Birth control methods

Talk to your partner(s) about birth control before you have sex. You can use latex condoms and a spermicide to lower your chances of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Birth control pill

What is the birth control pill?

The birth control pill is a pill that women take to try not to get pregnant. A doctor has to give you a prescription.

How does the birth control pill work?

The birth control pill works in three different ways:

  1. It stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month.
  2. It makes the mucus in the cervix thicker so it is harder for the sperm to travel into the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus.
  3. The lining of the uterus becomes thinner. This makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

How effective is the birth control pill?

When the birth control pill is taken exactly as directed, the failure rate is less than one per cent. However, if you miss any pills, your chance of getting pregnant increases.

How do you use the birth control pill?

A healthcare worker will tell you how to start using it. You can choose from different kinds of birth control pills. Birth control pills come in packs for 21 days or 28 days.

  • Read the instructions that come with the birth control pills, and check the expiry date on the package before you use them.
  • If you get the 21-day pack, you take one pill each day for 21 days. These pills contain hormones. Then, for seven days you do not take pills.
  • If you get the 28-day pack, you take one pill each day. For 21 days, you take pills that have hormones. For seven days, you take pills that don’t have hormones. Your chance of getting pregnant does not increase during the seven days when you are not on the hormone pills.
  • The pill should be taken at approximately the same time every day.

When you first start birth control pills they do not work right away. We recommend using a backup method such as condoms and spermicides during the first month to protect against pregnancy. If you have diarrhea or vomiting, or if you are taking other medicines, your pills may not work as well. During these times, you should use a backup method like condoms and spermicides to prevent pregnancy. If the doctor gives you any medication, you should tell him or her that you are taking birth control pills.

What are the advantages of the birth control pill?

  • Your chances of getting pregnant are very low.
  • Your period is very regular. You might not bleed as much during your period.
  • The birth control pills that have estrogen and progesterone lower your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and the endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.
  • You don’t have to interrupt sex.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to be involved.

What are the disadvantages of the birth control pill?

  • A healthcare worker has to give you the prescription.
  • You might not be able to use it if you have certain health problems.
  • You must remember to take it each day at the same time.
  • If you miss a pill or take a pill late, it may not be as effective.
  • You’re not protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It costs a lot, especially at drugstores. You can buy it for less at some birth control clinics.

A very small number of women suffer more serious side effects. There is a risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in the veins, or liver tumours. As you get older, you are at higher risk for having these problems. If you smoke or have high blood pressure, the risk is even higher.

Where can you get the birth control pill?

Drugstores and most birth control clinics sell the birth control pill.

Birth control patch (Ortho-Evra)

What is the birth control patch?

It is a thin flexible square patch that you wear on your body that slowly and continuously releases hormones through your skin to prevent pregnancy. You wear one patch for a week at a time. It can be placed on your upper outer arms, buttocks, lower abdomen or upper torso (excluding the breasts).

How does the birth control patch work?

The patch prevents pregnancy in three ways:

  1. It prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg.
  2. The lining of the uterus becomes thinner. This makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.
  3. It thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to travel through the cervix which leads to the uterus.

How effective is the birth control patch?

If used correctly, the patch is 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.

How do you use the birth control patch?

  • Read the instructions that come with the package and check the expiry date.
  • The day you begin wearing using the patch is your “patch change day.”
  • Apply the patch within 48 hours of getting your period. Apply the patch to dry, clean, healthy skin. Wear the patch for seven days.
  • On the eighth day, remove the patch and discard it by folding the sticky side together. Apply a new patch right away to another one of the sites mentioned, to avoid irritation.
  • On the 15th day, remove the patch and apply a new one.
  • On the 22nd day, remove the patch and do not apply a new one. You will get your period during this week.
  • Start with a new package on the “patch change day,” even if you are still on your period.

If your doctor gives you medication to take, tell him or her that you are using the patch.

What are the advantages of the birth control patch?

