Contraception

August 10, 2013  |  Women's Health

stock-photo-1141281-birth-control-pillsWhat is it?

Contraception is the use of medications, devices or techniques to prevent pregnancy. It is an important topic for many women and their families.  Deciding if, when and how many children to have is a personal decision but we can help you learn about your options and choose the method that helps you achieve your goals.

What types of birth control are there?

  • Hormonal Contraceptives
    • Oral Contraception (“The Pill”)
    • Contraceptive Ring
    • Contraceptive Patch
    • Injectable Contraception
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives
    • Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
    • Implantable Contraceptives
  • Permanent (Irreversible) Contraception
    • In-office Trans-cervical Sterilization (Essure)
    • Laparoscopic Tubal Ligation
  • Barrier Methods
    • Male Condoms
    • Female Condoms
    • Diaphragms
  • Emergency Contraception (morning after pill)


The best method to prevent or delay pregnancy will be different for each woman.  While most people think of “the pill” when they think of birth control, this is just one of many excellent methods available.  You may want to consider the following questions when discussing a pregnancy prevention plan with your doctor:

  • In your ideal world, how long would you want to wait before becoming pregnant?
  • If you have used a method in the past what did you like about it?  What didn’t you like?
  • Do you prefer to have a period once a month or would you like a method that decreases the amount and frequency of bleeding?
  • Do you have religious or spiritual beliefs about contraception that would affect your choices?
  • Is it easy for you to get the pharmacy or doctor’s office for methods that require this?
  • Are you at risk for sexually transmitted infections (ie you or your partner has more than one sexual partner)?
  • Do you have any health problems that would affect your choice like high blood pressure, a history of blood clots, migraine headaches with aura or other chronic illnesses?

Where can I get birth control? Do I need to visit a doctor?

You can buy these forms over the counter:

  • Male condoms
  • Female condoms
  • Sponges
  • Spermicides
  • Emergency contraception pills (girls younger than 17 need a prescription)


You need a prescription for:

  • Oral contraceptives: the pill, the mini-pill
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Contraceptive ring
  • Diaphragm
  • Cervical cap
  • Cervical shield
  • Injectable Contraception
  • IUD
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUD)


You will need surgery or a medical procedure for:

  • Sterilization

How effective is withdrawal as a birth control method?

Not very! Withdrawal is when a man takes his penis out of a woman’s vagina (or “pulls out”) before he ejaculates, or has an orgasm. This stops the sperm from going to the egg. “Pulling out” can be hard for a man to do. It takes a lot of self-control.

Even if you use withdrawal, sperm can be released before the man pulls out. When a man’s penis first becomes erect, pre-ejaculate fluid may be on the tip of the penis. This fluid has sperm in it. So you could still get pregnant.

Will birth control pills protect me from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS?

Birth control pills and most other birth control methods will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). They only protect against pregnancy.
The male latex condom is the best birth control method that also can protect you from STIs, including HIV. If you are allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are a good alternative. If your partner can’t or won’t use a male condom, female condoms also create a barrier that can help protect you from STIs.
It is important to only use latex or polyurethane condoms to protect you from STIs. “Natural” or “lambskin” condoms have tiny pores that may allow for the passage of viruses like HIV, hepatitis B, and herpes.

Can all types of birth control prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

No. The male latex condom is the only birth control method proven to help protect you from STIs, including HIV. Research is being done to find out how effective the female condom is at preventing STIs and HIV.

Helpful links:

In preparation for your visit you might try one of these online tools that helps guide you towards a method that fits your priorities:

The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals www.arhp.org/MethodMatch

The Bedsider www.bedsider.org

Medical College of Wisconsin,
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
9200 West Wisconsin Ave.,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-3522
Phone: (414) 805-6600
24-Hour Emergency Line: (414) 805-6700

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

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