Prevention Methods

Are you sexually active or thinking about having sex, but aren’t sure what prevention methods are available? Here are some common contraceptives you may want to consider, but remember, abstinence is the ONLY 100% sure fire way to avoid getting pregnant or contracting an STD. 
 
Male Condom The Patch Emergency Contraceptive
Female Condom The Shot IUDs
The Pill Diaphragm  
The Ring Spermicide  


 


AnchorMale Condom
The only method that protects against both pregnancy and STDs and STIs

Details: In order to be effective, the condom must be worn before you start having sex and must be kept on the entire time. The condom slips over the guy’s penis to prevent pregnancy and STIs by keeping his sperm inside the condom and not in the girl’s vagina. Latex condoms are most recommended. If you’re allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are recommended. Stay away from sheepskin condoms as they contain dozens of tiny little holes that make the condom more likely to break and cause the sperm to leak out. 

To find a business or organization near you that distributes condoms for free, simple search here

Effectiveness: 82%

Pros: Condoms are relatively easy to use, but it’s very important to follow the directions carefully. You can easily purchase condoms inexpensively at your local grocery or drug store and do not need a doctor’s prescription.

Cons: If you are allergic to spermicide or latex, then you’ll want to avoid those types of condoms. The condom will be far less effective or completely ineffective if not used correctly. 

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Female Condom
A pouch the girl inserts into her vagina that collects the guy’s sperm and protects against most STIs

Details: Female condoms work similarly to male condoms but instead of being snug around the guy’s penis, it fits loosely inside the girl’s vagina. It protects both partners from STIs including HIV and keeps the guy’s sperm contained to prevent pregnancy. Female condoms are not the easiest method and they must be used correctly in order to be effective.

Effectiveness: 79%

Pros: You do not need a prescription from a doctor to get female condoms. They can be found at most drug stores. This is a good option for people allergic to latex as they are made out of plastic or synthetic rubber. This is also a good option for a girl if the guy refuses to wear a male condom.

Cons: The female condom looks awkward, like a floppy, clear elephant trunk. Some women find it mildly uncomfortable to insert. It’s very important that it’s used correctly, otherwise it won’t be effective.

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AnchorThe Pill:
A pill the girl takes daily, some even have positive side effects besides pregnancy prevention

Details: Also known as ‘oral contraception’ (because the pill is taken orally), the pill must be taken every day at the same time in order to be effective. There are hundreds of different kinds of birth control pills but they all work similarly in that they release hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from getting near the egg. In most cases, the girl takes a pill everyday for three weeks and on the fourth week she takes a placebo (also known as a sugar pill) and has her period. The pill is only effective in preventing pregnancy, but has no effect for preventing STDs or STIs.

Effectiveness: 91%

Pros: Some girls experience positive side effects like clearer skin, weight loss, and boosted mood. The pill also regulates your period so you can know exactly when to expect it. The pill is easy to use and a private method of birth control. 

Cons: Because the pill is hormonal, you will need to go to your doctor to write you a prescription then you can get the prescription refilled at your pharmacy. Some girls see negative side effects with certain types of the pill, such as sore breasts, mood swings, skin break-outs, and weight gain. Because the pill does not protect against STDs or STIs, it’s a good idea to double up with a secondary contraceptive like the male condom or female condom. Some girls have trouble remembering to take their pill everyday at the same time. If the pill is not taken correctly, then it won’t be effective. If this is the case for you, use Bedsider’s Reminder tool at http://bedsider.org/reminders/new.

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AnchorThe Ring: 
Flexible ring inserted into the vagina that works like the pill, providing pregnancy prevention for a month

Details: Small and flexible, the ring is squeezed and inserted into the vagina. The girl keeps the ring in for 3 weeks while it releases a steady stream of hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. On the fourth week she takes the ring out and has her period. Inserting the ring is similar to inserting a tampon, but if you’re uncomfortable with putting your fingers inside yourself then this is not a good option for you. This is a good option for girls that would have trouble remembering to take the pill every day. You only need to remember to put it in each month and take it out three weeks later. Usually the pharmacy will give you three to four months worth of protection (3-4 rings) and they need to be store in the refrigerator. So, if it’s important to you to keep your birth control private, this might not be your most secretive option. 

