What is Contraception

What Is Contraception?

Contraception, also known as birth control, is designed to prevent pregnancy.

What Are Some Methods of Contraception?

There are several general methods of birth control,including (but not limited to):


  • Barrier methods. Barrier methods, such as condoms, the diaphragm and the cervical cap, are designed to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg for fertilization.
  • Intrauterine Device. Intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider. The IUD prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until it is removed by a health care provider.
  • Hormonal Birth Control. Hormonal birth control, such as birth control pills, injections, skin patches and vaginal rings, release hormones into a woman’s body that interfere with fertility by preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation.
  • Sterilization. Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. Sterilization involves surgical procedures that must be done by a health care provider and usually cannot be reversed.


The choice of birth control depends on factors such as a person’s overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method.

It is important to remember that even though all these methods can prevent pregnancy, condoms are the only method that can protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.

Last Update: 2007

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)