Methods of contraception, or birth control, prevent pregnancy. Your health care provider may also prescribe hormonal contraceptives for reasons other than birth control. Selecting a contraceptive is a personal choice. When choosing birth control, consider factors such as availability, cost, effectiveness, ease of use, convenience, side effects, short- and long-term effects, reversibility, prevention of chronic disease like uterine or ovarian cancer, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Discuss your options with your health care provider.

Below we have summarized each of the methods of birth control to help you decide upon the method that is right for you. Follow the learn more links under each method to read more detailed descriptions of each method from Planned Parenthood. In addition the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals offers Method Match, an interactive guide to choosing a birth control method. It is important to remember that not all birth control methods protect against both STDs and pregnancy.

Hormonal Methods

Birth Control Pills
If you choose to use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, you take one pill at the same time each day. You need to have a prescription to get birth control pills. Birth control pills contain hormones that stop ovulation. Depending on the kind of pill you take, it may contain only the hormone progestin, or it may contain both estrogen and progesterone. If you have side effects or other problems with your pills, do not stop taking your pills abruptly. Stopping pills can lead to uterine bleeding and increase your risk of pregnancy. If you have problems with your birth control pills, make an appointment with Women’s Health at the Student Health Center to discuss them. LEARN MORE>>

Birth Control Patch
The birth control patch, also known by the brand name Ortho Evra, inhibits ovulation with the same hormones found in birth control pills. The patch delivers continuous levels of these hormones through your skin. LEARN MORE>>

Birth Control Implant
A birth control implant, also known by the brand name Implanon, is a matchstick-sized plastic rod that contains the hormone etonogestrel that prevents pregnancy. A health care provider inserts the rod under the skin of your arm. One rod lasts three years. Because birth control implants do not contain estrogen, your healthcare provider may recommend an implant if you cannot use estrogen. LEARN MORE>>

Birth Control Vaginal Ring
The vaginal ring, also known by the brand name Nuvaring, stops ovulation with the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. For three weeks of each month, you wear one flexible plastic ring inside your vagina. LEARN MORE>>

Birth Control Shot
Depo Provera is an injection of progesterone that lasts for 3 months. You may have irregular periods for the first six months you use Depo Provera. After six months of use, many women stop menstruating. Depo Provera causes bone loss, especially after two years of use. If you take Depo Provera we encourage you to supplement your diet with calcium and vitamin D. LEARN MORE>>

Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The intrauterine device (IUD), also known by the brand name Mirena, is a T-shaped plastic device that contains progestin. A health care provider inserts an IUD into your uterus. Then the IUD releases the hormone progestin to stop ovulation. An IUD also causes your cervical mucus to thicken, which prevents sperm from entering your uterus.  LEARN MORE>>

Emergency Contraception (Morning-After Pill)
Emergency contraception, also known as emergency birth control, backup birth control, or the morning-after pill, is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or birth control failure (e.g., the breakage of a condom). Emergency contraception is also known by the brand name Plan B One-Step. You can start taking it up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. Emergency contraceptive pills contain progestin, a hormone found in other birth control pills. If you are seventeen or older, you can buy Plan B One-Step at the Student Health Center Pharmacy without a prescription for $40. Although you do not need a prescription, you will need to ask the pharmacist for Plan B One-Step because the pharmacist keeps it behind the counter. LEARN MORE>>

Barrier Methods

Spermicides are substances that prevent pregnancy by immobilizing sperm. They come in different forms, including cream, film, foam, gel or suppository. You may use them alone or with other methods of birth control. You will always use spermicide with a diaphragm or cervical cap. You must insert spermicide into your vagina before each act of intercourse in order to prevent pregnancy. LEARN MORE>>

A diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped latex cup with a flexible rim. You fill it with spermicide and insert it in your vagina. When you place it properly, it covers your cervix, blocking the opening to your uterus. Leave your diaphragm in place six hours after you have intercourse. Women’s Health can fit you for a diaphragm at the Student Health Center. LEARN MORE>>

Birth Control Sponge
The birth control sponge, also known by the brand name Today Sponge, is a round foam sponge filled with spermicide. You moisten it with water and place it in your vagina against your cervix before intercourse. Leave the sponge inside you for six hours after you have intercourse. LEARN MORE>>

Cervical Cap
A cervical cap, also known by the brand name FemCap, is a silicone cup that fits around the cervix, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. Because it is not made of latex, a cervical cap might be a favorable option if you are allergic to latex. LEARN MORE>>

Female Condom
The female condom is a plastic pouch that you insert into your vagina before having intercourse. It both prevents pregnancy and reduces your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A flexible ring at the closed end holds the female condom in place inside the vagina. A flexible ring at the open end of the female condom stays outside the vagina during intercourse. The Student Health Center Pharmacy carries female condoms.

Male Condom
A condom is a latex or plastic sheath that you wear on your penis during intercourse. Condoms block sperm from entering a woman’s uterus. They also reduce both partners’ risks of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Condoms do not protect completely against herpes or genital warts, but they do decrease the risk of transmission. Do not use condoms with oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline because the condom will dissolve. We recommend water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide or KY Jelly, for use with condoms. LEARN MORE>>