Prevention -Birth Control Methods and STI Prevention

"Txin achigalix anĝaĝigumin anuxtanatxin ax̂saasaduukux̂tin. / Huzugaan txin achigax̂agacha mada ama txin sakaaĝatada."

"Always learn and maintain a balance." - Unangan/Unangas value

 

Remember, sex is meant to be a mutual decision - meaning two people who agree they want to have sex. Communicating or talking with your partner about safe sex can be challenging. But just because you’re faced with a challenge, don’t give up. There are different birth control methods available and you can decide which is best for you.

The only 100%, proven method of protecting yourself from unplanned pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is by not having sex (abstinence) or waiting to have sex.

If two people decide to have sex, there many ways to have safe sex. The level of protection from unplanned pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is different for each type or method. Some methods of birth control, also called contraception, are proven better than others or are more effective.

Get birth control from your phone!

Another resource is the brand-new app from Planned Parenthood Alaska, offering Alaskans advice on birth control options and prescriptions over the app. Available for both iPhone and Android! 

Click on each method to learn more! 

The Most Effective Methods

Abstinence

We’ll say it again, abstinence or waiting to have sex are the only, 100% effective ways of not getting pregnant or getting an STD. There is a risk of getting STDs if you have oral or anal sex.

This method requires no doctor or pharmacy and is free! Some people make the decision to wait to have sex until they have a steady partner or marriage. Some couples wait to have sex until they have the protection they need…like a condom. Choosing to wait to have sex takes away the worry of unplanned pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), and all the emotional consequences from choosing to have sex.

Birth Control - "Pill, Patch or Ring"

The birth control pill or “the pill” is 91%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. For the pill to work you need to remember to take the pill EVERYDAY at the same time. The pill does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs. It may regulate or lighten periods, reduce cramps, and lessen acne.

TIP: It can be difficult remembering to take the pill every day. Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you!

The pill work by releasing hormones (progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen) to stop ovulation or releasing of fertile eggs. At end of each month you’ll still get a period before starting the next pack of pills. The pill requires a prescription from a doctor or provider. Some side effects are possible – remember to talk with your health care provider or pharmacists before beginning a birth control method.

The patch, sometimes called “Ortho Evra”, is 91%* effective at avoiding pregnancy if used correctly. However, the patch does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

The patch is a thin square plastic “sticker” with hormones on one side which get absorbed into the body. A woman can stick and wear the patch almost anywhere – the butt, belly, arm, or upper torso but NOT on the breasts. The patch can be worn under clothes, hidden, and stays on while showering, bathing, or exercising. After one week, the patch is replaced and during the fourth week no patch is worn and a woman gets her period and the cycle begins again. The patch requires a prescription from a doctor or provider. Some side effects are possible – remember to talk with your health care provider or pharmacists before beginning a birth control method.

The ring, sometimes called “NuvaRing”, 91%* effective at avoiding pregnancy if used correctly. However, the ring does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

The ring is a thin flexible ring which contains hormones (progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen). A woman inserts the ring herself into her vagina, where the ring is held in place by the vaginal walls. The ring stays in for a month releasing hormones, after a month a woman will have her period and the cycle begins again. To be effective, you have to remember to insert a new ring each month. The ring does not interrupt sexual activity and the woman or her partner can’t feel it. The ring requires a prescription from a doctor or provider.

Implant - "Implanon"

This method of contraception is 99%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. However, implanon does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs. Great method because you don’t have to remember something everyday like “the pill”.

An implantable contraceptive, sometimes known by the name “implanon”, is exactly what it sounds like: a small, flexible, plastic tube with hormones which is put under the skin of the upper arm (implanted).

This method requires a doctor or provider to put (implant) the rod under the skin and will work up to three years or until you decide to remove it. Quick and easy! Implanon works by releasing the hormone progestin. Progestin prevents a woman’s eggs from being released and thickens cervical mucus – preventing sperm from entering the cervix and getting to the eggs. Some side effects are possible – remember to talk with your health care provider or pharmacists before beginning a birth control method.

IUD - Intrauterine Device

This method of contraception is 99%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. However, IUDs do not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDS. Great method because you don’t have to remember something everyday like “the pill”.  

An Intrauterine Device or IUD is directly inserted into the uterus. IUDs are small, flexible, plastic “T”-shaped devices. There are two different types of IUDs available in the U.S.: Mirena and Copper T (ParaGard).

An IUD requires a prescription and doctor or provider. This method can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years depending on the type of IUD or until you decide to remove it. Some side effects are possible – remember to talk with your health care provider or pharmacists before beginning a birth control method.

