If you’re not ready to welcome a wee one into your life but are exercising your rights as an independent woman who can take control of her own vagina, you know you have at least one decision to make: which kind of birth control is right for you? Before you make a trip to your doctor, we’re breaking down birth control and giving you a solid pros and cons list on each of your options—from classic condoms to the more innovative IUDs of today. Of course, your doctor is always there to help too and can help you choose more wisely based on your medical history.

No matter your choice, if you’re not in it for the long haul with your bed buddy and you haven’t had a chat about your sexual history, prevent yourself from an STI by using a condom—even if you’re on another contraceptive.

Birth Control Pills


Combination Pill: Containing estrogen, these birth control pills are 99% effective when taken at the same time each day—remember to set your alarm! Name brands include Estrostep Fe, LoEstriN, Ortho-Novum, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Yasmin, Yaz.

  • Pros: Combination pills are known for easing hot flashes and encouraging regular periods. They can even help keep zits at bay.

  • Cons: The estrogen contained in combination pills can cause blood clots and should be avoided by smokers and women over 35 or those with a history of blood clots. These pills can also trigger migraine headaches.

Progestin-Only Pill: An alternative birth control pill that doesn’t contain estrogen, progestin-only pills or mini-pills, are effective only when taken at the exact same time every day—we mean the exact same time. This type of pill is often recommended to new moms. Name brands include Micronor, Nora-BE, Nor-QD, Ovrette.

  • Pros: Progestin-only pills are safer for those with heart disease, as well as smokers and diabetics. These pills won’t reduce milk production for women breast feeding too.

  • Cons: These pills must be taken at the same time each day to be effective, as with most birth control pills.

Extended Cycle Pill: Allowing you to have a period from once every three months to once a year, extended cycle pills include brand names such as Lybrel, Seasonale, Seasonique.

  • Pros: You guessed it: fewer periods! This can mean escaping debilitating cramps or other issues women experience during a normal cycle.

  • Cons: Though there’s no evidence to say otherwise, there is still no long-term research proving that skipping a period for that length of time is completely safe. You also might like getting your period every month as a “you’re not pregnant” reminder.



Intrauterine devices, more commonly known as IUDs, are more than 99% effective and are good for 3-10 years depending on which one you opt for. Two alternative IUDs include ParaGard, a copper device that prevents sperm from reaching the egg, and Mirena, which works by releasing hormones. No matter which you might opt for, IUDs are definitely back in vogue and are becoming more and more popular with women prior to childbirth. Back in the day (ask your mom), IUDs tended to be reserved for women who had already given birth.

  • Pros: More effective than birth control pills (because there’s no room for user error) and last long term, which is a huge bonus for women not looking to be with child for a long while (though they can be easily removed if you’re looking to grow your family).

  • Cons: Surgically implanted, IUDs are a more permanent solution. There are also other risks to having something new placed inside your body—like it being rejected, though this rarely happens.



Like its name suggests, this is a ring made of flexible plastic that works by delivering progestin and estrogen in an alternative method than the combination pill. This ring sits in the vagina for three weeks and is then removed for a one-week period. Sure, you’ll be getting up close and personal with your business, but this option really works for some women.

  • Pros: You don’t have to remember to take a pill everyday!

  • Cons: This option isn’t suitable for smokers or women who have blood clots or certain cancers. You also have to keep it in your fridge, which isn’t for everyone and some women report their partners being able to feel it during intercourse.



Truly a comeback kid of contraceptives, diaphragms have been gaining popularity thanks to advancements in the product itself—like the Caya (above) which is a one size fits all model. Though they need to be used with a spermicide, this soft plastic device, which you can get with a prescription, acts as a physical barrier to your cervix, not allowing any little guys to swim by.

  • Pros: You’re in control of when you use one (unlike male condoms, which go on your partner’s bits, obv.). It’s also reusable, hormone free and can be put into place hours before intercourse meaning you don’t have to stop and prepare in the heat of the moment.

  • Cons: Can be clunky to use and tricky to get used to, they also need to be used alongside a spermicide and have a lower effectiveness rate because of user error.



Less common but nearly 100% effective, birth control implants like brand names Implanon and Norplant are about the size of a matchstick and are implanted under the skin in your upper arm. Lasting up to three years, you’ll basically be a baby-proof robot.

  • Pros: Nearly 100% effective and last for three years

  • Cons: Expensive, costing up to $800, and not as effective for women who are overweight or taking St. John’s wort.

The Patch


Literally a sticker full of hormones you slap on your arm, tummy or butt, this little guy is placed on for three weeks at a time, following a similar cycle to the pill. Even though it’s only attached with a thin layer of adhesive, this form of birth control releases hormones to prevent pregnancy with a combination of estrogen and progestin.

  • Pros: Lets you be free of an everyday pill and can also make your periods lighter and shorter.

  • Cons: Because it’s placed on your skin, you can sometimes see the patch if you’re wearing your favourite bikini or a backless dress. The adhesive can sometimes be visible after removal too, much like a BandAid.



The classic. We all know where to get them and how to put them on (thanks to the banana in sex ed). Even though they’re not necessarily a preferred method of birth control—for reasons from latex allergies to discomfort during the deed—it’s still good to have some on hand in case you’re taking a prescription that counteracts your chosen method of birth control’s effects or you don’t know your partner’s sexual history.

  • Pros: Super effective and the only contraceptive that protects against STIs.

  • Cons: These tricky guys can break, can have a negative reaction with your lube of choice of and be uncomfortable.

Though you might immediately be drawn to the birth control pill because of its popularity and accessibility, be sure to consider your options if you’re into sex but not babies (at least not your own). Whether that means considering your options under the pill umbrella or looking at alternative methods like the ones we’ve described, do what suits you (and your body) best and always check with a healthcare professional if you’re unsure. Also, remember that while most of these options are very effective (when used correctly), only condoms prevent against STIs. So before you saddle up sans rubber, ensure you and your partner have been tested. It’s alwaysbetter to be safe than sorry.

Photos: WikimediaMonik MarkusKiril Pipo, Image Point Fr / Shutterstock, Birthing OrganicWikimedia, Image Point Fr / Shutterstock, mmkarabella / Shutterstock

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