  • It is a reversible form of birth control.
  • It is highly effective.
  • You only have to think about it once a week.
  • It’s simple and easy to use.
  • It regulates your period and reduces cramping associated with your period.
  • Estrogen and progesterone lower your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex.
  • It may reduce cervical and endometrial cancer.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to get involved.
  • You can wear it while showering, swimming or exercising.

What are the disadvantages of the birth control patch?

  • It doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It may cause skin irritation.
  • A doctor has to give you a prescription.
  • You may not be able to use it if you have certain health problems.
  • If it falls off or partly detached it will not work as well.

A very small number of women suffer more serious side effects. There is a risk of getting heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in the veins, or liver tumours. As you get older, you are at higher risk for having these problems. If you smoke or have high blood pressure, the risk is even higher.

Where can I get the birth control patch?

Pharmacies and most birth control clinics sell the patch.

Birth control ring (Nuvaring)

What is the birth control ring?

The ring, or the Nuvaring, is a flexible ring about two inches in diameter that is inserted into the vagina and left there for three weeks. It slowly and continuously releases hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy.

How does the birth control ring work?

The ring works in three different ways:

  1. It stops your ovaries from releasing an egg each month.
  2. It changes the lining of the uterus. The lining becomes thinner, making it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus wall.
  3. It makes the mucus in the cervix thicker so it is harder for the sperm to travel into the cervix, which leads into the uterus.

How effective is the birth control ring?

When the Nuvaring is used exactly as directed, the failure rate is less than one per cent.

How do you use the birth control ring?

  • Read the instructions that come with the package and check the expiry date on the package before you use them.
  • Insert the ring into your vagina on the first day of your period.
  • Use a backup method like condoms for the first seven days.
  • Remove the ring on the 22nd day. You should get your period during this week.
  • Insert a new ring after seven days.

If your doctor gives you medication to take, tell him or her that you are using the ring.

If the ring is removed for more than three hours during the first two weeks, use a back up method like condoms for seven days.

If the ring is removed for more than three hours on the third week of use, insert a new ring immediately and call us or ask a pharmacist for assistance.

Most people do not feel the ring when inside. If you do, gently push the ring further into the vagina.

What are the advantages of the birth control ring?

  • Your chances of getting pregnant are very low.
  • Your period is very regular and you may not bleed as much during your period.
  • Estrogen and progesterone lower your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus.
  • You don’t have to interrupt sex.
  • Its reversible, meaning you can get pregnant in the future.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to be involved.
  • You only have to think about it once a month.

What are the disadvantages of the birth control ring?

  • A health care worker has to give you a prescription.
  • You may not be able to use it if you have certain health issues.
  • It may slip or become dislodged.
  • You’re not protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It costs a lot, especially at pharmacies. You can buy them for less at some birth control clinics.

A very small number of women suffer more serious side effects. There is a risk of getting heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in the veins, or liver tumours. As you get older, you are at higher risk for having these problems. If you smoke or have high blood pressure, the risk is even higher.

Where can you get the birth control birth control ring?

Pharmacies and most birth control clinics sell the ring.

Depo-Provera

What is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is a form of birth control. It is given by injection. You can get an injection every three months to prevent yourself from getting pregnant. Women in more than 100 countries, including the United States, use Depo-Provera as birth control. The World Health Organization approved it as a method of birth control in 1993. Depo-Provera has been used as a birth control method in Canada for many years, but only in 1997 did it receive official approval as a birth control method.

How does Depo-Provera work?

If you use Depo-Provera, your ovaries will not release an egg each month. It also thins the endometrium (lining of the uterus) so that it is harder for a fertilized egg to attach. It also makes the mucus found in the cervix thicker. The cervix is the opening to the uterus.

How effective is Depo-Provera?

You have to get the injection every three months. Out of 100 women who use this method, about 99 of them will not get pregnant.

How do you use Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is a medication. A doctor will give you a prescription. A doctor or nurse will give you the Depo-Provera. You must go to a doctor or a clinic every three months for the injection.

