What is birth control?

Birth control is a type of medicine that can help treat heavy or painful periods. It can also help you control when and if you want to get pregnant.

Why might I think about starting birth control?

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to start birth control. Here are some common reasons:

  • You have a lot of pain with your period.
  • You have very heavy periods.
  • Your period lasts longer than 7 days.
  • You want to control when your period happens.
  • You do not want to get pregnant right now.
  • You do not want to get pregnant in the future.

Who can I talk to if I want to start birth control or have questions?

You can talk with your doctor if you want to start birth control or if you have questions.

Where can I learn more about the different types of birth control?

How do I decide which type of birth control is right for me?

You can talk with your doctor about the different types of birth control.

There are many types of birth control available to you. The type you choose depends on how often you want to take it. It also depends on the type you think will work best for you.

Types of birth control

The chart below shows the different types of birth control that might be available to you. Ask your doctor which of these types are right for you.

Type of birth control How does it work? How long does it work?
Birth control pill Take 1 pill every day by mouth at the same time every day. 1 day
Patch Place a thin sticker on your skin. 1 month
Intrauterine device (IUD) A doctor places a small, T-shaped piece of plastic or metal inside of your vagina. 3-6 years
Also called Depo Provera®
A doctor gives you an injection around the same time every 3 months. 3 months
Vaginal ring
Also called Nuvaring®
Place a small plastic ring inside your vagina. 1 month
Also called Nexplanon®
A doctor puts a small plastic stick in your upper arm. 3 years

Did you know...?

Birth control can make your blood more likely to clot, or form sticky clumps. People who have Down syndrome are a little more likely to develop blood clots.

If you want to start birth control, ask your doctor if you need to be careful about developing blood clots.

Rev. 7/2017

Created by Elaina Ramos, Boston University School of Medicine

Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.