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All Things Birth Control
How to get it, how it works, and how to find the method for you. We're answering all your birth control questions.
How can I know if a condom broke after sex, and how do I know if it was effective?
A broken condom is usually a noticable rip or tear, there shouldn't be any tiny holes unless someone has intentionally damaged them.
When condoms break, it’s usually because:
- Space for semen wasn’t left at the tip of the condom
- The condoms are out-of-date
- The condoms have been exposed to heat or sunlight
- The condoms have been torn by teeth or fingernails
If the condom broke, even if you didn’t feel anything, sperm may have still entered the vagina. If you think you might be pregnant—or if your period is late—be sure to take a pregnancy test or contact a health care professional who can give you one. If it’s early enough after the condom broke, you can use emergency contraception as a backup; emergency contraception or EC is a method of birth control that stops pregnancy from happening. It’s not meant to be used as your primary method of birth control—but we all know that accidents (like the condom breaking) happen, so it's best to know about this method before you need it. Learn more about EC here.I find this helpful
How do you have safe sex (by this I refer to methods to protect from getting pregnant) in the shower or in a pool?
No matter where you’re doing it, if you are having sex you should always protect yourself against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. One problem here is that condoms and water don’t always mix. You should be using a hormonal method of birth control (like the pill, patch, or ring) to protect from unplanned pregnancy, but that doesn't protect from STIs. So along with a hormonal method, use a silicone-based, water-resistant lubricant condom if you're having sex in water—it’s more comfortable and will make it more likely that your condom stays intact.
Remember: Despite the myths, the heat or chlorine in a hot tub or a pool will not kill sperm or make it more difficult for sperm to swim. In fact, having sex underwater can be uncomfortable for some women. First, the water can wash away the natural lubrication that your body produces, which can lead to irritation and discomfort during sex. If you’re using oils and bath salts, that can also irritate some vaginas and may even cause painful UTIs or yeast infections. If sex starts to hurt, you should stop what you’re doing and take a break or try something else. If the pain or irritation continues (or if you often experience pain during sex), you may want to see a health care provider.I find this helpful
What is the best method to have safe sex without getting an STI?
Barrier methods like male condoms and female condoms are the only birth control methods that also provide STI protection (besides abstinence, of course). If you decide that you are ready for sex, use dual protection to prevent STIs AND pregnancy. Dual protection is using a condom AND another form of birth control–like the pill, patch, or a long-acting birth control method like an implant or IUD. Visit our Birth Control Explorer to check out all of the birth control options available to you—and don't forget to talk to your health care provider about your concerns!I find this helpful
Where can I buy birth control without a prescription?
One of the easiest methods of birth control to obtain privately is condoms, because there are no age restrictions and they require no prescription.
If you’re interested in hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, and IUD), those usually require a visit to a health care provider for a prescription. (Though some states are starting to allow pharmacists to prescribe some hormonal methods) Each state makes its own laws about confidentiality for patients under 18. When calling to make an appointment, tell your age, ask if you need parental consent for your visit and the method you want, and ask whether the clinic guarantees confidentiality. If you’re visiting your usual health care provider’s office using health insurance under a parent’s name, try calling your insurance and doctor’s office to ask about confidentiality.
Need help finding a clinic? Use our clinic locator; just type in your zip code for all the info you’ll need to find a health center nearby.
Is the birth control shot more effective than birth control pills?
The shot (a.k.a. Depo Provera or the depo shot) is pretty effective—about 94% with typical use. For the shot to be most effective, you have to stay on top of getting your shot on time every three months. Getting your shot late increases your chances of getting pregnant, even if your periods haven’t returned to normal. Compare this to birth control pills— they're 91% effective with typical use—that's because it's more difficult to remember to take a pill everyday.
No matter which method you use, it’s a good idea to use a condom along with a hormonal method. Condoms offer STI protection (and extra pregnancy prevention), so using them with hormonal birth control really covers all the bases!I find this helpful