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Birth Control With the Least Side Effects

author image Jill Moffett, Ph.D., M.P.
Jill Moffett is a medical writer specializing in women's health. She works as a science writer at a public health research organization. Moffett has a Ph.D. in gender studies and an M.P.H. from the University of Iowa. Her scholarly work has been published in Cultural Dynamics and Africa Health.
Birth Control With the Least Side Effects
A man opens a condom packet on a white background. Photo Credit Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images


Hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills or the birth control shot are effective ways to prevent pregnancy. These method often have side effects including weight gain, menstrual changes and mood swings. Non-hormonal barrier methods are not as easy to use, but for women seeking a family planning method with minimal side effects, there are several choices:

Male Condoms

Birth Control With the Least Side Effects
Male condoms are the second most common method of birth control in the U.S. Photo Credit condom image by Mitarart from Fotolia.com

Male condoms are the most common barrier method of contraception. There are no long-term side effects associated with condoms, although if you have a latex allergy, they could cause yeast or urinary tract infections. Non-latex condoms are available, but they may not provide effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Female Condoms

Birth Control With the Least Side Effects
Female condoms account for less than 1 percent of global condom use. Photo Credit female image by Lovrencg from Fotolia.com

Female condoms are another suitable choice for women who want to use a birth control method with no side effects. Unlike male condoms, female condoms are made from polyurethane. The female condom is not as easily accessible as male condoms, and some women may find it difficult to insert.

Diaphragm and Spermicide

A diaphragm is a latex cup that must be inserted in the vagina before sex, but can be put in place hours prior to intercourse. It does not release any hormones and has few side effects. It is most effective if you use a spermicide as well. Some women may experience irritation or an allergic reaction to spermicide, and urinary tract infections may result if the device does not fit properly.

Cervical Cap

The cervical cap is a silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. It blocks sperm from reaching the uterus. Like the diaphragm, this method is most effective if you use a spermicide as well. There are no serious side effects associated with the cervical cap, but you may experience some vaginal irritation.

Birth Control Sponge

Birth Control With the Least Side Effects
The birth control sponge is a non-hormonal method of preventing pregnancy. Photo Credit sponge image by Leonid Nyshko from Fotolia.com

The birth control sponge is made of foam and releases the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Once inserted, the sponge covers the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The spermicide may cause irritation in some women, and if used several times daily, may increase the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

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