Birth control advice, adult sex toys, and female sexuality

Birth Control Methods and Techniques

Birth Control Methods

VibeReview offers this guide as an initial introduction to birth control and the guide makes various generalizations that may not be appropriate for all readers. If you are considering any of the methods described in this guide, please be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner first.

Danger! Danger! That speedy sperm is taking a wide left, traveling as fast as it can toward the finish line. It's inching ever so closely to the egg. Hold onto your seats, folks. We are in for a miraculous finish to the race of its life!

Let's be honest, shall we? No one wants to take birth control pills or use any type of contraceptive, but the majority of men and women realize that birth control methods are absolutely necessary as a means of preserving their way of life and as a protective method that prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most often, men and women complain about the hassle of taking birth control pills, the limited sensations experienced with condom use, and unwanted mood swings that come with some hormonal birth control methods. But as responsible individuals, the need for contraceptives cannot be exaggerated - more protection is better and abstinence, if done properly, is one's safest path.

Women and men need to be familiar with all birth control methods. A familiarity with different birth control methods helps people make decisions based on health concerns, birth control effectiveness, and contraceptive convenience. VibeReview has created a brief birth control information guide that will help you find the right contraceptives for you. People automatically assume that birth control pills and condoms are the only reliable birth control methods; however, other viable birth control methods are now available. This guide will introduce you to the latest birth control methods, while shedding some light on the positive and negative aspects of particular birth control methods.

Topics Covered

  • Barrier Methods: Condoms, Diaphragms, Sponges, and Cervical Caps
  • Birth Control Pills, Hormone Patches, and Hormone Shots
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
  • Contraceptive Ring

    Barrier Methods: Condoms, Diaphragms, Sponges, and Cervical Caps

    All barrier methods work as blocking devices to prevent sperm from traveling to the uterus; thus, preventing fertilization and pregnancy. Most barrier devices are inserted into a woman's vagina before intercourse. The notable exception to this is the condom, which is worn over the penis during sex. Barrier methods, generally speaking, are successful birth control options, though some people consider barrier devices a hassle and an inconvenience, as an obstacle to spontaneity. For those women sensitive to birth control pills, barrier methods are a reliable choice of birth control. Important note: Do not use oil-based or silicone-based personal lubricants with barrier devices made of silicone or rubber. Both types of lubricants could potentially damage the barrier device, limiting the device's effectiveness.


    Diaphragms are made of silicone-rubber material in the shape of a dome. This birth control device must be inserted before intercourse, behind the pubic bone and covering the cervix - preventing sperm from journeying through the cervix to the uterus. Women interested in using a diaphragm must visit their local health practitioner for a pelvic examine. During this exam, the doctor measures the vagina to find an appropriately sized and comfortable diaphragm. Doctors should check patients' diaphragm measurements once a year. Pregnancy, weight loss or gain, or recent childbirth can alter how a diaphragm fits inside of the vagina.

    Spermicide - a foam, jelly, or cream substance that kills sperm - should be used with diaphragms for secondary protection. Apply spermicide inside of the diaphragm cup and around the edges of the diaphragm. To insert the diaphragm, you squeeze the diaphragm into a half circle. Slowly push the diaphragm inside of your vagina until deeper movement is impossible, and then gently fold the rim directly behind the pelvic bone, where it will rest during nooky. You shouldn't be able to feel the diaphragm. If you can feel it, it might not be inserted correctly. Be sure to adjust the diaphragm's position for greater protection. Women should leave the diaphragm inserted for at least six hours after intercourse for the best results.

    However, be extremely careful when inserting or removing a diaphragm - the slightest fingernail nick or puncture of the diaphragm makes the device less reliable. Never leave a diaphragm in the open and always wash it carefully. Always check your diaphragm for rips, tears, holes, or punctures before using it. Diaphragms are effective birth control devices when properly used and cared for, and are relatively inexpensive in comparison to other birth control methods. If you have any questions about how the device fits inside of you or how to correctly insert and remove it, visit with your health practitioner for specific instructions and professional suggestions.


