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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  • The condoms are out-of-date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.

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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.

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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! 

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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.

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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!

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Can I have an IUD inserted if I've never had sex?

 

 

Great question, this is a great discussion to have with your healthcare provider. You can have an IUD inserted even if you have never had sex. Learn more about the IUD on Bedsider's method explorer.

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How safe is it really for young girls to be on the birth control pill just for the sake of not having heavy periods or cramps or should they learn just to deal with it?

It is safe! A recent study found that one in five American girls between the ages of 13 and 18, two-and-a-half million teens in all, are on the birth control. Do some research on your own and then make an appointment with your doctor to talk to them and get a perscription. 

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My mom is extremely against me being on birth control, but my boyfriend and I will probably have sex at some point in the future. How can I (I'm 19) get birth control without her knowing?

There are few ways you can get birth control, depending on the type. Condoms can be purchased with cash at most pharmacies and grocery stores. Many Planned Parenthoods and student health centers have condoms for either next-to-nothing or free.

If you'd like to get another method of birth control, you can make an appointment with your general doctor or gyecologist (or student health center if your school has one) to talk about birth control and sex. Doctor–patient confidentiality means that no one can talk to your parents about these topics without your permission.

The Pill is covered by your health insurance, but if you are on your parents' plan, they may know if insurance pays for it. If you want to pay for the Pill yourself, it's about $15 to $50 a month, depending on the type. You can even call the pharmacy yourself beforehand to find out which brands (or generics) are cheapest so you can request it specifically from your doctor. 

 

 

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Is it a good idea to go on a birth control pill even if you don't plan to have sex?

It's your call. If you're not currently sexually active, but want to be prepared for the future then getting on birth control is a great idea. Some people also use birth control to lessen period symptoms such as cramping or to make sure they always know when their period is going to come. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss which option will work best for you and to get a perscription. 

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Does someone need to go to a gynecologist to receive the birth control implant?

Yep; because the implant is a hormonal contraceptive AND needs to be inserted, you’ll have to visit your medical provider to get one (but you’ll only need to go once to have it inserted and once to have it removed). Learn about the implant and other types of birth control at our Birth Control Explorer

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I'm nervous about taking the Depo shot. What are the most common negatives?

Here are the most common side effects of the shot: 

  • Changes in appetite, weight, and mood.
  • Headache, nausea, and sore breasts.
  • Irregular bleeding (getting the shot can cause spotting).
  • No STI protection (it’s a good idea to double up with a second method like a male/female condom if you’re using the shot as your primary method). 

Learn more about this and other kinds of birth control on our Birth Control Explorer

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What's the best over the counter birth control for someone who is trying to regulate their period & reduce acne?

In the United States, most forms of birth control require a perscription. But there are a number of types that may help with your period and acne. For example, the hormones present in combination birth control pills can combat acne. Check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more and talk to your doctor about which option may work best for you. 

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When can I be sexually active after getting my birth control implant??

You can have sex right away after it's inserted, but unless you got the implant during the first five days of your period you'll need to use a back-up method such a condom to protect against pregnancy. If you got your implant outside of this period you should use condoms for seven days to stay safe. 

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Does it hurt to get an IUD?

Some women report that IUD insertion is painful/uncomfortable. But not every woman experiences pain. Talk to your medical provider to learn more and keep in mind that if this method doesn’t work for you, there are LOTS more out there…but it’s best to wait at least six months to see if things get better before you decide to switch. If it doesn't, or if you just can’t deal with it, talk with your medical provider about finding something that works for you.

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Can I use multiple forms of birth control?

You can! And many people recommend using two methods: condoms and some kind of hormonal birth control (like the IUD or the Pill) in combination. Using condoms also has the added benefit of protecting you against STIs. However, it's not recommended to combine hormonal methods as the side effects of these methods can be serious. At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to check out your birth control options and talk to your doctor to get a perscription for birth control. 

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What's Nexplanon?

Nexplanon is a form of birth contorl. It's also called the implant and is a very small rod inserted under the skin of a woman's upper arm to provide birth control. It's invisible and prevents pregnancy for up to 4 years. Learn more about the implant and other types of birth control on our birth control explorer

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Can I have an IUD inserted if I've never had sex?

Great question, you can have an IUD inserted even if you have never had sex. This is a great discussion to have with your healthcare provider though to make sure that it's the best type of birth control for you! 

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What type of birth control options are there for teenage first time birth control users?