The Shot - "Depo-Provera"

This contraceptive shot, sometimes called “Depo”, is nearly 94%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. However, “Depo” does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs. Great method because you don’t have to remember something everyday like “the pill” and it doesn’t interrupt sexual activity. It may reduce periods, cramping, or PMS.

Depo is a hormone (progestin) injection given to a woman every three months. Remember, the shot is only effective if you get it on time. The shot requires a prescription from a doctor or provider. Some side effects are possible – remember to talk with your health care provider or pharmacists before beginning a birth control method.

No doctor visit required - Barrier Methods

Condoms (Male)

Male condoms, if used every time, typically, are 85%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. Most STIs, including HIV/AIDS, have a greater percentage of non-transmission than 85%. There is an exception for STIs that may be transmitted via skin contact alone (herpes, syphilis and chancroid) outside of the genital region, like the inner thigh, but they do still help reduce the risk.

With perfect use (proper fit, useage of lubricant, and correct method of application) the number increases to 98%* of women preventing pregnancy in a year. With no contraceptive use, only 15% of women were not pregnant at the end of the study. Condoms are the ONLY method that gives protection for both STDs and HIV/AIDs.


Condoms (for males) are thin latex or plastic (polyurethane – latex free) which are placed and rolled on over the penis before any sexual contact (vaginal intercourse, anal, or oral sex).

REMEMBER:

You must use and put on condoms correctly for them to work.

Watch this video demonstration of how to put on male condoms here.


Plan ahead! Be prepared with a condom and make sure to check the expiration date on the wrapper. Be sure to carry your condom in a place without high heat and where no wear and tear is possible –not in wallets or glove compartments - where friction and heat can cause micro-tears in the condom.

Male condoms are inexpensive and easy to use! Places where you can find condoms: drugstores, online (Order Condoms here), health clinics or family planning centers without prescriptions. Easy to find!

Use only one male or female condom at a time – not both together; double-bagging makes condoms more likely to tear.


Some people choose to use the dual method of using condoms with birth control pills or patch to be more safe.

You can order free condoms here.

*Source, Advocates for Youth

Dental Dams

 

Dental dams are small pieces of latex or silicone rubber that prevent the spread of STIs during oral sex. Sometimes they can come in fun flavors like vanilla, strawberry, or mint. Many STIs can be transmitted during oral sex, including (but not limited to) gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Don’t know about these? Check out our page on STIs, but first, finish reading about dams.

They can be used during oral-anal or oral-vaginal sex, but they are only one-time-use so if you’re planning on switching between the two, use a new one! If you go from oral-anal to oral-vaginal without changing the dam, you’re putting yourself or your partner at risk for vaginal or urinary tract infections.

Don’t have a dental dam? No worries, you can make one out of a condom!

http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/sites/default/files/files/styles/large/public/field/image/dental%20dam.jpg

Try to use non-lubricated condoms without spermicide. Lubricated condoms may taste bad and spermicide can make the tongue go numb. Flavored condoms and special lubricants may improve the experience.

Now that you have a dental dam, here’s how to use it:

  1. Check the dam for any holes or tears, because they’ll get bigger when you stretch it. Do this especially if you just used the instructions above. You may need to rinse powder from a pre-packaged dental dam to prevent irritation.
  2. If the dam isn’t pre-lubricated, lubricate the side that will touch the vagina or anus with water-based lubricant. Oil-based anything is not good, it will damage the dam. Don’t use Vaseline, baby oil, lotion, or cooking oil as lubricant. If you don’t have any water-based lube, you can use plain water, or the recipient (the one who isn’t performing oral sex) can use their own saliva on their own side.
  3. Spread and hold the dental dam over the entire vulva or anus. You’re now ready to have oral sex!
  4. Remember: dental-dams are one time use. Don’t move the dam from one place on the body to another, always use a new one. Also, don’t flip it over, that defeats the purpose of protection! Imagine turning a condom inside out in the middle of sex, you’d no longer be protected!

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is 88%* effective at avoiding pregnancy and are less effective with women who have given birth already. However, the sponge does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

The diaphragm is a round flexible circle cup that is inserted into the vagina before having sex –up to six hours ahead of time –easy to be prepared! Diaphragm should be removed after 48 hours. For diaphragms to work best, a woman needs to learn how to use them correctly and use a contraceptive jelly (like KY Jelly). There are different “sizes” so see your doctor or provider to get the right size for you. The diaphragm stops sperm from entering the cervix and works best if used in combination with spermicide to kill sperm. Each diaphragm can be used up to ten years and are available at a low cost. You need to see a doctor or provider to get a diaphragm.

Female Condoms

Female condoms, if used every time, correctly and consistently, are 79%* effective at avoiding pregnancy AND most STDs and HIV/AIDs. This method offers some protection from STDs and HIV/AIDs – male condoms are more effective.

