Contraception is the prevention of pregnancy and contraceptive methods work in a variety of different ways.1 Remember that none is 100% effective in every case, but certain methods are more effective than others.1


There are several birth control options:2

Barrier methods – examples include male and female condoms, diaphragm, contraceptive sponge and cervical cap.

Hormonal methods – such as birth control pills, contraceptive injection, vaginal ring, contraceptive implant and birth control patch.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) – options include copper or hormonal IUDs.

Sterilization – involves tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.

Natural Family Planning – includes basal body temperature, rhythm and cervical mucus methods.

Emergency contraception – such as the morning-after pill can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.


Different contraceptives have different modes of action as follows:2

Preventing the release of an egg each month.

Preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.

Inactivating or damaging the sperm.

Thickening the cervical mucous to stop the sperm getting through.

Altering the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg does not attach to it.


A note on safe sex

It is important to remember that male and female condoms are the only methods that provide protection from sexually transmitted infections.2

Download the infographic for an overview of contraceptive choices, where and how they work and their efficacy.

icon Contraceptive Choices


1. 15 Birth Control Options (Types and Side Effect). Birth Control Methods Centre. MedicineNet. 2018. [Accessed 7 Nov 2018]

2. Birth Control Options: Things to consider. Healthy Lifestyle. Mayo Clinic. 2018. [Accessed 29 Sep 2018]