What Works/What Doesn’t

Preventing Pregnancy

Method

Abstinence

Not having sex (oral, anal or vaginal) and not participating in any activity that puts you or your partner in contact with each others’ bodily fluids (like semen, vaginal fluids, or blood).

Male Condom

A condom is a barrier method of protection made of latex (rubber) or polyurethane. It covers the penis and collects semen and other fluids, preventing them from entering a woman’s vagina.

The Pill

A daily contraceptive pill for women that should be taken at the same time each day. It contains either a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin or progestin only. These pills work in several ways to protect a woman from becoming pregnant.

The Shot

A shot for women that prevents pregnancy. The shot contains the hormone progestin and must be given every 3 months.

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped silicone or latex cup with a flexible rim. A woman uses spermicide to coat the inside and outer-edge, then she inserts it to the back of her vagina so that is covers the cervix where it blocks sperm.

Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is a silicone sailor hat-shaped device. A woman uses spermicide to coat the inside of the cap, then she inserts it into the back of her vagina so that is covers the cervix where it blocks sperm.

The Patch

A woman applies a small adhesive patch to herbutt, upper arm, or lower abdomen. The patch contains a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin. The patch is changed once a week for 3 weeks, followed by one week with no patch.

The Ring (NuvaRing)

A woman places a soft, flexible ring in the vagina for three weeks, followed by a ring-free week. The ring contains a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin.

IUD

A small device that contains copper or the hormone progestin that is inserted by a health care provider into a woman’s uterus.

Implant

A small rod is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm by a health care provider. This rod releases the hormone progestin.

Emergency Contraceptive

It is not a regular method of birth control, but emergency contraception can be used up to five days after unprotected sex, or if your birth control method failed (for example a condom broke). The sooner it’s started the better it works.

Fertility Awareness (Doesn’t Work Well)

When a woman keeps track of her menstrual cycle and has unprotected sex only during the “safe” (or infertile) days, when it is less likely that she will get pregnant.

Spermicide (Doesn’t Work Well)

A woman inserts a spermicide available in foams, films, creams, jellies, or suppositories–deep into the vagina before sex to kill sperm before they can reach an egg.

Withdrawal (Doesn’t Work Well)

The man withdraws his penis from the vagina before ejaculation.

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are the ONLY method that protects sexually active people from both STDs and pregnancy.

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