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How Birth Control Methods Prevent Pregnancy

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How Birth Control Methods Prevent Pregnancy

Overview

The following table lists the different types of birth control methods and how they work to help prevent pregnancy.

How birth control methods prevent pregnancy

Method

How it prevents pregnancy

Hormonal

  • Prevents ovulation.
  • Thickens mucus at the cervix so sperm can't pass through.
  • Changes the environment of the uterus and fallopian tubes to prevent fertilization and to prevent implantation if fertilization occurs.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • There are two types of IUDs (hormonal and copper). Both types may work by preventing:
    • Fertilization of the egg.
    • Implantation in the uterus.

Barrier methods

  • Block sperm from reaching the egg.
  • Some are used with spermicide, which kills sperm.

Fertility awareness (natural family planning)

  • Identifies the time during a woman's cycle when she is most likely to become pregnant (fertile). An extra method or abstinence should be used during this time of fertility.

Permanent birth control (sterilization)

  • Men: Vasectomy blocks the release of sperm.
  • Women: Tubal ligation surgery or tubal implants block the movement of an egg through the fallopian tube and prevent fertilization.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: April 19, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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