  • Painless, comfortable insertion, use, and removal
  • Inexpensive, reusable birth control device
  • Presence doesn't interfere with intercourse
  • Future fertility unaffected


  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome results from prolonged insertion (24 hours or more)
  • Possible bladder infections

    Cervical Caps

    Cervical caps (widely recognized as the FemCap in the United States) works similarly to a diaphragm, though it is much smaller and should offer a snugger fit when inserted properly. Doctors prescribe silicone-rubber cervical caps according to three factors - all of which are related to pregnancy or lack thereof: If a woman has never been pregnant, a doctor will prescribe a 22 millimeter cervical cap; or a 26 millimeter cervical cap for women who have been pregnant but did not deliver the baby vaginally; or a 30 millimeter cervical cap for women who did deliver a baby vaginally. The differences in cervical cap sizes, as you can see, are in accordance with vaginal changes that occur during pregnancy and delivery.

    A cervical cap is held in place by powerful vaginal muscles. A common complaint from some women is that cervical caps can become dislodged during intercourse. For this reason, spermicide - much like with a diaphragm - should be used for secondary protection, killing sperm that comes into contact with the cervical cap. Spermicide should be applied inside of the cap and on the cap's rim. Bend your cervical cap in half, with the inside of the cap facing your vagina, and slowly slide it inside of your vagina until it reaches your cervix. Make sure the cap is positioned correctly. After using it for a while, you will immediately recognize when the cap is out of position. A comfortable suction force against the cervix and vaginal muscles allow the cervical cap to prevent sperm from traveling through the cervix to the uterus. The cap must remain inside of the vagina for at least eight hours after intercourse, but, unlike diaphragms that must be removed within 24 hours, cervical caps may remain inside of the vagina for 48 hours.

    Since the cervical cap uses suction for positional stability, removing it from the vagina is rather easy and comfortable. Slide the tips of your fingers inside of your vagina until you can feel the top of the cap. Simply press the cap, releasing the suction pressure, and pull the removal strap with your fingers until the cap is fully removed. Once removed from the vagina, be sure to wash it with antibacterial soap and warm water. It's important to remove vaginal discharge, spermicide residue, and possible sperm from the cap, so always take the time to properly clean and store your cervical cap. Always check your cervical cap for rips, tears, holes, or punctures before using it.


  • Painless, comfortable insertion, use, and removal
  • Inexpensive, reusable birth control device
  • Presence doesn't interfere with intercourse or menstrual cycle
  • Future fertility unaffected
  • Less spermicide needed for protection


  • Difficult to insert properly
  • May become dislodged during intercourse
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases

    Contraceptive Sponges

    Contraceptive sponges were the most popular barrier devices during late '80s and early '90s. Most contraceptive sponges are no longer used in the United States, but the Today sponge - approved by the FDA - is available for sponge lovers - and you'd be surprised how many women prefer contraceptive sponges to other barrier devices. Like a diaphragm or cervical cap, contraceptive sponges must be inserted before sex with an application of spermicide. The sponge blocks and destroys sperm ejaculated into the vagina. More spermicide is used with sponges than with diaphragms and cervical caps. Since large amounts of spermicide can irritate vaginal tissue, reducing its ability to fight off infection, vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases are more easily passed between partners. Sponges should not be inserted for longer than 30 hours.

    Before inserting a contraceptive sponge it must be moistened to activate its foamy, sperm-killing ingredients. The sponge should be somewhat soft and easy to insert. Push the sponge toward your cervix until it cannot move any longer. The positioning of the sponge within your vagina matters, but since contraceptive sponges are loaded with sperm-killing chemicals, you get the added benefit of secondary protection - where the sponge not only blocks, but destroys it as well. Though contraceptive sponges sound like the ideal birth control method, contraceptive sponges are not fitted for each woman - which has a significant impact of this barrier device's effectiveness. A woman who has delivered a baby should consider using a different barrier device - one that is sized according to her unique vaginal characteristics.