Condoms (for females) are thin latex or plastic (polyurethane – latex free) which are placed in the vagina and line the inside walls of vagina, so sperm are unable to fertilize the eggs. Female condoms can be inserted up to 8 hours before sexual contact – so you can plan way ahead of time before the heat of the moment!

REMEMBER: Just like male condoms, you must use and put on condoms correctly for them to work.Read the instructions that come with your female condoms carefully to make sure you have it in right!

Plan ahead! Be prepared with a condom and make sure to check the expiration date on the wrapper. Be sure to carry your condom in a place without high heat and where no wear and tear is possible –not in wallets or glove compartments - where friction and heat can cause micro-tears in the condom.


Female condoms are more expensive than male condoms and can be more difficult to use. Places where you can find female condoms: drugstores, online (Order Condoms here), health clinics or family planning centers without prescriptions.

Use only one male or female condom at a time – not both together and not doubling up.

Some people choose to use the dual method of using condoms with birth control pills or patch to be more safe.

You can order free condoms here.

Spermicides

There are different types of spermicides: creams, gels, foams, film, and suppositories. Spermicides when used alone are less effective at avoiding pregnancy and do not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs. When spermicides are used with another type of birth control, they are more effective, like with condoms or birth control pills.

Spermicides are inserted into the vagina before having sex – there are instructions of how long before sex they must be applied, usually 15 minutes before sex. Spermicides work by immobilizing (stopping) sperm from entering the cervix and kills sperm with spermicide. There is the possibility of allergic reactions to certain brands or vaginal irritation and risk of getting STDs if used twice in one day. You can buy spermicides at drugstores or online.

Sponge

The sponge is 76-88%* effective at avoiding pregnancy. However, the sponge does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

The sponge is a round foam circle that is inserted into the vagina before having sex – one size fits all. The sponge stops sperm from entering the cervix and kills sperm with spermicide. Each sponge can be used only once. You can buy sponges at drugstores or online.

Other Methods

Breastfeeding

This method is less effective at avoiding pregnancy and does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

A woman is very likely to get pregnant if she: gets her period, the amount of breastfeeding is reduced, or the baby reaches six months.

Emergency Contraception

This method is very effective but, does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs. This method is intended as a back up to other birth control methods and is sometimes known by “Plan B”. EC is called the “emergency” birth control pill because it must be taken as soon as possible after vaginal intercourse. If taken within 72 hours (3 days) after intercourse, the chance of pregnancy is greatly reduced. EC is made of hormone pills that work the same way regular birth control pills do: they stop an egg from being released (ovulation), or interfere with implantation.  Women younger than 18 can only get Plan B from a doctor or provider. Older women can buy Plan B at drugstores, over the counter.

This method is helpful for people who forgot to use other methods or women who may have experienced rape and need to prevent pregnancy. EC is safe and just about every woman can take Plan B.

Fertility Awareness Method - "Rhythm Method"

This method is least effective at avoiding pregnancy and does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

Sometimes it is called fertility awareness based (FAB) method. All these big words boil down to: a woman knowing her cycle during her menstruation (“period”) and when she is fertile or not. When a woman is fertile, her eggs are beginning to move down to the uterus to meet with sperm (fertilized) or become “flushed out” during her period.

The rhythm method can be used for couples who may be planning on have a child and family in the future but, who are not ready right now. There is no cost, health risk, or side effects. However, a woman must learn her menstruation cycle by keeping a careful record, and practice commitment, calculation and planning with her partner.

Sterilization

Sterilization, whether male or female, are permanent, surgical procedures that prevent pregnancy. However, sterilization does not protect against STDs or HIV/AIDs.

Sterilization is a permanent method of birth control – so there’s no going back! Typically older men and women choose this method after they have had children. Male sterilization is called a vasectomy and is when the tubes which carry sperm to the penis (vas deferens) are cut and sealed. Female sterilization is called tubal ligation and is when the fallopian tubes are cut and sealed so eggs are unable to reach the uterus -sometimes called “getting your tubes tied”. Male sterilization does not affect erections or pleasure of sex.


Withdrawal - "Pulling out"

This method is least effective at avoiding pregnancy and does not protect against STDs and HIV/AIDs. Withdrawal is when a man removes his penis from the vagina before ejaculation (“cumming”).

This method is not effective because men have a difficult time knowing when to withdrawal (“pull out”) or they do not have enough will power to pull out while having sex. Pulling out requires the man to do something during sex – which can be difficult. If a man does pull out in time, some sperm leak before ejaculation and can lead to the woman getting pregnant.