  • You will get the first shot when you are having your period.
  • You should use another kind of birth control for two weeks after the first injection.

What are the advantages of Depo-Provera?

  • The chances of getting pregnant are very low.
  • You only have to get an injection once every three months.
  • You might not get cramps before and during your period.
  • You might not bleed as much during your period. Some women stop having periods at all.
  • You may use this method if you are breast feeding.
  • Your chances of getting some kinds of cancer are lower.
  • You might be able to use this method even if you cannot use the birth control pill.
  • You don’t need to keep any birth control supplies at home.

What are the disadvantages of Depo-Provera?

  • You will have irregular bleeding. Some women stop having periods completely and some women bleed between their periods.
  • It is an injection.
  • You must go to the doctor or clinic every three months for the injection.
  • If you are late in getting your injection, your chances of getting pregnant are higher.
  • You might get some side effects like headaches, dizziness, bloating, tender breasts, mood changes and weight gain.
  • You are not protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • If you want to get pregnant in the future, it may take you up to two years after getting the last Depo-Provera injection
  • Women at risk for osteoporosis (a disease causing brittle bones) may not be able to use this method.

Where can you get Depo-Provera?

Birth control clinics and physicians can provide Depo-Provera.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

What is an Intrauterine Device (IUD)?

An Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small piece of plastic that is inserted by a doctor into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is approximately 1½ inches (three cm) in length. There are several different types of IUDs. The most common IUD is T-shaped and coated with copper. This can be left in the uterus for up to five years or longer. Attached to the IUD are two plastic threads or strings that hang down through the cervix into the vagina. The cervix is the opening to the uterus. The threads or strings do not hang outside the body.

The IUD can also be used as an emergency method of birth control. If an IUD is inserted within seven days after unprotected vaginal sex it may prevent a pregnancy

How does an IUD work?

Exactly how the IUD works to prevent pregnancy is not fully understood. The IUD may:

  • Cause slight inflammation of the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot implant.
  • Interfere with the movement of sperm.
  • Speed up the movement of the egg through the fallopian tube.

How effective is an IUD?

The IUD is 97 to 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.

How do you use an IUD?

Insertion of an IUD must be done by a doctor or nurse. You will need to be checked for any sexually transmitted infections before the IUD can be inserted. This should be done at least one week before the IUD is inserted. Insertion is usually done when you are on your period. The doctor or nurse will perform a pelvic exam and check to see where your uterus is positioned. They will then insert a speculum into your vagina to see your cervix and then wash your cervix with an antiseptic solution. Next an IUD is put into your uterus and the strings are cut just below your cervix. IUD insertion can be uncomfortable. You may want to take pain pills before you have an IUD inserted. Removal of an IUD must be done by a doctor or a nurse. Do not try to remove an IUD yourself.

What are the advantages of an IUD?

  • Highly effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Does not interrupt sex.
  • Does not require partner’s involvement.
  • Can be used for a long period of time.
  • Can be used as an emergency method of birth control.

What are the disadvantages of an IUD?

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • If you get a sexually transmitted infection, the IUD could increase the likelihood of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of the reproductive organs), which may lead to infertility.
  • May increase the likelihood of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus.)
  • Can cause heavier and more painful periods.
  • Cramping and discomfort during insertion.
  • There are risks during insertion and removal that your doctor should discuss with you before inserting an IUD.

Where can you get an IUD?

Most birth control clinics can insert an IUD. The IUD is also available at the Bay Centre for Birth Control.

Intrauterine system (IUS)

We’ll have more to tell you about Intrauterine system soon. For now, you can learn about it at SexualityandU.ca.

Hassle Free Clinic offers counselling and prescriptions for the intrauterine system, and it you can get one inserted at the Bay Centre For Birth Control.

Male condom

What is a (male) condom?

A condom is a form of birth control. You can use it with your partner(s) to try not to get pregnant. A condom also helps protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

A condom is a thin covering, usually made of latex rubber. A man wears it over his erect penis during sex.

Condoms come in many shapes, colours, and flavours. Condoms that are made of latex rubber and are covered with spermicide give you the best protection. The spermicide is called nonoxynol-9. Condoms made from lambskin do not protect you from STIs.

How does a condom work?

A condom works as a barrier. It keeps sperm from getting into a woman’s vagina during sex.

Latex condoms stop semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from being passed on during oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex. This gives you some protection from STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and HIV. Condoms that are not made of latex will not protect you from STIs.

How effective is a condom?

If 100 men use condoms over one year, between 88 and 98 of their women partner(s) will not get pregnant.

Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use a condom correctly. You have to use it each time you have sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use a condom with another kind of birth control, like spermicidal foam or jelly.

How do you use a condom?

Check the expiry date on the wrapper before you use it. Heat and light can make the condom weaker. Keep condoms in a dry place at room temperature. Don’t carry them in your wallet, your pocket, or in the glove compartment. Condoms can rip. Don’t test them for holes or fill them with anything before you use them. Make sure you read an information sheet or are taught by a doctor, nurse or counsellor how to put on and take off a condom before you use them.

What are the advantages of a condom?

  • When used correctly, it may protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It is not expensive. You can often get free condoms at birth control clinics.
  • You don’t need to see a healthcare worker to get it.
  • You only use it when you need it.
  • You can use it with other kinds of birth control to lower your chances of getting pregnant.
  • You can involve male partner(s).
  • It can help some men to stay erect longer.
  • There are lots of kinds of condoms to choose from.
  • They are easy to carry around.
  • There is no discharge of semen after intercourse which some partners find annoying.

What are the disadvantages of a condom?

  • It can tear or come off during sex.
  • Condoms with spermicide may irritate you or your partner.
  • Some condoms may taste bad.
  • You may have to interrupt sex to put it on.
  • Some people may be allergic or sensitive to the latex condom.

Where can you get condoms?

You can buy condoms at drug stores, birth control clinics, or washroom vending machines. You can also get free condoms at some birth control clinics and at Hassle Free Clinic.

Female condom

What is the female condom?

The female condom is a form of birth control. You can use it with your parter(s) to prevent pregnancy. The female condom also helps protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

A female condom is a soft, loose-fitting plastic condom that lines the inside of the vagina. It has a soft ring at each end. The ring at the closed end is used to put the condom inside the vagina and helps to hold it in place. The other ring stays outside the vagina and partly covers the labia/lip area.

How does the female condom work?

The female condom works as a barrier. The female condom stops semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from being passed during vaginal or anal sex. This gives you some protection from STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and HIV.

How effective is the female condom?

If 100 women used the female condom correctly over one year, approximately 95 of them will not get pregnant.

Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use the female condom correctly. You have to use it each time you have sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use the female condom with another kind of birth control, like spermicidal foam or jelly.

How do you use the female condom?

Check the expiry date on the wrapper before you use it. Keep female condoms in a dry place at room temperature. Don’t carry them in your wallet, your pocket, or the glove compartment. Be careful not to rip or tear the female condom. A female condom that has been ripped or torn should not be used. Do not use the female condom and a male condom at the same time. This may cause both the condoms to move out of place. Make sure you read an information sheet or are taught by a healthcare worker how to put on and take off the female condom before you use it. In order to be effective, the female condom should be used every time you have sex. You should use a new one with each sex act.

What are the advantages of the female condom?

  • The female condom is the only form of STI/HIV protection that women can use. When women use the female condom, they don’t have to rely on their partners to provide STI protection, giving them more power and control over their sexual health. When used correctly, it may protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • You don’t need to see a healthcare worker to get it.
  • You only use it when you need it.
  • Women who have sex with women can use the female condom to protect themselves from STIs when sharing sex toys.
  • You can use it with other kinds of birth control to lower your chances of getting pregnant.
  • The female condom is made of plastic, not latex and therefore may be used by people with latex sensitivities or allergies.
  • According to the company who makes them, the female condom is 40 per cent stronger than latex condoms and is six times less likely to leak.
  • The female condom conforms to the inside of the vagina and does not feel tight on the penis.
  • The female condom is thinner than latex condoms and warms up to body temperature right away.
  • Oil-based lubricants can be used with the female condom without causing damage, unlike the male latex condom.
  • The female condom can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse, unlike the male condom which can only be used while the penis is erect. Therefore you do not have to interrupt sex to use the female condom.
  • The outer ring stays outside of your vagina, covering more area and giving you some added protection against some STIs.

What are the disadvantages of the female condom?

  • It can be expensive and difficult to find (the female condom is more expensive than male condoms which are often free.)
  • It can tear or come off during sex.
  • The condom may make rustling sounds during sex.
  • You have to be comfortable inserting it into your body.
  • You have to be comfortable with the outer ring being visible outside your vagina.
  • It may taste bad.
  • You may need to practice inserting it before actually having sex.
  • Where can you get the female condom?
  • You can buy female condoms at some birth control clinics and drug stores. Some birth control clinics give free samples.

Diaphragm

What is a diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a form of birth control. You put it into your vagina before you have vaginal sex. You can use it to try not to get pregnant.

A diaphragm is a shallow cup made of rubber. It’s shaped like a dome and is flexible. A healthcare worker can tell you what size of diaphragm you need. They will also show you how to use it. A diaphragm is placed deep in the vagina. Once it is in, it should feel comfortable. A diaphragm has to be used with spermicidal jelly or cream. Spermicidal jelly and cream kill sperm. When the sperm is killed, your chances of getting pregnant are lower.

How does a diaphragm work?

The diaphragm works in two ways:

  1. It holds the spermicidal jelly or cream that kills sperm close to the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus.
  2. It works as a barrier. It covers the cervix. It stops sperm from going into the cervix.

How effective is a diaphragm?

Out of 100 women who use a diaphragm, about 85 will not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use the diaphragm correctly and every time you have vaginal sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use the diaphragm with a condom or another method of birth control.

How do you use a diaphragm?

  • Read the instructions that come with the diaphragm.
  • Before putting the diaphragm in, fill with water to make sure there are no leaks.
  • Put the diaphragm in up to six hours before you have vaginal sex. If you plan to have vaginal sex more than six hours after you put the diaphragm in, you need to add more spermicide.
  • If you have sex again, leave the diaphragm in. Put more jelly or cream into your vagina, using an applicator, before you have sex. Do this each time you have sex again.
  • Leave the diaphragm in for six to eight hours after you last had sex. This is so that the spermicide can kill the sperm.
  • After you take the diaphragm out, clean with warm water (do not use chemical soap) and make sure it is dry before storing it.
  • If you want, you can use a special introducer to help you put the diaphragm in and take it out. You should go to your healthcare worker to have your diaphragm checked if you have given birth, have had a miscarriage, have had an abortion, have gained or lost 10 pounds or more, have had surgery in your pelvic area, or if your diaphragm feels uncomfortable, because you may need a new size.

What are the advantages of a diaphragm?

  • You only have to use it when you need it.
  • It may protect you from some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • You don’t feel it. Your partner doesn’t feel it.
  • You don’t have to interrupt sex to put it in.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to be involved.
  • It doesn’t cause any changes in your body.
  • You usually need to get a new one only every year or two.

What are the disadvantages of a diaphragm?

  • Some women find it hard to put in or take out.
  • The spermicide cream or jelly might irritate you.
  • A healthcare worker has to fit it.
  • The diaphragm does not fit all women.
  • You have to clean it and take care of it each time you use it.
  • You need to use extra jelly or cream if you have sex again.
  • You need to feel comfortable with putting it into your vagina.
  • You may have more risk of getting urinary tract infections.
  • You may be at more risk of getting toxic shock syndrome.
  • The diaphragm does not prevent the transmission of HIV.

Where can you get a diaphragm?

