These are T-shaped devices that are inserted into your uterus, and are among the most effective forms of birth control. The Mirena IUD has a small amount of progesterone only and works to prevent pregnancy in a similar way to birth control pills, although usually with less side-effects. It is effective for up to five years but you may have it removed at any time. The Paragard IUD is copper; it creates a hostile environment for the sperm so it can’t survive. The Paragard is effective up to ten years.
VASECTOMY: A vasectomy is a simple surgery done by a doctor in an office, hospital or clinic. The small tubes in the scrotum that carry sperm are cut or blocked off so sperm cannot leave the body. The procedure is very quick, and does not require a hospital stay. It is extremely effective at preventing pregnancy at almost 100%.
OTHER OPTIONS: There are some over the counter options such as spermicide, although it’s not nearly as effective as other forms of birth control. Women can be fitted for a diaphragm, a rubber cup-like device that’s inserted vaginally before intercourse and acts as a barrier to the cervix. There is also a birth control patch that’s worn on the skin and changed every week. Some people opt for more natural forms of birth control, such as the rhythm method or withdrawal method.