Compare Birth Control

Abstinence

100%

Effectiveness

Cost: Free

Protects 100% against pregnancy

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What is it?

No sex with a partner.

This keeps sperm from joining with egg. Some young people abstain from vaginal sex only, while others abstain from all sexual behaviors. Abstaining from ALL sexual activity is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STI's.

How do I get it?

Abstinence is a choice that you make for yourself.

Pros

  • No side effects.
  • Protects 100% against pregnancy and STI's.

Cons

  • Can sometimes be hard to maintain because of peer pressure.
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I.U.D.

92% - 99.8%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A small plastic device inserted into the uterus by a doctor.  

Available in two forms: Paraguard uses copper and no hormones, can last up to 12 years, and Mirena uses the hormone progesterone and can last up to 5 years.

How do I get it?

Must be inserted by a health care provider. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Immediately effective once in the uterus.
  • Do not have to interrupt sex to use it. It's already in place.
  • Don't have to remember to take a pill once a day or change a patch.
  • Is effective in preventing unintended pregnancy for up to 12 years (depending on the kind you choose).
  • Paraguard IUD is good for people who cannot take hormones, since it only releases copper instead of hormones.
  • You can have the IUD taken out at any time – if you choose to get pregnant or want to switch methods.

Cons

  • Side effects include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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The Shot

94%

Effectiveness

Cost: $35- $75

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A hormone shot in the arm that prevents pregnancy (progestin). This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Doesn't need to be taken daily or put in before vaginal sex.
  • Lasts for 12 weeks.
  • It's private. No one can tell you're using it.

Cons

  • Only prevents pregnancy for up to 12 weeks. You must return to your doctor's office every 12 weeks.
  • Side effects include irregular or late periods as well as weight gain, headaches, depression, abdominal pain, hair loss, increased hair on the face/body, nervousness, skin rash, or spotty darkening of the skin.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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The Pill

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A pill that contains hormones that work in different ways.  Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin, while some pills are progestin only.

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • The pill may make your periods more regular and can reduce cramping and menstrual flow.
  • There's nothing to put in place before vaginal sex.

Cons

  • Must be taken at the same time every day.
  • Side effects can include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's
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The Patch

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin plastic patch that you place on your skin at certain points (lower abdomen, upper back, etc).

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Protects against pregnancy for a month.
  • No pill to take every day.

Cons

  • Some women experience skin reaction to the patch.
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Vaginal Ring

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

Small flexible ring inserted into the vagina for three weeks in a row and taken out on the fourth week. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Nothing to put in place before sex.
  • No pill to take every day.
  • You insert and remove it privately, and once it's inserted most women don't notice it's in the vagina

Cons

  • Vaginal irritation or infection.
  • You have to be comfortable enough to insert and remove the ring by yourself.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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Implant

99.5%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A single rod that is inserted into the arm that prevents ovulation. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • No one can see it after it's inserted.
  • Lasts up to three years.
  • Don't have to worry about taking something daily, weekly, or monthly.

Cons

  • Irregular periods.
  • Pain, swelling, irritation, infection at insertion site.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STIs.
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Male Condoms

82%

Effectiveness

Cost: about $1 each

Reduces the risk of STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin sheath of latex or plastic that covers the penis before sex and keeps the sperm from joining with the egg.

How do I get it?

Condoms are pretty easy to find. You can buy them in most drugstores and supermarkets. If you are, or are thinking about, becoming sexually active you should see a doctor to determine the best method for you.

Pros

  • Inexpensive and easy to find.
  • Offers very good protection against HIV/AIDS and other STD's.
  • Available in all sorts of brands and types – also available in non-latex for those people allergic to latex (such as Avanti by Trojan).

Cons

  • Condoms can break if not put on correctly.
  • Must not be used with oil-based lubes like Vaseline. Only use water-based lubes such as KY.
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Abstinence

100%

Effectiveness

Cost: Free

Protects 100% against pregnancy

Expand Details

What is it?

No sex with a partner.

