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Birth Control Methods

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods such as the pill, shot, patch or implant are safe and highly effective ways of preventing unplanned pregnancies. Most contain the hormones estrogen, progestin, or progesterone, and sometimes a combination. They work by stopping ovulation or thickening cervical mucus so it is difficult for sperm to enter the womb.The IUD is a non-hormonal method that is just as effective.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods can be just as effective as the hormonal methods, if they are used correctly. They can be used in “heat of the moment” or unplanned situations, without any physical side effects, and don’t contain any hormones.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is NOT a birth control method; it is an option when unprotected sex has happened.

Hormonal Methods

What is the Pill and how do I use it?

The Pill is a hormonal form of oral contraception that contains either progesterone only, or a combination of estrogen + progesterone. The Pill stops ovulation. If no egg is released, there is nothing to be fertilized by sperm, and the female cannot get pregnant. It does not prevent sexually transmitted infections.

You must take the Pill by mouth at the same time every day. If you take it more than three hours past your usual time, use a backup method of birth control for the next 48 hours (two days).

Will the Pill stop me from getting pregnant?

The Pill must be taken correctly, for it to be 99% effective. This means that 1 out of 1,000 women on the Pill get pregnant during their first year of taking the Pill. If you miss a day or don’t take the Pill as directed, the chances of you getting pregnant increase, as the effectiveness goes down to 95% (about 20 women out of 1,000 on the Pill will get pregnant.

What are the side effects from using the Pill?

There are some mild side-effects from using the Pill, and most go away within the first three months. These include:

  • breast tenderness
  • nausea
  • moodiness or depression
  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • slight weight gain
  • change in appetite
  • change in sexual desire
  • yeast infections

What should I know about choosing the Pill?

  • lighter and/or shorter periods
  • less cramping during periods
  • easy to take
  • does not interrupt sex
  • helps prevent pelvic inflammatory disease
  • may lower chances of getting endometrial and ovarian cancer

What is The Patch?

Ortho Evra is a hormonal patch that sticks directly onto the skin; this may cause a reaction at the site of application. The patch contains a combination of estrogen and progesterone that are absorbed through the skin where it is worn. The birth control patch is a prescription and must be obtained from your healthcare provider.

How does the Patch work, and is it effective?

The patch is worn for one week at a time and it is placed directly on the skin of your buttocks, stomach, upper arm or upper torso. The patch is replaced once a week on the same day each week for three weeks in a row. The patch is not worn during the fourth week to allow your menstrual flow to occur at this time. Like the Pill, the Patch is 99% effective if used properly. The Patch may not be effective for women who weigh more than 198 pounds.

What are the side effects from the Patch?

The side effects of the Patch are similar to those of the combination pill, such as:

  • breast tenderness and enlargement
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vaginal discharge
  • abdominal cramps and bloating
  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • slight weight gain change in appetite
  • moodiness
  • change in sexual desire

What should I about choosing the Patch?

  • no pill to take every day
  • does not interrupt sex
  • only have to change the patch three times a month
  • ability to become pregnant returns quickly when you stop using it
  • may not be effective for women who weigh more than 198 pounds

What is a Vaginal Ring?

NuvaRing (also known as the Ring) is a flexible vaginal ring that contains two kinds of hormones, progesterone and estrogen. When the Ring is inserted into the vagina it releases a continuous low dose of hormones into the body; this prevents ovulation. (the ovary does not release an egg to be fertilized it sort of tricks the body into thinking it is pregnant (when it is NOT).

How does it work, and is the Ring effective?

The Ring is inserted into the vagina and left inside for three weeks. After three weeks the Ring is removed for one week. During the Ring-free week you get your period. If the Ring is not used exactly as directed, your chance of getting pregnant increases.

If the Ring is used perfectly every month it is 98% effective.

Are there any side effects from the NuvaRing?

Common side effects which usually go away after using the Ring for three months may include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • change in appetite /weight change
  • breast tenderness or enlargement
  • changes in period
  • vaginal discharge, infections or irritation
  • moodiness or depression

What should I know about choosing the NuvaRing?

  • protects against pregnancy for one month
  • no pill to take every day
  • one size fits all
  • does not require a “fitting” by a medical professional
  • does not require the use of spermicide
  • cannot use a diaphragm or cervical cap for a backup method of birth control
  • ability to become pregnant returns quickly when you stop using it

What is IMPLANON?

IMPLANON® is a small plastic rod containing a hormone called etonogestrel that is implanted into your arm.

How does it work, and is it effective?

IMPLANON® is a small rod inserted under the skin of your upper arm that slowly releases the hormone into your body. The rod can remain in place and provide continuous contraception for up to 3 years. When inserted correctly the IMPLANON is 99.8% effective, and the chance of getting pregnant is less than 1%.

Are there any side effects from using the IMPLANON?

The most common side effect is a change in your menstrual period

  • headache
  • vaginitis
  • weight gain
  • acne
  • breast or stomach pain
  • viral infections such as colds, sore throats, sinus infections
  • mood swings, nervousness or depression
  • nausea or dizziness
  • may be pain at the site of insertion

What should I know about choosing the IMPLANON?

  • safe, simple and convenient
  • ability to become pregnant returns quickly when you stop using it
  • can be used while breastfeeding
  • for women who cannot take estrogen
  • it gives continuous long-lasting birth control without sterilization
  • no daily routine needed
  • nothing needs to be put in place before vaginal intercourse

What is the IUD?

An intrauterine device or IUD is a small T-shaped device made of flexible plastic that a health care provider inserts into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two different types of intrauterine devices (IUDs): hormonal and non-hormonal. There are currently four brands of hormonal IUDs—Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena—and one brand of non-hormonal IUD, ParaGard.

How does it work, and is the IUD effective?