Effectiveness: 91%

Pros: The ring releases a low dose of hormones so there’s less chance of negative side effects. It’s a low maintenance option – just remember to put it in and take it out each month. Because it’s so easy, it’s less likely that you’ll do it incorrectly, improving your odds of effectiveness.

Cons: There is only one company that makes the ring, Nuva Ring. Without insurance, it can be a more expensive option. Because the ring is hormonal, you will need to go to your doctor to give you a prescription then you can get the prescription refilled at your pharmacy. Some girls see negative side effects, such as sore breasts, mood swings, skin break-outs, and weight gain. Because the ring does not protect against STDs or STIs, it’s a good idea to double up with a secondary contraceptive like the male condom or female condom.

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The Patch
Works like the pill, is worn on the girl’s skin, and only needs to be changed monthly

Details: The patch (also called Ortho Evra) is a thin, beige, plastic sticker that stays on your skin for a week. It slowly releases hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. The girl changes the patch three weeks in a row then takes it off for the fourth week when she has her period. It also causes the cervical mucus to get thick which prevents sperm from getting near the egg. This is a good option for girls who don’t want to have to worry about taking a pill every day, but it must be changed weekly. Because the patch only comes in one size – about 2 inches by 2 inches – it is only recommended for girls who weigh less than 198 pounds.

Effectiveness: 91%

Pros: The patch is easy to use and doesn’t require daily maintenance. It is very effective in regulating girl’s periods.

Cons: There is a weight restriction to remain conscientious of, 198 lbs. Because the patch is hormonal, you will need to go to your doctor to give you a prescription then you can get the prescription refilled at your pharmacy. Some girls see negative side effects, such as sore breasts, mood swings, skin break-outs, and weight gain. Because the patch does not protect against STDs or STIs, it’s a good idea to double up with a secondary contraceptive like the male condom or female condom.

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The Shot:
A shot of hormones for the girl that lasts three months

Details: The shot (aka Depo-Provera) contains progesterone – no estrogen --  that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs and creates a thick cervical mucus.  The shot will provide effective birth control for three months, after three months you go to the doctor for another shot. If you can’t handle needles, this isn’t a good option for you.

Effectiveness: 94%

Pros: It’s virtually fool-proof -- highly effective long-term coverage, no daily or weekly hassle, and completely private.  Most girls who regularly received the shot noticed their periods get much lighter or even stop over time. 

Cons: Because the nature of a shot, you will need to go to your doctor to have the shot administered – and you’ll need to go every three months. Some girls see negative side effects, such as sore breasts, mood swings, skin break-outs, changes in appetite, headaches and weight gain. Because the patch does not protect against STDs or STIs, it’s a good idea to double up with a secondary contraceptive like the male condom or female condom.

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AnchorDiaphragm: 
A shallow cup inserted into the vagina that prevents sperm from entering the uterus; non-hormonal and effective immediately

Details: A diaphragm is a small dome-shaped silicone or latex cup that the girl inserts into her vagina before having sex. The diaphragm covers the opening of the cervix which prevents sperm from entering into the uterus. In order for it to be most effective, spermacide needs to be applied to the inside of the dome before inserting it into the vagina. It also needs to be positioned correctly. If you are uncomfortable inserting your fingers into your vagina, this is not a good option for you. A diaphragm is non-hormonal so it must be used every single time you have sex and it does not regulate your period. In fact, you can’t use the diaphragm while on your period. Your doctor will measure your cervix in order to fit you properly with a diaphragm. The diaphragm will come in a storage case that can be discretely kept at home or carried in your purse. 

Effectiveness: 88%

Pros: Since a diaphragm is non-hormonal, you will never experience the negative side-effects that sometimes come with hormonal birth control. The diaphragm is also convenient since it is discrete and is immediately effective. 

Cons: Though it is non-hormonal, you will still need to go to your doctor to get a diaphragm. This is not the birth control method for you if you or your partner is allergic to latex or spermicide. Because a diaphragm does not protect against STDs or STIs, it’s a good idea to double up with a secondary contraceptive like the male condom or female condom.