This keeps sperm from joining with egg. Some young people abstain from vaginal sex only, while others abstain from all sexual behaviors. Abstaining from ALL sexual activity is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STI's.

How do I get it?

Abstinence is a choice that you make for yourself.

Pros

  • No side effects.
  • Protects 100% against pregnancy and STI's.

Cons

  • Can sometimes be hard to maintain because of peer pressure.
Collapse Details
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I.U.D.

92% - 99.8%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A small plastic device inserted into the uterus by a doctor.  

Available in two forms: Paraguard uses copper and no hormones, can last up to 12 years, and Mirena uses the hormone progesterone and can last up to 5 years.

How do I get it?

Must be inserted by a health care provider. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Immediately effective once in the uterus.
  • Do not have to interrupt sex to use it. It's already in place.
  • Don't have to remember to take a pill once a day or change a patch.
  • Is effective in preventing unintended pregnancy for up to 12 years (depending on the kind you choose).
  • Paraguard IUD is good for people who cannot take hormones, since it only releases copper instead of hormones.
  • You can have the IUD taken out at any time – if you choose to get pregnant or want to switch methods.

Cons

  • Side effects include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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The Shot

94%

Effectiveness

Cost: $35- $75

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A hormone shot in the arm that prevents pregnancy (progestin). This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Doesn't need to be taken daily or put in before vaginal sex.
  • Lasts for 12 weeks.
  • It's private. No one can tell you're using it.

Cons

  • Only prevents pregnancy for up to 12 weeks. You must return to your doctor's office every 12 weeks.
  • Side effects include irregular or late periods as well as weight gain, headaches, depression, abdominal pain, hair loss, increased hair on the face/body, nervousness, skin rash, or spotty darkening of the skin.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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The Pill

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A pill that contains hormones that work in different ways.  Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin, while some pills are progestin only.

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • The pill may make your periods more regular and can reduce cramping and menstrual flow.
  • There's nothing to put in place before vaginal sex.

Cons

  • Must be taken at the same time every day.
  • Side effects can include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's
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The Patch

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin plastic patch that you place on your skin at certain points (lower abdomen, upper back, etc).

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Protects against pregnancy for a month.
  • No pill to take every day.

Cons

  • Some women experience skin reaction to the patch.
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Vaginal Ring

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

Small flexible ring inserted into the vagina for three weeks in a row and taken out on the fourth week. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Nothing to put in place before sex.
  • No pill to take every day.
  • You insert and remove it privately, and once it's inserted most women don't notice it's in the vagina

Cons

  • Vaginal irritation or infection.
  • You have to be comfortable enough to insert and remove the ring by yourself.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
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Implant

99.5%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A single rod that is inserted into the arm that prevents ovulation. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • No one can see it after it's inserted.
  • Lasts up to three years.
  • Don't have to worry about taking something daily, weekly, or monthly.

Cons

  • Irregular periods.
  • Pain, swelling, irritation, infection at insertion site.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STIs.
Collapse Details
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Male Condoms

82%

Effectiveness

Cost: about $1 each

Reduces the risk of STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin sheath of latex or plastic that covers the penis before sex and keeps the sperm from joining with the egg.

How do I get it?

Condoms are pretty easy to find. You can buy them in most drugstores and supermarkets. If you are, or are thinking about, becoming sexually active you should see a doctor to determine the best method for you.

Pros

  • Inexpensive and easy to find.
  • Offers very good protection against HIV/AIDS and other STD's.
  • Available in all sorts of brands and types – also available in non-latex for those people allergic to latex (such as Avanti by Trojan).

Cons

  • Condoms can break if not put on correctly.
  • Must not be used with oil-based lubes like Vaseline. Only use water-based lubes such as KY.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center

Abstinence

100%

Effectiveness

Cost: Free

Protects 100% against pregnancy

Expand Details

What is it?

No sex with a partner.

This keeps sperm from joining with egg. Some young people abstain from vaginal sex only, while others abstain from all sexual behaviors. Abstaining from ALL sexual activity is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STI's.

How do I get it?

