Difference between Birth Control and Contraception

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 15, 2011


There exists a fine line of demarcation between the two often used terms; contraception and birth control. Both the terms are mainly related to family planning and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Through birth control, fertilisation between the female egg and the male sperm is obstructed by natural and artificial barriers, referred to as contraception or contraceptive methods. In terminology, birth control is used in a broader sense to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The term contraception emphasises on the methods and devices adopted for birth control. In other words, we can say controlling child birth through various contraception methods.


To the commoners, contraception and birth control carry the same meaning; the woman is prevented from conceiving through measures preventing pregnancy and child birth. Still, the term birth control encompasses many areas of family planning commonly termed as birth control programs alternate to family planning programs. NIH (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) attributes the same meaning to birth control and contraception.


Whatever differences lie in the terminologies and language usage, the sole aim of both the terms is to help in effective family planning through the use of various natural and artificial methods of contraception or birth control programs that add to better health of women and children. Researches and statistics have revealed higher infant mortality rates and poor health of women due to uncontrolled child birth. Uncontrolled child birth takes a huge toll on the general health of women leading to death in many cases. Effective birth control programs and sex education are widely adopted by many countries to prevent population explosion and AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases (STD).


Difference between Birth Control and Contraception

The difference mainly lies in the usage of words resulting in the same meaning.


  • The word contraception is mostly used to define different devices or methods of preventing pregnancy, such as condoms or intra-uterine device popularly termed as contraceptive methods.
  • Hormonal pills are normally termed as oral contraceptives, and since they prevent child birth, they are also known as birth control pills.
  • Ligation and vasectomy are generally termed as birth control methods, though these are also alternate methods of contraception.
  • Condoms, intra-uterine devices, spermicidal gels and jellies, hormonal pills, hormonal patches, female condoms all come under the category of contraception methods known as contraceptives.
  • Natural family planning methods are generally categorised as natural birth control methods that include withdrawal method, abstinence from sex, ovulation method, rhythm method and the Symptothermal method.
  • Contraception also includes medical termination of pregnancies or abortion. This procedure cannot be categorised under the commonly adopted methods of birth control.
  • The term birth control is mostly used in describing mass health awareness programs on a large scale that definitely includes different artificial methods of contraception.


Birth control or contraception through the use of various contraceptives is aimed at family welfare under professional supervision. Various birth control programs also raise the awareness of practicing safe sex amongst the masses to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. For example, usage of condoms is the safest and easiest method of contraception that prevents pregnancy and the spread of AIDS with negligible side effects.


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