What is contraception?
Contraception is a way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to lower the chances of an unplanned pregnancy.
What should I do if I need help?
Forms of contraception
Abstinence means not having sex (oral, anal or vaginal).
It can feel difficult to wait sometimes, but waiting until you are mature enough to handle the risks of sex is always your best option. Abstinence is the only thing that offers 100% protection against pregnancy and STDs, assuming no sexual content of any kind (including genital touching).
A female condom prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It is packaged with a lubricant and is available at drug stores. It can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual intercourse.
A male condom is a barrier method of protection made of latex (rubber) or polyurethane. It covers the penis and collects semen and other fluids, preventing them from entering a woman’s vagina. When used correctly and consistently from beginning to end, condoms protect against both pregnancy and STDs, including HIV.
Condoms can leak or break if not used correctly. Oil-based lubricants (like Vaseline or massage oil) should not be used.
A contraceptive pill (birth control) for women can be provided by a woman’s health care provider. If taken correctly, the pill provides non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make a woman’s periods more regular, reduce cramps and shorten/lighten a woman’s period.
Birth control offers no protection against STDs. Each type of pill is different, so check with your doctor to learn more.
There is an injection for women that prevents pregnancy. It offers no protection against STDs. It requires a visit to a health care provider every three months to get the shot.
A diaphragm is a dome-shaped silicone or latex cup with a flexible rim and can be obtained through a prescription from a health care provider. It won’t effectively protect against most STDs including HIV, and can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and toxic shock syndrome.
A cervical cap is device made of silicone that can be obtained through a prescription from a health care provider. A woman uses spermicide to coat the inside of the cap, then she inserts it into the back of her vagina so that it covers the cervix to block sperm. It won’t effectively protect against most STDs and can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and toxic shock syndrome.
A small adhesive patch can be used to help prevent pregnancy. The patch is for women and can be obtained through a prescription from a health care provider. It offers no protection against STDs. Some women have skin reactions, nausea, headaches and breast discomfort.
A soft, flexible ring is another type of contraceptive. A woman can place the ring in the vagina for three weeks, followed by a ring-free week. If used correctly, the ring provides non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make a woman’s periods more regular, reduce cramps and shorten or lighten a woman’s period. It only has to be changed once a month.
It offers no protection against STDs. Some women have vaginal discomfort, nausea, headaches and breast tenderness.
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small device that contains copper or the hormone progestin that is inserted by a health care provider into a woman’s uterus. It provides effective pregnancy protection and lasts a long time – a copper IUD can stay in place for up to twelve years, and a progestin IUD lasts five years.
It doesn’t protect against STDs. Some women have spotting between periods, heavier periods and increased cramping.
An implant is a small rod is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm by a health care provider. It protects against pregnancy for up to three years and can shorten or lighten a woman’s period and reduce cramps. It doesn’t protect against STDs.
It may cause irregular periods, nausea, headaches and weight gain. Some women may be able to see the rod under the skin.
An emergency contraception pill can be used up to five days after unprotected sex, or if your birth control method failed. The sooner it’s started, the higher its effectiveness. It can reduce the chance that a woman will get pregnant if she has unprotected sex or if another method of protection failed.
It doesn’t protect against STDs and may cause nausea. If a woman does not get her period within three weeks, she should take a pregnancy test.
Contraceptive methods that don’t work
- withdrawal (pulling out before the man ejaculates)
- sex during a your period
- tracking your cycle and planning around it