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Birth Control Methods for Women: Limited or One-Time-Use

With so many different types of birth control for women, one of the first steps in figuring out which one is right for you is understanding the differences between each of them and their advantages and disadvantages. 

Some birth control methods are placed in the uterus, such as IUDs (intrauterine devices), while other contraceptives are taken orally (to be discussed in Part 2: Birth Control Methods for Women: Oral Contraceptives). The birth control methods that work best for you and fits your lifestyle will depend on a number of factors, including (but not exclusive to):

  • Your current health and any medical conditions
  • How often you engage in sexual activity
  • How many partners you engage in sexual activity with
  • How soon you and your partner wish to have children 
  • Whether or not the birth control method will be correctly used on a consistent basis
  • Side effect profile of the birth control method

In this article, we look at one-time-use birth control methods. Stay tuned for our future articles where we’ll also cover IUDs and oral contraceptives.

One-Time Use Birth Control Methods

Internal condom

A type of single-use condom, an internal condom for women is a polyurethane pouch that is placed inside the vagina. This may reduce the risk of STIs and pregnancy. While perfect use has a 95% effectiveness rating, typical use has a 79% effectiveness rating. 

Advantages

  • Latex-free and suitable for those with allergies to other materials
  • Suitable for those who cannot take a pill with hormones 
  • Can be placed and left inside the vagina eight hours before intercourse

Disadvantages

  • It may take time to learn how to use them perfectly in order to ensure higher effectiveness
  • Much pricier than condoms for men with most internal condoms costing $2-4 each

Doctor holding a diaphragm and a vaginal ring out to a patient

Diaphragm

A round and flexible disk made of silicone is inserted into the vagina to block sperm from reaching the cervix. Before use, it is saturated with spermicide. This type of birth control requires a prescription from a doctor and may be covered by health insurance. In terms of the effectiveness rate for a diaphragm, perfect use has approximately 96% effectiveness, while typical use has approximately 88% effectiveness. 

Advantages

  • Can be reusable as long as spermicide is reapplied before intercourse
  • Replaced every two years, making it a cost-effective choice
  • Similar to an internal condom, most diaphragms are hormone and latex-free
  • Can be left in the vagina for 24 hours, provided more spermicide is reapplied every 6 hours

Disadvantages

  • Spermicide is required for every use
  • Requires careful timing with spermicide application—for those who are forgetful, this will reduce the effectiveness of a diaphragm 
  • Not recommended for women who are at a higher risk of contracting a UTI (urinary tract infection)
  • May shift out of place during intercourse

Sponge

If you’ve never heard of a sponge before as a type of birth control method, we understand that it might sound strange! While the name may throw you off, a sponge is a birth control method that is placed inside the vagina, blocking the cervix (similar to the diaphragm above). In terms of how effective a sponge is, perfect use is approximately 91% effective, while typical use is 80% effective. 

Advantages

  • Similar to other birth control methods mentioned so far, sponges feature no latex, making it an option for women with allergies to other materials
  • Can also be placed in the vagina for 24 hours ahead of intercourse

Disadvantages

  • Similar to a diaphragm, sponges need to be saturated with spermicide and will have similar associated disadvantages, such as remembering to reapply
  • Unlike a diaphragm, sponges are truly one-time use like an internal condom
  • Can be harder to position
  • After intercourse, the sponge must be left in the vagina for six hours 
  • Slightly increased risk of toxic shock syndrome
  • Pricy for a one-time use method at around $4-6 each

Vaginal ring diagram

Cervical Cap

Placed inside the vagina, cervical caps prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Similar to a diaphragm, cervical caps are technically reusable but you will need to reapply it with spermicide. These do require a prescription from a doctor, which may be covered by your health insurance. 

In terms of effectiveness, perfect use of a cervical cap is approximately 86%, while typical use (including women who have given birth before) has a 71% effectiveness. Note that perfect use is for those who are not only using the cervical cap in the correct position and spermicide application but have also never given birth before.

Advantages

  • Similar to other internal birth control methods mentioned above, cervical caps are an option for women with allergies to certain materials or who want to stay away from birth control with hormones
  • Can be left in the vagina for 48 hours
  • Spermicide does not need to be reapplied
  • Can be replaced every year, making it a cost-effective option

Disadvantages

  • Cervical caps must remain in the vagina for four hours after intercourse
  • One of the lower effectiveness ratings in terms of birth control

Finding the right birth control method for you

In general, these one-time use birth control methods are a better choice for those who are looking to get pregnant in the near future. However, a lot of these options use spermicide, which means these are not for those with allergies to spermicide. 

We always recommend speaking to your doctor to learn more about effective birth control methods for you. In future articles, we’ll be covering IUDs and oral contraceptives, so check our blog!

Do not take Slynd if you:

  • have kidney disease or kidney failure
  • have reduced adrenal gland function (adrenal insufficiency)
  • have or have had cervical cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones
  • have liver disease, including liver tumors
  • have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • If any of these conditions happen while you are taking Slynd, stop taking Slynd right away and talk to your healthcare provider. Use non-hormonal contraception when you stop taking Slynd.

Click here to read more Important Risk Information and full prescribing information.