  • Doctor assistance unnecessary
  • Can be purchased from stores
  • Extra protection with spermicide and other sperm-killing chemicals
  • Easy to insert and remove
  • Disposable


  • Effectiveness decreases with women who have experienced childbirth
  • One size fits all doesn't always work
  • Large amounts of spermicide, leading to possible yeast infections
  • Cannot be used during female menstruation
  • Sponge could tear or shred

    Male Condoms

    Ah! The safe confines of condoms - the only birth control method that prevents pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases - are appealing to both men and women - and for a variety of justifiable reasons! A sheath of protection, condoms limit penis-to-vagina direct contact - which serves as an efficient and effective method for greatly reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of STDs. Protection-wise, it doesn't get much better than a condom, but condoms annoy a lot of people - especially men and women who believe condoms limit the amount of sensations felt during intercourse. And these individuals would be correct in their observation; however, health concerns should always precede discussions about pleasure. In the end, condoms are the best method of protection against diseases and pregnancy, and even more so when used with other birth control methods.

    Male condoms (in contrast to female condoms) are designed to slide over a man's penis, working as a shield that prevents tissue-to-tissue contact while remaining highly functional for intercourse. Because only a thin layer of latex or polyurethane separates the penis from the vagina, quality penetration and desirable protection are simultaneously possible. Male condoms are accessible to both sexes and all ages, whereas some birth control methods must be attained through visiting a doctor or having parents' permission. If someone has made the decision to have sex, they can visit any grocery store for a box of condoms without hassle but, perhaps, meeting the clerk with a blushing face and wide grin. Have you seen how many different condoms are available for purchase? One could spend an hour investigating the benefits of using different types of condoms. Condoms are manufactured in a variety of textures, thicknesses, sizes, and colors. They also come with and without lubrication and spermicide. Condom manufacturers have done an outstanding job of creating a plethora of styles suitable for different sexual activities.

    Use the same condom only once. Immediately after ejaculation has occurred, the condom should be carefully rolled off the penis after it has been completely removed from a lover's body. Never remove the condom if a man's penis is still anywhere near a given orifice: Preventing pregnancy and the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases means preventing bodily substances from mixing together. Since condoms can break, it is necessary to have back-up protection, and if you notice that a condom breaks or comes off, immediately cease all sexual activity and replace the broken condom with a brand new condom. Condoms almost always work as designed when used correctly. It's also important to mention that some women are allergic to latex condoms. If you or your lover experience any irritation after wearing a latex condom, you might be allergic to latex material (which includes latex sex toys). Fortunately, polyurethane is equally as effective for protection and less irritating for sensitive external and internal genital tissue.

    A lot of first-time condom wearers struggle with putting on condoms. Here are some helpful tips that decrease the frequency of condom breakage: First, don't believe what you see in the movies. Opening a condom package with your teeth is a bad idea; you could easily tear a hole in the condom, which defeats the purpose of wearing one in the first place! Rip the corner of the condom wrapper, making sure that the condom inside hasn't been pinched. You are ready to roll the condom onto the erect penis once carefully removed from its wrapper. It's easier to slip the condom on if it has not been unrolled beforehand, so keep that in mind. Grab and squeeze the reservoir tip (small nipple-like projection) with your index finger and thumb, and slowly roll the condom onto the penis. If continue squeezing the reservoir tip while you roll the condom onto the penis, this keeps excess air from entering the condom - and too much air within the condom could make the condom pop or impossible to get on. Make sure that the condom collapses around, and clings to, the penis.

    Use water-based or silicone lubricants with latex condoms for slicker penetration. Do not use oil-based lubricants with latex condoms, because oil-based lubricants compromise the protective integrity of the condom. Many condoms are pre-lubricated to avoid harmful material-substance interactions and to make sex more convenient. If you are ever confused about which lubes work certain materials, email VibeReview or call a health professional for assistance. But always remember that water-based lubes are compatible with virtually every material - including latex and polyurethane condoms. Lubricated condoms decrease the risk of breakage, as wetness increases and less friction occurs. Like vitamins and food, condoms come packaged with an expiration date. Pay close attention to this vitally important date. After all, if your condom is old, chances are that it is weak, so it could break easier than a fresh condom. The days of carrying around a condom in one's wallet or in a car's glove compartment - yes, those days are gone: Your condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place; and always refresh your supply when the expiration date demands it of you.


