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Birth control, or contraception, is any method that is used to help prevent pregnancy. Different types of birth control work in different ways, and can have different side effects.

What contraceptive method is best for me? 

Take this quiz from Planned Parenthood! It takes 10 minutes and offers options based on your preferences.

When it comes to choosing a contraception method for yourself, there are a number of factors to consider.

  • How well does it work: You may want to consider how well the method protects you from pregnancy. IUDs and implants are highly effective methods - fewer than 1 in 100 women get pregnant while properly using an IUD or implant. On the other hand, using just a condom, 18 in 100 women get pregnant every year.

  • Hormones: You may prefer a method that does not have hormones. Or perhaps it doesn't matter to you! Read more about how hormones in contraception works below

  • Menstrual Cycle (your period): You might want a method that does not change your period, or you might prefer a method that actually reduces or stops your period all together.

  • Frequency of Use: You may want a method that doesn't require much upkeep (like an implant or IUD). Or perhaps you're okay with taking something daily (pill) or going into a clinic every few months (shot). 

  • Side Effects: Some methods are linked to more side effects (weight gain, mood swings) than others. 

  • Other medical conditions: Sometimes, birth control may interact with other medical conditions, so talk to a doctor to figure out what may be best for you. You can request an appointment with a Violet provider here.


These are just a few factors you may want to take into consideration when choosing the best method for you.

Categories of contraceptive methods


Hormonal methods are types of birth control that use man-made hormones to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg), therefore preventing conception. 

These methods are: 

  • The Implant

  • The Shot

  • The Ring

  • The Patch

  • The Pill

  • Hormonal IUD 

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods are methods of birth control that physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg, therefore preventing conception.


CONDOMS are the only contraception that also protect you from the majority of STIs

External (male) and internal (female) condoms both protect you from STIs. 

Other Methods

Other methods that do not fall into either of these categories include: 

  • Withdrawl

  • Fertility awareness

  • Surgical procedures (vasectomy, sterilization, tubal ligation)

  • Spermicide

  • Abstinence - the only birth control that is 100% effective

You can always use a hormonal method PLUS condoms
to protect you from pregnancy and STIs!

How does contraception work? 

4 different ways

Releases a hormone (progestin): implant, pill, some types of IUDs (Mirena, Liletta, Skyla, Kyleena) 

Releases hormones (progestin and estrogen): patch, pill, shot (Depo-Provera) 

Contains copper: some types of IUDs (ParaGard)

Blocks sperm from reaching egg: condoms

Estrogen prevents pregnancy by: 

  • thickening the cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to reach an egg


Progestin/progesterone prevents pregnancy by: 

  • preventing an egg from being released during one’s monthly menstrual cycle (period)

  • damaging or killing sperm

  • making it harder for a fertilized egg to grow in the uterus by thinning the cushioned lining (menstrual lining)

Copper prevents pregnancy by:

  • creating a reaction in the uterus that makes eggs and sperm unable to survive

how does contraceptio work?

Using Condoms

Don't wait until you are in the heat of the moment. 

Have a discussion with your partner and be honest and open about how you feel about using condoms. If your partner is hesitant about using condoms, you can show them this website to share facts about why condoms are important to keep you both safe and healthy.

Could I have a latex allergy?
How to put on a condom: infographic!

If you are a Baltimore resident, you can sign up for free monthly delivery of 10 condoms to an address of your choosing at this link. Alternatively, you can call 443-524-0220 to pick up free condoms from LIGHT Health and Wellness Comprehensive Services, located at 2200 North Monroe Street, Baltimore, MD, 21217.

using condoms

How well does each method work?

These are the number of pregnancies out of 100 women that occurred in 1 year while the woman was on the method. 

0.05 pregnancies

Implant (Nexplanon)

0.2 pregnancies

Hormonal IUD

0.8 pregnancies

Copper IUD

0.15 pregnancies


0.5 pregnancies

Tubal Ligation

6 pregnancies

Shot (Depo-Provera)

9 pregnancies

The Pill

9 pregnancies

The Patch

9 pregnancies

The Ring

18 pregnancies

External Condom

21 pregnancies

Internal Condom

22 pregnancies


24 pregnancies

The Sponge

24 pregnancies

Fertility Awareness

28 pregnancies


how well does it work

How often do I have to use the method?

The Pill

Fertility Awareness



Diaphragm or Cervical Cap

Sponge and Spermicide


The Patch

The Ring

The Shot





Use everyday
Use every time you have sex
Every week
Lasts 3+ years 
Every month
Every 3 months
how often do you use

All about the methods

For more information about all of the below, check out this Hopkins page
the methods
nexplanon example_edited.png
The Implant


iud example_edited.png
iud example in uterus_edited.png
The Shot
The Shot.png


The Ring
The Ring inside Vagina.png
The Ring.png
The Patch
The Pill.png
The Pill
External Condom
The Condom.png

"Male condom"

internal condom
Internal Condom

"Female condom"

Spermicide .png
Spermicide +
& Phexxi!
Diaphragm/Cervical Cap
Fertility Tracking.png
Fertility Awareness

"Rhythm method"