It’s a good idea for everyone to know how to prevent pregnancy. You might not need this information now (then again you might) but it can come in handy in the future, even if it’s just to help a friend.
First, let’s review the basics. Women have eggs and men have sperm and in order for a pregnancy to happen, an egg and a sperm must meet and the fertilized egg needs to implant in the woman’s uterus.
The only sexual behavior that carries a real risk of pregnancy is vaginal intercourse. So, if someone doesn’t want to get pregnant, they need to abstain from vaginal intercourse or use a reliable method of birth control.
Involves making and sticking to a decision not to engage in sexual behavior. If you are going to use abstinence as a method of birth control, it specifically means not having vaginal intercourse and avoiding any other behaviors where semen has a chance of entering the vagina.
Abstinence can be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy when couples really avoid all of these behaviors all of the time.
How effective abstinence is in preventing STDs depends on which sexual behaviors are avoided. To minimize the chance of passing or getting an STD, you should avoid any behavior that involves an exchange of body fluid (semen, vaginal fluid, blood) or contact with bumps or sores on the skin.
Or “pulling out,” is when the guy removes his penis from the other person’s body before he ejaculates. Withdrawal is not a good method for guys who can’t tell when they are about to come.
Practicing withdrawal is a little bit more effective than using no method at all, but there are much more reliable methods of birth control available.
Withdrawal is not an effective way of avoiding STDs.
Is a sheath, or pouch, that fits over a man’s erect penis. Condoms may be made out of latex rubber, polyurethane, or lambskin.
A condom is rolled over the erect penis and can only be used once. It works by catching the semen during ejaculation so that it doesn’t enter the other person’s body.
If you use condoms you should know that oil-based lubricants, prolonged storage, heat, sunlight, or humidity can weaken latex condoms causing them to break during use. So throw out the condom that left a ring in your wallet because it’s probably no good anymore.
When used consistently (every time) and correctly (the right way), condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. Typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes) results in an effectiveness rate of 85%.
Latex condoms are the only method of birth control that provide protection from STDs such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia. Condoms provide some protection, but not as much, from herpes, genital warts (human papillomavirus), and other diseases that cause sores on skin. Condoms can’t protect what they don’t cover.
You don’t need a prescription to get condoms and they can be bought in most drug stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
There are also condoms made for women. The female condom is a tube-like pouch, with flexible rings at each end. The closed end is inserted into the vagina while the open ring remains outside. It works by catching the semen during ejaculation preventing it from entering the woman’s body. During intercourse, it is important to make sure that the penis is always inside the pouch and not outside of it.
The female condom, which is made out of either polyurethane or a different kind of latex than the male condom, provides protection against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. You do not need a prescription to get the female condom, and you should use a new one every time. Also, you should never use a female and a male condom at the same time because they can stick together which might cause either one to move, slip, or break.
Birth Control Pills:
Sometimes called oral contraceptives, they contain low doses of hormones like the ones produced by the female body. Pills work to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries) and by thickening the mucus found in the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to pass through to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Women who use oral contraceptives swallow one pill each day, whether they have sex or not. Birth control pills work best when taken at the same time every day.
When used consistently (every time) and correctly (the right way), oral contraceptives are 99.7% effective in preventing pregnancy. Typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes) results in an effectiveness rate of 92%.
Oral contraceptives provide no protection from STDs.
You can only get birth control pills by visiting a healthcare provider and getting a prescription.
Birth Control Patch:
Also called Ortho Evra, it is a thin, flexible patch that contains female hormones. The patch prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries) and by thickening the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to pass through and into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Women who use the patch stick one on their buttocks, abdomen, upper torso, or upper arm like a band-aid each week for 3 weeks out of every month. The patch releases hormones into the body through the skin.
When used consistently (every time) and correctly (the right way), the patch is 99.7% effective in preventing pregnancy. With typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes), the effectiveness rate for the patch is estimated to be 92%.
The patch provides no protection against STDs.
You can only get the birth control patch by visiting a healthcare provider and getting a prescription.
Is a shot of a female hormone that prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries) and by thickening the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to pass through and into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Women who use Depo-Provera need to get a shot in their upper arm or buttocks every three months.
Depo-Provera has an effectiveness rate of 99.7% but only when a woman gets her shots exactly every 3 months. With typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes), the effectiveness rate for the shot is estimated to be 97%.effective.
The shot provides no protection from STDs.
You can only get Depo-Provera by visiting a health care provider. In most cases you will get the injection in their office.
Come in many forms including suppositories, creams, gels, foams, and film. They all contain a chemical called nonoxynol-9 which kills sperm.
Women who use spermicides insert them into the vagina before each time they have vaginal intercourse.
When used consistently (every time) and correctly (the right way), spermicides are 82% effective in preventing pregnancy. Typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes) results in a 71% effectiveness rate.
Spermicides aren’t recommended as effective protection against STDs.
You don’t need a prescription to get spermicides and they can be bought in most drug stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
Is round and made of squishy polyurethane foam. The Sponge also contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9.
Women who use the sponge wet it with water and insert it into the vagina. The sponge work in three ways: it releases spermicide which kills some sperm; it absorbs some sperm; and it blocks other sperm from entering into the cervix and through to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
When used consistently (every time) and correctly (the right way), the sponge is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy in women who have never had children. Typical use (because sometimes people make mistakes) results in an effectiveness rate of 84% in women who have never had children..
The sponge doesn’t provide any protection from STDs.
You don’t need a prescription to get the Today Sponge and it can be bought in many drug stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
Is the only method of birth control that can be used to prevent pregnancy after you’ve had vaginal intercourse. Women can use emergency contraception if they forgot to use birth control or if the method they used failed (like the condom broke).
Women who need emergency contraception take pills that can work several different ways depending on where a woman is in her menstrual cycle. Emergency contraception might prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, prevent the egg and the sperm from meeting, or prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
Emergency contraception works best when it is taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Research has shown that it can be effective up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. Consult with your healthcare provider for specific details.
Emergency contraception reduces the risk of pregnancy between 75-89%.
It provides no protection from STDs.
You can get emergency contraception by visiting a healthcare provider for a prescription. If you are 18 or over, you can get emergency contraception from your pharmacist without a prescription. In some states women under 18 can also get emergency contraception from their pharmacists, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the rules in your state. You can also get more information about emergency contraception including a list of U.S. providers visit www.NOT-2-LATE.com or call 888/NOT-2-LATE (888/668-2528).
There are other birth control methods, like the diaphragm, cervical cap, IUD, contraceptive ring, and sterilization, which are not commonly used by young people but may be an option. For more information on these methods talk to your healthcare provider. You can read more about them at www.ppfa.org.
Young people are perfectly capable of using contraception and using it correctly. If you are going to have sex it is your responsibility to pick a method and use it correctly.
States have different rules for young people who want birth control. To find out what the rules are in your state, log on to www.sexetc.org.
For the most part, young people everywhere can get birth control without their parent’s permission.
Here are some questions to think about as you consider which method of birth control might be best for you:
There are also some medical issues that you might need to consider. Some methods may not be appropriate for people with certain medical histories and conditions. For example, heavy smokers are usually advised not to take the pill.
Some people may experience side effects when using certain birth control methods. For example, some people are allergic to latex and others are allergic to spermicides.
Thinking about all of these issues and talking things over with your healthcare provider can guide you as you make your decision.
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