Contraception essentially is a method to prevent pregnancy; and there are different types of contraception. Besides preventing pregnancy, many women are on contraception to help regulate their periods and/or reduce menstrual symptoms. So which one is the best to use? Honestly, that is a personal preference, so it is good to do your research and find out which one works best for your lifestyle. Your doctor is a great resource to ask, so don’t feel afraid to talk to him/her about it during your next visit if you are interested! In the meantime, here is some information about the most popular types.

Birth control pills (also called oral contraception pills or OCPs): When most people think of birth control, they think of the pills. With this form, you must take a small pill once a day around the same time. Most pills contain estrogen and progestin, two hormones that are naturally made in the body. With birth control pills, the hormones in the pill prevent ovulation. So what are the downsides to the pill? You have to remember to take it every day. Some women like to set alarms on their phones to help them remember every day.

Nuvaring: This is a bendable plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and kept there for 3 weeks, then removed to allow for a period for one week. This ring also contains hormones so it works like the pills. Again, you have to remember to leave the ring in for 3 weeks and then take it out for 1 week to have a period. Also, use a new ring every month; reusing the same Nuvaring makes it less effective.

Depo-Provera shot: This form of contraception is a shot you get at the doctor’s office about every 12 weeks/3 months. It contains the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation but also thickens cervical mucus; both methods that help prevent pregnancy. The big downside that women report with the shot is weight gain; the shot increases your appetite and makes you want to eat.

Intrauterine device (IUD): This is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus at the doctor’s office. It is called a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) because the IUD is effective against pregnancy for 3-10 years (depending on what IUD you receive). While many women report initial pain when having the IUD inserted into the uterus, many women rave about it because it is essentially a “set it and forget it” form of contraception. There’s nothing to remember once it is inserted, and you have a very effective form of contraception for years.

Nexplanon: This is also a LARC that is a small plastic rod inserted into your upper arm in the doctor’s office. As a LARC, it is also a “set it and forget it” kind of contraception that is good for up to 3 years. Many women can feel the device in their arm, but it doesn’t bother them! A side effect some women report is small unexpected bleeding.

Condoms: With all these other forms of contraception, something to keep in mind is that they DO NOT protect against STDs. Condoms must be used to protect against STDs. Repeat, condoms are the only form of contraception that prevents against STDs!

Abstinence: This is the only 100% method effective against pregnancy. The best way to not get pregnant is to not have sex.