An extremely important yet often overlooked part of sex education is knowing about the types of contraception at hand. Knowing about birth control can help you prevent unwanted pregnancies and the resulting effect it has on your relationships, and physical and mental well-being. Our guide to birth control will help you learn all about the types of contraception so that you can practice safe sex no matter your gender or relationship status.

types of contraception

Different types of contraception are available for men as well as women today.

Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) 

As the name suggests, Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives are long-acting, and their effects are reversible as soon as you remove them. LARCs have a major advantage over the other types of contraception. It’s that the user doesn’t need to bother with ongoing efforts to prevent pregnancy. LARCs include intrauterine devices and implants.

IUDs: Copper & Hormonal

The copper intrauterine device or IUD is better known as Copper T in India due to its distinctive T-shape. The device is as small as a matchstick and works by being toxic to the sperm and egg. Copper Ts are made of plastic and have one portion covered with an exposed copper wire. They can last for 3 to 10 years depending on the type. 

It stops the sperm from fertilizing the egg by affecting ovulation to slow the transportation of the egg to the uterus, and altering the uterus lining to make it unable for a fertilized egg to implant itself. This is due to an inflammatory response it elicits; the body reacts to the presence of a foreign object and targets all foreign objects in the body, including sperm. Plus, copper ions elicit an inflammatory response specifically from the uterus.

Another type of IUD, known as a hormonal IUD, releases progestin hormone into the uterus. It thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to reach the egg, and thins the lining of the uterus to prevent an egg from implanting. It could also prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg every menstrual cycle. 

You cannot insert an IUD yourself and need to visit a trained healthcare professional for the same. An IUD also acts as a form of emergency contraception if a professional fits it within 5 days or 120 hours of you having unprotected sex. IUDs have a high success rate and coupled with their longevity, they become one of the most effective types of contraception.

Pros: long-lasting, high success rate, low effort once inserted.

Cons: Irregular periods, irregular spotting and bleeding within the first 6 months, requires a medical professional for insertion and removal, invasive, doesn’t protect against STDs.


Implants are subdermal implantable rods, flexible and about 4 cm in length, similar to a matchstick. Like the IUD, you need a medical physician to physically insert the implant into your upper arm. With a local anesthetic, the physician can easily inject the implant into your arm. Once in, it releases progestin, a form of the progesterone hormone. This hormone can stop your ovaries from releasing eggs, and also thickens your cervical mucus. This makes it tougher for the sperm to enter your uterus.

Pros: long-lasting, high success rate, not as invasive as an IUD, low effort once inserted.

Cons: irregular initial bleeding, requires a medical professional for insertion and removal, invasive, doesn’t protect against STDs.

Barrier Methods

One of the most common types of contraception that you’re probably familiar with are condoms. While easily available and advertised, male condoms aren’t the only option around. Did you know a female condom also exists? Read on to understand the barrier methods of birth control.

Male Condoms

The male condom is generally made of latex or polyurethane, the latter of which is ideal for people with latex allergies. It acts as a thin sheath that covers an erect penis, collecting sperm when the man ejaculates and preventing it from entering the woman’s body. Using a male condom is not just a form of birth control, but can also help to prevent STDs since it prevents the exchange of fluids. Male condoms are easily available in chemists, but ensure you only purchase a packet that hasn’t been tampered with. Also, make it a point to properly dispose of the condom after use.

Pros: good protection against STDs, free of hormones, easily available, and perfect to use on-demand

Cons: latex allergies are cause for concern, the condom could tear or slide off if you use it incorrectly

Female Condoms

Not as easily available, you’ll have more luck purchasing female condoms online than in chemists. While it gives women their own protection to have safe sex, it has a bit of a learning curve. Female condoms are made of natural or synthetic rubber, or polyurethane. They’re thin and flexible, and act as a contraceptive barrier by wearing them inside the vagina. Much like a pouch inside your vagina, they prevent the exchange of sexual fluids and stop sperm from entering. 

Pros: protects against STDs, free of hormones, good for use on-demand, one just needs to insert it a few hours before sexual activity

Cons: takes a while to master, can slip out of place during sex, aren’t as effective as compared to male condoms


A diaphragm is a dome-shaped cup or disc that sits in your vagina, blocking any sperm from entering. Of course, simply trusting a diaphragm to get the job done isn’t enough, which is why you need to use it with spermicide for it to work. Using them together will give you 94% effectiveness. A diaphragm is made of latex or soft rubber, so be aware of any allergies. Your diaphragm needs to be in place for 6 – 8 hours post intercourse in order to properly prevent pregnancy. However, ensure you remove it after 24 hours. 

