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:
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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 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.
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
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.