  • Available at most grocery and convenience stores
  • Durable, flexible, and disposable
  • Different sizes and textures available
  • Protects against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly
  • Can be used for oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex


  • May break, rip, or tear
  • Should not be used for more than 20 minutes
  • Expiration date for condom strength and reliability
  • Some people are sensitive to latex condoms

    Female Condoms

    Female condoms look and feel similar to male condoms: Both types of condoms are cylinder-shaped barrier devices that block sperm from entering the vagina; however, female condoms are inserted into the vagina before intercourse, whereas a male condom is worn over an erect penis before sexual activity begins. In this way, female condoms are specifically designed for vaginal intercourse. Male condoms, in contrast, can be used for oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex. Female condoms are only made of polyurethane material, so latex-induced irritation is not an issue.

    Female condoms have two circular ends - one with a hole for insertion and penetration, the other with a closed end that blocks sperm from escaping into the vagina. The closed end is inserted into the vagina first and gently pushed inside of the vagina until it touches the woman's cervix. Once the female condom is fully inserted, the condom's penetration hole should be situated outside of the vagina. Female condoms are lengthy for several reasons: First, the excess length prevents the condom from becoming too tight, which would lead to a rip or tear. Second, its length offers maximum penetration stability; the condom should not slip inside of the vagina. Third, when the female condom is removed from the vagina, its length makes the condom easier to remove without the threat of sperm escaping the condom.

    It's imperative that female condoms are inserted carefully. Make sure that the condom is fully stretched out inside of the vagina and that the condom's cylinder surrounds vaginal walls. Because this condom is inserted rather than worn on the penis, sometimes the penis, when going in and out of the vagina, slips too far from the condom and enters the vagina without going inside of the condom. If the condom is properly inserted and the penetrating partner does not pull his penis all the way out, this is less of an issue, but it is an issue that people should be familiar with. Once a penis misses the condom and touches the vaginal interior, intercourse should cease immediately. The old condom should be thrown away and replaced by a brand new condom. The man should immediately wash his penis. If by chance this happens at the moment of ejaculation, women should immediately consult with their healthcare practitioner about what steps to take.


  • Protects against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Effective birth control device
  • Disposable
  • Can be worn up to eight hours before intercourse
  • Latex-free


  • May break, rip, or tear
  • Uncomfortable, too noisy for some people
  • Expiration date for condom strength and reliability
  • Potential trouble inserting the condom
  • Could slide inside of the vagina during intercourse
  • Not as effective as male condoms

    Birth Control Pills, Hormone Patches, and Hormone Shots

    Birth control pills are among the most popular and effective birth control methods available to women. They do not protect against STDs, but the simple act of taking a daily pill is a convenient and easy method of preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills prevent ovulation (the release of an egg by ovaries), and also help thicken cervical mucus, which lessens the chance of fertilization. These pills are generally made of two important hormones - estrogen and progesterone. Pills with both hormones are usually referred to as "combination" pills, while the "mini" pill only contains progestin.

    When a woman ingests a birth control pill, she introduces her body to synthetic hormones that are naturally produced by her body. Increased hormonal activity helps prevent ovulation, but this increase can also cause undesirable side effects: depression, spotting, headaches, breast tenderness, decreased libido, and mood changes. If you ever experience any of these side effects, ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a pill with fewer hormones that is more suited to your body's unique chemistry. In the end, avoiding all of these side effects is virtually impossible. After all, the birth control pill works by increasing hormone levels in your body that impact sexual reproduction. Important note: Women who smoke and are over the age of 35 are more susceptible to blood clots while using birth control pills. If you smoke and are 35 or older, consult with your physician for a different birth control method.

