Guide To Choosing Birth Control

How it works
Efficacy rate with typical use
Long- vs. short-acting
Prevents STI?
IUDicon of iud Device inserted into your uterus in a clinic. Prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years depending on the type of IUD. 99%
Long-acting Version without hormones and version with progesterone only No
Implanticon of implant Device inserted under your arm in a clinic. Prevents pregnancy for 3 years. 99%
Long-acting Progesterone only No
The Shoticon of shot Injection done in a clinic or pharmacy every 3 months. 94%
Short-acting Progesterone only No
The Ringicon of ring Plastic ring inserted in your vagina. You take it out and put a new one in every 3 to 4 weeks. 91%
Short-acting Estrogen and progesterone No
The Patchicon of patch Patch placed on skin. Needs to be changed every week. 91%
Short-acting Estrogen and progesterone No
The Pillicon of pills Tablets swallowed every day. 91%
Short-acting Version with progesterone only; version with estrogen and progesterone No
Condomicon of condom Latex and nonlatex versions put on a penis before sex. 82%
Short-acting No hormones Yes
Internal condomicon of intcondom Latex and nonlatex versions placed inside the vagina before sex. 79%
Short-acting No hormones Yes
Fertility awarenessicon of fertility-awareness Track your cycle and abstain from sex during times of the month when you're most likely to get pregnant. 76%-88%
Short-acting No hormones No
Withdrawalicon of withdrawal Pulling out before ejaculation. 78%
Short-acting No hormones No
Sterilizationicon of sterilization A tubal ligation or a vasectomy. This is a surgical procedure that's done in an operating room (tubal ligation) or clinic (vasectomy). 99%
Long-acting No hormones No
Abstinenceicon of abstinence Don't have sex that could result in a pregnancy. 100%
100% If you don't have vaginal sex
Short-acting No hormones No
Emergency contraceptionicon of emergency A medicine you take within 3 to 5 days after having unprotected sex. You can also get a copper IUD inserted as a form of emergency contraception. 98%-99%
98%-99% The copper IUD is 99% effective when used as a form of emergency contraception. The pills are about 98% effective but may be less effective for people with a higher body mass index.
Short-acting Some with hormones, some without No
Spermicideicon of spermicide A foam you use during sex that kills sperm. 72%
Short-acting No hormones No


Most forms of contraception contain synthetic version of estrogen and a class of hormones called progestins. For simplicity, we've referred to them as estrogen and progesterone in this chart.