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Birth Control FAQs (cont.)

What birth control methods are available from my health care professional?

Discuss your birth control needs and preferences with your health care provider. Many methods are available from your doctor and can be arranged for during an office visit. Some options, such as a diaphragm (used with spermicide) or a cervical cap (also used with spermicide), require fitting, which can also be done during an office visit. An intrauterine device (IUD) must be placed by a health care professional.

  • Your health care provider can fit you with a diaphragm. You insert this into your vagina before sex so it covers your cervix. Before you insert it, you put spermicide into the dome of the diaphragm. Diaphragms come in several sizes, so you must be fitted for it at a clinic.
  • The cervical cap is a soft rubber cap that fits over the woman's cervix. It is smaller than a diaphragm and sometimes more difficult to insert. It also works with spermicide.
  • An IUD is placed into your uterus by a doctor. Currently in the United States, 2 types of IUDs are available: copper and hormonal. Depending on the type, IUDs can be left in place for 5-10 years. Only your health care provider can insert and remove an IUD.

You need a doctor's prescription for most types of birth control pills. These contain hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing an egg. You must take a pill every day. Various types are available, each with different combinations of hormones. Your doctor can advise you on the best one for you. Birth control hormones can now be delivered through a patch you place on your skin, or through a plastic ring placed in the vagina. The hormones are absorbed through your skin. Hormone shots can be given to you every 3 months to prevent pregnancy. You must receive these at your doctor's office. See Birth Control Hormonal Methods for more information on these options.

What will I do if I become pregnant and I don't want to be?

Both the male and female partner should consider this question before having sexual intercourse. Unintended pregnancy is not something to think about later.

Emergency contraception, in the form of prescription medication hormones such as birth control pills taken the “morning after,” can be used especially for rape victims and in the event other forms of birth control fail (such as a condom breaking). This method is used prior to a confirmed pregnancy. Emergency contraception is not a method to be used routinely or casually.

Other options for an unintended pregnancy include abortion and adoption.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology


"Contraceptive counseling and selection"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2016
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