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Spermicide:
Non-hormonal and non-prescription substance that immobilizes sperm

Details: Spermicide comes in many different forms such as creams, foams, gels, films, and suppositories. The spermicide is inserted deep into your vagina. When sperm comes into contact with the chemicals in spermicide, the sperm is stopped from moving. Women who have a higher risk of HIV or who are with a partner who may have HIV should avoid this method because one of the chemicals in spermicide, Nonoxynol-9, causes changes in your natural vaginal chemical balance. This imbalance makes you more susceptible to HIV. It is also common from people to be allergic to spermicides. If you feel an irritation during or after use of spermicide, then you are likely allergic to it. 

Effectiveness: 71%

Pros: Spermicide is readily available at most drug stores. Spermicide boosts the effectiveness of other contraceptive methods such as male or female condoms, diaphragm, cervical plug, the pill, the ring, the patch, etc. 

Cons: The failure rate of spermicide is pretty high so it should always be used with another form of contraception – but it’s better than using nothing at all.  

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AnchorEmergency Contraception:
For emergency use, not a regular birth control, to stop a pregnancy before it starts

Details: Emergency contraception (aka EC) if taken in time, can stop a pregnancy before it happens. This is not the abortion pill so it will not terminate an existing pregnancy. The sooner taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it will be but it can be taken up to 5 days after. There are three different options:

Ella: This one-pill formula stops your body from producing the hormones that your body needs to conceive. Unlike the other pill, the effectiveness does not decrease during the 5 days after unprotected sex. You will need a prescription from your doctor to get this pill, but there is no age restriction.

Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice, and Levonorgestrel: Available at most drug stores and without a prescription, this pill form of EC works much like birth control but at a much higher dosage. It must be taken within 5 days and it’s effectiveness decreases during those 5 days. You must be 17 or older to purchase these pills.

Pros: All three methods reduce your risk of an unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Cons: All three options will disrupt your period and likely cause spotting. The insertion of Paragard IUD can be painful or uncomfortable and will disrupt your period for the following weeks while your body adjusts. Ella, Plan B One Step, Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice, and Levonorgestrel will likely cause nausea, cramping, sore breasts, and irregular bleeding.

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IUD
Highly effective, private, long term birth control inserted into the uterus

Details: An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic piece that is inserted by your doctor into your uterus. It prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg(s). Depending on the IUD, it can provide highly effective birth control for anywhere from 3 to 12 years.

Paragard
This is the most effective form of EC, but it must be administered by a doctor within 5 days of unprotected sex. Paragard is also a long lasting method of birth control. It can actually last up to 12 years. This method is not recommended for women who have not given birth yet.

This IUD is 100% non-hormonal so you won’t experience the side-effects of a hormonal birth control like the pill, the patch, the shot, etc. Paragard is made out of plastic and a small amount of safe copper. Though Paragard provides contraception for up to 12 years, it does not protect against STDs or STIs.

Mirena
Mirena provides pregnancy prevention for up to 5 years by releasing a synthetic hormone, progestin, that prevents sperm from reaching the cervix. Mirena is also effective for lightening your period flow and frequency. 

Skyla
The smallest IUD available, Skyla is the only IUD approved for women who have not previously given birth. It releases progestin that prevents sperm from entering the cervix for up to 3 years. 

Effectiveness: 99%

Pros: IUDs are a great form of birth control for people who don’t want to have to worry or think about birth control – no prescriptions, no packaging, and no daily, weekly or even monthly obligations. Aside from abstinence, it is the most effective form of birth control. For most women, IUDs will cause a lighter period flow and may even eliminate the period for months at a time. Most experts agree that IUDs are perfectly safe and you will be fertile again almost immediately after the IUD is removed.

Cons: Some women experienced pain and discomfort at the insertion of the IUD. Only a doctor can approve a candidate for an IUD and perform the insertion of the IUD. An IUD will almost certainly change the nature of your period. At first you’ll experience irregular bleeding but your body will eventually establish a cycle and you will likely have a lighter flow. For women who find comfort in a regular, consistent period, this might not be the best option. No IUD can protect you from STDs or STIs, so it is still important to use a secondary form of protection like and male or female condom. 

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