Birth Control

The only way that ALWAYS works to prevent pregnancy is not to have intercourse. If you do have intercourse, using a birth control method will significantly lower your chance of pregnancy.

Different people need different methods of birth control. Some birth control methods need to be prescribed, therefore a physical examination and medical history are needed to see if one of these methods is right for you. Prescription options offered at Family Health Services include:

  • birth control pill (several types available)
  • Nuva Ring
  • Depo-Provera
  • IUD

Not every woman can use these methods. After starting one of these methods, a woman should have another examination every year or more often if needed.

If these methods are not suitable for you, condoms are an acceptable option for most everyone and can be used without a prescription or examination.

Abstinence (Not having intercourse)

Abstinence is a very effective method of preventing an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. The advantages of postponing sex are: it is free and doesn’t have any side effects.

Ineffective Forms of Birth Control

Family Health Services does not recommend any of these methods for preventing pregnancy.

Withdrawal – pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation is not an effective method of birth control.

Douching – washing out the vagina in an attempt to wash away sperm is not an effective method of birth control.

Breastfeeding – While some women do not ovulate (release an egg) during breastfeeding, many do and there is no way of knowing when this will happen.

Myths (Untruths) About Birth Control

  • A woman can’t get pregnant the first time she has intercourse (FALSE)
    Reason: A woman can be fertile at any time.
  • Certain positions will prevent pregnancy (FALSE)
    Reason: Sperm swim in any direction.
  • If the penis doesn’t go into the vagina there isn’t any chance of pregnancy. (FALSE)
    Reason: Sperm deposited on the outside of the vagina can swim into the vagina.
  • A woman can’t get pregnant during her menstrual period (FALSE)
    Reason: A woman can release an egg at any time, and sperm can live for many days in fallopian tubes.
  • If the woman doesn’t have an orgasm she won’t get pregnant. (FALSE)
    Reason: Orgasms have nothing to do with conception.

Emergency Contraception Pills (“Plan B”) 

What are emergency contraception pills (ECPs)?

  • ECPs are a safe and effective method of birth control that prevent pregnancy after sex.
  • If you don’t want to become pregnant, use ECPs as soon as possible after unprotected sex. ECPs are most effective the sooner they are taken, but you can use them up to 5 days (120 hrs) after unprotected sex.
  • ECPs are not abortion pills. They will not work if you are already pregnant. If you are pregnant, it will not affect the pregnancy.

When do I use emergency contraception pills?

ECPs can be used if you had unprotected sex in the last 5 days. Use ECPs if:

  • The condom broke.
  • You missed 2 or more birth control pills or started your pack late.
  • Your diaphragm slipped
  • You missed your birth control shot.
  • You were forced to have sex
  • You didn’t use any birth control.

DO NOT use Plan B as your regular birth control method due to the high doses of hormones.

How do emergency contraception pills work?

ECPs prevent pregnancy by:

  • temporarily stopping an egg from being released, or
  • stopping fertilization of the egg, or
  • stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.

ECPs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Are there side effects?

ECPs make some women feel sick to their stomach or vomit. Some women may have sore breasts or headaches. These side effects last about one day. ECPs can also cause some women’s periods to come a little early or late. They do not affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant in the future.

How do I take emergency contraception pills?

  • You take a progestin-only pill in a single dose within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse.
  • Keep a packet of ECPs at home to use when you need them.

How do I get Plan B?

  • For women 17 and older, you may purchase Plan B without a prescription at most pharmacies or at Family Health Services.
  • If under the age of 17, a prescription is required. Make an appointment at Family Health Services to get the prescription.