Abstinence is a choice that you make for yourself.

Pros

  • No side effects.
  • Protects 100% against pregnancy and STI's.

Cons

  • Can sometimes be hard to maintain because of peer pressure.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center

I.U.D.

92% - 99.8%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A small plastic device inserted into the uterus by a doctor.  

Available in two forms: Paraguard uses copper and no hormones, can last up to 12 years, and Mirena uses the hormone progesterone and can last up to 5 years.

How do I get it?

Must be inserted by a health care provider. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Immediately effective once in the uterus.
  • Do not have to interrupt sex to use it. It's already in place.
  • Don't have to remember to take a pill once a day or change a patch.
  • Is effective in preventing unintended pregnancy for up to 12 years (depending on the kind you choose).
  • Paraguard IUD is good for people who cannot take hormones, since it only releases copper instead of hormones.
  • You can have the IUD taken out at any time – if you choose to get pregnant or want to switch methods.

Cons

  • Side effects include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center

The Shot

94%

Effectiveness

Cost: $35- $75

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A hormone shot in the arm that prevents pregnancy (progestin). This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Doesn't need to be taken daily or put in before vaginal sex.
  • Lasts for 12 weeks.
  • It's private. No one can tell you're using it.

Cons

  • Only prevents pregnancy for up to 12 weeks. You must return to your doctor's office every 12 weeks.
  • Side effects include irregular or late periods as well as weight gain, headaches, depression, abdominal pain, hair loss, increased hair on the face/body, nervousness, skin rash, or spotty darkening of the skin.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
Collapse Details
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The Pill

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A pill that contains hormones that work in different ways.  Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin, while some pills are progestin only.

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • The pill may make your periods more regular and can reduce cramping and menstrual flow.
  • There's nothing to put in place before vaginal sex.

Cons

  • Must be taken at the same time every day.
  • Side effects can include irregular bleeding, weight gain or loss, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood, headaches.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's
Collapse Details
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The Patch

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin plastic patch that you place on your skin at certain points (lower abdomen, upper back, etc).

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

Pros

  • Protects against pregnancy for a month.
  • No pill to take every day.

Cons

  • Some women experience skin reaction to the patch.
Collapse Details
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Vaginal Ring

91%

Effectiveness

Cost: $15-$50

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

Small flexible ring inserted into the vagina for three weeks in a row and taken out on the fourth week. This method doesn't protect against STIs, so you'll also need to use a condom. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • Nothing to put in place before sex.
  • No pill to take every day.
  • You insert and remove it privately, and once it's inserted most women don't notice it's in the vagina

Cons

  • Vaginal irritation or infection.
  • You have to be comfortable enough to insert and remove the ring by yourself.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STI's.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center

Implant

99.5%

Effectiveness

Cost: Varies by insurance

Does Not Protect Against STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A single rod that is inserted into the arm that prevents ovulation. 

How do I get it?

You will need to see a health care provider for a prescription to get this method.

Pros

  • No one can see it after it's inserted.
  • Lasts up to three years.
  • Don't have to worry about taking something daily, weekly, or monthly.

Cons

  • Irregular periods.
  • Pain, swelling, irritation, infection at insertion site.
  • DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST STIs.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center

Male Condoms

82%

Effectiveness

Cost: about $1 each

Reduces the risk of STIs

Expand Details

What is it?

A thin sheath of latex or plastic that covers the penis before sex and keeps the sperm from joining with the egg.

How do I get it?

Condoms are pretty easy to find. You can buy them in most drugstores and supermarkets. If you are, or are thinking about, becoming sexually active you should see a doctor to determine the best method for you.

Pros

  • Inexpensive and easy to find.
  • Offers very good protection against HIV/AIDS and other STD's.
  • Available in all sorts of brands and types – also available in non-latex for those people allergic to latex (such as Avanti by Trojan).

Cons

  • Condoms can break if not put on correctly.
  • Must not be used with oil-based lubes like Vaseline. Only use water-based lubes such as KY.
Collapse Details
Find a Health Center