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Health Matters Fact Sheets

Which Contraceptive is Right for You?

Birth control methods (contraceptives) are used to prevent pregnancy. Some of them can be found at your pharmacy and some require a visit to a health care provider (such as a nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, physician, or physician assistant). Contraceptives listed below with an asterisk (*) use hormones to prevent pregnancy. The contraceptive methods are in order so that the most effective ones are listed first.

Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after any instance of unprotected sexual intercourse. Most women can safely use emergency contraception pills, even if they cannot use birth control pills regularly. Visit www.not-2-late.com to find out where to obtain it.

Method

How to Use

Additional Information

Most Effective (typically prevents pregnancy >99% of the time)

Abstinence/Outercourse

Do not have vaginal intercourse

 

Female sterilization: non-surgical (Essure®) or surgical (Laparoscopy, mini-laparotomy, laparotomy)

Procedure done by health care provider

  • Lasts a lifetime
  • Permanent method that cannot be reversed

Male sterilization (vasectomy)

Procedure done by health care provider

  • Lasts a lifetime
  • Post-procedure follow up to check sperm count is very important
  • Permanent method that cannot be reversed

Intrauterine device (IUD; ParaGard®)

Inserted into uterus by health care provider

  • Can be used up to 10 years
  • Fertility will return very soon after it is removed

*Intrauterine system (IUS; Mirena®)

Inserted into uterus by health care provider

  • Often makes periods lighter or less painful Offers protection against some cancers
  • Can be used for up to 5 years
  • Fertility will return very soon after it is removed

*Implant (Implanon®)

Inserted by health care provider into arm

  • Often makes periods lighter or less painful
  • Offers protection against uterine cancer
  • Can be used for up to 3 years
  • Fertility will very soon after it is removed

Very Effective (typically prevents pregnancy 91% - 99% of the time)

*Injectables (Depo-Provera®)

Get intramuscular or subcutaneous injection monthly every 12 weeks

  • Makes periods lighter/less painful
  • Lessens cramps
  • Provides protection against some cancers & pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Shot lasts 12 weeks
  • Fertility may be delayed up to 1 year after last injection

*Pills

Swallow pill every day at approximately the same time

  • Makes periods lighter/less painful
  • Offers protection against some cancers & breast disease
  • Need to take pill every day
  • Fertility will return very soon after last pill is taken

*Patch (OrthoEvra®)

Apply 1 patch to skin each week for 3 weeks in a row, then remove patch for 1 week

  • Makes periods lighter/less painful
  • May protect against some cancers & breast disease
  • Each patch lasts 1 week
  • Fertility will return very soon after patch is removed

Moderately Effective (typically prevents pregnancy 81% - 90% of the time)

Male condom (known as “rubbers”)

Apply to penis immediately before sex

  • Provides protection against almost all sexually transmitted infections

Diaphragm

Insert into vagina with spermicide before sex

  • Keep diaphragm in vagina for at least 6 hours after sex
  • Do not keep diaphragm in vagina for more than 24 hours
  • Does not protect against HIV, but does offer some protection against sexually transmitted infections

Sponge (for women who have had a full term pregnancy)

Insert into vagina before sex

  • Lasts up to 24 hours
  • Keep sponge in vagina for at least 6 hours after sex
  • Do not keep sponge in vagina for more than 24 to 30 hours

Effective (typically prevents pregnancy up to 80% of the time)

Female condom

Insert into vagina up to 8 hours before sex

  • Provides protection against almost all sexually transmitted infections

Fertility awareness (known as “natural family planning”)

Monitor cycle to determine when fertility likely/unlikely

 

Cervical cap (FemCap®)

Insert into vagina immediately before sex

 

Withdrawl

Man removes penis from vagina and area near vagina prior to ejaculation

Spermicide

Insert into vagina no more the 1 hour before sex