Birth control helps prevent pregnancy. How you get birth control depends on the type of birth control you choose.
Each type of birth control has pros and cons, including ease of use, reliability and side effects. The "right" choice is
a personal decision.
Wake Forest Baptist primary care providers can help you consider the best options based on your overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners and other factors. A pap test is not required to start birth control.
Types of Birth Control
Not having sex is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Natural Family Planning/Rhythm Method
Not having sex or using a barrier method on the days you are most likely to become pregnant - the days just before, during and after ovulation.
These methods prevent sperm from entering the uterus:
- Condoms - A male condom is a thin latex or plastic sheath that covers a man's penis. A female condom is a thin plastic pouch that goes inside a woman's vagina. Condoms are available in drugstores and some grocery stores.
- Diaphragm - A shallow latex cup that is placed inside the vagina, covering the cervix. Diaphragms come in different sizes, and your doctor can determine the right size for you. You will also need to apply spermicide (sperm-killing gel or foam) to the diaphragm. It is available in drugstores and some grocery stores.
- Contraceptive sponge - A foam disk containing spermicide that is placed inside the vagina, covering the cervix. Sponges are available in drugstores and some grocery stores.
- Cervical cap - A thimble-shaped latex cup that is placed inside the vagina. Cervical caps come in different sizes, and your doctor can determine the right size for you. You will also need to apply spermicide to the cervical cap. It is available in drugstores and some grocery stores.
- Cervical shield - A silicone cup that is placed inside the vagina and fits against the cervix. See your doctor to get a cervical shield.
These methods release hormones into a woman's body to prevent ovulation and, therefore, help prevent pregnancy. See your doctor for:
- Birth control pills - An oral contraceptive, usually taken daily
- Depo provera injection - A shot in the buttocks or arm every 3 months
- Birth control patch - Worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, outer arm or upper body
- Vaginal ring - A thin, flexible ring inserted into the vagina
- Implant - Matchstick-size, flexible rods inserted under the skin of the upper arm. They are effective for up to 3 years.
- Intrauterine device (IUD) - A device that a health care provider inserts into the uterus. It can stay there for 5 to 10 years.
Surgical procedures, including tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men, which permanently prevent pregnancy.
Also known as the "morning-after pill," it is a pill taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. It is available at health centers and drugstores. This should only be used if a woman's primary method of birth control fails - not as a regular form of birth control.