IUDs affect the way sperm move preventing them from joining with an egg. If sperm cannot join with an egg pregnancy cannot happen. The Paragard IUD contains no hormones of any kind, and prevents pregnancy thanks to a tiny copper filament wrapped around the T. It’s the only super-effective non-hormonal birth control method around. All the hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing a very small amount of a progestin hormone each day. The progestin acts locally in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Both types of IUDs work really, really well; they are 99.9% effective and are ranked among the most effective birth control methods you could use.

Are there any side effects from using the IUD?

The most common side effect is a change in your menstrual period

  • headache
  • vaginitis
  • weight gain
  • acne
  • breast or stomach pain
  • viral infections such as colds, sore throats, sinus infections
  • mood swings, nervousness or depression
  • nausea or dizziness
  • may be pain at the site of insertion

What should I know about choosing the IUD?

  • longest lasting form of birth control available to women today
  • no daily routine needed
  • nothing needs to be put in place before vaginal intercourse
  • IUDs can be used during breastfeeding
  • ability to become pregnant returns quickly once the IUD is removed

What is the shot?

Depo-Provera or Depo is a contraceptive injection for women that contain the hormone progestin. It is given as an injection once every three months and typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. You have e to go to a clinic or doctor’s office to get the shot

How effective is the shot in preventing pregnancy?

Depo is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Like birth control pills, the shot doesn’t protect against STIs.

What are the side effects from the shot?

  • lighter or heavier periods or no period at all
  • headaches
  • breast tenderness
  • nausea
  • slight weight gain
  • moodiness and/or depression
  • may take up to 10 months after stopping to become pregnant

What should I know about choosing the Shot?

  • Depo-Provera does not interfere with sex
  • the shot lasts for 3 months
  • no pill to take every day
  • it is not obvious or visible

Barrier Methods

What are spermicides?

Spermicides can come in the form of vaginal creams, foams, films, suppositories and sponges. They are inserted into the body before sex and contain chemicals that kill sperm.

How do they work, and are spermicides effective?

All types of spermicide are made with non-oxynol 9 a chemical that kills sperm. Each type must be placed in vagina before sex. Once inside the vagina, body heat causes the spermicide to melt and kill sperm on contact. If you follow directions exactly, spermicides are 94% effective. If used with a condom spermicides can be as high as 99% effective. If spermicides are NOT used properly, they are only 50% effective.

What should I know about using spermicides?

  • If allergic can irritate your skin and make transmission of STIs or HIV easier

  • don’t protect against STIs or HIV

  • available from pharmacies, supermarkets and general stores

  • must be used right before having sex

  • must be left in vagina for 6 – 8 hours after sex

  • don’t need to see a medical professional

What are condoms?

Condoms are used to help prevent pregnancy and protect from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. Condoms can be made out of different materials; if you are allergic to latex, use polyurethane. The female condom is a thin, but very strong pouch, inserted into the vagina or the anus and can be used by both men and women for safe vaginal and anal sex.

How does it work, and are condoms effective?

Condoms work by blocking or catching the sperm and preventing it from going inside the girl’s vagina. If used correctly every time they are 97% effective, and are more than 99% effective if used with a spermicide. If not used correctly every time they are 86% effective.

Some condoms are lubricated, making them more slippery and comfortable to use during sex. Lubricant is a water-based, slippery liquid that can help prevent condoms from breaking during use and may prevent irritation caused by the skin-on-skin friction that can happen during sex. Oil based lubricants such as Vaseline or baby oil will break down latex causing it to tear, and should only be used with polyurethane condoms.

Are there any side effects from using condoms?

  • if you are allergic to latex, use polyurethane
  • spermicides can cause irritations

What should I know about using a condom?

  • lots of different sizes, make sure it fits
  • available at pharmacies, supermarkets and other stores
  • don’t need to see a medical provider
  • must be used within their use-by date
  • don’t use if the seal is broken or the condom is damaged
  • prevents transmission of some STIs and HIV
  • easy to use, but may interrupt sex
  • oil-based lubricants break down latex

What is the Sponge?

The Sponge is a small, round, soft piece of foam with spermicide in it that is inserted into the vagina before sex.

How does it work, and is the Sponge effective?

The sponge is inserted into the vagina before sex and can be left in place for 24 hours. The sponge must then be left in place after sex for at least 6 hours. The sponge is 70-84% effective.

What should I know about using the Sponge?

  • easy to hide and easy to get
  • can have sex multiple times in a 24 hour period with the same sponge inserted
  • does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV
  • not as effective as other BC methods
  • must leave it in for 6 hours after having sex

Emergency Contraception or Plan B

What is the Morning after Pill (MAP)?

The Morning after Pill or Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) is for emergencies only! This pill contains the same hormone found in many birth control pills, only in a much larger dosage. It is NOT the same thing as RU-486, the abortion pill.

Emergency contraception is a back-up plan that helps prevent pregnancy after birth control failure, unprotected sex, or sexual assault. It is not a substitute of routine birth control, and should not be used as one.

How does it work, and is the MAP effective?

The pill changes the hormone balance by preventing ovulation. MAP should be taken within 3 days (72 hours) of unprotected sex or birth control failure. If necessary it may be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) later. It reduces the chances of getting pregnant by up to 89% if used correctly; the sooner you take it the more effective it will be.

Are there any side effects from using MAP?

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • menstrual changes
  • dizziness
  • breast tenderness
  • vomiting and diarrhea

What should I know about Plan B?

  • Plan B will not work if you’re already pregnant nor will it hurt the fetus
  • does not contain any estrogen
  • won’t protect against HIV or any other STI
  • no age or gender restrictions if you are 17 or older
  • if your weight is 165 pounds or more, some MAPs will not be effective

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