Birth Control and Family Planning

Exploring your options for contraception

Two women enjoy an outdoor hike, representing the range of birth control and family planning options available at Scripps.

Exploring your options for contraception

Scripps gynecologists provide counseling for numerous birth control and family planning options. Each method has its own benefits, effectiveness rate, risks and side effects; your physician will discuss these with you based on your health, needs and personal concerns, and help you determine the option that is best for you.

Prescription birth control methods

All of the following methods require a prescription:

Oral birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives, are the most common type of birth control. The pill combines the hormones estrogen and progestin and is taken daily for 28 days, with a week of no pills during which menstruation occurs. The "mini-pill" is a type of birth control pill that contains only progestin, no estrogen. These pills are an option for women who do not like the side effects of estrogen or who cannot take estrogen for medical reasons. 

Hormone injections are injections that contain the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. A single injection works for up to 90 days. These injections are given into the muscles of the upper arm or buttocks.

Skin patch, placed directly on the skin, slowly releases estrogen and progestin into the blood to prevent pregnancy. A new patch is applied once a week for three weeks, followed by a week with no patch during which menstruation occurs.

Progestin implants are small rods that are implanted under the skin, usually on the upper arm. The rod releases a small amount of the hormone progestin into the bloodstream. It takes about a minute to insert the rod in your physician’s office. The rod can stay in place for up to three years and can be removed at any time. 

Intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Some IUDs release hormones while others do not. An IUD can be quickly and easily inserted and removed by your health care provider. Two strings remain outside the vagina to help you ensure that the IUD remains in place. 

Vaginal ring is a small, flexible ring that is placed into the vagina, where it releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You insert the ring yourself and leave it in for three weeks, then remove it for one week. At the end of the week, you insert a new ring.

Non-prescription birth control

Calendar-based methods such as the rhythm method help prevent pregnancy by tracking your ovulation and determining when you are most likely to become pregnant, so that you can avoid sex during that time. These methods tend to be less effective than prescription birth control, but do not involve medications or hormones.

Permanent birth control

Tubal ligation (tube tying) is a surgical procedure to close off the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. Tubal ligation reversal can be performed to restore fertility. Tubal ligation is not available at all Scripps facilities.


Scripps specialists are experts in helping families with infertility. Our fertility experts can help you understand your challenges and explore your reproductive options.