No option is totally off limits for first time birth control users. The type of birth control you choose may change as you get older or try to find the type that works best for you. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss all of your options and to get a perscription. Check out our Birth Control Explorer to do some research on your own. 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.

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Is the Mirena IUD common with teenagers? I would feel I would be the only one using it.

Common can mean different things depending on what you're talking about. Some survey's suggest that many teens haven't even heard about IUDs and overall we don't know that much about teenage IUD usage. There are so many birth control options, so check out our Birth Control Explorer and have a chat with your doctor to find a method that works for you. 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.

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What are the 4 most effective methods of birth control?

There are so many birth control options, and everyone's needs are different. So check out our Birth Control Explorer and have a chat with your doctor to find a method that works for you.

  1. Abstinence is 100% effective.
  2. Implant is 99% effective.
  3. IUD is 99% effective. 
  4. Shot is 94% effective. 
  5. Pill is 91% effective. 
  6. Ring is 91% effective. 
  7. Patch is 91% effective. 
  8. Diaphragm is 88% effective. 
  9. Male condom is 82% effective.
  10. Female condom is 79% effective.  
  11. Withdrawal is 78% effective.
  12. Sponge is 76%-88% effective.
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Do you have to be sexually active to get birth control? Like I'm about to have sex for the first time will the birth control work for me?

If you're not currently sexually active, but want to be prepared for the future then getting on birth control is a great idea. Some people also use birth control to lessen period symptoms such as cramping or to make sure they always know when their period is going to come. It’s a good idea to check out your birth control options, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss which option will work best for you, and to get a perscription. 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.

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For emergency contraception to work it needs to be used within how many days of having unprotected sex?

A pill that can stop a pregnancy before it starts; it's meant as a backup plan, not regular birth control. It depends on the method that you’re using, but all forms of emergency contraception significantly reduce the chance of pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex.

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Can I get pregnant if I had sex and he did ejaculate, but I missed my pill?

As with most methods of birth control, you are able to get pregnant as soon as you stop taking your pill. That's why it's important to use birth control consistently. You may want to check in with a health care provider and get tested for STIs and pregnancy. Better safe than sorry, right? Plus, they can help you decide if there may be a be better method that works for you. Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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Am I still covered for that week I don't take my pill?

Yes but... you're only covered if you took the first three weeks of pills right. That means you took all 21 pills, one a day, at the same time every day. That's because the pill works by releasing hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Remember that the pill doesn't protect you from STIs. It’s a good idea to double up your hormonal birth control method by using condoms too.

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Those little pill/tablet things in the back of a pregnancy test. Can you get pregnant if you take it? Does it act like a morning after pill or more like a pregnancy permanent thing? Is it even a pill at all?

Pregnancy tests don't come with pills to make your pregnant or end a pregnancy. If you're referring to the pill like thing on the inside of the test, that is part of the chemical reaction that makes the test work. 

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How do general spermicides work?

Placed deep inside a woman's vagina before sex, spermicides are a chemical that slows sperm down so it can't reach the egg. A cream, foam, gel, film, or suppositiory, it can be used alone or combined with other forms of birth control.

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How does Depo-Provera work?

Depo-Provera (or the shot) is a shot that you receive every three months. It contains the hormone progestin, which stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation and by thickening the cervical mucus. 94% effective at preventing pregnancy, the shot doesn't protect against STIs. So if you're going to use it make sure you double up and use condoms to protect against those. 

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I am wondering if I can get birth control without my parent knowing?

You can! There is no age limit for getting a prescription for and buying birth control. You can go to your doctor or find another clinic (just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator) to get a prescription for hormonal birth control (know all your options by checking out our Birth Control Explorer). If you're on your parents health insurance you may want to pay out of pocket so they don't see the bill, but if you have your own insurance then you're all set. 

If you are paying out of pocket and are concerned about the cost of birth control, talk to your doctor before you get your prescription to make sure that what they give you is in your budget. 

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Can I get pregnant if I am on birth control pills, but they were prescribed for skin problems?

While the hormones in combination birth control pills can help reduce acne, their main purpose is to prevent pregnancy. So yes, no matter why you got a prescription for birth control pills, they'll protect you from getting pregnant.

If you're having sex it’s a good idea to double up with a hormonal birth control method plus condoms, so you’re protected against STIs too!

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What is one way to have sex with out getting pregnant or getting STIs or AIDS?

