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We Got You Covered: A Guide on 20 Types of Birth Control

We Got You Covered: A Guide on 20 Types of Birth Control

Nearing the one month anniversary of Trump’s election affords us a minuscule amount of time before his January inauguration and takeover and the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—is in jeopardy, as are women’s health resources in general. Trump’s aggressive pro-life attitude publicized in his campaign promises to defund the nonprofit Planned Parenthood (PP), the largest player in providing women reproductive health services. According to its 2014 Annual Report, the organization served 2.5 million women out of the 4 million visits its 650 clinics received, and these numbers are only on the steep climb.

Trump’s statement to defund PP was met with heavy backlash, as well as a realization on behalf of the public that Planned Parenthood only allocates 3% of its services to abortion. Another uproar soon followed, in hopes that a minuscule 3% would not be the deterring factor for the Trump supporters—that any statistic should be accepted for an organization that is so cornerstone in providing health resources to women who otherwise would have nowhere to turn.

Trump’s aggressive pro-life attitude publicized in his campaign promises to defund the nonprofit Planned Parenthood (PP), the largest player in providing women reproductive health services.

Repealing Obamacare and Planned Parenthood with both have similarly severe impacts on women, one of the most notable being birth control. As the days to Jan. 20 scoot closer, acquainting oneself with the mammoth, often mystifying and frankly frightening range of options grows increasingly necessary. Hunting for the information with regards to different health effects, insurance configurations and even religious recommendations only becomes increasingly difficult when trying to weigh these options in terms of how your needs might change over the course of four (……please not eight) years. 

In other words, you might not see the need for anything now, but your circumstance could change relatively down the line, while barriers to access such as the Trump administration may still remain rigid.

Many methods also affect things beyond direct fertilization matters, like period regulation or mood changes. Regulating or lightening your cycle is a huge reason that many women get on birth control, so this serves as a guide for that, as well. These birth control and family planning guidelines apply mostly to heterosexual intimacy where sperm-egg interaction is at risk to cause direct pregnancy.

Repealing Obamacare and Planned Parenthood with both have similarly severe impacts on women, one of the most notable being birth control.

On a critical note, you absolutely should consult your medical professional before pursuing any of the suggestions included in this article, and take the time to decide by yourself and according to your own religious philosophies in case you feel differently about any of the following options. This is only a starting pool of information, though also one in which all ideas must be accepted at least from the primary baseline to disseminate all facts and not exclude any immediately over the “JUST RELIGIOUS / NO QUESTIONS” conditions.

Simply put, it is frustrating and in a sense demeaning to blindly trust rulings by unanimously male scholars on issues that affect the daily and personal health of women, especially in the contemporary era of technology and medicine. Please respect others’ opinions and choices. This article does not classify what is concretely right or wrong to use, but it offers a rundown of all the options so that everyone can best select what most aligns with their views and comfort.

You may pursue these options privately through your University health center or confidentially through a local Planned Parenthood. While you should confirm the policies with your sources, there should be options for you to pursue confidentially if you’re over 18. PP can help you sift out a financial plan for any costs should you choose to go through them. Many things will be covered by insurance if you have access to that.

* Note I: On effective percentages – x% effective means that for every 100 women in a given year who used the method as described — alone, imperfectly, perfectly, etc. — x got pregnant each year

* Note II: There’s quite a large discrepancy in price ranges — but many insurances and plans cover substantially, and clinics like Planned Parenthood can help you no matter your situation financially plan for the resources you need.

1. Abstinence

As in other religions like Christianity and Judaism, this is generally agreed upon as the guideline for anyone before marriage – however, that is not a justification to forgo the rest of sex-ed awareness, especially given studies such as that by Dr. Sobia Ali Faisal.

Just last year, the Ph.D. from the University of Windsor (Canada) published her findings of research that explored the relationship between North America’s Muslim youth and sex, much of which included their stance and access to sexual education. Out of the 403 interviewed – young men and women between the ages of 17 and 35 from different cultural backgrounds – two-thirds of those who had sex (over half, at 21) did so before marriage. Her results saw an almost equal breakdown of this response between genders. Half of those who hadn’t had sex before marriage acknowledged that “they considered it.” Here’s an infographic of more of her findings. 