    Combination Pill

    The combination pill (estrogen and progesterone synthetic hormones) is an oral contraceptive that is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken every day at the same time. Many consider the combination pill the most effective birth control method available to women. However, this 99% effectiveness often drops to 95% effectiveness when women fail to take the pill every day at the same time. Women protect themselves best by taking all birth control pills every day at the same time, so this is not only an issue with the combination pill is - it applies to the mini pill, as well.

    The combination pill suppresses ovulation effectively. Each package of combination pills lasts for a 28-day cycle. For 21 days of the cycle, women take one pill a day. After 21 days, women swallow one "dummy" pill a day for seven days. These dummy pills do not contain any hormones. Why take the dummy pills if they don't contain hormones? Two reasons: Women's hormone levels drop while taking dummy pills, causing women to have their period, and the dummy pills help women maintain their routine of taking pills every day at the same time. Remaining on the same routine is critical, so dummy pills help women continue the routine without interruption.

    Since this pill must be taken every day at the same time for 99% effectiveness, women should choose a time during the day or night that is easy to remember, when few distractions could potentially make them forget to take the pill. A lot of women choose to take the pill immediately when they wake up; others prefer to take it right before bed. Make a decision and stick with it, avoiding confusion and forgetfulness. The first pill of an active birth control pill pack should always be taken within five days of the onset of one's period. This is the best method of preventing pregnancy after one's period, and it also helps women avoid taking back-up pills. If the first pill of an active pack is not ingested during a woman's period, she must wait seven days before protection is guaranteed. Use a condom or another birth control method during the seven days.


  • 99% effective when taken correctly
  • Less dramatic PMS symptoms
  • Alleviates some acne problems
  • Possible protection against ovarian and endometrial cancer
  • Convenient and easy
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Safe for most women


  • Possible irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Introducing sensitive body chemistry to synthetic hormones
  • Possible weight gain, breast tenderness, and libido suppression
  • Blood clots (women over 35 and women who smoke)
  • Mood changes
  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • Antibiotics can lessen effectiveness and protection
  • Cannot take while breastfeeding

    Mini Pill

    The mini pill is a progestin-only pill. It is slightly less effective than the combination pill. The combination pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when taken correctly; the mini pill is 98% effective when taken correctly. Like the combination pill, the mini pill should be taken every day at the same time. Deviating from this routine lessens the effectiveness of the mini pill. The combination pill works by consistently inhibiting ovulation. The mini pill, on the other hand, relies on progestin to thicken cervical mucus, which reduces sperm penetration. Depending on the dosage, ovulation inhibition either increases or decreases according to the dosage - low, intermediate, or high doses of progestin. Doctors determine which dosage works best for certain women, so be sure to explore your options with your physician.

    Blood clotting is a possible side effect of the combination pill; however, the likelihood of blood clotting with mini pills is much less. Breastfeeding is safe when taking the mini pill and dummy pills are not included in mini pill packets. Indeed, mini pills must be taken every single day without interruption. When a mini pill packet runs out, a new packet must be started immediately. Since there is no break of dosage, light spotting and irregular periods could occur. Fewer side effects result from taking mini pills, but the mini pill is also less effective in preventing pregnancy. It is important to discuss your medical history with your doctor before taking birth control pills, specifically when taking the mini pill - which exacerbates certain medical conditions: depression, kidney disease, liver disease, and more.


  • Reliable form of birth control
  • Convenient and easy
  • Less dramatic PMS symptoms
  • Less chance of blood clotting
  • Decreased risk of endometrial cancer and inflammatory pelvic disease
  • Fewer periods and bleeding
  • Less chance of anemia
  • Suited for older women and women with high blood pressure
  • Does not interrupt sex


  • May increase the risk of ovarian cysts
  • Slightly increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Mood changes, headaches, and decreased libido
  • Must be taken every day at the same time
  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • Protection lessened when taking antibiotics
  • Diarrhea and vomiting lessen protection

    Hormone Shots

    DepoProvera is an injectable alternative to birth control pills for women who find it difficult to take birth control pills every day at the same time. Each shot of DepoProvera contains synthetic hormones called DMPA (depotmedroxypro-gesterone acetate) that mimics naturally produced progesterone in the female body. Once injected into muscle tissue, the DMPA is absorbed into the bloodstream. DMPA inhibits ovulation within two weeks of the first injection. Women who use DepoProvera must get four injections a year to prevent pregnancy; each injection lasts 90 days. Extending each three-month interval can result in pregnancy; so staying current with each shot is imperative. Each shot is inexpensive in comparison to monthly expenses for birth control pills.