Condoms! Condoms are 82% effective at protecting against unplanned pregnancy and the only method of birth control that will also protect you against STIs and AIDS. 

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Why would adolescents use or not use the hormonal implant?

There are a lot of birth control options available depending on your preferences. The implant is 99% effective and works for up to 3 years after it's put in. It can be a good option for those who worry about remembering to use birth control every time they have sex. You'll need a perscription, so talk to your health care provider to help make your final decision. Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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I'm 16 and on the pill. I get heavy bleeding more than once per month and my periods are very painful. I've also put on about 20lbs since going on the pill. Could another other form of contraception like an IUD or implant work better for me?

Thanks for your question, but since we cannot offer specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider. There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder

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My daughters GP will not authorize this implant in her arm as it may cause infertility and they only advise it for people 25+ ..... they suggest the pill but that's just not secure enough for my liking .... what are my options?

How frustrating! This may be cause to seek a second opinion if you can find someone in network that you trust. If you are interested in learning about different methods check out our method explorer. If you are looking for a method similar to the implant, check out the IUD. 

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What is the best type of birth control for an 18 year old woman?

The best type of birth control for a person is dependant on a lot of factors, only one of which is your age. Some women prefer to take a pill every day, but others know they'll forget. Some women don't want to take a hormonal method, while for some that doesn't matter. Your personal preferences matter as much as your age when it comes to making a decision. There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more. Talk to a health care provider to discuss your personal situation and desired outcome. Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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What are the pros and cons of hormonal birth control?

Hormonal birth control methods include, birth control pillspatches, vaginal rings, shots, implants, and some IUDs. These methods require a perscription from your doctor and none protect against STIs. Some may not be as effective when taken with certain medicines (you'd need to talk to a health care provider to be sure) and they may delay your normal cycle. 

When used correctly they provide you with contsant protection though. So there's no need to interrupt foreplay to get a condom or use another type of method. And for some women hormonal birth control reduces period cramps or acne. Since we cannot offer specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider to decide which type of method will work best for you. If you need help finding a health care provider, you can check out our clinic finder

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What is a barrier method? I'm having trouble defining the term.

Don't overthink this one! The barrier method is any birth control method that creates a barrier between the eggs and sperm. Barrier methods include, male condoms, female condoms, the diaphragm, and the sponge

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Do you bleed a lot when you're on the pill?

First, there are a lot of different types of birth control pills and they can work differently for different women. In general, your periods will become lighter, shorter, and include less cramping. Some women have very little bleeding or may skip periods. If you think your period has changed since you started taking the pill, talk to your health care provider about your concerns. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder

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Why we need to learn about pregnancy?

 

Great question! People have been having sex all different sorts of ways, and some people don't do it at all - it's all about personal preference! There are lots of good things about having sex, it feels good, it can bring you closer to a partner(s,) it releases endorphins, and it can be a lot of fun. However, having sex is something that comes with responsibility, everytime you have sex pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections are a possibility. Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid both of those things, so that you can have the kind of sex that you want and a future that is full of possibilities. Check out our method explorer to learn more about methods that can do this for you! To get back to your question, this is why learning about pregnancy is important. Having a child and/or chosing to parent is a big decision and can potentially affect the course of your own (and other's lives), learning more about pregnancy, sex, relationships, and birth control can give you the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. 

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I'm 16, how do I get an IUD without my parents knowing?

You can get many kinds of birth control without your parents knowing, even if you’re a minor. One of the easiest methods of birth control to obtain privately is condoms, because there are no age restrictions and they’re really easy to get. If you’re interested in hormonal birth control (like the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, and IUD), those require a visit to a health care provider. 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.

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If she uses the patch as a backup (along with a condom) will she always have to wear it after one time? Or for only a certain time?

The patch is a thin piece of plastic that a girl sticks on her body; she puts on a new one on once each week. Like all birth control methods the chance of getting pregnant is the same whether you've been on your birth control for 2 weeks or 2 years. You are able to get pregnant as soon as you stop using it—which is why it's important to use birth control consistently.

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How long does the birth control ring work?

You've got to change your birth control ring every month. After wearing it for three weeks you take it out for one and then replace with a new ring. 

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What is the age limit for purchasing condoms?

There’s no age limit for purchasing condoms—anyone can buy them! For more information on buying condoms, check out this article, which clears up a lot of confusion for a first time buyer. 

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If I'm young and I want to get birth control pills without my mom knowing, how do I get them?

