As we all know, there are many forms of contraception. Here, you’ll find basic information and resources about these different forms.
Condoms are the most common method of protection. Condoms can be rolled onto the penis or inserted into the vagina. Both have a small failure rate, but as the Guttmacher Institute points out, the failure rate of condoms decreases with more use. (Heads up: the article linked above has cis-centric language.)
*Remember: Keep condoms out of the car, the sun, your wallet, and your pockets, as these factors can damage them! Always check the expiration date on condoms, and use water-based lubricants with latex condoms. Also, condoms are meant for a one-time use. Please don’t reuse them. Please.
Spermicide is- you guessed it- a product used to kill sperm. These usually come in gels, lubricants, foams, and vaginal suppositories. Spermicide has a fail rate of 15%- meaning 15 out of 100 people will become pregnant if the product is used properly.
*Remember: Always read the instructions on spermicide- each product is different!
Diaphragms are inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix a few hours before sex, and is usually filled with some sort of spermicide. It’s designed to prevent sperm from meeting with an egg. These suckers can last up to two years. Diaphragms have a fail rate of 6%.
*Remember: Always clean your diaphragm after sex (preferably with warm water and a mild soap.) Do not use oil-based lubricants, as these can mess with the silicone, and don’t use powders, as these can cause infections.
Contraceptive sponges are made from a polyurethane foam, and are placed inside the vagina. Sponges use a combination of both blocking the sperm and using spermicides to prevent pregnancy. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before sex, and has a fail rate of 9%.
*Remember: One sponge means one use. Don’t reuse your sponges!
Birth control pills prevent pregnancy in one of the following ways: 1) prevent ovulation each month, 2) makes the cervix produce a smaller amount of thicker mucus to prevent implantation, and 3) thins the lining of the uterus, making implantation of the egg much more difficult. Oral contraceptives are 99% effective.
*Remember: Always take your birth control pills at the same time every day. If you miss a pill, take it as soon as possible.
The Depo shot is administered and prevents pregnancy for up to three months. The Depo shot prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation and thinning the lining of the uterus. This form of birth control is also 99% effective.
*Remember: The Depo shot requires a prescription, like most hormonal contraceptives. If you are two weeks late for your scheduled injection, you will be required to take a pregnancy test.
Vaginal rings, such as NuvaRing, are inserted for three weeks and release the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Vaginal rings prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation, thinning the lining of the uterus, and thickening the mucus the cervix releases. Again, this form of contraception is 99% effective.
*Remember: Pregnancy can happen if the ring slips out and is not replaced within three hours, the ring is not in for a solid three weeks, the ring is left in for more than three weeks, or the ring is not inserted after a week.
The patch prevents pregnancy by doing all three things- stopping ovulation, thinning the lining of the uterus, and thickening the mucus. The patch is also 99% effective.
*Remember: If the patch is applied late during the first week, use a backup method of birth control. Also use a backup method after you apply the patch.
IUDs are small plastic devices containing copper and hormones and is inserted by your doctor. Sperm still enters the uterus, however, the IUD changes the cervical mucus, making implantation difficult, and stopping ovulation. This method is also 99% effective.
*Remember: You can have sex as soon as you would like, yet if you have Mirena inserted, using a backup method during the first week is recommended. ParaGard is effective immediately.
The morning after pill can be obtained at a clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, or the pharmacy. The morning after pill prevents ovulation and pregnancy for up to five days.
*Remember: The morning after pill is not the abortion pill. It prevents pregnancy.
Pulling out is the removal of the erect penis during sex and has a 6% fail rate. While ejaculation outside the vagina can prevent pregnancy, pre-cum still has a small amount of sperm in it, which can lead to the small possibility of pregnancy.
*Remember: While pulling out can prevent pregnancy, it does not protect you from STDs.
More sources and information
Please note: These resources contain cis-centric language.
Always talk to your doctor before considering hormonal contraception.
Alex and Ailish <3