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If you need immediate help, please call
1-800-681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.

There are many forms of contraception to help reduce the spread of STD/STIs and lower the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. Check these out!

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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).

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Success Rate:
Abstinence offers 100% protection against pregnancy, and STDs, assuming no sexual content of any kind (including genital touching).

The Perks:
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.

The Drag Factor:
It can feel difficult to wait sometimes. But waiting until you are mature enough to handle the consequences of sex is your best option. In fact, 70% of teens who have had sex wish they had waited.

How To Get It:
Easy. Do nothing at all.

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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.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 15% become pregnant in one year. With perfect use, 2% of women will become pregnant.

The Perks:
When used correctly and consistently from beginning to end, condoms protect 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 Drag Factor:
Condoms can leak or break if not used correctly. Oil-based lubricants (like Vaseline or massage oil) should not be used. These kinds of lubricants can cause condoms to break during sex.

How To Get It:
At drugstores and supermarkets; costs 35¢ to $2 each. They are often free at your local health department.

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The Pill

A contraceptive pill for women taken at the same time each day. It contains a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin, or progestin only. The pill can be provided by a woman’s health care provider.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 8% of women become pregnant each year. With perfect use, less than 1% will become pregnant.

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

The Drag Factor:
Offers no protection against STDs including HIV. Some women have nausea, headaches and changes in their moods. Women who miss two or more daily pills during a cycle should either abstain from sex or use a back-up method of contraception (like a condom). Each type of pill is different, so check with your doctor to learn more.

How To Get It:
Through a prescription from a health care provider; the cost is about $15 to $50 a month depending on the pill brand, plus the cost of the office visit.

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The Shot

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

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 3% of women become pregnant in one year. With perfect use, less than 1% will become pregnant.

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

The Drag Factor:
Offers no protection against STDs including HIV. Some women have weight gain and irregular periods. This shot can cause bone loss, which is often reversible after a woman stops using the shot.

How To Get It:
Requires a visit to your health care provider every 3 months to get the shot; the cost is about $35 to $75 per shot, plus the cost of the office visit.

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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 to block sperm.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 16% of women will become pregnant each year. With perfect use, 6% will become pregnant.

The Perks:
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).

The Drag Factor:
Won’t effectively protect against most STDs including HIV, and can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and toxic shock syndrome. Can be messy (from the spermicide) and clumsy to use. It needs to stay in place for 6 hours after sex and be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

How To Get It:
Through a prescription from a health care provider; the cost is about $15 to $75 plus the cost of spermicide and the exam and fitting for the diaphragm.

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Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is device made of silicone. A woman uses spermicide to coat the inside of the cap, then she inserts it into the back of her vagina so that it covers the cervix to block sperm.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 14% of women will become pregnant each year. With perfect use, 9% of women will become pregnant.

The Perks:
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 Drag Factor:
Won’t effectively protect against most STDs including HIV and can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and toxic shock syndrome. It only comes in 4 sizes, so it may not be an option for everyone. Also, it needs to stay in place for 6 hours after having sex and then needs to be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

How To Get It:

Through a prescription from a health care provider; the cost is about $15 to $75 plus the cost of spermicide and an exam.

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The Patch

A woman applies a small adhesive patch to her buttocks, 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.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 8% of women become pregnant each year. With perfect use, less than 1% of women will become pregnant.

The Perks:
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 Drag Factor:
Offers no protection against STDs including HIV. Some women have skin reactions, nausea, headaches and breast discomfort. If the patch is removed for more than a day, or a woman is late starting a new patch, she should either not have sex or use a back-up method of contraception (like a condom) until she has used a new patch for 7 days.

How To Get It:
Through a prescription from a health care provider; the cost runs $15 to $50 a month, plus the cost of the visit to a health care provider.

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The Ring

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.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, 8% of women become pregnant each year. With perfect use, less than 1% of women will become pregnant.

The Perks:
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.

The Drag Factor:
Offers no protection against STDs including HIV. Some women have vaginal discomfort, nausea, headaches and breast tenderness. If a woman misses 3 or more hours during a cycle, she should either not have sex or use a back-up method of contraception (such as a condom) until she has used a new ring for 7 days.

How To Get It:
Through a prescription from a health care provider; the cost runs $15 to $50 a month, plus the cost of the visit to a health care provider.

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IUD

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

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Success Rate:
Using an IUD, less than 1% of women become pregnant each year.

The Perks:
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.

The Drag Factor:
Doesn’t protect against STDs including HIV. Some women have spotting between periods, heavier periods and increased cramping.

How To Get It:
Requires a visit to a health care provider; cost is about $175 to $650 for insertion and removal costs about $100.

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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.

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Success Rate:
Less than one in 1,000 women becomes pregnant each year.

The Perks:
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.

The Drag Factor:
Doesn’t protect against STDs including HIV; may cause irregular periods, nausea, headaches and weight gain. Some women may be able to see the rod under the skin. In some instances, skin infection can occur at the insertion site. Plus, having the rod removed can be a hassle.

How To Get It:
Requires a visit to a health care provider; the cost for insertion is usually about $400-$800.

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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. The sooner it’s started the higher its effectiveness.

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Success Rate:
If taken within 3 days of unprotected sex, it reduces your chance of getting pregnant by 89%. It is more effective the sooner it is taken.

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

The Drag Factor:
Doesn’t protect against STDs including HIV. May cause nausea. If a woman does not get her period within 3 weeks, she should take a pregnancy test.

How To Get It:
If you are 17 or older, you can buy emergency contraception at most drugstores or family planning clinics; costs $10 to $70. If you are 16 or younger, you can get it from your health care provider.

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Female Condom

The female condom prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It is packaged with a lubricant and is available at drug stores. It can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual intercourse.

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Success Rate:
With typical use, female condoms are 79% effective at protecting against pregnancy.

The Perks:
They provide some protection against STDs. Can be put in up to 8 hours in advance. Gives the woman some control of reproductive/STD safety.

The Drag Factor:
More expensive than male condoms, and does not provide protection against skin-to-skin STDs.

How To Get It:
Can be purchased at drug stores ranging in price from $6 – $20.

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Remember

Methods that don’t work very well:

Withdrawal
(pulling out before the man ejaculates)

Sex on a girl’s period.

Tracking your period.

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Ask An Expert

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If you need immediate help, please call
1-800-681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.

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