Most of those interviewed had the least amount of guidance from either Sunday school, parents or other Muslim-based sources. This proves that holding off from talking to kids about sex won’t mean they’ll remain sheltered from it. Given our society, if you don’t talk to your children about sex, someone else will. 

For more on why sex ed can’t wait until marriage (your views on sex itself aside), check out Muslim Girl or Huffington Post

2. Implant

This small plastic strip (usually Implant or Nexplanon), which is the size of a thin mini matchstick, is inserted into your arm, from where it releases the hormone progestin. It’s over 99.9% effective until it needs to be replaced after four years. It won’t protect against STIs (use a condom for that), but if inserted within the first five days of your period, it’s effective immediately.

Otherwise, it takes a week to kick in, and regardless, it could cause irregular cycles in the first 6-12 months. Insertion and removal must be done by your healthcare provider, but it’s just a few-minutes procedure, and the implant can definitely be removed before the four years is up, in case your wants and needs change. Insertion is $0-800, while removal is $0-300, but call your local healthcare provider or PP to see how your qualification for coverage stacks up. Progestin prevents fertilization by thickening the mucus in the cervix. Many of the rest of these methods use this same hormone.

3. Patch

This little patch, which sticks to your arms for three weeks to a month and then allows you one patch-free week, is 99% effective for those who always use it perfectly and 91% for those who don’t. There’s no STI protection and some irregular menstrual cycles may occur in the first year, but it’s quickly removable and reversible. This prescription will cost anywhere from $0-80 a month, and there’s a slight chance you’ll need a baseline exam in case of blood pressure history (a one-time $0-250). Again, coverage might get you in full or it might not. Talk to your doctor, PP, or University health center.

4. Pills

As one of the most common methods, birth control pills require daily consumption of a prescription and costs about $0-50 a month. There’s no STI protection, and it’s 99% effective for those who always use it perfectly and 91% for those who don’t. There are different types of pills, from the combination to the progestin-only – some affect or help curb acne, cramping, and mood changes.

Your body will typically regulate so you receive your period then; the pill is thus a common form of normalizing period patterns even for women and girls who aren’t sexually active.

This method is contingent largely on how disciplined you are about taking your pill everyday at the same time. The monthly cycle includes of three weeks of pills with specific hormones depending on the day/time of month, and it also includes of one week of pills wit no direct hormones. Your body will typically regulate so you receive your period then; the pill is thus a common form of normalizing period patterns even for women and girls who aren’t sexually active. It’s important to always be in the habit of taking your pills, even if it’s just the “empty pill” on your week off.

5. Shot

This $0-150 injection lasts three months and introduces progestin into the body to regulate. It’s 99% effective for those who always use it perfectly and 94% for those who don’t.

Again, there’s no STI protection. It’s private since there aren’t pillboxes you keep around. Like some other birth control options, the shot doesn’t have estrogen, so it’s safe for women who must avoid that hormone, as well as those breastfeeding. An initial $0-250 exam may be needed, as well as any $0-20 pregnancy tests if you are anywhere over two weeks late from getting your next shot.

6. Sponge

Inserted into before sex, this all foam sponge prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm from entering the uterus, in addition to releasing spermicide as an extra measure. It’s 91% effective when used always as directed for women who have never given birth and 88% for those who don’t follow the protocol as stringently. For women who have been pregnant previously, the chance of pregnancy heightens. Only 80% of those properly using will be protected, while 76% out of those who are less regimented.

This method is best combined with a condom or the man pulling out early. Depending on your location, this costs about $0-15 for a set of three sponges and can be obtained from your doctor, health center, PP, the drugstore or from online. You don’t need a prescription for this.

7. Ring

Like the patch, the ring is inserted for three weeks and then gives your body one week off. The ring, however, goes into your vagina. A prescription will range from $0-80 a month, but it’s 99% effective for those who use it as directed and then 91% for those who do not take it routinely. Though the thought of putting and leaving something “up there” can be scary, this method is just as safe as any other common, trusted form of birth control.

