Using a fresh gel and a fresh patch joining the present line-up of contraceptive options , it appears that women have many options these days to prevent a pregnancy.  

On the face of it, yes. Condoms, spermicide, IUDs, the pill, a cervical cap, a diaphragm, the gel, are part of the list.   But the birth control a woman chooses, said experts, needs to fit her life. And her personality. A woman who has post-it notes all over her computer screen might not be the ideal candidate for daily medication .

Bottom line: If you need your birth control to be effective , then make sure that your choice is realistic and feasible.  

The vast majority of girls will be able to find a contraception that works, said

Bethany Golden, a certified nurse midwife and PhD candidate at the University of California San Francisco, “but we still have women that may ‘t … if someone can’t have a hormonal contraception, we’re down to a few options . ” 

The pill, the patch and the shot , oh my!  

Finding the contraception that works for you can be complicated .   So, how can you make it uncomplicated ?

First, evaluate the item . How does it work, how is it used, and how successful is it, from two vantage points: its effectiveness for the normal user, and when it’s used exactly as the manufacturer states . Normal use includes some user error, say, genital contact before putting on a condom, or forgetting to take the pill one weekend. But the ideal use figure reflects how good the method is.

Knowing the differences between these two figures and understanding what that typical error is that may result in a pregnancy can help you decide on the best prophylactic. Said the author of a single study: “The consumer attribute that’s probably most important is incomplete use of this method. ”

The corresponding chart can help you decide.

How do some of the birth control alternatives stack up? Sabrina Emms

Very good contraception has to be something you ’ll use, and that can mean different things to different people . It may mean it matches your price point, or it’s discrete. Maybe you like getting a period of time , perhaps you hate it.  

Golden explained, people are able to change and adapt. “ We all have the ability to integrate various types of birth control, if we desire to. So the question is, is there, is the motivation there, and are there a tip and hint that someone can do. ” Getting the ideal fit with contraception means balancing a whole lot of wants and needs , and personality will come into it. People today ‘s personalities play a factor but again, It might not be the factor that ‘s the most crucial for choice , said Golden.  

Type A 

Does this sound like you? As a condom user, you always have a condom on hand , check its expiration, and always put it on the right way?  

If you mentioned ‘yes’, that’s an ideal user.

Or the pill? Have you got a timer set to take the pill and always have another pack ready ? Or do you keep the pills near your toothbrush?

Perfect user.  

However , what if that isn’t you? What if you’re the woman with post-it notes all over her PC ?

Forgetful or spontaneous 

For the individual who can rarely find her secrets and favors intuition to a GPS, then methods such as IUDs, the ring or intrauterine devices and shots have little user error. The consumer has little control over these types because a health care professional takes care of either placement or the shot , and so the perfect and typical use is similar. The shot and most IUDs are hormonal although the Paragard IUD, a non-hormonal contraceptive, is made of copper.

The shot lasts about 3 months and the copper IUD, about a decade .


Frequency is another point to consider in determining the sort of contraception. Perhaps you have sex rarely but enjoy being protected all the time by something like an IUD or an implant. Or you are more sexually active and like having long-term protection but also use condoms with different partners.  

This isn’t one size fits all. You could have two people with completely distinct frequencies, who select the identical method, said Golden.  

Other options: The ring is a hormonal birth control that sits in the vagina under the cervix. Additionally, there are the diaphragm and the cervical cap, dubbed barrier contraception, and are used with spermicide.

Narrowing the choice

The next decision is hormonal or non-hormonal. The pill, the patch, the shot , the ring and IUDs are predominantly hormonal. Condoms, spermicides, the gel, the sponge and the diaphragm are all non-hormonal.

All methods of contraception have advantages and disadvantages. And, unless a physician is involved in the birth control method — IUD insertion, for example — ineffective, inconsistent use is a significant reason why contraception isn’t as successful as it can be.  

Some hormonal birth control, like pills , can cause mood changes , nausea , nausea and breast pain although these can get better over time. In rare cases, women have developed blood clots, although this was a bigger problem in the past, when the pill had a higher dose of estrogen.  


There are impacts that birth control methods have on women ‘s bodies, said Golden, But they differ from person to person. ”

Patches are different forms of hormonal contraception. Xulane, accepted in 2014 and Twirla, approved in February 2020, each have the same shortcoming: the heavier the woman is, the less effective the patch is.  

For men and women who don’t want to use hormonal contraception, a gel offers a DIY option, not unlike spermicide.  

Phexxi, approved last spring by the FDA, is an acidic gel inserted before sex and is very good for an hour. Although the idea of dispersing an acidic gel inside your vagina might not seem appealing, its efficacy is backed by science. The vagina is normally just a little bit acidic, and sperm is a little bit basic. By maintaining the vagina acidic, the gel slows down sperm and prevents pregnancy.  

The gel requires a prescription. For a comparison with unprotected intercourse , sperm can reach their target within minutes after ejaculation and may hang around for days.  

At a clinical trial, 101 pregnancies occurred in 1,183 women over a seven-month period, bringing the cumulative pregnancy rate to 13.7 % . The trial organizers didn’t include any menstrual cycles in which the women used an additional contraceptive. The pearl rate , a measure of the number of pregnancies occur among 100 women, was 27.5.

This gel also has some side effects, including mostly minor burning. But , this side effect may be shared experience:  9.8 percent of male partners reported a few , mostly mild discomfort . Trial participants reported that the side effects decreased with use.

In terms of the patches, their effectiveness is based on the woman ’s weight.   Xulane is only effective in women who weigh less than 198 pounds. Similarly , Plan B and Ella, both emergency contraceptives, have weight limits over which they are less powerful . Strategy B’s is 165 pounds and Ella’s is 195 lbs .  

Discussing other gaps

What’s the difference between spermicide and a gel? Fantastic question. While the gel slows down semen , spermicide damages it. Spermicide can also increase the risk of vaginal irritation and cause itching and burning . Vaginal irritation, in turn , can leave women more vulnerable to STIs and HIV. Spermicide is a detergent and like palms can get dry and chapped from frequently washing or washing a great deal of dishes, repeated applications of spermicide into the vagina can damage the skin there.  

Condoms, male and female, and spermicide come in the drug store, even the grocery store . That can be a factor in what method you have the best access to. Another point for condoms: They are the only method of contraception that can protect against STIs.  

There is no 100% effective birth control. The only way to not get pregnant is to maintain ejaculate out of the vagina.  

Just remember if you choose to go without protection : Penetrative intercourse free of contraception, from 100 women, could result in 85 pregnancies.  

Intimate choice 

Doctors and suppliers at many low-cost and safety net clinics can help talk you through the options and answer questions. Golden said that if a supplier isn’t talking about a sort of contraception you ’re interested in, bring it up. Ask how frequently they prescribe it. Not all providers are as comfortable or as comfortable with certain types of contraception. The trick is finding the one that works best for you.

References for the graphic

  1. Contraceptive Failure Rates . In Contraceptive Technology. 2013; (26): 844-845.  
  2. Birth Control. Planned Parenthood. Accessed April 1, 2021.
  3. Reprinted with special permission from The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics , August 24, 2020; Vol. 62 (1605): 129-132. Reprinted with special permission from The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics , February 8, 2021; Vol. 63 (1617): 17-18.

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