Contraception

Birth control pillsWhen you are choosing a contraception method, the first thing you should do is establish a relationship with an SHS provider, or someone in Corvallis or from your home community. They will be your best resource for contraceptive information.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Your overall general health
  • How often you have sex
  • The number of sexual partners you have
  • If you ever want to have children
  • The effectiveness of each method
  • Side effects of each method
  • Your comfort level when using the method

What is the difference between a barrier method and a hormonal method?

Barrier methods: Barrier methods are methods of contraception that work by preventing contact with sexual fluids. Using some form of plastic, usually latex or polyurethane, fluids are blocked, thus preventing transmission of STIs as well as pregnancy. The main types of barrier methods are the male condom, the female condom, and dental dams.

Hormonal methods: There are many methods of hormonal contraception, the most popular of which is the combination birth control pill. Basically it is a method of birth control that changes a woman's hormonal cycle to prevent ovulation.

Non-barrier/Non-hormonal methods

Some choose a non-barrier/non-hormonal method. These offer no protection against STIs or pregnancy:

Rhythm method: This method is based on the woman’s menstrual cycle. This can be ineffective if there are any fluctuations in her monthly cycle.

Withdrawal: Withdrawing the penis just prior to ejaculation is also not very effective. Timing withdrawal is difficult, and there can be up to half a million sperm in the drop of fluid at the tip of the penis. Also, concentrating on timing the withdrawal may interfere with the male's ability to relax and enjoy sex.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of contraception offer different levels of protection. Some protect only against unwanted pregnancy; others protect only against sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and some protect against both STIs and pregnancy.

How to use a male condom

The male condom is rolled over the erect or hardened penis. 

  1. Condoms should not be used with oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline, or mineral and vegetable oil. Such lubricants damage the condom.
  2. Check the expiration date and make sure the package is still airtight. Open carefully.
  3. Make sure the rim of the rolled up condom is facing outward and place it on the head of the penis/object.
  4. Pinch the tip to leave room for ejaculate.
  5. Roll condom to base of penis/object.
  6. Enjoy the action. When finished, hold base of condom while pulling out.
  7. Remove condom and throw in trash (do not flush).

Remember, practice is important to ensure proper use!

How to use a female condom

Remove the condom from its package and rub the outside of the pouch together to be sure the lubrication is evenly spread within it. Be sure that the inner (smaller) ring is at the bottom (closed) end of the pouch, and then hold the pouch with the open (larger) end hanging down.

Squeeze the inner ring with the thumb and middle finger, and then insert it and the pouch into the vaginal opening. With the index finger, push the inner ring and pouch all the way up into the vagina against the cervix

The penis should be guided into the condom in order to ensure that it does not slip into the vagina outside of the condom. After intercourse squeeze and twist the outer ring gently and then pull the condom out keeping the semen inside. Then simply discard as you would a male condom.

Remember, practice is important to ensure proper use! Learn more about female condoms (PDF).

Other barrier methods

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods of contraception protect against unwanted pregnancy, but not sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here is information on each form of hormonal contraception.

The pill (Oral contraceptives; birth control pills)

  • Combined effects of synthetic hormones called estrogen and progestin.
  • Estrogen decreases production of the hormone that helps develop the ova within the ovaries.
  • Progestin prevents the proper growth of the uterine lining and thickens the cervical mucus forming a barrier against sperm.
  • Pills can be progestin only or a combination of estrogen and progestin.

The shot (Depo-provera)

  • Injectable progesterone that lasts for three months and prevents ovulation.

The patch (Ortho evera)

  • Worn for a week at a time for three weeks, then no patch for three weeks.
  • Can be worn on the buttocks, abdomen, upper torso or upper arm.

The ring (NuvaRing)

  • Inserted into the vagina and left in place for three weeks.

Emergency contraception

  • Combination progestin and estrogen or just progestin; but it’s concentrated enough to interrupt a women’s normal hormonal patterns and prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse has already occurred.
  • Works better if taken right away, but can be taken for up to five days after unprotected sex.
  • Progestin only pill (Plan B) reduces risk of pregnancy by 89 percent.
  • Combined pills reduce the chances by 75 percent.
  • Is available over the counter at the SHS Pharmacy.