You need to go to a healthcare worker to find out the right size of diaphragm for you. However, you don’t need a prescription to buy one. You can buy a diaphragm and spermicidal jelly or cream at any drug store or birth control clinic.

Spermicide

What is a spermicide?

A spermicide is a form of birth control. You put it into your vagina before you have vaginal sex. You can use it to try not to get pregnant.

Spermicides have two parts:

  1. A spermicidal chemical, usually nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 kills sperm.
  2. Foam, cream, film or jelly suppository which holds the spermicide in the vagina near the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus.

How does a spermicide work?

Spermicides contain a chemical that kills sperm.

How effective is a spermicide?

Out of 100 women who use spermicide, between 79 and 97 will not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use the spermicide correctly. You have to use it every time you have vaginal sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use the spermicide with a condom or another kind of birth control. Out of 100 women who use spermicide and condoms together, 98 will not get pregnant.

How do you use a spermicide?

Before using a spermicide, read the instructions that come with it and check the expiry date. More spermicide should be put into the vagina before each time you have sex. If you are using the foam, cream or jelly suppository, they may taste bad. If you have oral sex before vaginal sex, put the spermicide in after oral sex . After having sex, leave the spermicide in for at least six to eight hours. If you are walking around, put a tampon in, to keep the spermicide in place. You can shower. Do not have a tub bath, swim, or douche. Spermicides are washed away with normal vaginal secretions.

What are the advantages of spermicides?

  • You don’t need to see a doctor or nurse to get it.
  • You only use it when you need it.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to be involved.
  • It doesn’t cause any changes in your body.
  • You can use it with other methods of birth control to lower your chances of getting pregnant.
  • Some may lubricate your vagina during sexual intercourse.

What are the disadvantages of spermicides?

  • It is more effective if you use it with another method of birth control.
  • You need to feel comfortable with putting it into your vagina.
  • It may irritate your vaginal area and/or cause yeast infections.
  • Some may taste bad.
  • Some can be messy.
  • You cannot use it if you or your partner(s) are allergic to spermicides.
  • Where can you get spermicides?
  • You can buy spermicides at a drugstore or some sexual health clinics.

Proctectaid sponge

What is the Protectaid sponge?

The Protectaid sponge is a form of birth control. You put it into your vagina before you have vaginal sex. You can use it to help prevent yourself from getting pregnant.

The sponge is a soft, round piece of foam. There are foam handles around the sponge so that you can pull it out. A healthcare worker can show you how to use it. The sponge works as a barrier, covering the cervix which is the opening to the uterus (womb). The sponge holds three different spermicides which kill sperm. When sperm is killed, your chances of getting pregnant are lower.

How does the sponge work?

The sponge works in four ways:

  1. It holds spermicide close to the cervix.
  2. The spermicide kills sperm.
  3. It works like a sponge. It absorbs and traps sperm.
  4. It works as a barrier. It covers the cervix and stops sperm from getting into the cervix.

How effective is the sponge?

Out of 100 women who use the sponge, 75 to 90 women will not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use the sponge correctly. You have to use it every time you have vaginal sex. You are less likely to get pregnant when you use the sponge with a condom or another kind of birth control.

How do you use the sponge?

  • Read and follow the instructions that come with the sponge.
  • Put the sponge in before you have vaginal sex.
  • You can put it in up to six hours before you have vaginal sex.
  • If you have sex again, leave the sponge in. You can have sex as many times as you want within 12 hours without changing the sponge.
  • Leave the sponge in for six-eight hours after you last had sex. This is so the spermicide can kill the sperm.
  • Do not use the sponge when you have your period.

What are the advantages of the sponge?

  • You don’t need to see a healthcare worker to get it.
  • You only use it when you need it.
  • You shouldn’t feel it. Your partner shouldn’t feel it.
  • You don’t have to interrupt sex to put it in.
  • Your partner doesn’t have to be involved.
  • It doesn’t cause any changes in your body.
  • You can easily carry it in your pocket or your purse.

