Understanding Different Birth Control Options

Choosing a method of birth control is an incredibly important and highly personal decision. The choice is yours, but there are a variety of factors that may ultimately impact which birth control method you select. These include:

  • Your age and medical history
  • Your cultural and religious beliefs
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your tolerance of side effects
  • Your sexual partner’s perspectives
  • Your reproductive goals
  • Whether you’re seeking protection against STIs
  • The level of contraceptive effectiveness you are comfortable with
  • Convenience and price

Many birth control options (methods of contraception) exist, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. In order to make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand how each one works and what it offers. We’ve put together a brief overview below.

At Atwell Centre, our compassionate and qualified team is always available to offer support, guidance, and referrals. If you have questions surrounding birth control options or other sexual health issues, we encourage you to visit us at our Hamilton or Halton locations.

Types of Birth Control Options Available

In this section, we’ve covered some of the most common and readily available forms of birth control. Doing further research and speaking directly with your healthcare provider are strongly recommended before making a final decision.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of birth control help to prevent pregnancy by physically blocking sperm from reaching the egg. They include male and female condoms, the diaphragm, the cervical cap, and the contraceptive sponge.

Advantages of Barrier Methods

  • No prescription is required for condoms
  • Do not use hormones or affect the menstrual cycle
  • Condoms help to protect against STIs

Disadvantages of Barrier Methods

  • Not as effective at preventing pregnancy as hormonal methods
  • Sex may need to be interrupted to use some types of barrier methods

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods of contraception help to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries) or thickening the mucus in the cervix so that sperm cannot pass through. They contain the hormones estrogen and progestin (sometimes just progestin) and are available in short-acting and long-acting forms.

  • Short-Acting Hormonal Methods – birth control pills, vaginal ring, skin patch, contraceptive injections
  • Long-Acting Hormonal Methods – copper IUD, hormonal IUD, contraceptive implants

Advantages of Hormonal Methods

  • Continuous and reliable contraception (when taken as indicated)
  • Can help to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce cramps

Disadvantages of Hormonal Methods

Spermicides/Vaginal Gels

Spermicides and vaginal gels help to prevent pregnancy by killing or immobilizing sperm. They are inserted into the vagina before sex and can be used in combination with barrier methods to increase their effectiveness.

Advantages of Spermicides and Vaginal Gels

  • No prescription necessary
  • Do not use hormones or affect the menstrual cycle

Disadvantages of Spermicides and Vaginal Gels

  • Not as effective as hormonal methods of birth control
  • Can be messy or irritating


Sterilization is a permanent birth control method. For men, it is known as vasectomy. For women, it is known as tubal ligation.

Advantages of Sterilization

  • Highly effective over the long term
  • No side effects after recovery

Disadvantages of Sterilization

  • Does not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexual Education and Pregnancy Testing

At Atwell Centre, we are committed to providing ongoing education and support around pregnancy options and sexual health. If you’re seeking more information about birth control methods or pregnancy testing in Hamilton or Halton, reach out to our team of caring professionals today.

Atwell Info

Atwell Info