My daughter is 19 and getting ready to be sexually active. What are some different methods of birth control? Sexually Active, Arkansas
Dear Sexually Active:
Birth control is a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. Abstinence is the best form of birth control. Abstinence has no medical or hormonal side effects and it’s free. Women and men abstain from sex play for many reasons — even after they've been sexually active.
A couple may even choose to be abstinent after having had sex play with each other. The reasons people choose to be abstinent may change throughout life.
People choose abstinence to:
- prevent pregnancy
- prevent STDs
- wait until they're ready for a sexual relationship
- wait to find the right partner
- have fun with romantic partners without sexual involvement
- focus on school, career, or extracurricular activities
- support personal, moral, or religious beliefs and values
- get over a breakup
- heal from the death of a partner
- follow medical advice during an illness or infection
However, many women have been known to get pregnant even though they are on the pill, so it’s not 100% effective. Also the pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The latex male condom provides the best protection from most STDs.
- IUD: An IUD is a tiny device that's inserted in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. It's a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T.
- Birth Control Implant (Implanon and Nexplanon): The birth control implant is a thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a cardboard matchstick. It is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It protects against pregnancy for up to 4 years.
- Birth Control Patch: The birth control patch is a thin, beige, plastic patch that sticks to the skin. It's used to prevent pregnancy. A new patch is placed on the skin once a week for three weeks in a row, followed by a patch-free week.
- Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera): The birth control shot is an injection of a hormone that prevents pregnancy. Each shot prevents pregnancy for three months.
- Birth Control Sponge (Today Sponge): The sponge is a squishy porous foam object which is inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It contains spermicide to immobilize sperm as it comes in contact with the sponge. It is typically around 2 inches in diameter and features a nylon loop, which is used to easily remove it from the vagina.
- Birth Control Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing): The vaginal ring is a small, flexible ring a woman inserts into her vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy. It is left in place for three weeks and taken out for the remaining week each month.
- Female Condom: The female condom is a pouch that is used during intercourse to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. It has flexible rings at each end. Just before vaginal intercourse, it is inserted deep into the vagina. The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina. The ring at the open end stays outside the vaginal opening during intercourse. And during anal intercourse, it is inserted into the anus.
Common side effects of oral contraceptives include intermenstrual spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido, vaginal discharge and visual changes with contact lenses.