The birth control sponge is a soft, round piece of plastic. It is squishy—just like a sponge—and is inserted into the vagina before sex. The sponge prevents pregnancy by covering your cervix and releasing spermicide. Sponges also have a nylon loop to help remove it after use. A sponge must be in place every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy, but can be put in ahead of time.
A cervical cap is a silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina and covers the cervix to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. It needs to be in place every time you have sex and is much more effective when used with spermicide.
A diaphragm is a shallow, silicone cup that covers your cervix to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. To use, you fold it in half and insert it into the vagina, allowing it to cover the cervix. It is most effective when used with spermicide. The diaphragm needs to be in place every time you have sex for it to be effective at preventing pregnancy.
Sterilization is a permanent surgical procedure done on a man or a woman to prevent pregnancy. For women, the procedure is known as tubal ligation, but some people refer to it as “getting your tubes tied.” The procedure closes or blocks the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. For men, the procedure is known as a vasectomy, and involves blocking or cutting the tubes that release sperm into semen. Sterilization is a non-hormonal method and almost 100% effective. However, it is important to remember that this method is not reversible, which may be a good option for people who have finished growing their family or never want to have kids.