Contraception, or birth control, has two main purposes: it prevents unwanted pregnancies, and it prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs; or STDs, sexually transmitted diseases as it was formerly called).
Types of contraception include:
- barrier methods – male condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, contraceptive sponges, and cervical caps fall under this category; spermicides (chemicals that destroy sperm) are often used together with barrier methods of contraception
- hormonal methods – birth control pills, patches, and rings are examples of hormonal methods of contraception
- natural birth control – two methods include the rhythm method (a woman abstaining from having sex during the fertile days of her menstrual cycle) and withdrawal (man withdraws his penis completely from the vagina before ejaculation)
- sterilization – tubal ligation (blocking a woman’s fallopian tubes via a surgical procedure) and vasectomy (surgical procedure that involves cutting the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis)
Not all types of contraception reduce the risk of STIs, and some forms of birth control are more reliable than others. For example, the condom acts as a barrier to sperm to help prevent pregnancy and it can help reduce the risk of STIs. Birth control pills reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy; however, they do not protect against STIs. Sexually active individuals need to evaluate which method is best for them and their partner.
Read more about contraception and STIs by clicking the links below.