The short answer is yes, teens can get birth control without telling their parents whether or not they’re looking for a method that requires a visit to a clinic.

The longer answer is that certain methods take more time to get than others.

One of the easiest methods of birth control to get your hands on are condoms, because there are no age restrictions and they’re available at drug stores and even some grocery stores. If you’re looking for a method of birth control that  includes hormonal birth control methods (the pill, patch, ring, shot [Depo Provera], implant, and IUD [Skyla, Mirena, and ParaGard], those require a visit to a doctor’s office/clinic. Minors (anyone under 18 years old) usually can get them without parents’ permission or knowledge, but each state makes its own laws about this. So 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. 

Need to find 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. 

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How effective are condoms?

Male condoms are 82% effective, but anytime semen is near the vagina, there’s a possibility that it could get inside and cause a pregnancy. For more information on condoms and other forms of birth control, including their effectiveness, check out our Birth Control Explorer and explore all of your options. 

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Is it safe for a 15 year old to get an Implant (Birth Control)?

Yes, it is completely safe for a 15 year old to get an implant! Like all types of birth control, the implant has different risks and side effects, so head over to our Birth Control Explorer for more information about the implant and other forms of birth control.

Because the implant is a hormonal contraceptive AND needs to be inserted, you’ll have to visit your medical provider to get one (but you’ll only need to go once to have it inserted and once to have it removed). Need to find 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. 

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How old do you need to be to get birth control or just go to a ob-gyn?

Some methods of birth control are only available by prescription—you have to see a doctor to get them. They include the most effective methods available (the IUD, the implant), anything else that is hormone-based (the pill, the patch, the ring, the shot), and the diaphragm (you have to be fitted for one which requires a doc). Some of the other methods—condoms (male and female) and the sponge—are available over the counter in most drugstores and grocery stores and don’t require anything more than money to buy them (no doctor visit!). Minors (anyone under 18 years old) usually can get birth control without parents’ permission or knowledge, but each state makes its own laws about this.  So when calling your doctor or clinic to make an appointment, tell your age and ask whether they guarantee confidentiality. Learn more about all the methods of birth control with our Birth Control Explorer. Need to find 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. 

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How likely is it for me to get pregnant if I'm on the pill, he wears a condom, and if he pulls out?

It sounds like you and your partner are being very careful! However, whenever semen is near the vagina, there’s a possibility that it could get inside and cause a pregnancy. Using multiple methods of birth control does lower the chance of pregnancy, and for more information about the different types of birth control available to you and your partner, check out our Birth Control Explorer. Basically, with typical use, the pill is 91% effective, male condoms are about 82% effective, and pulling out is about 78% effective…but keep in mind: those rates are for typical use and oftentimes, teens don’t use their birth control as well as adults, so these rates may actually be worse.

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How will the doctors explain my use of birth control to my parents when they see the prescription?

Minors (anyone under 18 years old) can usually get birth control without parents’ permission or knowledge, but each state makes its own laws about this.  So when calling your doctor or a clinic to make an appointment, tell your age and ask whether they guarantee confidentiality. Some clinics may be able to tell you more about the laws in prescription confidentiality in your state, or about purchasing it out of pocket.

Discuss with your doctor why you want to go on birth control, and why you’re nervous about your parents knowing. It’s a very common question, and they might be able to help you figure out the best way to bring it up.

You may also want to consider purchasing condoms, which have no age requirement and are available at most drugs stores, and are even free at many clinics. The most important thing is to stay safe if you’re engaging in sexual intercourse. Of course it’s hard to talk to your parents about birth control, but imagine how much harder it would be if you had to tell them about a pregnancy. 

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does birth control help regulate your period as well as prevent pregnancy?

Using certain types of birth control (like the pill) can help regulate your period in addition to providing birth control. Learn more about all the methods of birth control with our Birth Control Explorer, and have a conversation with your doctor to see which method will work best for you!

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Is it bad to take the Plan B every time you have unprotected sex?

Emergency contraception like Plan B isn’t meant to be used as your primary form of birth control—hence the name emergency contraception. It’s expensive and not intended for long term use, so while it’s great to have it on hand in case of an “oops” moment it’s a better idea to figure out a more permanent method of birth control for the rest of the time. There are tons of great methods available—some hormonal and some not, some long-acting and some not—so check out our Birth Control Explorer to explore your options. 

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How do you bring up wanting to get on the pill without parents freaking out?

