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8 Frequently Asked Questions About Birth Control

Congratulations on taking the first step towards better reproductive health! Having the right information is the key to making an informed and confident decision about which birth control method is right for you.

There are many types of birth control available, including condoms, IUDs, and birth control pills. Some types can be prescribed by your healthcare provider or bought over-the-counter at a drugstore. The type that's right for you depends on things like your age, other medical conditions you might have, and how well each method works for you. This article will walk you through some of the most common questions patients have about birth control.

What Is Birth Control?

Birth control is a method used to prevent pregnancy. There are many methods of birth control, including the pill, patch, ring or shot (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate), implant (inserted into the arm), and IUDs (intrauterine devices). Some types of birth control are available over-the-counter while other types require a prescription from your doctor.

Birth controls can be temporary or permanent depending on how they work. The most common type of hormonal contraceptive is called combined oral contraceptives, which combine both estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation in females. Hormonal options also include progestin only pills or injections.

Looking for more information on birth control? Download The No-BS Guide to Birth Control – We created this straightforward guide to help you choose and understand different birth control methods.

Our Birth Control Cheat Sheet

Ready to choose one? Use our free Healthcare Matching Tool to find the best virtual or in-person provider near you!

How Does Birth Control Work?

Birth control prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, preventing sperm from reaching the egg, or preventing fertilization of the egg. It also works as an abortifacient (it causes abortions). Birth control pills work by containing hormones that prevent ovulation and fertilization, as well as thinning out your uterus so it’s less hospitable to a fertilized embryo.

Birth control pills are a form of oral contraception that prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). They work by thickening cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm cells to move through the cervix. The pills also contain a synthetic version of progesterone, a hormone that causes the lining of the uterus to grow thicker.

How Effective Is Birth Control?

In terms of effectiveness, some birth control is over 99% effective. That’s right—99%! It’s not 100% because there is always a small chance that it could fail and you might get pregnant. We’ve broken down the likelihood of getting pregnant each year depending on what type of birth control you use:

  • IUD (hormonal or copper): 0.8% chance per year

  • Implant: 0.05% per year

  • Pill or patch: 9% per year with typical use; less than 1% with perfect use

  • Male condom alone: 15-18%, though some people may have as high as a 20-25% chance if they don't use them correctly every time and/or do so incorrectly.

When Was Birth Control Invented?

Birth control was first introduced in the early 1900s when the diaphragm was invented. The diaphragm is a latex or silicone device that is inserted into the vagina before sex. It covers the cervix and prevents sperm from entering it during intercourse.

The first birth control pill was introduced in 1960 by Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood), and it was called Enovid 10-11-12. This pill contained high doses of estrogen and progesterone, which prevented ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary).

Birth control is a form of contraception, but not all forms of contraception are birth control. That’s where things get tricky.

What Does Birth Control Do?

Birth control is a form of contraception, but not all forms of contraception are birth control. That’s where things get tricky.

Contraception prevents pregnancy before it happens by preventing sperm from meeting egg or by stopping ovulation. With the exception of condoms and withdrawal, this means that you need to be actively engaged in having sex for these methods to work (you can’t just take your pill and forget about it). It also means that if you do have sex during those times when you aren't using your chosen method, there is still a chance you can become pregnant.

Birth control pills, patches and rings are categorized as “hormonal birth control” because they use artificial versions of hormones produced naturally by women's bodies: estrogen and progesterone (and occasionally testosterone). They work primarily by changing the lining inside your uterus so that an egg cannot implant itself there—and without an implanted egg there cannot be a pregnancy! Hormonal birth control also sometimes acts as an early form of emergency contraception if taken within five days after unprotected intercourse (or three days after missing two pills). Many forms of hormonal birth control also make cervical mucus thicker so sperm are less likely to reach their destination—the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place—and/or cause changes in hormone levels which inhibit ovulation for some people altogether.

Where to Get Birth Control Near Me?

If you’re looking for birth control, you can get it from a doctor, pharmacy, clinic, health center or hospital near you. If you prefer to see a specific type of provider such as a family planning clinic or health department—or if the nearest provider isn't your style—you can also search for clinics and offices offering birth control in the area.

Use our free Healthcare Matching Tool to find the best virtual or in-person provider near you

Does Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

It’s important to remember that birth control can cause a number of different effects on the body, including some that are not related to weight. If you experience sudden weight gain while using birth control, it may be related to an increase in water retention or bloating caused by hormones in your body.

If birth control causes you to lose weight, this is usually because it also helps with suppressing hunger (which can lead to eating less). However, if your appetite stays the same but your intake of food decreases as well, this could lead to weight loss as well.

There are many other factors at play when it comes to how much weight changes with each type of birth control—sometimes even more than one factor at once. For example, someone who has been underweight their entire life might experience an increase in appetite while taking certain types of hormonal contraceptives and  someone who has always been overweight may have trouble losing any additional pounds while using them.

How Much Is Birth Control?

The cost of birth control can vary depending on the type you choose. If you have insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, your plan may cover the full cost of your chosen method with no out-of-pocket expenses for you. Some plans will require a copay to use certain methods, so make sure to check with your provider if there are any restrictions on which methods are covered and what your out-of-pocket costs will be.

Get in Control

There are many different types of birth control methods available to you, so it's important to know what they are and how they work so that you can decide which one will be right for you. With this information, we hope you'll feel more confident in making your own choices about contraception!

Be sure to download The No-BS Guide to Birth Control for an in depth breakdown of different birth control methods. We created this straightforward guide to help you choose and understand different birth control methods.

The POV offers a free healthcare matching tool to make your search for a new doctor  simple, regardless of your health insurance situation. Just select the requirements you’re looking for including, location, care needs, payment options, and preferred method for care. We’ll match your requirements with providers in order of overall rating and include a brief description so you can make the best informed decision.  

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