A Guide To The Different Types Of Birth Control + Choosing The Best One For You

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Doctor holding a copper IUD.

Source: BSIP/UIG / Getty

Copper IUD

Best for: Natural Long-Term Planners

What you might pay: Depending on insurance, $0 to $1,300

Those who like the apply-it-and-forget-it nature of the hormonal IUD but who want non-hormonal birth control can consider the copper IUD. This IUD releases copper ions into the uterus, creating an inhospitable environment for sperm. Plus, some forms of this IUD can be left in for up to 10 years.

The copper IUD is over 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.



Best for: Cost Conscious

What you’ll pay: Roughly $1 each or $2 to $6 per box

External condoms – the most commonly used type of condoms – are the most effective in protecting against sexually transmitted infections. They’re also easy to use and easy to pack.

External condoms are 95 percent effective with perfect use and 86 percent effective with typical use.


Internal condoms

Best for: Cost effective

What you might pay: Roughly $2 to $3 each

With these, you wear the condom. These are polyurethane pouches that line the vaginal canal. Put them in right before sex and take them out right after.

Internal condoms are 95 percent effective with perfect use and 79 percent effective with typical use.


The Sponge Or Diaphragm

Best for: Uninterrupted Sensation

What you might pay: Around $15 per sponge. Depending on insurance, $0 to $250 for a diaphragm

Those looking for a non-hormonal form of birth control that doesn’t interfere with the sensation of sex like internal and external condoms can look into sponges and diaphragms. However, note that these do not protect against STIs.

Both a diaphragm and a sponge act as small, spermicide-saturated discs that sit over the cervix and kill sperm that tries to get inside the uterus. The main difference is that sponges are one-time-use, and come pre-saturated in spermicide. Diaphragms are prescription-only but can be used repeatedly. You need to apply spermicide yourself with each use. One perk of the sponge and diaphragm is that you can leave it in for 24 hours, so you don’t need to replace it with each round of sex within that window.

If you get a diaphragm, your doctor should check it once a year to make sure it still fits correctly. You will usually get a new one every two years.

The sponge is 91 percent effective with perfect use and 80 percent effective with typical use. It is not recommended for those who have given birth, as the effectiveness rate drops. The diaphragm is 96 percent effective with perfect use and 88 percent effective with typical use.

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