What are the disadvantages of the sponge?

  • It can be expensive if you use it a lot.
  • Some women find it hard to put it in or take it out.
  • You can’t use it during your period.
  • You need to feel comfortable with your body.
  • You cannot use it if you or your partner(s) are allergic to spermicides.
  • If you have a Pap test that is not normal, you may not be able to use it.
  • You may be at more risk of getting toxic shock syndrome.

Where can you get the sponge?

You can buy the Protectaid sponge at the drug store or birth control clinic. You don’t need to see a healthcare worker to get one.

Vaginal contraceptive film (VCF)

What is vaginal contraceptive film (VCF)?

VCF is a form of birth control. You put it in your vagina before you have vaginal sex. It is a very thin two by two inch square film. It dissolves very quickly. VCF is not as messy as contraceptive foam or gel.

How does VCF work?

VCF acts as a barrier to stop sperm from going into the cervix. Each film contains Nonoxynol-9 which is a spermicide that kills sperms. Out of 100 women who use VCF between 79 and 97 will not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use VCF correctly. Your chances are also lowered when you use VCF with a condom or another birth control method. You have to use a new VCF each time you have vaginal sex. Each film is effective for approximately 90 minutes.

What are the advantages of VCF?

  • It starts working immediately after you put it in.
  • You and your partner should not feel it.
  • Your partner does not have to be involved.
  • It does not cause any changes in your body.
  • You can use it with other methods of birth control to lower your chances of getting pregnant.
  • It can be carried easily and discreetly.
  • You use it only when you need it.
  • You don’t need to see healthcare worker to get it

What are the disadvantages of VCF?

  • It may irritate your vagina.
  • You have to put it in each time you have sex.
  • You need to feel comfortable putting it in your vagina.
  • You should not use it if you or your partner is allergic to spermicides.

How do you use VCF?

Read and follow the instructions and check the expiry date before using it. Put VCF in your vagina before each time you have vaginal sex (up to 15 minutes before).

Where can you get VCF?

You can buy VCF at the Bay Centre for Birth Control, the House, and at some pharmacies.

Sterilization

What is sterilization?

Sterilization is a kind of operation done by a doctor. It is used as a method of birth control. A woman can have it done so that she does not get pregnant. This is called a tubal ligation. A man can have it done so that he does not get his partner(s) pregnant. This is called a vasectomy. Once you are sterilized, you will probably not be able to have children for the rest of your life

How does sterilization work?

In women, sterilization blocks the fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes cannot carry eggs to the uterus anymore. The eggs have no way of coming in contact with sperm.

In men, sterilization blocks the tube that carries sperm from a man’s testicles. The man still ejaculates but there is no sperm in the fluid that comes out of his penis. Sterilization is quick and easy for men. It can be done in a doctor’s office. It can be done with only a local anesthetic. There are fewer risks for men than for women.

How effective is sterilization?

Out of 100 people who are sterilized, less than one per cent will get pregnant.

What are the advantages of sterilization?

  • It is a very effective kind of birth control.
  • It is permanent.
  • You don’t have to interrupt vaginal intercourse.
  • You don’t need any other kind of birth control.
  • For women, it works right away.
  • For men, it can be done right in a doctor’s office.

What are the disadvantages of sterilization?

  • It is permanent.
  • You have to have surgery.
  • There are some risks to the surgery, especially for women.
  • There is a risk of infection.
  • You may feel some pain after surgery.
  • It does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It does not work right away for men. You have to wait for the sperm level to go down before it works.

Where can you get information about sterilization?

You can find out more from a healthcare worker or a sexual health clinic.

Fertility awareness methods

What are fertility awareness methods?

Fertility awareness methods are different methods you can use to figure out when you can get pregnant. You can use these methods to try not to get pregnant.

How do fertility awareness methods work?

If you use these methods, you can figure out when your chances of getting pregnant are highest. If you do not want to get pregnant during this time then do not have vaginal sex; or use another method of birth control, like condoms.

