Last modified on July 13, 2016, at 03:19

Birth Control

Contraception (Lat. against conception) generally refers to methods of preventing pregnancy (birth control). There are many different methods, each having its own level of effectiveness and safety. The safest and most effective form of birth control is abstinence. The argument could be made that this is not actually "birth control" as there was never a risk for a pregnancy, but in common parlance, abstinence is the first line of protection. Except for condoms, most methods offer little protection against sexually transmitted diseases.[1] Many conservatives are opposed to teaching minors about contraception in the fear that it will encourage promiscuous behavior or sex before marriage.[2]

Barrier Methods

  • Male condom: latex condoms are the most effective method of preventing STDs. 85% effective against pregnancy, increased to 95% if used with intravaginal spermicide - higher effectiveness (99%) when used as directed.
  • Female Condom
  • Sponge: 85% effectiveness
  • Cervical cap: about 85% effectiveness
  • Diaphragm: about 84% effectiveness
  • Shield: 85% effectiveness

Hormonal Methods

  • Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs): 92-99% effective when used as directed
  • Depoprogesterone (Depo-Provera): 97% effective
  • Vaginal ring (Nuva Ring): 92% effective
  • "Rhythm method" (also sometimes referred to as a method of "timed abstinence"): low effectiveness
  • Patch: 99.7% effective


  • Copper Intrauterine device (IUD): 99% effectiveness
  • Hormonal Intrauterine device: over 99% effectiveness
  • Withdrawal: low effectiveness
  • Spermicide: about 70% effectiveness when used alone
  • Male Sterilization
  • Female Sterilization

Religious Perspectives

In general, the Catholic Church is officially opposed to contraception, but the great majority of Catholics ignore the prohibition. Catholic pastoral practice on family limitation and birth control dates from 1875, the date of the earliest pastoral document dealing with family limitation, and 1919, when the American Catholic bishops issued their first public statement condemning contraception. Although Catholic priests spoke only reluctantly about birth control prior to the 1920s, they clearly condemned contraception. Catholic views on fertility control, marriage and marital sex, and the use of confession to deal with these matters, as well as mission preaching by Paulists and Redemptionists on the various methods of birth control, reveal that the clergy's silence diminished gradually rather than overnight. By increasing the frequency of confession, priests raised the consciousness of sin and gave greater deference to a clerically defined morality, which considered contraceptive marital intercourse a heinous sin.[3]

Other Christian denominations vary. Islamic and Jewish views are quite diverse.

See also

Further reading

  • Marks, Lara V. Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill (2001)
  • Reed, James. From Private Vice to Public Virtue: The Birth Control Movement and American Society Since 1830. 1978.
  • Tobin, Kathleen A. The American Religious Debate over Birth Control, 1907-1937. (2001) 226 pp.
  • Tone, Andrea. Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America (2001)
  • Watkins, Elizabeth Siegel. On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970 (1998)

External links


  3. Leslie Woodcock Tentler, "The Abominable Crime Of Onan": Catholic Pastoral Practice And Family Limitation In The United States, 1875-1919. Church History 2002 71(2): 307-340. 0009-6407