Some birth control options have the least side effects.
The decision to use birth control and the method of choice is one’s personal perspective. A doctor may guide the decision and advise which method may be best for each individual for safely and effectively preventing pregnancy. Below are few birth control methods with least side effects:
Abstinence: The only 100% assured method to avoid pregnancy is to not have penis-in-vagina sex or indulge in any sexual behavior where sperm can enter the vagina. This method is called abstinence.
- Highly effective
- No costs involved
- No side effects
- It may be difficult to abstain from all sexual activities for an extended period.
Male condom: This provides 84% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.
- It may break during use, especially if it is used improperly
- Allergy to material used to make condom
Spermicide jellies and diaphragm: These are applied to the inner side of the vagina 30 minutes before the sexual activity. They are often used together. Diaphragm is inserted inside the vagina and jelly is applied to its rim.
- It may irritate the vagina and increase the incidence of STDs
- 29% failure rate
Female condom: This is up to 79% effective in preventing pregnancy.
- Female controlled
- More comfortable to men, enhanced sexual sensation than with the male condom
- Offers protection against STD (covers both internal and external genitalia)
- Can be inserted before sex
- Stronger than latex
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- Can slip into the vagina or anus during sex
- Difficulties in insertion/removal
- Not easy to find in drugstores
- Higher cost than male condoms
Birth control pills: Hormonal pills containing estrogen and progesterone can prevent pregnancy and have an almost 91% success rate. These should be started during the first day of the period and continued for the entire month.
- Highly effective
- Reduce bleeding during the periods and improve hemoglobin levels
- Reduce period cramping
- May not suit women with a history of migraine
- May cause blood clots in susceptible women
- No protection against STDs
Withdrawal or pulling out method: This provides up to 78% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. In this method, an individual may need to pull out from partner at the right time.
- Can be used in combination with other birth control method
- No cost involved
- May not withdraw in time
- Pre-ejaculate can still contain viable sperm
Sterilization: This provides up to 99.5% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. Male sterilization procedure is called vasectomy and female sterilization process is called tubectomy.
- Highly effective
- Long-lasting contraceptive solution
- Reversal procedures are expensive and complicated
Contraceptive patch: This provides up to 92% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. One patch when fitted over the body works for three weeks. In the fourth week, no patch is applied and monthly bleeding takes place in this time.
- Small and easy to use
- Stays on the skin without much disturbance to daily activity
- Skin rash
- Reduces the risk of pregnancy by 89% if started within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.
- Must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse
- Possible side effects, including nausea, vomiting and irregular bleeding
- It is not safe to take it more than once a year. This pill causes disturbances in the hormonal cycle.
Birth control shot
- One injection prevents pregnancy for three months.
- Only four shots in one year
- Light bleeding every month
IUCD (Intrauterine contraceptive device)
Acts as a foreign body inside the uterus and prevents union of sperm and ovum
- No hormonal imbalances
- Can be safely removed if pregnancy happens. No adverse effect on the baby.
- Increases chance of ectopic pregnancy (conception in the site other than the uterus.). This is a life-threatening condition.
- Increased bleeding in monthly cycles
- Increased chance of infection in uterus
A condom with any type of birth control is the only way to get protection from pregnancy and STDs during vaginal sex. No birth control method is perfect. Using condoms with another type of birth control gives backup protection in case either method fails. Condoms also lower the chances of getting all kinds of STDs, like HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes. A condom with any birth control is safe and most effective contraceptive method.