How effective are fertility awareness methods?

Out of 100 women who use fertility awareness methods, between 80 and 99 do not get pregnant. Your chances of getting pregnant are lower when you use fertility awareness methods correctly and all of the time. You are less likely to get pregnant when using these methods with a condom.

How do you use fertility awareness methods?

Your chances of getting pregnant are higher during the days around ovulation, which is when you release an egg. Your body shows signs and symptoms when you are fertile such as changes in your cervical mucus. You can plan to not have sex during this time. There are four fertility awareness methods. They are calendar charting, basal body temperature (BBT) charting, cervical mucus charting and sympto-thermal charting. Make sure you are taught by a healthcare worker how to use fertility awareness methods before you try them.

What are the advantages of fertility awareness methods?

  • They are free or inexpensive.
  • They don’t cause any changes in your body.
  • There are no side effects.
  • You and your partner(s) may learn more about when women can get pregnant.
  • These are natural ways of trying not to get pregnant.
  • You can also use them when you want to get pregnant.
  • You gain awareness and knowledge about your body.

What are the disadvantages of fertility awareness methods?

  • You need to learn how to use them.
  • It takes time and effort to use them.
  • You may not be able to have vaginal sex at some times of the month.
  • Calendar and temperature charting may not be as effective if your cycles aren’t regular.
  • You are not protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • You need to be comfortable with your own body to use some of these methods.

Withdrawal

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal is a form of birth control. During sex, the man takes his penis out of a woman’s vagina before he ejaculates. When a man ejaculates he releases fluid called semen. Sperm is found in semen.

How does withdrawal work?

During vaginal sex, the man pulls his penis out before he ejaculates. Then, he ejaculates away from the woman’s vagina and vaginal area.

How effective is the withdrawal method?

There isn’t very much information about how good the withdrawal method is when used as birth control. Some research shows that out of 100 women whose partner is using withdrawal, about 80 will not get pregnant.

There are many reasons why withdrawal does not always work. Men cannot always control when they are going to ejaculate. Even before they ejaculate, men release a clear liquid from their penis which they may not be aware of. Sometimes you can’t even see the fluid. This fluid is called pre-ejaculate. The pre-ejaculate also has sperm in it. If a woman gets pre-ejaculate in her vagina, she could become pregnant. Withdrawal may work better if the pre-ejaculate is wiped off before the penis is inserted into the vagina. However, a man can release pre-ejaculate fluid once his penis is inside the vagina. Withdrawal will not work well if you have sex at the time of the month when you are likely to get pregnant. Withdrawal is a better form of birth control if you use it with another kind of birth control, like condoms and spermicidal foam

Withdrawal does not protect you or your partner against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can pass on or get an STI from pre-ejaculate.

How do you use withdrawal?

When the man feels he is about to ejaculate, he should take his penis out of the woman’s vagina. He should ejaculate away from the woman’s vagina and vaginal area. If you think some ejaculate has gotten into your vagina, put some spermicide into your vagina right away. Your chances of getting pregnant may be lowered.

If you have used withdrawal and are concerned about pregnancy, there are two options:

  1. You can take the emergency contraceptive pill within 72 hours of the intercourse.
  2. You can ask about having an IUD put in within one week of the intercourse.

What are the advantages of withdrawal?

  • It is better than using no birth control at all.
  • There is no cost.
  • You don’t need to see a doctor to use it.
  • You only use it when you need it, i.e. during intercourse.
  • It doesn’t cause any changes in your body.

What are the disadvantages of withdrawal?

  • You and your partner(s) are not protected against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
  • You might get pregnant.
  • You need to negotiate with your partner that you will both interrupt or stop sexual intercourse before ejaculation.
  • You will have to stop sexual intercourse suddenly.

Where can you get information about withdrawal?

You can ask a nurse, doctor, or counsellor about using withdrawal and other kinds of birth control.

© This information has been adapted with written permission from materials published by Planned Parenthood of Toronto.