Contraceptives

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Oral Contraceptives

These are pills that a woman takes every day. The pills have hormones (combined estrogen and progestin, or progestin only) that are similar to those a woman makes to control her menstrual cycle. They work by keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg.

Contraceptive Injection

This method of birth control is given in the form of a shot. The woman must return to the clinic for a shot every 11-13 weeks. It contains only the progestin hormone. It works by keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg. 

Contraceptive Patch

This method of birth control is a small, thin, smooth patch containing estrogen and progestin that is put on a woman's skin. The woman can choose where she places the patch: the buttocks, the shoulder, or the front or back of the upper arm (but not on the breasts). It releases low-dose hormones every day so the woman's ovaries don't release an egg.

Each patch stays on the body for one week. It is changed once a week and on the fourth week, a patch is not worn, but it prevents pregnancy for four weeks. It will stay on, even when swimming, bathing, showering and wearing it in warm humid weather.

Contraceptive Ring

This method of birth control is a soft ring that fits inside the vagina. It releases low-dose hormones (estrogen and progestin) so the woman's ovaries don't release an egg. It stays in the vagina for three weeks, and no ring is worn the fourth week, but it prevents pregnancy for four weeks; the exact position in the vagina is not important.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An IUD is a small device made of plastic.  Several IUDs are available. One device contains copper and the others contain the progestin hormone. This device is placed into the uterus by a trained clinician. The progestin devices can stay in the uterus for 3-7 years; the copper IUD can stay in place 10-12 years. IUDs prevent a woman's egg and a man’s sperm from meeting by thickening the mucus of the cervix which slows the sperm’s traveling ability to meet the egg. All IUDs are safe and effective for women of all ages, even those who have never had a baby, including adolescents.

Implant

The implant is a small, flexible contraceptive rod, the size of a matchstick, placed under the skin in a woman’s upper, inner arm. The progestin hormone is slowly released to keep the woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg. This contraceptive method must be inserted and removed by a trained clinician and is effective for three years.

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a soft rubber dome shaped cup placed in a woman's vagina and used with a spermicidal cream or jelly. It is inserted before having sex and must be kept in place for 6 hours after sex. The diaphragm covers the cervix (the entrance to her uterus) and spermicide kills or stops the man's sperm from getting into the uterus.

Male Condom

This is a covering that a man wears over his penis during sex, which can be made of latex, polyurethane, or a natural material. The condom catches the semen and sperm that comes out of a man's penis before, during and after he ejaculates. This keeps his sperm from getting into the woman's vagina and traveling to meet an egg. Latex condoms also help protect against some infections, including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Female Condom

The female condom is a loose-fitting barrier that fits inside the woman's vagina, which is made of nitrile. It catches the semen and sperm that comes out of a man's penis when he ejaculates. It covers the cervix, the opening to the uterus, so sperm can't get through. It also protects against some infections including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  The female condom is only available with a prescription.

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods

A method of family planning to help determine the “fertile window” or when in a woman’s monthly cycle, she is likely to get pregnant if she has sex. There are several methods a woman may use to help determine when she is likely to release an egg and be fertile. These include Standard Days and Calendar Rhythm Methods which are based on tracking a woman’s monthly cycles. Using the TwoDay and Billings Ovulation Methods, a woman evaluates the presence or absence of cervical secretions. With the Symptothermal Method, a woman looks at cervical secretions and her basal body temperature and The Marquette Model (a symptohormonal method), uses a self-test device to measure urinary hormones. There are several smart phone applications that provide a digital platform (rather than paper and pen) to track fertility signs, while others use data about a woman’s monthly cycles to calculate the fertile time. Couples must avoid sex or use a barrier method during these possible fertile times to avoid a possible pregnancy.

Emergency Contraception

This is a type of birth control that can be taken after unprotected sex.  It can be used after a condom breaks, after a sexual assault, or any time a woman is unprepared and has unprotected sex. EC pills must be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex, but it is most effective when taken within 24 hours. The sooner it is taken, the better it works.  If a woman is already pregnant, it will not end a pregnancy and Next Choice®/Plan B One-Step® and Ella® will not harm the baby. 

Next Choice® and Plan B One-Step® are available without a prescription for women (and men) of any age. Ella® and the ParaGard® IUD are available to all women with a prescription.

You can and should have EC on hand in case you need it.

Sterilization

This is a surgical procedure and is intended to be a permanent method of birth control. There is no guarantee that it can be reversed. Sterilization is one of the safest, most effective, most cost-effective and most widely used contraceptive methods in the world.

        Female:

Tubal Ligation:  This surgical procedure blocks the fallopian tubes of a woman and prevents the egg and sperm from meeting. It is effective immediately.

        Male:

Vasectomy:  This surgical procedure cuts and blocks the tubes that carry sperm out of a man's body through his penis. It does not affect his ability to get an erection or ejaculate. When he does ejaculate, no sperm will be in his semen.  It is not effective immediately, so another method of contraception must be used until a test confirms the absence of sperm.