    DepoProvera is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and more convenient than oral contraceptives. And since this hormone shot contains no estrogen, fewer side effects result and the intensity of some side effects decreases. That being said, DepoProvera also causes a few of its own side effects: bleeding irregularities, cancer risks, future low birth rates, possible bad drug interactions, and extended periods of reestablishing fertility (sometimes 12 - 24 months). Of all side effects, irregular bleeding is easily the most common side effect, and most women eventually quit having periods altogether. Weight gain is also a possibility, especially after years of the injections. Women who are breastfeeding should wait six weeks before getting a DepoProvera injection.


  • Most convenient birth control method
  • Highly effective in preventing pregnancy
  • No estrogen
  • One shots lasts three months; four shots a year
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • fewer moods swings and headaches than birth control pills


  • Cannot breastfeed with DepoProvera injections
  • Possible long-term difficulties for returning fertility (up to 24 months)
  • Possible breast cancer concerns
  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases
  • Takes two weeks after first injection for protection

    Hormone Patches

    The birth control patch sticks to skin, releasing hormones into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Progesterone and estrogen work together in the patch to prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus - much like the combination pill works. The patch is used according to a woman's menstrual cycle, which differs from DepoProvera injections and is similar to birth control pills. A single patch is placed in one of four regions on the body (abdomen, buttocks, upper arm, or upper torso) and worn for a full seven days. Women wear a different patch each week for three weeks. During the fourth week no patch is worn and the woman should start her period. In order to maintain the highest effectiveness, new patches must be put on the same day of each week. For example, if you first put the patch on your body on Monday, you should do the same thing the following week on Monday. Choose a day for each week and stick with it; however, do not place a new patch in the same region two weeks in a row.

    Sounds like the perfect birth control option, right? Not so fast. Birth control patches can fall off or come loose. In such situations, contact your doctor about how to proceed. If the patch comes off or becomes loose, you may need to use a backup plan - perhaps condoms. Always replace your birth control patch within 24 hours - or start a new form of birth control within the 24-hour period. However, the likelihood of the patch coming off or loosening is rare. You should be able to wear the patch while swimming, showering, working out, having sex, or during most activities. Always leave the patch in the same place on your body for the entire week. Moving it around or taking it off - even for a short period of time - can limit the patch's effectiveness. Some women have made the mistake of trimming their birth control patches, and to do so is a gamble. If the patch does not fit correctly on your body, you should not alter its shape or size without consulting a physician. Most of the time, the patch comes off when makeup and lotion are applied before the patch, which makes the patch's adhesive less sticky, more prone to falling off or being too loose.

    As with other birth control methods, the patch must be used correctly to achieve the best results. When used as directed, the patch is generally recognized as being as effective as both the mini pill and combination pill. Unintended pregnancy is unlikely when the patch is worn as designed and for the appropriate length of time. Women who weigh 200 or more pounds should consult with their healthcare professional about a different form of birth control, as the patch is less effective with women who weigh 200 or more pounds. Women who smoke should not use the birth control path, particularly those women 35 years old and older. Smoking while wearing the patch increases the risk of blood clotting. Here are a few side effects associated with the birth control patch: irregular menstrual bleeding, nausea, weight gain, headaches, dizziness, mood changes, breast tenderness, minor skin irritations, and intense menstrual cramps. Despite these unwanted side effects, the birth control patch is a good birth control method for young women who might forget to take birth control pills. Doctors make the final determination about what type of birth control should be used, but many young women like the patch's convenient-to-use approach. A month's supply of birth control patches costs about the same as a month's supply of birth control pills.


