Methods of contraception

There are different types of contraception. Hormonal contraception affects your endocrine system with steroid hormones. Non-hormonal methods have fewer side effects than hormonal options. Barrier contraceptive methods can physically prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. Natural contraception methods are based on observing the menstrual cycle.

General information

Some methods of contraception are safer than others. Some have side effects, while others do not affect you physically or mentally. Which method is right for you, depends on your lifestyle and health.


Remember that the male condom is the only birth control method that protects you from sexually transmitted diseases, and even this isn’t 100% reliable.
Apart from the condom and male sterilization, contraception is about the women’s body, although research into new contraceptives for men is ongoing.

Hormonal contraceptives

Hormonal contraception includes birth control pills, implants under the skin, injections, patches, IUDs, vaginal rings. They are available for women. There are combined oral contraceptive pills and minipills (which contain only progestin). Both types of birth control pills inhibit ovulation and make your cervical mucus thicker. Combined hormonal contraceptives can cause venous and arterial blood clots. Because of that they are not recommended for smokers and women over 35. However, they can reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Combined hormonal contraceptives can reduce menstrual bleeding and mеnstruation cramps. They don’t suit breastfeeding mothers as they affect milk production. Estrogen can be also released from a vaginal ring.


Minipills, injections and IUDs don’t cause blood clots. Minipills can also reduce menstrual bleeding and mеnstruation cramps. They can cause irregular bleeding or you may have no periods at all. Minipills suit for breastfeeding.

Non-hormonal contraceptive methods

Non-hormonal contraceptive methods include IUD, sterilization, barrier methods and natural birth control.


An intrauterine device (IUD) is a device that can be placed in the uterus. There are hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs. 


The non-hormonal IUD contains copper that makes the environment of utera toxic to sperm. IUDs can work for up to 10 years and can be removed at any time. However, they can cause side effects, including heavy bleeding and cramps. 


Sterilization is a surgical procedure for those who have decided not to have children any more. Vasectomy is male sterilization, while female sterilization is called tubal ligation.

Natural birth control

Natural contraception is based on observing ones menstrual cycle. It doesn’t involve any devices or chemicals, however, it is not as reliable.


Withdrawal method involves the penis being removed from the vagina before ejaculation. This method is not reliable.


Basal body temperature method is based on measuring your body temperature every day and studying changes in the secretion of the vagina to know when when you can have intercourse without getting pregnant. 


Rhythm method is based on observing ovulation cycle. You should abstain from sex on the days when you can become pregnant.

Barrier methods

Barrier contraceptive methods can physically prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.


Condom protects against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms work by not letting the sperm get into the vagina. It is advisable to use condoms together with other contraceptives for better protection.


Sponge is polyurethane foam with spermicide that is inserted into the vagina. The sponge blocks sperm from entering the uterus. 


Cervical cap can be placed in the vagina up to six hours before sex. Consult your doctor to choose the correct size.


Spermicide is a chemical that stops sperm from reaching an egg by killing it. It is better to use it with a condom or sponge for better protection.

Emergency contraceptives

There are two types of emergency contraception: an emergency contraceptive pill and a copper IUD.
The emergency contraceptive pill can be taken up three days after unprotected sex. Emergency contraceptive pills are an emergency solution and should not be used regularly.


The copper IUD can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected vaginal intercourse. It can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse.
Emergency contraception can be used, if you have forgotten about protection, in case a condom splits or you have forgotten to take more than one contraceptive pill.

Which methods are the safest?

Most contraceptive methods are safe if you are quite sure how they work. Female and male sterilization is the most fail safe method, though suitable for very few. Intrauterine devices and hormonal implants are very effective, because they cannot be used incorrectly. Also, oral contraceptives and barrier methods provide good protection if used properly and at the right time.


So which method should you choose? 

It can be difficult to decide which birth control method is best for you. You have to consider your age, lifestyle and how safe the method should be, as well as how the different methods of contraception can affect your body. If you need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and infections, always choose a condom. 


All methods except natural contraceptives, barrier methods, and emergency contraceptives, require prescriptions and often a visit to a gynecologist.

How APPOTEK can help

If you want advice and information about different types of contraception methods, APPOTEK can help.


A doctor will make an individual assessment based on your situation and prescribe contraception if needed. If you have used birth control pills before, Appotek can renew your prescriptions and, if necessary, help with blood pressure measurement.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.