Your best “plan A”:
Methods of contraception

Home / Avoid a “next time”

When did you have sex

without a contraceptive or have a contraceptive accident?

Please select a time earlier than the present.

You have hours remaining to take Plan B®.

The sooner you take Plan B®, the better it works. Plan B® can help prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours, and preferably within 12 hours, after a contraceptive accident or unprotected sex.

It has been more than 72 hours since you had unprotected sex or a contraceptive accident. Please contact a healthcare professional for advice.

Avoid a “next time”

The idea here is to not need Plan B® again. The best plan A is deciding with your doctor which long-term method of contraception is right for you.

 Oral contraceptives

Description

Estrogen and progestin pills that come in packs of 21, 28, or extended-cycle packs of 91 pills. Progestin-only pills are also available.

Advantages

  • Highly effective, reliable, and reversible
  • Non-contraceptive benefits: more regular periods, decreased menstrual cramping, less acne and hirsutism

Disadvantages

  • Remembering to take them regularly
  • Possible side effects: irregular bleeding/spotting, nausea, bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches
  • May increase blood clots
  • Do not protect against STIs

Availability

Prescription

Gender

Female contraceptive

 Condoms

Description

Female condoms can be used by those allergic to latex. A female condom is a polyurethane pouch coated with non-spermicidal lubricant. The closed end is inserted into the vagina and covers the cervix.

Male condoms are made of lambskin, latex or polyurethane and fit over the erect penis.

Advantages

  • No side effects
  • Ease of use
  • Use only when needed
  • Effective when used correctly
  • Provide considerable protection against the transmission of STIs, including HIV

Disadvantages

  • May break if used incorrectly
  • Need to be applied before each act of intercourse
  • If allergic to latex, may cause irritation in the vagina or on the penis
  • May reduce sensitivity during intercourse

Availability

On shelf at the pharmacy

Gender

Male and female contraceptive

 Sterilization

Description

In women, sterilization is a surgical procedure that permanently blocks the fallopian tubes.

In men, sterilization is a surgical procedure that blocks the tubes that carry sperm to the penis.

Advantages

  • Permanent and does not interfere with intercourse

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to reverse
  • Short-term side effects after surgery
  • Does not protect against STIs

Availability

Clinic/hospital

Gender

Male and female contraceptive

 Family planning

Description

Women:

With the calendar method, a woman keeps track of her most-likely fertile days within a given cycle and abstains from intercourse during those days. A woman can also take her basal body temperature, which is her temperature when her body is at rest, to determine if she is ovulating and take precautions during that time, or check cervical mucus for the presence of a clear, thin, stretchable substance, which indicates the fertile period.

Fertility monitors help women determine their most fertile/infertile days for the means of contraception.

Men:

Coitus interruptus: withdrawing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation.

Advantages

  • Women get to know their bodies and cycles
  • Allows the man to actively participate in the control of conception
  • Does not involve any medication

Disadvantages

  • Men may not withdraw the penis in time
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Requires willpower and motivation
  • Reduces spontaneity
  • High failure rate compared to other methods of contraception

Availability

Family planning is done at home.

Gender

Male and female contraceptive

 Injectables

Description

An injection containing a hormone given to women four times per year.

Advantages

  • Effective and reversible
  • Does not contain estrogen
  • Fewer adherence issues since given every 12 to 13 weeks

Disadvantages

  • Side effects: menstrual cycle disturbances, weight changes, mood effects
  • May be a delay in return of fertility for about nine months

Availability

Clinic/hospital

Gender

Female contraceptive

 IUD/IUS

Description

Intrauterine device (IUD): T-shaped device containing copper that is inserted inside the uterus.

Intrauterine system (IUS): T-shaped device releasing a hormone over time that is inserted inside the uterus.

Advantages

  • Highly effective for up to five years
  • Reversible method
  • Easy adherence
  • Suited for those who want long-term birth control
  • Does not interfere with intercourse
  • Does not contain estrogen

Disadvantages

  • Side effects: bleeding irregularities, pain, dysmenorrhea, hormonal side effects and functional cysts
  • Risks with insertion like perforation, expulsion, and infection
  • Does not protect against STIs

Availability

Clinic/hospital

Gender

Female contraceptive

 Transdermal patch

Description

A patch placed on the skin that releases hormones absorbed through the skin.

Advantages

  • Effective and reversible
  • Once-a-week dosing may help with adherence
  • Regulates menstrual cycle and reduces cramps
  • Does not interfere with sex

Disadvantages

  • Side effects such as breast symptoms and headaches
  • Local reactions at the application site
  • Patch detachment is uncommon, but may occur
  • Does not protect against STIs

Availability

Prescription

Gender

Female contraceptive

 Vaginal ring

Description

A flexible ring (54 mm) that is inserted into the vagina. It releases hormones that are absorbed through the vagina.

Advantages

  • Reliable and reversible
  • Once-monthly dosing may help with adherence
  • Regulates menstrual cycles
  • Does not interfere with sex

Disadvantages

  • Hormonal side effects, vaginitis, leukorrhea and vaginal discomfort may occur
  • Does not protect against STIs

Availability

Prescription

Gender

Female contraceptive

 Diaphragm

Description

A dome that fits over the cervix to stop sperm from reaching the uterus.

Advantages

  • It can be inserted several hours before intercourse
  • It can be left in for up to 24 hours

Disadvantages

  • Does not protect against STIs
  • You need to be fitted for a diaphragm by a trained professional

Availability

Prescription

Gender

Female contraceptive

 Cervical cap

Description

A dome-shaped device that fits over the cervix and blocks the passage of sperm. It is used in conjunction with spermicide.

Advantages

  • Small and easy to carry
  • It can be left in place for up to 48 hours, allowing spontaneous protected sex
  • Less spermicide is required than with the diaphragm, and the cap is smaller and less noticeable to the partner

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for every woman
  • More difficult to insert than a diaphragm and can be dislodged from the cervix during intercourse
  • Does not protect against STIs or HIV transmission and may increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome

Availability

Prescription

Gender

Female contraceptive

Plan B® is indicated for emergency situations, and it should never replace a good long-term contraceptive plan. Please note that if Plan B® is used on more than one occasion, the cumulative pregnancy rate will be higher.

Common contraceptive accidents

Most sexually active women usually like to use some type of protection against pregnancy. Until recently, one of the most popular forms of contraception was the condom. But it has not been proven to be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy since the condom can be put on incorrectly, slip off during intercourse, or even tear.

The introduction of hormonal contraceptive methods changed the way we use contraception. These include oral contraceptive pills, contraceptive patches and contraceptive rings.

Contraceptive pills, which consist of synthetic female hormones, are proven to be effective in preventing unplanned pregnancy, if taken correctly. But missed birth control pills or starting a pack late can contribute to decreased birth control effectiveness and contraception failure. The same applies for the contraceptive patch and ring; incorrect use can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

If you are using a diaphragm or cervical cap as birth control methods, you may accidently remove them too early or they might get dislodged during sexual intercourse.

Contraceptive accidents can happen. That’s why there’s Plan B®, an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex or following a contraceptive accident.

Learn more about contraception and sexual health

When it comes to sex, knowledge is power. The more you know about contraception and sexual health, the more you can enjoy it. Start learning at:

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