What Works/What Doesn’t

Preventing Pregnancy

The Perks

Abstinence

It is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs. And it’s more common than you’d think– half of high school students have never had sex.

Male Condom

When used correctly and consistently from beginning to end, condoms are the only method that protects against both pregnancy and STDs, including HIV. Plus, you don’t need a prescription, and they are cheap and easy to find at any drugstore.

The Pill

If taken correctly, the pill provides non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make a woman’s periods more regular, reduce cramps, and shorten or lighten a woman’s period.

The Shot

Once a woman gets the shot, she doesn’t have to think about birth control for another 3 months.

Diaphragm

It can be put in place up to six hours before sex and can stay there for up to 24 hours (though fresh spermicide should be applied each time you have sex).

Cervical Cap

It can be put in place up to 6 hours before sex and can stay there for up to 48 hours (and unlike the diaphragm) additional spermicide is not needed (if you want to have sex more than once).

The Patch

If used correctly, the patch provides non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make a woman’s periods more regular, reduce cramps, and shorten or lighten a woman’s period. It only has to be changed once a week.

The Ring (NuvaRing)

If used correctly, the ring provides non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make a woman’s periods more regular, reduce cramps, and shorten or lighten a woman’s period. It only has to be changed once a month.

IUD

It provides effective pregnancy protection and lasts a long time—a copper IUD can stay in place for up to twelve years, and a progestin IUD lasts 5 years.

Implant

It protects against pregnancy for up to 3 years–without having to do a thing. It can shorten or lighten a woman’s period and reduce cramps.

Emergency Contraceptive

It can reduce the chance that a woman will get pregnant if she has unprotected sex or if another method of protection failed.

Fertility Awareness (Doesn’t Work Well)

It’s free and there are no devices to deal with. There are no side effects, except having to go without sex or use a barrier method for several days before and after ovulation (when it is possible for a woman to get pregnant).

Spermicide (Doesn’t Work Well)

You can buy it at any drugstore without a prescription; it can provide lubrication for sex.

Withdrawal (Doesn’t Work Well)

It’s better than not using any protection, but still isn’t a very effective method of birth control.

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

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