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Birth Control


Birth control (contraception) is used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods work by preventing the woman's ovary from releasing an egg (ovum), preventing the male's sperm from fertilizing the egg, or preventing implantation of the egg in the lining of the uterus.

Health benefits and risks, convenience, cost, religious beliefs, and a partner's preference may all affect which birth control method is chosen. One method may work better than others for an individual or for a couple. Available methods include:

  • Barrier methods, such as condoms.
  • Hormonal methods, such as the Pill, skin patch, implant, shot, or vaginal ring.
  • Fertility awareness, also called the calendar method.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Sterilization surgery (vasectomy or tubal ligation).
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Anne Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedMay 13, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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