  • More convenient than daily birth control pills
  • As effective as birth control pills when used correctly
  • Good choice for young women who forget to take pills
  • Inexpensive birth control method


  • Women who weigh 200 pounds or more cannot use the patch
  • The patch could potentially fall off or loosen
  • Adhesive on the patch can itch or irritate skin
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Risk of blood clots with women who smoke
  • Weight gain, headaches, and dizziness

    Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

    An Intrauterine Device differs from all other birth control methods. An IUD is a small T-bar shaped object that is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A tiny string is attached to the bottom portion of the device; the string rests in the upper region of the vaginal. An IUD device does not interfere with intercourse and should be unnoticeable. Uterine lining and fallopian tubes change in response to the IUD's presence, which impacts sperm and egg movement, preventing fertilization and pregnancy. If you choose to use an IUD as your birth control method, you will be required to visit your doctor for a checkup, and he or she will determine if the device is right for you. And the IUD can be implanted during a simple clinic visit; however, before insertion your doctor may require frequent checkups to prevent infection. Insertion of an IUD takes around 15 minutes, during which time some women experience cramping. Most doctors prefer to insert the IUD during a woman's menstrual period, as the cervix is open during this time.

    There are two types of IUDs for women and doctors to choose from: the Mirena and ParaGard. The ParaGard is a non-hormonal IUD: It does not release hormones into the body to prevent or control ovulation, but the T-Bar design with copper wire does regulate sperm and egg movement through manipulating the uterus's shape and structure. Some women are highly allergic to copper wire, so be aware that the ParaGard does use copper wire wrapping (around the T-Bar) as a secondary prevention method. ParaGard's copper wire has a spermicidal effect that adds additional protection for women. However, the copper wire could negatively impact women who bleed heavily during menstruation. Also, the ParaGard can be used as a form of emergency contraception when implanted within three to five days after unprotected sex, pregnancy, or abortion. Research currently indicates that the ParaGard lasts for 12 years or more; so this birth control method lasts a long time at a 94% effectiveness rate - slightly lower than birth control pills, the patch, and hormone injections.

    Though the ParaGard device is effective as a birth control method, women must be aware that expulsion rates are significant in the first year, with 5.7% of ParaGard devices being expelled in the first year. Women should always check the location of the T-Bar string that should hang in the upper portion of the vagina. Depending on the location of the string, one can tell if the device remains in proper positioning. If no string can be found, the device may have been expelled. If this happens, contact your physician immediately. Women who are prone to pelvic infections (PID) or who have a history of Toxic Shock Syndrome should not use the ParaGard device or any IUD. Be aware that the ParaGard device can intensify menstrual cramps.

    The Mirena IUD releases low doses of synthetic progesterone hormone into a woman's body, which differs from the non-hormonal ParaGard IUD; however, like the ParaGard IUD, the Mirena is T-shaped for a perfect fit inside of the uterus. The low doses of progesterone accomplish two important objectives: First, the progesterone helps prevent pregnancy; and second, the progesterone helps regulate menstrual bleeding better than the ParaGard IUD. The Mirena is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy - a higher effectiveness than the ParaGard and at the same prevention level as most birth control pills. The Mirena is also equipped with a T-Bar string that helps woman check the positioning of the IUD inside of her vagina (also for future removal purposes), and insertion of the device should take five to ten minutes. As with the ParaGard IUD, the Mirena is implanted in a doctor's office after a thorough exam.

    The Mirena changes menstrual cycles by making a woman's period much lighter. However, it can take nearly three months of heavy bleeding before light bleeding replaces irregular menstrual periods. Sometimes a period will last longer during this three-month period, though nothing too alarming. As with other hormone-related birth control methods, headaches, water retention, breast tenderness, and acne might be an issue - at least during the three-month transitional period, when the female body is adapting to the presence of the IUD. The Mirena has fewer side effects than most birth control methods, which makes it very appealing for women who don't want to worry about taking pills or putting on patches or taking hormone injections. Like the ParaGard device, the Mirena lasts for many years.


