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Family Planning

Common Contraceptive Methods

The more common contraceptive methods include:

  • Condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • IUD's
  • Fertility Awareness Methods (I.e. Basal Temperature), and
  • Oral Contraceptives

What Are Male Condoms?

A male condom is a thin sheath made of latex or other materials. Latex condoms protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV infection. Condoms that are made of other materials may not protect against HIV infection and STIs.

How Do They Work?

The man puts the condom on his erect penis before he puts his penis inside the woman's vagina. The condom holds the semen so it does not pass into the woman's vagina. After sex, the man carefully takes off the condom so that it does not leak. Each condom can be used only once.

Are They Effective?

Condoms are effective if they are used consistently and correctly every time you have sexual intercourse. Effectiveness rates are expressed in terms of how many women experience pregnancies during their first year of using the method. Perfect use reflects correct and consistent use, according to specified instructions, with every sex act. Typical use reflects the fact that most couples do not use their contraceptive methods correctly or consistently with every sex act; this rate, therefore, is considered more accurate than perfect use.

  • With perfect use: 3 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use: 14 women out of 100 will become pregnant.

What Are Female Condoms?

A female condom is a thin, loose-fitting covering made of polyurethane plastic that forms a pouch lining the vagina. It has two flexible rings. The inner ring at the closed end of the condom eases insertion into the vagina, covering the cervix and holding the condom in place. The outer ring remains outside the vagina and covers the outer lips of the vagina. The female condom is coated on the inside with a lubricant; additional lubricant for the outside is provided in a small tube. This lubricant is not spermicidal.

How Do They Work?

Female condoms prevent pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm to the egg.

Are They Effective?

Female condoms are effective if used consistently and correctly every time you have sexual intercourse. Effectiveness rates are expressed in terms of how many women experience pregnancies during their first year of using the method. Perfect use reflects correct and consistent use, according to specified instructions, with every sex act. Typical use reflects the fact that most couples do not use their contraceptive methods correctly or consistently with every sex act; this rate, therefore, is considered more accurate than perfect use.

  • With perfect use: 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use: 21 women out of 100 will become pregnant

What Is a Diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a shallow rubber cup. A woman puts a contraceptive jelly (spermicide) into the diaphragm, and then inserts the diaphragm into her vagina. The diaphragm covers the cervix (the opening to the uterus). Women must be fitted for a diaphragm by their health care provider.

How Does It Work?

The diaphragm and jelly keep the man's sperm out of the woman's uterus. The jelly contains a chemical (spermicide) to kill the sperm. The woman must use the diaphragm and jelly every time she has sexual intercourse.

Are They Effective?

The diaphragm with spermicide is effective when it is used correctly every time you have sexual intercourse. Effectiveness rates are expressed in terms of how many women experience pregnancies during their first year of using the method. Perfect use reflects correct and consistent use, according to specified instructions, with every sex act. Typical use reflects the fact that most couples do not use their contraceptive methods correctly or consistently with every sex act; this rate, therefore, is considered more accurate than perfect use.

  • With perfect use: 6 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use: 20 women out of 100 will become pregnant.

What Are Fertility Awareness Methods?

Fertility awareness methods are ways to identify the days of the month when the woman is most likely to get pregnant. You do not have sexual intercourse on these days. Fertility awareness methods include the basal body temperature (BBT) method, the cervical mucous method, the calendar (rhythm) method, and the standard days method (SDM).

How Do They Work?

There is a time each month when a woman can get pregnant. This is called the "fertile time" or the "unsafe time." A doctor, nurse, or counselor usually helps the woman learn how to determine this. The woman and her partner have sexual intercourse only during the time when she is less likely get pregnant. This is called the "safe time."

Are They Effective?

Fertillity awareness methods are effective when they are used consistently and correctly. Effectiveness rates are expressed in terms of how many women experience pregnancies during their first year of using the method. Perfect use reflects correct and consistent use, according to specified instructions, with every sex act. Typical use reflects the fact that most couples do not use their contraceptive methods correctly or consistently with every sex act; this rate, therefore, is considered more accurate than perfect use.

  • With perfect use of the basal body temperature (BBT) method: 2 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use of the basal body temperature (BBT) method: 20 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With perfect use of the cervical mucus method: 3 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use of the cervical mucus method: 20 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With perfect use of the calendar (rhythm) method: 9 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use of the calendar (rhythm) method: 13 women out of 100 will become pregnant. (Note: Estimates of unintended pregnancies using this method vary widely due to discrepancies in the studies.)
  • With perfect use of the standard days method (SDM): 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use of the standard days method (SDM): 12 women out of 100 will become pregnant.

What Is an IUD?

An IUD is a long-acting contraceptive method intended to be used for several months or years. It is a small device that is usually made of plastic or of plastic and copper. A doctor or trained health care worker places the IUD in the woman's womb.

How Does It Work?

An IUD prevents the man's sperm from meeting the woman's egg. The physical presence of the IUD in the uterus keeps the sperm from moving normally inside the uterus and fallopian tubes. It also reduces the growth of the lining of the uterus.

Is It Effective?

The IUD is very effective immediately after insertion. Fewer than 1 woman out of 100 will become pregnant while using an IUD for contraception.

What Are Oral Contraceptives?

Oral contraceptives are pills made from a combination of hormones (estrogen and progestin) that prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs. A woman must take one pill every day according to instructions.

How Do They work?

Oral contraceptives prevent pregnancy in several ways, by:

  • Stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs
  • Thickening the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus
  • Changing the lining of the uterus

Are They Effective?

If taken correctly, oral contraceptives can be very effective. Effectiveness rates are expressed in terms of how many women experience pregnancies during their first year of using the method. Perfect use reflects correct and consistent use, according to specified instructions, with every sex act. Typical use reflects the fact that most couples do not use their contraceptive methods correctly or consistently with every sex act; this rate, therefore, is considered more accurate than perfect use.

  • With perfect use of oral contraceptives: less 1 one woman out of 100 will become pregnant.
  • With typical use of oral contraceptives: 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant.