Birth Control


  • ECP
  • IUD

ABSTINENCE 100% Effective

What Is It?
Not having sexual intercourse. For some people abstinence means not having vaginal sex, for others, it means not having oral, vaginal or anal sex. It is important to know that anyone who engages in vaginal, oral or anal sex is putting themselves at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How It Works
If you don’t have sex, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy.

How To Use It
Deciding to be abstinent is only half the effort. Abstinence only works if you’re able to communicate it to someone else. Talk about abstinence with your partner before you start to get intimate. Alcohol and drugs can make it make it hard to stick with your decision, so try and avoid them.

You can postpone sex until a time when you are more ready to handle the possible consequences. Sexual abstinence can promote communication between partners.

Possible Negatives
Abstinence only works if you use it correctly and consistently. You won’t be able to have sex, but you will be worry free when it comes to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

BIRTH CONTROL PILLS – 96-99% Effective

What Is It?
A combination of synthetic female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).

How It Works
It prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, thins the uterine lining, and thickens cervical mucus. If there is no egg, there can be no pregnancy.

How To Use It
There are 28 pills to a pack. The woman takes one pill a day at about the same time every day. A health care provider must write a prescription for the pill after doing an exam.

Gives the woman control of when she will have a baby. Protects the woman from ovarian and uterine cancer. Relieves painful menstrual cramping and heavy bleeding. Economical.

Possible Negatives
Nausea(feeling sick to your stomach), headaches, bloating, spotting, mood swings. Risky for some women, especially smokers. Will not prevent STIs


What Is It? It’s a thin beige patch that is worn on the skin. It has adhesive to stick on the skin, like a band-aid. The patch has hormones in it called estrogen and progesterone. They go into your blood stream through the patch adhesive.

How It Works The patch stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation). When no egg is released, you can’t get pregnant. The patch also makes cervical mucus thicker, making it harder for sperm to get to the egg.

How To Use It You get three patches for one month. You change your patch every week for three weeks on the same day. On the fourth week you take off the old patch and don’t put on another patch. This is the when you have your period.

Benefits Regular menstrual periods, less bleeding and cramping, less nausea than other methods, convenient to use, and you only have to think about it once a week.

Possible Negatives Breast tenderness, headaches, skin reactions, nausea, and stomach pain. These may go away after the first few months of using the patch.


What Is It? A small flexible ring that you insert inside your vagina. It has hormones called estrogen and progesterone, like the ones your body makes to control your period.

How It Works Stops ovaries from releasing an egg each month and makes cervical mucus thicker.

How To Use It You insert NuvaRing in the vagina. You then keep it in place for three weeks (21 days). Remove it for one week and then insert a new ring. During the one-week break, you will usually have your menstrual period.

Benefits Regular periods, easy to use, lower levels of hormones than some of the other birth control medications, convenient, and less bleeding and cramping with your period.

Possible Negatives Discomfort in the vagina, heavier vaginal discharge, headache, weight gain, feeling sick to your stomach, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding or spotting. A lot of these side effects may go away after the first few months of using NuvaRing. No protection against STIs.

PLAN B: Emergency Contraception

What Is It? It’s a brand of emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. It contains hormones similar to those found in other birth control methods.

How It Works It prevents your body from releasing an egg, it prevents the egg from meeting with the sperm, and it prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

How To Use It You will receive a packet of two pills from a doctor or pharmacist. You should take both pills right away, or twelve hours apart, depending on what the doctor says.

Benefits It’s a method that helps people prevent pregnancy after having sex. It is safe and easy to use. There are no known long-term or serious side effects.

Possible Negatives Headache, dizziness, stomach pain, feeling tired, breast tenderness, vomiting, heavier or lighter bleeding with your next period.

DEPO-PROVERA 99.7% effective

What Is It?
An injection (shot) of a synthetic female hormone, progesterone, that is given every three months.

How It Works?
Depo-Provera prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg and also thins the uterine lining.

How To Use It
Once every 12 weeks (3 months) a woman gets an injection. She will need 4 injections per year.

You only have to remember every 3 months. Very private form of birth control. Mothers who are breast feeding can begin injections 6 weeks after giving birth.

