A couple kisses and a woman stands with her hands on her hips

Find Your Method

We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. And that means knowing all there is to know about birth control.

The explorer is a place for you to discover which birth control method is best for you. We’ve included every available method and will always update with new information. Click on any method for more details. Want a more apples-to-apples way to compare? View a side-by-side comparison on Bedsider, Power to Decide's online birth control support network.

Two IUDs next to each other

IUD (Intrauterine Device)

The IUD is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put into the uterus to disrupt the way sperm moves and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. IUDs offer between three and 12 years of protection depending on the type and can be removed at any time, for any reason. In the US, there are five IUDs: Mirena, Paragard, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena.

Learn more

An image of an implant next to a single matchstick for a size comparison

Implant (Nexplanon)

The implant ( brand name Nexplanon; previously Implanon) is a small rod that's inserted under the skin of a person's upper arm. It's so small, in fact, most people can't see it once it's inserted—which means it is a very private method. The implant releases progestin, a hormone that keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens cervical mucus—which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. It prevents pregnancy for up to four years

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The bottle that the shot method uses

The Shot (Depo-Provera)

The shot is just what it sounds like—a shot that keeps people from getting pregnant. Once taken, a person is covered for three full months without any extra steps. The shot is also called “Depo,” short for Depo-Provera. It contains progestin, a hormone that prevents ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

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An image of the ring

The Ring

The ring (brand names: Annovera and NuvaRing) is a small, bendable ring inserted into the vagina. It is left in place for three weeks at a time, then take it out for the fourth week. The ring works by giving off hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

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An image of the patch

The Patch

The patch is a thin piece of plastic that looks like a square Band-Aid. It's a little less than two inches across, and comes in one—and only one—color, beige. The patch is stuck onto the skin and it gives off hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. The brand name Ortho Evra isn't being produced anymore, but the generic, Xulane is.

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An image of a pill package

The Pill

"The Pill" is a pill. Some people call it "oral contraception." It's taken once a day, at the same time every day. There are lots of different kinds of pills on the market, and new ones come out all the time. Most work by releasing hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

Learn more

an image of a diaphragm

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup made of silicone that is inserted into the vagina. Then it covers the cervix and keeps sperm out of the uterus. One super important thing to remember: for a diaphragm to work effectively, it must be used with spermicide.

Learn more

an image of a condom

Condom

Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control. They slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina. (There are also internal condoms that go inside the vagina.) Condoms come in hundreds of shapes and sizes, with lube and without.

Learn more

An image of an internal condom

Internal Condom

An internal condom is a pouch inserted into the vagina. It's not the prettiest thing in the world but it is a method that gives users lots of control. Internal condoms work the same way that condoms do, except that they're worn on the inside instead of sticking it on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina.

Learn more

An image of a cervical cap

Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is a silicone cup inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and keep sperm out of the uterus. There's only one brand of cervical cap available in the US today, and it's jauntily named the FemCap. One super important thing to remember: the cervical cap must be used with spermicide for it to be most effective.

Learn more

A fertility awareness app

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness-based methods—or natural family planning—are all about tracking a person's menstrual cycle to determine the days that they can get pregnant. To know when those days are, people need to pay very close attention to their body and its patterns.

Learn more

An image of the birth control sponge

Sponge

The sponge is a round piece of white plastic foam with a little dimple on one side and a nylon loop across the top. It's pretty small—just two inches across—and is inserted way up in the vagina before having sex. The sponge works in two ways: it blocks the cervix to keep sperm from getting into the uterus, and it continuously releases spermicide.

Learn more

An open tube of spermicide.

Spermicide

“Spermicide” describes a bunch of different creams, films, foams, gels, and suppositories that contain chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Inserted deep in the vagina, so it also keeps sperm from getting through the cervix and into the uterus.

Learn more

An image of a party popper

Withdrawal

Withdrawal is the oldest form of birth control on the planet. There's not much to explain, really. The penis-owner pulls out before they ejaculate. End of story. Some people call withdrawal the “pull out method.” Or other people call it “coitus interruptus.” The key thing to remember is this: it must be done right—every single time—for withdrawal to be effective.

Learn more

An image of a cord tied in a knot

Sterilization

Sterilization is a procedure that closes or blocks the fallopian tubes so a person can't get pregnant. Penis owners also have a sterilization option—a vasectomy blocks the tubes that carry sperm. It's even safer and more effective than tubal sterilization. Talk to a health care provider to learn more and be sure to ask about state and federal requirements, such as age restrictions and waiting periods.

Learn more

An icon of a locked lock

"Not right now"

“Not right now” is another way of saying “no vaginal sex.” It’s a great method as far as effectiveness is concerned—but only if used 100% of the time can it be guaranteed to work. And if someone is avoiding sexual activity altogether, they'll be safe from STIs too. But it does involve a whole lot of self-control.

Learn more

An image of an emergency contraception pill

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception (EC) can stop a pregnancy before it starts. That means the EC pills are not the same as the abortion pill. There are four types of EC to choose from and they all work up to 5 days (or 120 hours) after unprotected sex. But use it sooner rather than later to reduce the possibility of getting pregnant.

