Short-Term Contraception Options

Posted on
July 31, 2020

Choosing a method of birth control can be difficult. Know the options and how to pick the type of contraception that's right for you. Before choosing a birth control option, consider the following questions:

  • What options are available?
  • How do different birth control options work?
  • What is the birth control option's effectiveness?
  • Is it reversible?
  • Is the method compatible with religious beliefs and/or cultural practices?
  • Is the method convenient and/or affordable?
  • What are the side-effects?
  • Does the method protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
  • Does it have other benefits?
  • Is the method acceptable to your sexual partner?

What's the bottom line?

The best method of birth control for you is one that is safe, that you are comfortable using, and that you are able to use consistently and correctly. Your preferred method of birth control may change over your lifetime and is influenced by many different factors, including:

  • Your age and health history
  • Your reproductive goals, such as the number of children you want and how soon you want to get pregnant
  • Relationship factors, including marital status, number of sexual partners, how often you have sex and partner preferences
  • Religious beliefs
  • Differences between birth control methods, including how effective they are at preventing pregnancy, side effects, cost and whether they prevent sexually transmitted infections

Knowing your options is definitely part of the decision process — but an honest assessment of yourself and your relationships is just as important when deciding which type of birth control is right for you.

Below is a list of short-term options:

Abstinence — refraining from sexual intercourse for a period, or completely.

Pros: A natural, free method and the only contraception method that is 100% effective.

Cons: Needs to be practiced consistently to be effective, which can be difficult to maintain.

Male Condoms — act as a barrier to stop sperm, can also be used to prevent STIs.

Pros: Protect against pregnancy and STIs, although they are not 100% effective, and should always be checked for tears. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply.

Cons: Allergic reaction to latex is common and many may need to use non-latex versions.

Female Condoms — plastic pouches inserted into the vagina to prevent sperm entering, similar to male condom.

Pros: Widely available and can be inserted up to 8 hours before having intercourse.

Cons: Do not protect completely from STIs and are less effective than male condoms.

Natural Family Planning (Fertility Awareness) — monitoring natural fertility cycle and abstain from sex during fertile time.

Pros: A free & natural option which suits women opposed to taking drugs, have previously suffered from side effects of other options, or for women who are taking other medication which might interfere with contraceptive drugs.

Cons: Successfully monitoring your cycle can be difficult and only 75% effective.

Spermicide — a gel or foam that is inserted into the vagina before sex.

Pros: An easy to use option which is relatively inexpensive.

Cons: Regular use without a condom can cause tissue irritation/damage, which can increase risk of STI.

Diaphragm or Cervical Cap — both are fitted into the vagina and used alongside spermicide to prevent sperm reaching the cervix. The cervical cap is slightly smaller and has a higher failure rate for women who have previously had children.

Pros: Can be reused and are cost effective over time.

Cons: Both options need to be fitted by a doctor and they do not offer STI protection. They can’t be used during your period as it may increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome. Both the diaphragm and cervical cap have failure rates of 15% or more, and a higher likelihood of failure if you have previously had children.

Birth Control Pills — a medication taken daily to prevent pregnancy. There are many different options on the market, with varying side effects or benefits. The side effects and benefits of birth control can differ between individuals.

Pros: Many women find birth control helps to regulate periods and diminishes period flow, period pain, cramps or acne. Some women can stop their periods completely while using birth control pills.

Cons: Birth control pills can be more expensive than other contraception, depending on the type of pill you’re using and how often you are having sex. Some women experience side effects of the medication, including weight gain, breast tenderness, blood clotting or increased blood pressure.

Withdrawal/Pulling Out — a technique where the man withdraws or ‘pulls out’ from intercourse before ejaculating.

Pros: This is a natural and free birth control option.
Cons: Withdrawal can be difficult to time properly and is often ineffective, especially if practiced incorrectly.