What are the most effective birth control methods?

There are many birth control methods to choose from. However, the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy is to remain abstinent, which means not having any type of sex that could get you or your partner pregnant.

If you are going to have sex, there are plenty of options! Some of the most effective options are the IUD and Implants. Both of these must be placed in the female (IUD goes in the uterus and the Implant is placed under the skin in your upper arm) by a healthcare provider. However, they can prevent pregnancy for at least 3 years! There are other birth control methods that are effective, such as the birth control pill, the patch, the shot and the ring. You must see a doctor to get these too.

One important thing to remember… even if you are using a very effective birth control method, you are not protecting yourself from STDs unless you use a condom too!

There are many healthcare providers in Berks County who can help you choose a birth control method that is right for you, many can provide birth control and low or no cost. Just follow this link….

How effective are condoms?

Using male condoms the right way, every time, can reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis, as well as other diseases that may be transmitted through sex like Zika virus and Ebola. Using male condoms the right way, every time, can also help prevent pregnancy.

Condoms don’t always work, but it’s important to understand that when they don’t work, it is almost always user error. Usually, condoms don’t work when:

  • Good quality condoms are not used, or condoms that have not been stored properly (condoms don’t like heat!)
  • Condoms are not used with extra (more than is on the condom) latex-safe lubricant
  • Condoms are not put on properly. Learn about the correct way to put on a condom.
What if a condom breaks?

Many times, a couple won’t notice that a condom broke until after sex. But if you know that the condom has broken during sex, stop right away and use a new condom.

If the condom breaks and you’re concerned about pregnancy, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider and ask about emergency contraception (EC.) Right away! The sooner you get emergency contraception, the more effectively it works! People of any age can buy Plan B One-Step without a prescription over the counter at a local pharmacy. Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel are approved for sale without a prescription to those who are 17 and older from a pharmacist. If you are 16 or younger, you will need a prescription for Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel. The EC pill ella is only available with a prescription regardless of age. To find a healthcare provider who prescribes EC in your area, click here.

If a condom broke, it is also a good idea for you and your partner to be tested for STDs. People are often unaware that they have an STD, but if an infection isn’t treated, it could cause serious problems. Get an STD test within a few weeks of the condom breaking, then get another test 3-6 months later, just to be safe.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is not recommended as a regular birth control method. Instead, it is used for emergencies only. If a couple is having sex and the condom breaks or slips off or if a woman forgot to take her birth control pills for 2 days in a row, she may want to consider using emergency contraception. It is also available to women who are forced to have unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is not recommended for women who know they are pregnant.

Often called the morning-after pill, emergency contraception pills(ECPs) are hormone pills that women can take after having sex. Emergency contraception pills work in different ways to help prevent pregnancy. They can delay ovulation, so that an egg is not released from the ovary for fertilization. They can thicken cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. They also can change the lining of the uterus, so that it is harder for the pregnancy to take hold.

If EC is taken within 120 hours or 5 days of unprotected sex, you will reduce your risk of pregnancy by 80 to 95 percent if you use progesterone-only pills (Plan B One-Step® or Next Choice®) or ulipristal acetate (ella®). Emergency contraception will not prevent pregnancy if a woman has unprotected sex after taking the ECPs.

Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Couples having sex should always use condoms to protect against STDs even when using another method of birth control. If a condom breaks (or a couple has unprotected sex), it’s a good idea to get tested for STDs.

Some women who take emergency contraception pills experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. Such side effects are usually minor, and most improve within 1 to 2 days. A woman’s menstrual period may be temporarily irregular after taking ECPs.

People of any age can buy Plan B One-Step without a prescription over the counter at a local pharmacy. Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel are approved for sale without a prescription to those who are 17 and older from a pharmacist. If you are 16 or younger, you will need a prescription for Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel. The EC pill ella is only available with a prescription regardless of age. Find a healthcare provider near you here…

Can I get pregnant (or get someone pregnant) with pre-cum?

It is possible to become pregnant from a man’s pre-ejaculate fluid (pre-cum) under certain circumstances, though the chances are quite low. Pre-cum itself does not contain sperm, however sperm left behind from a previous ejaculation might still be there. After ejaculation, whether by masturbation or sex with a partner, sperm may be left over in the urethra, the tube that semen travels through. Urinating between ejaculations flushes the urethra of these leftover sperm and clears the way for pre-cum. If sperm remain in the urethra from a previous ejaculation, they may be released with pre-cum. During unprotected vaginal sex, this could allow sperm to enter the vagina and possibly fertilize an egg, even if the man were to pull out before ejaculating.

Some people practice withdrawal (a.k.a., the “pull out” method) as a form of birth control. During vaginal sex, this involves pulling the penis out of the vagina just before ejaculation. Withdrawal may not always prevent pregnancy, in part because of the small possibility of leftover sperm in pre-cum. Men can urinate before having vaginal sex to ensure that lingering sperm wash away; of course, when using withdrawal, the male partner still has to pull out before ejaculating to prevent pregnancy.

Even if pregnancy from pre-cum is not an immediate concern, the risk of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) should be. Using condoms can help reduce the risk of STD transmission as well as pregnancy.

Can you get pregnant the first time you have sex?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely get pregnant the first time. And many women have. Fertility, however, can be tricky. Some women wanting desperately to conceive must try for months or years sometimes before success. Other women with no desire to get pregnant can unexpectedly conceive the first time they have sex.

Any time a man and a woman have vaginal sex, pregnancy is possible (of course, the chance of pregnancy is greatly reduced if you are using an effective method of birth control). All that needs to happen is for a sperm to get to an egg. Even if a young woman has never menstruated, she might have just ovulated (released an egg) for the first time. This would make her fertile and pregnancy possible. Anytime a couple has unprotected sex, in addition to pregnancy, they are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. Condoms, when used correctly and every time, offer protection against pregnancy and STDs. Follow this link to see where you can get effective and no/low cost birth control near you…

How do I know if I’m pregnant?

If you had unprotected sex, it is possible that you are pregnant. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know until you take a pregnancy test.

Some women may experience physical signs of pregnancy like nausea or “morning sickness” as soon as one to two weeks after conception, but others may not. Some women experience very sore breasts in early pregnancy, but others may not. Early symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. Even if some signs point to “yes,” there’s no reason to assume you’re pregnant until you take a pregnancy test and find out for sure.

You can test for pregnancy days after unprotected sex at a healthcare provider. A home pregnancy test is accurate seven to ten days after unprotected intercourse. This is because the test cannot detect the human pregnancy hormone until about one to two weeks after conception.  Home pregnancy tests are accurate and are getting easier all the time, just be sure to follow the instructions.

If you or your partner suspects a pregnancy, taking a pregnancy test is the quickest and surest way to answer your question. To locate a local healthcare provider that could do a pregnancy test, click here…

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