There are many types of contraception available to help prevent pregnancy. However, the most reliable method for avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases still remains abstinence from sex. A woman stands the chance of getting pregnant every time they have sex without contraception, including the first time they ever have sex.
Some methods are available without a prescription, but most require one.
Male condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When used correctly, male condoms are effective against pregnancy. Most male condoms are made of latex, but other types are available for those with a latex allergy.
To use a male condom correctly you must choose the correct size and place the condom on the head of the erect penis. If uncircumcised, pull the foreskin back first. Then pinch the tip of the condom to remove any air. After this, you must unroll the condom down the penis, being careful not to tear it.
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After intercourse, hold the base of the condom in place before pulling out of the vagina. Remove the condom and dispose of it. Never reuse a condom.
Female condoms can be used instead of a male condom, but should never be used with one. According to the CDC, female condoms are about 79 percent effective for contraception. Female condoms can be bought from drugstores without a prescription
A person can buy this method of contraceptive sponge without a prescription. Sponge is made of polyurethane foam and contains spermicide. It is placed deep inside the vagina to block entry to the uterus.
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This barrier method of contraception is placed inside the vagina and spermicide is applied to the diaphragm before use. Note that diaphragms do not protect against STIs. Diaphragm must be inserted a few hours before intercourse, leave it in place for 6 hours after sex, and remove it after 24 hours.
In the U.S., this is the most commonly used methods of contraception. They are over 99 percent effective if taken as prescribed, according to the National Health Service (NHS)in the UK.
There are two forms of the pill:
- The combined pill, which contains estrogen and progestin: These should be taken daily, as per the instructions. The pill pack contains some pills that are free of hormones. A person will have a monthly period when taking these pills.
- The mini-pill, which contains only progestin: A person must take this pill at the same time every day without a break. Someone taking the mini-pill will not necessarily have a period.
Spermicide is a chemical that kills sperm. It can be bought without a prescription and used with condoms, but not with the sponge.
If used alone, spermicide should be inserted close to the cervix at least 10 minutes before sex. It remains effective for 60 minutes and is approximately 71 percent effective.
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A cervical cap is used to cover the cervix to stop sperm from reaching an egg. It is a soft silicone cup that is placed deep inside the vagina. This effectiveness of the cervical cap varies according to sources. It does not protect against STIs.
Hormonal forms of birth control prevent conception by preventing ovulation from occurring. This type of contraception does not protect against STIs. Most hormonal contraceptives are only available with a prescription. Hormonal methods include;
Vaginal ring, also called the Nuva ring, is a small, plastic ring is placed in the vagina for 3 weeks. It releases hormones into the body to stop pregnancy. This method is effective when used correctly, according to the NHS. The ring must be removed for 7 days to allow for a menstrual period before a inserting a new ring.
Contraceptive patch can be placed on the buttocks, back, upper arm, and stomach. A person must wear each patch for 3 weeks, before removing it for 1 week to permit a menstrual period. There is a small risk of skin irritation.
The contraceptive shot (Depo-Provera) is usually given by a doctor every 12 weeks. According to Planned Pregnancy, it may take up to 10 months, for fertility to return to normal after a person stops taking the injection.
Intrauterine devices and implants
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants are contraceptive devices that have been in use for a long time. These devices and implants are effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do not protect against STIs.
Implants are a form of hormonal birth control that involves a doctor inserting a matchstick-sized rod into a person’s arm to protect against pregnancy. Implants work by releasing the hormone progestin into the body, which prevents ovulation. Implants must be replaced about every 3 years.
An IUD is a small device that a doctor inserts into the uterus. There are two types of IUDs; the hormonal IUD and the copper-based IUD.
Hormonal IUD can last for about 5 years once fitted before it needs replacing. IUD’s do not completely stop ovulation but act as contraception by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm entering the uterus.
The copper-based IUD is an hormone-free IUD covered in wire. It destroys sperm trying to enter the uterus. One IUD can prevent pregnancy for approximately 10 years.