Birth Control Information
There are two main types of birth control: hormonal and non-hormonal contraception. Hormonal birth control methods include the pill, the patch, the ring, the shot, and the intrauterine system (IUS). These methods work primarily by suppressing ovulation (preventing an egg from being released from an ovary). They might also work by altering cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter into the uterus, and by altering the uterine lining, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. Hormonal birth control methods are very effective, reversible methods of birth control and safe for most young, healthy women. Before you start any of these methods, please read the material accompanying your medication.
Hormonal contraception does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For more information about STIs and safer sex, please visit the sexual health page.
Non-hormonal birth control methods include abstinence, condoms (male and female), diaphragm, intrauterine device (IUD), and sterilization (vasectomy and tubal ligation). These methods primarily work by preventing sperm from reaching an egg, often by creating a barrier (these are also called “barrier methods” of contraception). Many of these forms of contraception are reversible (with the exception of sterilization, which is meant to be permanent). Abstinence and condoms (male and female) provide STI protection; the other types do not provide STI protection.
If you would like more information about birth control, including which type is best for you and how to use the various forms of birth control, you can schedule an appointment with the health and wellness nurse or the sexual health educator by calling 859-323-2778 (APPT).
- The Pill
- The Patch
- The Ring
- The Shot
- Intrauterine System (IUS)
- Male Condoms
- Female Condoms
- Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Birth control pills contain hormones similar to those produced by a woman’s body. The Pill is the most common form of contraception among college-aged woman. There are many different types of birth control pills; it is important for a woman to find what type will be best for her, depending on her needs. The Pill must be taken around the same time each day in order for it to be as effective as possible.
The ring prevents pregnancy by transferring hormones into your body through the vaginal lining. This method uses a 28-day cycle. A ring is inserted and left in the vagina for 3 weeks (21 days). The ring is removed after 21 days and your period should start during this ring-free week.
The birth control patch prevents pregnancy by transferring hormones to your body through your skin. This method uses a 28-cycle. You apply a new patch each week for 3 weeks (21 total days). No patch is applied the 4th week and your period should start during this patch-free week.
The shot is an injectable form of birth control that lasts for 3 months; a woman gets a shot every 3 months. As long as a woman gets her shot on time, there is no hormone-free interval, so many women find they no longer have periods or that their periods are much lighter when on the shot. This form is reversible by stopping the shot.
The contraception implant is a match-stick size plastic rod that is inserted under the skin of the arm. Hormones are absorbed into the body through the blood stream. It lasts for up to 3 years. It must be inserted and removed by a health care provider.
The intrauterine system (IUS) is a T-shaped device that is placed inside the uterus and delivers hormones into the body through the uterus. This is also known as a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). This method lasts for up to 5 years, and must be inserted by a medical professional.
Abstinence is the most effective form of birth control; partners do not engage in sexual activity that might put them at risk for pregnancy. This form of contraception also provides STI protection. For more information about abstinence, please visit our sexual health page.
Male condoms are a popular type of birth control used by college students. They provide both pregnancy and STI protection, and can be used with all types of hormonal birth control. Read more information about male condoms.
Female condoms are made of polyurethane and are inserted vaginally prior to sexual activity. They provide both pregnancy and STI protection, and can be used with all types of hormonal birth control. They should never be used in conjunction with a male condom.
A diaphragm is a silicone, dome-shaped cup that is inserted into the vagina and sits around the cervix, acting as a barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. A diaphragm is usually used with spermicide. A woman must be fitted for a diaphragm in her clinician’s office.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is similar to the intrauterine system (IUS), but an IUD does not contain hormones. It is inserted into the uterus and is T-shaped. This method is also known as “copper T,” as it uses copper to help prevent pregnancy. This non-hormonal method lasts for up to 12 years and must be inserted and removed by a health care provider.
A vasectomy (for men) and tubal ligation (for women) are forms of contraception that are meant to be permanent. In a vasectomy, a clinician blocks or cuts the vas deferens, which are the tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles; this helps prevent sperm from being released from the body, helping to prevent pregnancy. In a tubal ligation, a clinician blocks or cuts the fallopian tubes, preventing an egg from being released into the uterus, helping to prevent pregnancy.
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