Top of the page
Birth control—without it, pregnancy can happen. That's why you need birth control you can count on.
There are lots of good options for birth control. Your best choices are those that you find easy to use—so you never go without it.
And of course, no matter what kind of birth control you use, you always need a plan for protecting yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Some birth control methods work around the clock. Others work only when you use them, which means it's so very important to use them every time you have sex.
Emergency contraception (EC) is a backup method to prevent pregnancy and can be used if:
The most effective emergency contraception is prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. This includes the copper IUD (which is placed inside you by a doctor or nurse practitioner) or a prescription pill. You can get emergency contraceptive pills (like the morning-after pills, or plan B) without a prescription at most drugstores and sexual health clinics.
If you have unprotected sex, use EC as soon as possible. If you are already pregnant and use EC pills, they will not stop a pregnancy or prevent STIs.
Choosing birth control is a very personal thing. First, think through some basic facts about your birth control options. Then, focus in on what's important to you. And then, think about who you are and what your style is.
"Easy to use" birth control means different things to different people. What are you more comfortable with? You may want to try a method a few times. And then you may want to try some others.
Are you good at remembering things? Or do you tend to lose track of things like your keys or what's on your calendar?
You can buy some methods of birth control without going to a doctor. You can get male condoms in grocery stores, convenience stores, or drugstores. And you can get female condoms or a sponge and spermicide from a drugstore.
You can get some types of emergency contraception without a prescription at most drugstores and sexual health clinics.
At a doctor's office or sexual health clinic, you can get:
When you use abstinence for preventing pregnancy:
Your local sexual health clinic may have a teen support group where you can talk with other teens about abstinence.
"A friend told me that you can't get pregnant if you haven't had a period at all, or even lately."
Don't believe it! You make an egg, or ovulate, and then have a period. And ovulation can happen at any time. There's no day of the month when it's safe to have sex without birth control.
"I heard a guy say that having birth control means you'll say yes to sex at any time."
Having protection against pregnancy and STIs means that it's there when you need it. But being prepared doesn't mean having to say yes unless you're comfortable with it.
"My sister told me you don't need birth control if you just douche after having sex."
Flushing water into the vagina, or douching, after sex does not prevent pregnancy.
"I need to feel safe with my sex partner and with what we're doing together. It's got to be okay to say 'no' or 'stop' at any time."
This should always be true. It's important that you be able to say "no" or "stop" at any time.
"I should be able to count on my partner to have a condom."
Every time? Anyone can be forgetful. It's best that you count on yourself. But for a built-in backup plan, you and your partner can agree to both keep protection with you.
"I worry that when I first go to a doctor for birth control, I'll need to have a pelvic examination."
Most teens don't have a pelvic examination when they first go for birth control. But if you already have a health problem that needs to be checked, you might. If you do need a pelvic examination and you're nervous about it, talk to your doctor about it ahead of time.
"Not having sex is the best way to prevent pregnancy and any STI."
That's right. Abstinence prevents pregnancy and STIs.
Adaptation Date: 8/17/2021
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.