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    Birth Control: What Type Is Right for You?


    IUDs (Intrauterine Devices)

    These are small, plastic devices that a doctor or nurse will insert into your uterus. The procedure is simple and quick, although a little uncomfortable. Once it's in position, the IUD will protect you from pregnancy for a long time.

    IUDs that use hormones are good for 5 years. The copper-T version -- which uses copper, a natural sperm-killer -- is good for up to 10 years. IUDs are about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

    Emergency Contraception

    You shouldn’t consider this a form of regular birth control. It’s for use after unprotected sex or if your condom breaks. It can prevent pregnancy up to 3 to 5 days later, although the sooner you take it, the better.

    Most emergency contraception products are so-called "morning after" pills, but the copper-T IUD works as emergency contraception, too. Women who weigh 165 pounds or more and want emergency contraception should use the IUD, since research shows that the pills start to lose effectiveness for them.

    9 Tips for Using Birth Control

    You’ll want to do these things so your birth control works:

    1. Be prepared. It needs to be easy for you to use.

    2. Check expiration dates. Condoms and other latex or plastic types of birth control can break down over time. Pills become less effective. Don’t rely on birth control that's past its expiration date.

    3. Store it right. Light and heat can damage condoms and other forms of birth control. Never use a condom that's been in a car's glove compartment for a while or crammed in a wallet.

    4. Follow directions. In the heat of the moment, you’re not going to stop to read the instructions in the box. So read up in advance.

    5. Be careful when opening the condom wrapper. Don't risk tearing the condom by opening it with scissors or your teeth. They can rip or tear.

    6. Use the right size. A condom that's too small or big may not work.

    7. Put condoms on correctly. Make sure you unroll it in the right direction. As you put it on, hold the tip to prevent an air bubble from forming. Air can make a break more likely.

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