Your religious and personal views may differ in terms of putting something in the vagina that doesn’t need to be there, but this is for health and wellbeing, so consider this option and thought, personally. This should generally regulate your period so that you get it during the “off week.”

8. Cap

A one-time price of $0-75 gets you one cap to be inserted into the vagina before sex, which can be washed and reused for up to two years. The sailor’s hat-like shape covers your cervix once inserted into the vagina. It’s 86% effective with perfect use, or 71% imperfectly.

This is best if used with another method, like spermicide, but many prefer it because it does not use any hormones, plus it’s immediately effectively. You can even insert it up to six hours before having sex. That being said, it may be a chore or undesired for a woman to always have to put this up before intercourse. Regardless, wash the cap with warm water and mild soap before letting it air dry. It is critical to wash after every use.

9. Diaphragm

Similar to a cap, this method is rather a barrier on the opening to the uterus. It’s 94% effective with perfect use, or 88% imperfectly.

This is best if used with another method, like spermicide, but many prefer it because it does not use any hormones, plus it’s immediately effectively. Like caps, diaphragms come in different sizes, most notably falling into three categories: smaller for women who have never given birth, medium for women you have had an abortion or a C-section, and larger for women who have given vaginal birth.

Again, you’re looking at a one-time price of $0-75 for one cap to be inserted into the vagina before sex, which can be washed and reused for up to two years.

10. Male condom

Given their status as one of the most popularized birth control methods, nearly everyone raised in the United States has probably had exposure to a condom. Worn on the penis, this STIs-preventing method costs about a dollar per, but they are often widely available for free in clinics, schools, PP locations, doctors offices, dorms, etc. Condoms are concretely a one-time use entity, so simply toss it afterward. They’re 98% effective with perfect use, though about 82% imperfectly.

11. Female Condom

These STI-preventing pouches are inserted deep into the vagina before intercourse. They typically cost anywhere from $2-4, or your provider may be able to give you some for free. Perfect use gets you 95% effectiveness, with a substantially lower 79% from imperfect use. They are best used with another method, but the lack of hormonal component leaves this as a compelling option for some.

12. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods

This is a “natural family planning” method in which one tracks a woman’s cycle so that the couple has sex in regards to her least fertile times. There are different methods, like the calendar, cervical mucus, standard days, symptothermal, or temperature – all of these vary, and it surely takes knowledge and detail to record the data for this method properly. While the cost is theoretically free, couples can choose to take a course to understand this practice better. Learn more here.

See Also

13. IUDs

Ranging from $0-1,000, this very small T-shaped device, inserted into the uterus, can sit and last from 3-12 years depending on which type you choose. There are two main kinds of IUDs: copper and hormonal. One is coiled with a teeny bit of copper, which acts as a spermicide, while the other uses the usual suspect of progestin to thicken cervical mucus an keep sperm out. IUDs require a couple-minutes insertion procedure, as well as for removal, both of which should be done by a healthcare provider. Once it’s there, however, there is little need to think about it.

It can be removed before the lifespan of the device is up. Though it won’t prevent against STIs, it’s over 99% (AKA hands down) one of the most effective control methods. This is ideal for anyone in a long-term monogamous relationship who just does not want to get pregnant. This procedure can be easily reversed. Hormonal IUDs tend to lighten periods, with some totally disappearing overtime while she remains on the device.

*Currently, like other methods, these are covered under many insurance and health plans, including Obamacare. Given the longterm timeline on IUDs, many women feel the need to perhaps get theirs before Trump’s inauguration, in case he repeals the care, defunds PP, or generally constricts the access to women’s reproductive health resources–after all, two of the four hormonal kinds, plus the copper one, will last you five or 12 years, longer than at least one Trump term. This is a large proponent of the post-election birth control awareness momentum.* 

14. Emergency contraception

In case you didn’t use a condom, missed your pill routine, or if his condom broke, etc. there are three types of emergency contraceptives. The most, though potentially most expensive and then long-term impactful, is getting a copper IUD between 5 days after the sex. It will act as an effective spermicide. Otherwise, the “ella” pill, which uses ulipristal acetate, is the next best option. It requires a prescription, however, though it’s equally effective anytime in the five-day span after intercourse in which you take it.