Pros: no hormonal use, reusable for up to 2 years

Cons: may be uncomfortable to insert, only works well when inserted and used correctly


Oral Contraceptive Pills

Oral contraceptive pills are a form of birth control that you can practice over a long period, as long as you remember to be regular. To begin with, only women can use oral contraceptive pills, and they have to pop these small pills once a day for as long as they want to prevent pregnancy. The pills work to thicken your mucus and affect your ovulation to prevent eggs from being released.

contraceptive pills, types of abortion, medical abortion

Pills are among the most common types of contraception.

They have a lot of misinformation surrounding them, so make sure you do your research before deciding to go on the pill. The pill is not an ideal choice for some women e.g. women with a genetic predisposition to blood clots, women who smoke, and women with obesity. Make sure you speak with your gynecologist regarding whether or not you should use them.

Additionally, missing even a single pill on a single day can lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Ensure you speak to your gynecologist the instant you realize you’ve missed a day.

Pros: high effectiveness, convenient, could help reduce the pain and flow of heavy periods for some

Cons: forgetting even one pill can lead to pregnancy, can only be used by women, no protection against STDs

Emergency Contraceptive Pills

As the name suggests, emergency contraceptive pills are to be taken when you have unprotected sex. They can either come in one dose or in 2 doses a few hours apart, and need to be taken immediately after semen exposure. Emergency contraceptive pills are not intended to be used as regular birth control. They are ideal for situations where contraception was accidentally not used, a condom has broken or slipped off, or in cases of sexual assault.

When a girl takes the pill before her ovulation, it can delay ovulation for up to 5 days. It also thickens the cervical mucus and interferes with sperm function. The woman can still get pregnant if the pills are taken after she ovulates, or if she has unprotected sex in the same cycle.

Pros: effective as a contraceptive in emergencies when taken on time, easily available at chemists

Cons: pill may have side effects like nausea and delaying the next period, no protection against STDs, may not be effective if the woman has already ovulated

Permanent Contraception

A man or a woman can undertake permanent contraception, as procedures exist for both. Both involve a minor surgical procedure that sterilizes the patient by altering the reproductive anatomy. Read on to know about both types of contraception.

Female Permanent Contraception

Tubal occlusion: Applying devices such as a ring, clip or band to squeeze the fallopian tube shut. The eggs cannot move to the uterus and the body will naturally absorb them.

Tubal ligation: The fallopian tubes are surgically severed, and their ends are stitched shut.

Electrocoagulation: This uses a low-voltage electrical current to destroy a part of the fallopian tube. This part then clots up, blocking the passage of the eggs.

Pros: one-day procedure with general anesthesia, doesn’t affect hormones or menstrual cycle, does not affect lactating mothers

Cons: procedures may not be reversible, doesn’t protect against STDs

Male Permanent Contraception

Vasectomy is the term that defines male permanent contraception, and like the procedure for women, happens under general anesthesia. Doctors will sever the vas deferens, the tube responsible for transferring mature sperm to the urethra, and close the severed ends. In simple words, the man will still be able to ejaculate, but his semen will no longer contain sperm.

There may still be remnant sperm in the ejaculatory duct after the vasectomy. After around 15 to 20 ejaculations, the man will have to take a semen analysis to confirm that the semen is completely free of sperm.

Pros: quick procedure, no hormonal usage

Cons: no protection against STDs, is not immediately effective until the sperm presence disappears

birth control, types of contraception

There are different types of contraception available for birth control today. Knowing about them will help you make a better decision for you and your partner.


Being aware of birth control methods and the different types of contraception can help prevent the emotional distress of unwanted pregnancies and abortion procedures. If you do happen to get pregnant even while on contraception, ensure you visit a doctor to learn about the abortion options before taking things into your own hands. 

FAQs On Types Of Contraception

What Are The 4 Types Of Contraceptives?

There are 4 broad categories of contraceptives, and these are long-acting reversible contraceptives, pills, barriers, and permanent contraception. Each of these has different side effects and some require the assistance of a medical professional.

What Are The 3 Most Effective Types Of Contraception?

The most effective form of birth control is the IUD or the implant, both of which are long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC). They are the most long-lasting, are immediately reversible, and have high success rates.

Can A Woman Be Sterilized?

Yes, women can undergo sterilization procedures. There are a couple of options that women have when it comes to sterilization, but not all are always reversible. The procedure involves a general-anesthetic surgical procedure to block your fallopian tubes.