OVCSA Home UIC Home default

Wellness Center

Birth Control


[Back to Let's Talk About Sex]

Method How it Works Effectiveness Availability Protection against STD/HIV Risks Additional Info
Abstinence Make a commitment to yourself not to have sexual intercourse. 100% No prescription needed Yes, protects against all of them None Peer and significant other pressure may make it difficult.
Latex Male Condom Applied immediately before intercourse; used only once and discarded. (See condom section). With typical uses 86%
With perfect use 99%
Over the counter, Many places offer free or low cost condoms Yes, however it only protects areas covered by condom Latex allergy, can break if used improperly Polyurethane condoms are available for people with latex allergy, but effectiveness is undetermined
Female condom Applied immediately or a few hours before intercourse; used only once and discarded. 79% Over the counter Yes, may actually provide more coverage than a male condom May be uncomfortable at first The female condomís outer ring must stay outside of the vagina at all times so it should be held in place during insertion
Spermicides alone Follow the directions on the box
Usually applied before intercourse and left in after sex for up to 6 hours
Around 74% Over the counter various types: foam, film, sponge, gel, etc. No, plus nonoxyl-9 may increase the risk of contracting an STD/HIV if present Irritation, messy Spermicides are more effective when combined with other methods
Diaphragm with spermicide Inserted before intercourse and left in place at least six hours after. 80% Must be fitted/prescribed by a doctor. Can be used for several years none Irritation and allergic reactions, urinary tract infection Can be left in place for 24 hours, with additional spermicide for repeated intercourse.
Cervical Cap with spermicide Inserted before intercourse and left in place at least six hours after. 60-80% Must be fitted/prescribed by a doctor. Can be used for several years none Irritation and allergic reactions, may cause abnormal pap May be difficult to insert; can remain in place for 48 hours without reapplying spermicide for repeated intercourse.
Oral contraceptives -- combined pill Must be taken on daily schedule, (same time each day) regardless of frequency of intercourse. Over 95% Must be prescribed by a doctor. none Dizziness; nausea; changes in menstruation, mood and weight; rare side effects: cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack and strokes.Risks are increased by smoking It may take several different pills to find the one that is right for you.
Oral contraceptives -- progestin-only "mini pill" Must be taken on daily schedule, regardless of frequency of intercourse. 95% Prescribed by a doctor. none Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, slightly increased chance of ectopic pregnancy. This type of pill creates a layer of mucus around the cervix, providing a barrier.
Injection (Depo-Provera) One shot every 3 months 99% Prescription none Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches Some women stop having periods.
Intrauterine Device (IUD) A copper or plastic device is inserted into the uterus. 98-99% Prescription. After insertion by physician, can remain in place for up to one or 10 years, depending on type. none Cramps, bleeding, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, perforation of uterus IUDs can be inserted up to one week after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Implants Little rods that release hormones are inserted under the skin 99% Inserted by a doctor and lasts up to 3 years. none Pain, irritation, swelling, or bruising, Scarring
Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness,
The new implant is called implanon and Norplant have been phased out
Vaginal Ring (Nuva Ring) A flexible ring containing hormones is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 3 weeks 99% Prescription none Vaginal infections and irritation Vaginal secretion Headache, Weight gain, Nausea It may be easier to use for people that canít remember to take the pill
The Path (Ortho Evra) A patch is applied to different areas of the body and changed each week. 95-99% Prescription none Blood clots, stroke and heart attacks and are increased if you smoke cigarettes. Rash/skin irritation It is easier than taking the pill.
If you place the patch in a visible area of the body, people will know you are on it.

[Back to Let's Talk About Sex]

Copyright © 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois