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What is Contraception?

Contraception, or birth control, is designed to prevent a woman from getting pregnant. The methods of contraception can be broken down into several different types:

  • Barrier methods, such as condoms and the diaphragm
  • Hormone birth control, such as "the pill" and injections
  • Intrauterine devices, or IUDs
  • Sterilization, of either the man or woman
  • Natural methods, in which you practice fertility awareness2
  • Other methods, such as withdrawal or abstinence3, 4

Choosing one or more birth control methods is a personal decision, and can depend on your overall health, your age, the frequency of your sexual activity, the number of sexual partners you have, whether you want to have children in the future, and even your family history of specific diseases.

As far as helping to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, you should remember that the only contraceptives that can do that effectively are condoms.