Learn more

Two IUDs next to each other

IUD (Intrauterine Device)

The IUD is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put into the uterus to disrupt the way sperm moves and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. IUDs offer between three and 12 years of protection depending on the type and can be removed at any time, for any reason. In the US, there are five IUDs: Mirena, Paragard, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena.

Learn more

An image of an implant next to a single matchstick for a size comparison

Implant (Nexplanon)

The implant ( brand name Nexplanon; previously Implanon) is a small rod that's inserted under the skin of a person's upper arm. It's so small, in fact, most people can't see it once it's inserted—which means it is a very private method. The implant releases progestin, a hormone that keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens cervical mucus—which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. It prevents pregnancy for up to four years

Learn more

An image of a cord tied in a knot

Sterilization

Sterilization is a procedure that closes or blocks the fallopian tubes so a person can't get pregnant. Penis owners also have a sterilization option—a vasectomy blocks the tubes that carry sperm. It's even safer and more effective than tubal sterilization. Talk to a health care provider to learn more and be sure to ask about state and federal requirements, such as age restrictions and waiting periods.

Learn more

An icon of a locked lock

"Not right now"

“Not right now” is another way of saying “no vaginal sex.” It’s a great method as far as effectiveness is concerned—but only if used 100% of the time can it be guaranteed to work. And if someone is avoiding sexual activity altogether, they'll be safe from STIs too. But it does involve a whole lot of self-control.

Learn more

an image of a condom

Condom

Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control. They slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina. (There are also internal condoms that go inside the vagina.) Condoms come in hundreds of shapes and sizes, with lube and without.

Learn more

An image of an internal condom

Internal Condom

An internal condom is a pouch inserted into the vagina. It's not the prettiest thing in the world but it is a method that gives users lots of control. Internal condoms work the same way that condoms do, except that they're worn on the inside instead of sticking it on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina.

Learn more

An icon of a locked lock

"Not right now"

“Not right now” is another way of saying “no vaginal sex.” It’s a great method as far as effectiveness is concerned—but only if used 100% of the time can it be guaranteed to work. And if someone is avoiding sexual activity altogether, they'll be safe from STIs too. But it does involve a whole lot of self-control.

Learn more

Two IUDs next to each other

IUD (Intrauterine Device)

The IUD is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put into the uterus to disrupt the way sperm moves and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. IUDs offer between three and 12 years of protection depending on the type and can be removed at any time, for any reason. In the US, there are five IUDs: Mirena, Paragard, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena.

Learn more

an image of a diaphragm

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup made of silicone that is inserted into the vagina. Then it covers the cervix and keeps sperm out of the uterus. One super important thing to remember: for a diaphragm to work effectively, it must be used with spermicide.

Learn more

an image of a condom

Condom

Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control. They slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina. (There are also internal condoms that go inside the vagina.) Condoms come in hundreds of shapes and sizes, with lube and without.

Learn more

An image of an internal condom

Internal Condom

An internal condom is a pouch inserted into the vagina. It's not the prettiest thing in the world but it is a method that gives users lots of control. Internal condoms work the same way that condoms do, except that they're worn on the inside instead of sticking it on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina.

Learn more

An image of a cervical cap

Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is a silicone cup inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and keep sperm out of the uterus. There's only one brand of cervical cap available in the US today, and it's jauntily named the FemCap. One super important thing to remember: the cervical cap must be used with spermicide for it to be most effective.

Learn more

A fertility awareness app

Fertility Awareness

Fertility awareness-based methods—or natural family planning—are all about tracking a person's menstrual cycle to determine the days that they can get pregnant. To know when those days are, people need to pay very close attention to their body and its patterns.

Learn more

An image of the birth control sponge

Sponge

The sponge is a round piece of white plastic foam with a little dimple on one side and a nylon loop across the top. It's pretty small—just two inches across—and is inserted way up in the vagina before having sex. The sponge works in two ways: it blocks the cervix to keep sperm from getting into the uterus, and it continuously releases spermicide.

Learn more

An open tube of spermicide.

Spermicide

“Spermicide” describes a bunch of different creams, films, foams, gels, and suppositories that contain chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Inserted deep in the vagina, so it also keeps sperm from getting through the cervix and into the uterus.

Learn more

An image of a party popper

Withdrawal

Withdrawal is the oldest form of birth control on the planet. There's not much to explain, really. The penis-owner pulls out before they ejaculate. End of story. Some people call withdrawal the “pull out method.” Or other people call it “coitus interruptus.” The key thing to remember is this: it must be done right—every single time—for withdrawal to be effective.

Learn more

An image of a cord tied in a knot

Sterilization

Sterilization is a procedure that closes or blocks the fallopian tubes so a person can't get pregnant. Penis owners also have a sterilization option—a vasectomy blocks the tubes that carry sperm. It's even safer and more effective than tubal sterilization. Talk to a health care provider to learn more and be sure to ask about state and federal requirements, such as age restrictions and waiting periods.

Learn more

An icon of a locked lock

"Not right now"

“Not right now” is another way of saying “no vaginal sex.” It’s a great method as far as effectiveness is concerned—but only if used 100% of the time can it be guaranteed to work. And if someone is avoiding sexual activity altogether, they'll be safe from STIs too. But it does involve a whole lot of self-control.

Learn more

All content from Bedsider.org, a program of Power to Decide.