If you were forced into the situation, please reach out to a loved one, friend, counselor, advisor, etc. who cam help you move through the situation emotionally or even legally.

That being said, if you’re looking for a non-prescription option, or if you used the ring, patch or pill, anytime in the last five days, go with the drugstore brand with levonorgestrel. which should be taken within three, though can be up to five, days after. Plan B is an example.

These methods can help in case of emergencies after, but if you plan to have sex again in the future, use of the preventative methods to best ensure you won’t get pregnant. If you were forced into the situation, please reach out to a loved one, friend, counselor, advisor, etc. who cam help you move through the situation emotionally or even legally. The IUD, again, will be from $0-900, though the pills should be closer to $25-65.

These methods can help in case of emergencies after, but if you plan to have sex again in the future, use of the preventative methods to best ensure you won’t get pregnant. 

15. Outercourse

Though the definition may alter slightly from person to person (whether or not anal or oral count), outercourse is any sexual or physically intimate act without vaginal penetration. If exercised properly, this is an effective method, though do watch out for any semen or pre-ejaculate that can spill or drip out and make its way into the vagina.

16. Spermicide

At $8 a package, this gel/foam is best used with other methods lie the diaphragm or cap, though it can just be inserted into the vagina alone, just before intercourse. It is 85% effective when used perfectly, or 71% when imperfectly. You should check to make sure you aren’t allergic or sensitive to any ingredients in the particular one you are choosing, of course, though switch brands if either the vagina or penis is irritated by a specific one. These won’t prevent STIs.

17. Sterilization (of Fallopian Tubes)

One of the more contentious forms of control from the religious-controversy perspective, this is a permanent measure, unlike the reversible/temporary ones all mentioned thus far. The $0-6,000 surgery prevent pregnancy forever by cutting, tying or blocking the fallopian tubes.

18. Vasectomy

The male version of the previous option, this survey is about $0-1,000, and it permanently blocks or closes the tubes through which sperm leave a man. Again, this tends toward the higher end of religiously controversial.

19. Withdrawal

Also known as “The Pullout Method,” this is just the person with a penis pulling out right before ejaculation. In perfect cases, it is 96% preventative. Though easy, safe and free, it has more a realistic outcome of 73% effectiveness. This does not prevent against STIs.

20. Breastfeeding

For a woman who has just given birth, consistent breastfeeding will naturally regulate the body’s hormones so that she won’t become pregnant in the first six months after pregnancy. Perfectly and imperfectly, these have effectiveness rates of 99% and 98% respectively, so they are straightforward methods for those in this situation. A woman must stick to the regimented guidelines for what constitutes at “consistent” (forgoing other food courses for the baby, feeding at least a certain amount of times per day).


Again, consult your healthcare professionals, and always do what makes you feel comfortable, safe and healthy. Visit your University health center if you attend school away from home and want advice in a local capacity. Planned Parenthood centers retain confidentiality, as do most clinics and offices of the like. Your choices are yours, and it is up to your own research to deem whether something fits in your religious comfort, too. For some, inserting foreign objects into the vagina for medical concerns feels totally fine. For others, it’s not. Speak with others in your life, including your partner, to see what’s best for you.

*****

Thanks to the sources from PlannedParenthood, BedSider, Epigee, HEART Women and Girls, and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists + Reading Links on Muslim Girl and Huffington Post

View Comment (1)
  • The teachings are good. Everyone should learn about these things. However, the article completely skips the message of Islam and focuses purely on contraceptive. It feels like an article from the Planned Parenthood website.

    My question is, what does the “Muslim Girl” get from this one which she cannot get from the one from Planned Parenthood. If this is a site about “Muslim Girls”, why is there no strong emphasis on the Quranic teaching of abstinence or mention of the decreed punishment that Allah has in store for pre-marital sex?

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