Possible Negatives
Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), slight weight gain, bloating, spotting, mood swings. It is risky for some women, especially smokers. Will not prevent STIs. . It’s really important to take a calcium supplement or eat calcium-rich foods, when using Depo. When girls are on Depo, their bones don’t absorb as much calcium. That might cause osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones brittle.

DIAPHRAGM 90% effective

What Is It?
Soft shallow rubber cup with a firm but flexible rim. Is always used with spermicidal jelly.

How It Works
Acts as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Holds the spermicide close to the cervix which helps kill or immobilize sperm.

How To Use It
Comes in different sizes and is carefully fit to each woman. Put in the vagina to cover the cervix. Must be put in before the penis penetrates the vagina. Left in place for 8 hours and then removed, cleaned and stored in its container

Effective non-hormonal method for those women who do not want to use estrogen or progesterone.

Possible Negatives
Allergic reaction to the rubber of the diaphragm or to the spermicidal jelly.

IUD (Intrauterine Device)96-98%

What Is It?
A small t-shaped device inserted into the uterus

How It Works
Usually prevents fertilization of the egg. Affects the way the sperm move through the uterus. Changes the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg can’t implant

How To Use It
Inserted into the uterus by a health care practitioner. Usually done during menses when the cervix is soft and the woman is unlikely to be pregnant.

Long term pregnancy prevention for up to 4 years, depending on the type of IUD used. No daily routine. Nothing needs to be done at time of intercourse

Possible Negatives
Cramping and/or backache for several days after insertion. Heavier periods with more cramping. Spotting in between periods. More likely to develop pelvic infection, so it is essential to have only one sex partner

MALE CONDOM 90% effective

What Is It?
A sheath that covers the penis made of latex, animal membrane or plastic.

How It Works
At the time of ejaculation the semen is caught in the closed end of the condom so that it cannot spill into the vagina.

How To Use It
Unrolled onto the erect penis. Allow room at the closed end for ejaculate. Water-based lubricant helps prevent breakage. Immediately after ejaculation remove the penis from the vagina while holding on to the base of the condom. Use the condom only once. Make sure you only use latex or polyurethane condoms. They protect against pregnancy AND sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Provides effective birth control. Condoms also protect against STIs. Condoms are the only birth control method that does both. Economical, easy to use.

Possible Negatives
Must be put on before any contact between penis and vagina. Some people see it as an interruption to lovemaking; others incorporate it into lovemaking without any problem. Allergic reactions.


What Is It?

How It Works
The condom is inserted into the vagina, and the penis stays inside the plastic sheath during intercourse. When the male ejaculates the semen is caught inside the closed end of the condom.

How To Use It
The closed end fits inside the vagina and covers the cervix, the sheath covers the walls of the vagina and the opening is outside of the body. Be sure there is lubrication on the inside of the condom.

Provides birth control; also protects against STIs. Condoms are the only birth control method that does both.

Possible Negatives
Must be inserted before any contact between penis and vagina. Takes some practice to use properly. Allergic reactions

SPERMICIDES 80% effective alone and 95% effective with condom.

What Is It?
Foam, cream, jelly, film or suppositories made of a chemical that kills or immobilizes sperm.

How It Works
Kills or immobilizes sperm.

How To Use It
Foam and jelly is inserted into the vagina with an applicator, film or suppositories using a finger. Usually used in conjunction with another method of birth control, like condoms or a diaphragm. Can be used alone but is not as effective.

Enhances effectiveness of other methods. Provides backup in case the other method fails. Inexpensive. Can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription.

Possible Negatives
Allergic reactions. Must be inserted prior to every episode of intercourse. May cause some watery discharge after intercourse


For more information about birth control services in the Twin Cities Metro Area Contact:
The Annex Teen Clinic 763-533-1316
Teen Age Medical Services 612-813-6125
West Suburban Teen Clinic 952-474-3251
Face to Face 651-772-5555
Health Start 651-312-1995
Family Tree Clinic 651-645-0478

For more information on birth control methods including emergency contraception (morning after pill or ECP) check out:
This information is brought to you by Teenhealth411 Education Staff. It is not intended to substitute for medical care. If you suspect you have a health problem, please contact your doctor or local clinic.