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Birth Control Types (Effectiveness and Side Effects)

Facts and definition of birth control

  • The practice of birth control or preventing pregnancy is as old as human existence. For centuries, humans have attempted to avoid pregnancy.
  • Ancient Egyptian writings dating back to 1850 BC refer to techniques using a device placed in a woman's vagina made of crocodile dung and fermented dough, which most likely created a hostile environment for sperm. Other items placed in the vagina included plugs of gum, honey, and acacia.
  • During the early second century in Rome, a highly acidic concoction of fruits, nuts, and wool was placed on the cervix as a type of spermicidal barrier.
  • For the individual woman, the ability to effectively control when and whether she becomes pregnant affects her ability to achieve her own goals and contribute to her sense of well-being. A woman's choice of a birth control method involves factors such as how ease, safety, risks, cost, and personal other considerations.
  • There are a variety of methods and types of birth control available, for example:
  • Hormonal methods (the "pill", patch, shot, implant, etc.)
  • Side effects for birth control methods and types depends upon the method, for example, birth control pills may cause side effects such as:
  • The effectiveness in preventing pregnancy depends upon the birth control method used.
  • This overview discusses the main methods of contraception (birth control) used in the United States, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Birth Control Types (Effectiveness and Side Effects):

Birth Control Types - Experience

Please share your experience with different birth control methods, their effectiveness, and side effects.

Birth Control Types - Pills

If you have taken birth control pills please share your experience including associated side effects and effectiveness.

Birth Control - Natural Methods

Have you tried birth control through natural or behavioral methods? Was it effective? Please describe your experience.

Birth Control - Side Effects

Did you experience side effects from using an intrauterine device or other methods of medical birth control? If so, please describe the side effects.

Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

These general side effects of birth control pills apply to all the hormonal birth control medications, regardless of how they are taken (for example, pills, topical patch, injection):

  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fluid retention
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Missed periods
  • Headaches
  • Depression

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The practice of contraception is as old as human existence.

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