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Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. If you have sex without birth control, there's a chance that you could get pregnant. The only sure way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. But finding a good method of birth control that you're comfortable with can help avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
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.
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. 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).
Your options for birth control include:
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.
Emergency contraception (EC) can be used to prevent pregnancy if you've had sex without birth control you can count on. The most effective emergency contraception is a copper IUD (inserted by a doctor). You can also get emergency contraceptive pills. You can get them with a prescription from your doctor or without a prescription at most drugstores or 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 or harm a pregnancy.
Choosing birth control is a very personal thing. Your best choices are those that you find easy to use—so you never go without it.
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?
Here are some places you can get birth control.
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 contraceptive sponge from a drugstore.
You can get some forms of emergency contraception without a prescription at most drugstores.
At a doctor's office or family planning clinic, you can get:
Follow these tips to help you use abstinence for preventing pregnancy.
Be clear with your partner about your limits.
Think about your reasons and why they are important to you. How you feel and what you believe matter.
Alcohol and drugs can affect your decisions. They can make you let down your guard and forget why you decided to be abstinent.
It really helps. Share your decision, and talk about any challenges you're having staying abstinent. Your local sexual health centre may have a teen support group where you can talk with other teens about abstinence.
Here are some things you may have heard about sex, pregnancy, and birth control.
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 sexually transmitted infections (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 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.
Sometimes I feel like it's not okay to say "no" or "stop."
It's always okay to say "no" or "stop" at any time. It's important that you feel safe with your sex partner and with what you're doing together.
If I have sex only sometimes, I won't get pregnant or an STI.
Not having sex is the best way to prevent pregnancy and any STI. If you do have sex, there's always a chance you can get pregnant or an STI, so use birth control and a condom every time.
CitationsThaxton L, Lavelanet A (2019). Systematic review of efficacy with extending contraceptive implant duration. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics: The Official Organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 144(1): 2–8. DOI: 10.1002/ijgo.12696. Accessed December 7, 2022.Ti AJ, et al. (2020). Effectiveness and safety of extending intrauterine device duration: A systematic review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 223(1): 24–35.e3. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.01.014. Accessed August 29, 2022.
Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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