Birth Control - Overview
Is this topic for you?
Sometimes a woman may not
use birth control, or her method may fail. If this happens to you, you may
still be able to prevent pregnancy if you act quickly. For more information,
see the topic
Birth control is any method
used to prevent pregnancy. Another word for birth control is contraception (say
If you have sex without birth control, there
is a chance that you could get pregnant. This is true even if you have not
periods yet or you are getting close to
The only sure way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. But
finding a good method of birth control you can use every time can help you
avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
What are the types of birth control?
many different kinds of birth control. Each has pros and cons. Learning about
all the methods will help you find one that is right for you.
Hormonal methods include birth control
pills, shots (such as Depo-Provera), the skin patch,
the implant , and the vaginal ring. There is also a hormonal IUD (such as Mirena) that releases a small amount of hormone. Birth control that uses
hormones is very good at preventing pregnancy.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are
inserted into your
uterus. IUDs work very well and are very safe. There are two main types of IUDs: the copper IUD (such as Paragard) and the hormonal IUD (such as Mirena).
Barrier methods include condoms,
diaphragms, and sponges. In general, these do not prevent pregnancy as well as
IUDs or hormonal methods do. Barrier methods must be used every time you have
Natural family planning (also called fertility
awareness) can work if you and your partner are very careful. You will need to
keep good records so you know when you are fertile. And during times when you
are fertile, you will need to skip sex or use a barrier method.
- Permanent birth control (sterilization) gives you lasting
protection against pregnancy. A man can have a
vasectomy, or a woman can have her tubes tied (tubal ligation). But this is only a good choice if you
are sure that you don't want any (or any more) children.
Emergency contraception is a backup method to prevent
pregnancy if you forget to use birth control or a condom breaks.
For hormonal or barrier methods to work best, you have
to use them exactly the way your doctor or the package instructions say. Even
then, accidents can happen. So it is a good idea to keep emergency birth
control on hand as backup protection. You can buy "morning-after pills," such as
Plan B, in most drugstores if you are 17 or older.
How do you choose the best method?