1. Lifestyle Issues

Birth Control Options

Discuss these and additional methods that meet your needs with your health care provider. More than one method may be needed to prevent pregnancy and HIV/STIs. If no method is used, the chance of pregnancy is 85 to 90%. Percent failure rate is the number of pregnancies expected per 100 females per year.

  1. Abstinence. No sexual intercourse between a female and a male. 0% failure rate for pregnancy and HIV/STIs.

  2. Birth Control Patch. Hormones from a prescribed patch worn on the skin weekly for 3 weeks; not worn the 4th week. 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  3. Birth Control Pills. Prescribed hormones in pill form. 3% failure rate. Many options. Do not prevent HIV/STIs. Some medicines can make the pill less effective.

  4. Cervical Cap. Prescribed plastic cap placed over the opening of the cervix. Used with spermicide. 16% failure rate for females who have not given birth; 32% for females who have. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  5. Condom (Female). Over-the-counter (OTC) polyurethane barrier placed inside the vagina. 21% failure rate. May give some protection against HIV/STIs. Should not be used at same time with a male condom.

  6. Condom (Male). OTC latex or polyurethane sheath worn over an erect penis. 11% failure rate. Latex condoms help protect against gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV and are more durable than ones made of animal membranes, which do not prevent HIV/STIs.

  7. Depo-Provera. Prescribed hormones given through a shot every 3 months. Less than 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  8. Diaphragm. Prescribed reusable, thin, soft, rubber cap that covers the cervix. Used with spermicide. 17% failure rate. Does not protect against HIV. May help protect against chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.

  9. Emergency Hormonal Contraception Pills or IUD Insertion. Prescribed pills need to be started within 72 hours; IUD within 7 days after unprotected sex. About 11-25% failure rate for pills (the sooner taken, the more effective); less than 1% for IUD. Neither prevent HIV/STIs.

  10. FemCap®. Prescribed silicone rubber device that fits snugly over the cervix.14% failure rate for females who have not given birth; 29% for females who have. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  11. Implanon®. Thin plastic implant that releases the hormone progestin for up to 3 years. Less than 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  12. Intrauterine Device (IUD). Small copper device inserted into uterus (and needs to be removed) by a health care provider. Can remain in place up to 12 years. Less than 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  13. Intrauterine System (IUS). Mirena®, a device placed in uterus by health care provider. Can remain in place for 5 years. 8% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  14. Lea’s Shield®. Prescribed silicone rubber device that fits snugly over the cervix. Used with spermicide. 15% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  15. Natural Family Planning (Fertility Awareness, Periodic Abstinence). Sex must be limited to “safe days.” About 20% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  16. NuvaRing®. Prescribed soft, flexible ring that a female inserts deep into the vagina. The ring stays in place for 3 weeks; is removed the week of menstrual period. 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  17. Spermicides (Foams, Jellies, Creams, etc.). OTC chemicals inserted into the vagina that kill sperm before it enters the uterus. 15-21% failure rate. More reliable when used with barrier methods (condoms, diaphragms). Inserted between 5 and 90 minutes before intercourse. Need to reapply for repeated acts of intercourse.

  18. Sterilization (Female). Surgical or nonsurgical, permanent form of birth control to burn, cut, tie off, or block the fallopian tubes. Less than 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  19. Sterilization (Male). Vasectomy. The tubes (vas deferens) through which sperm travels from the testes are cut. Less than 1% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs.

  20. Today® Sponge. OTC polyurethane foam barrier that contains spermicide. Must be left in place for 6 hours after last intercourse, but should not be worn more than 24 hours after sex. 9-19% failure rate. Gives some protection for STIs.

  21. Withdrawal. Removal of the penis before ejaculation. Up to 27% failure rate. Does not prevent HIV/STIs. Control of ejaculation is necessary and sperm may leak before this occurs.

Signs of Pregnancy

  1. Missed menstrual periods. {Note: Stress or illness can cause a period to be late, too. And, some females do not have regular periods. It may be hard for them to know if their period is 2 weeks late. Other females can have a light menstrual period or spotting and still be pregnant. So watch for other signs also listed here.}

  2. Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

  3. Breast tenderness, swelling, and/or tingling.

  4. The dark areas around the nipples are darker than before and the tiny glands around the nipples stick up.

  5. Feeling tired.

  6. Nausea or vomiting.

  7. Frequent urination.

  8. Unusual food cravings or your taste for certain foods changes; a metallic taste in the mouth.

  9. Mood swings.

  10. Slight elevation in body temperature.

  11. Acne due to extra-active oil glands.