  • Highly effective birth control method
  • Does not interfere with intercourse
  • No need for daily, weekly, or monthly birth control methods
  • The Mirena and ParaGard IUD last a long time
  • Inexpensive long-term cost


  • Risk of benign ovarian cysts
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Possible pelvic infection after insertion
  • Expensive short-term cost
  • Requires doctor's visit and minor procedure
  • Mirena hormones may cause water retention, headaches, and bloating

    Contraceptive Ring

    The contraceptive ring (also known as the Nuva Ring) is an extremely popular birth control method for young women. The ring is inserted into the vagina and worn for three consecutive weeks, until the fourth week when menstruation occurs. The device resides near the cervix, where estrogen and progesterone are slowly released for the three-week period. The dual hormone approach is similar to the combination birth control pill that is widely celebrated as one of the most effective birth control methods. Estrogen and progesterone work together to suppress ovulation and thicken cervical mucus; both ovulation suppression and thickening of cervical mucus prevent pregnancy. Since each ring lasts three weeks, a new ring must be inserted each month. The ring offers protection beginning seven days after insertion, and first-time users generally insert the ring during their menstrual period.

    The contraceptive ring doesn't generally interfere with sex, but women and men have commented about how the ring will occasionally move during intercourse. Women tend to notice that their PMS symptoms decrease when using the contraceptive ring. Some women also benefit from the contraceptive ring's ability to decrease acne. The risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer decreases significantly with this birth control method. However, there are a few complications and side effects associated with the contraceptive ring: yeast infections, vaginal discharge, upper respiratory tract infections, sinus infections, weight gain, nausea, tender breasts, and mood swings. Most women will experience one or more side effects. Women should also be aware that blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and Gallbladder disease have been associated with the contraceptive ring.

    Through a thorough medical examination of records and routine checkups, doctors determine if the contraceptive ring is right for a given woman. A slew of medical factors rule out of the possibility of using the contraceptive ring, so be sure to share all relevant medical information with your doctor before using this birth control method. After ruling out certain medical issues, a doctor will write a prescription for the contraceptive ring. Contact your physician immediately if you experience serious side effects. Warning: Never leave the contraceptive ring out of your vagina for more than three hours. Since the ring can fall out during intercourse or other activities, you should also check to make sure the device is inside of the vagina, near the cervix. Once the ring has been out of the vagina for more than three hours, it loses effectiveness. In such cases, you should consult your doctor about what steps to take.


  • More convenient than daily pills or weekly patches
  • Dual hormone approach
  • Highly effective when used correctly
  • Decreases the frequency of acne
  • Decreased PMS symptoms
  • Helpful in preventing endometrial and ovarian cancer


  • Possible increase in yeast infections, vaginal discharge, and spotting
  • Weight gain and bloating
  • Mood swings, breast tenderness, and sinus infections
  • Can fall out of the vagina
  • Cannot be outside of the vagina for more than three hours
  • Several serious complications with some medical conditions
  • Antibiotics limit effectiveness

    Suggestions and Additional Information

    Birth control methods all aim to prevent pregnancy, but only condoms and abstinence can prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. For ultimate protection and prevention, many people choose to use condoms in conjunction with other birth control methods. VibeReview encourages men and women to practice the safest sex possible - or abstinence, particularly for young people. But VibeReview recognizes that sex is a natural part of life; so if you choose to have sex, protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

    There are enough birth control methods to find one that suits your needs. Some women will switch from one type of birth control to another, trying to find the right one. Always ask for additional information about a given birth control method. Be sure to share your entire medical history with a physician before using chemical and device birth control methods. By doing so, you will avoid some side effects and possible complications. Gather up all the information you can find about your chosen birth control method. VibeReview's guide to birth control methods is meant as an introduction to the different viable options, but you can always use the assistance of other resources and a great doctor!

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    Last updated: Oct. 08, 2023