It's great that you're so thoughtful about becoming sexually active.  And that you’re so interested in keeping the lines of communication with your parents open. When you’re ready, you can approach it in a few ways. You may be more comfortable talking with one parent than with both. Or, if you’re unsure how your parents are going to react or want to test the waters first, you can start off talking about something you learned in health class or heard from a friend. If you want to dive right in, it’s fine to tell your parents that you’re nervous (they may be too!) but that it makes you feel good to have parents you can talk to. Hopefully they will be thoughtful and patient in their response. But also be aware that they may not react as you hoped, no matter how well you explain your situation. You should listen to what they have to say because it may give you new ways of thinking about things. But it also may be the case that you have to agree to disagree on this topic for now.

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How long does it take for birth control pills to be effective?

Great question! There are a lot of different pill options out there, so you should consult with your doctor regarding how quickly yours become effective. Generally, you need to be on them for a full week before they start being effective. The pills also needs to be taken everyday, often at the same time everyday, to maintain full effectiveness.

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I can not feel my IUD strings, what do I do?

 

Great question, the simplest answer is to call your healthcare provider, the best option is probably the provider that preformed the insertion for you. This is not uncommon, but should be checked by a medical professional to ensure that everything is as it should be. 

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I have been on the pill for about a year to control my acne and heavy periods. I take one pill every night at bedtime. My boyfriend and I want to have sex without a condom. Does taking the pill this way also mean it will work as birth control?

Yes! The pill is a highly effective form of birth control, and as you know, it has many additional benefits. Check out our method explorer to learn more about the pill and other methods! 

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Is it still considered abstinence even if I am not a virgin?

Yep! Whether you’re waiting until marriage or have had sex before but don’t want to now, choosing not to have sex is abstinence. It’s also the only 100% effective method of birth control!

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How big can condoms get?

Condoms are made to stretch! Seriously, you can blow them up like balloons or fit them over a watermelon. If a guy ever says that he’s too big for a condom, you might want to reconsider having sex with him. It can be awkward to talk about with your partner, but wearing one or using another form of birth control every time that you have sex is super important!

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My boyfriend and I are in a year-long relationship with the healthiest communication, we are Christians waiting until marriage to partake in sex. Clearly this question is not about birth control, but I wanted to get advice on how to explain to others why we do not need to engage in sexual activity to love each other... we often get asked "How do you know if you love each other if you haven't taken it to the next level?" most of our answers involve our faith and our contentment with one another's morals but in this case I am asking: How do I say NO to OTHERS pressuring OUR relationship's boundaries?

First of all, it’s awesome that you and your boyfriend have such open communication in your relationship! That’s a really important part of building a healthy partnership. It’s difficult when you’re getting pressure from people outside of your relationship, but the best thing that you can do is explain that sex is a personal choice, and that it’s something that you and your partner need to decide, not the rest of the world. Relationships without sex can be just as rewarding, and it seems like you guys are really good at communicating. It’s tough when other people are pressuring the boundaries of your relationship, but gently reminding them that what happens in your relationship is between you and your partner and isn’t really their business might be the best route in dealing with this type of pressure. If your friends are asking things that make you feel uncomfortable or angry, honesty is the best policy! Let them know how those types of comments make you feel, because they might not realize the strain that they’re putting on you!

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Where can I get birth control if I don't want my parents finding out?

One of the easiest methods of birth control to obtain privately is condoms, because there are no age restrictions, and they’re available at drug stores or even some grocery stores. If you’re looking for a method of birth control that  includes hormonal birth control (the pillpatchring, shot [Depo Provera], implant, and IUD [Skyla, Mirena, and ParaGard], those require a visit to a doctor’s office or clinic. Each state makes its own laws about confidentiality for patients under 18. So 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 doctor’s office using health insurance under a parent’s name, try calling your insurance and doctor’s office to ask about confidentiality.  

Need to find 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. 

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How exactly does the pill work?

Great question! The birth control pill works by releasing hormones that prevent the ovaries from making eggs. These hormones also thicken the cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg. The key thing with the pill is that you take it around the same time every day! It can be hard to remember, but skipping a day or taking the pill at different times every day can reduce its effectiveness. For more information about the pill and the other forms of birth control available, check out our Birth Control Explorer.

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Is it safe to have sex without condoms if your girlfriend is on birth control

Yes and no. Use of birth control will reduce your chances of an unplanned pregnancy even if you don’t use a condom. That said, it’s always a good idea to use a condom to double up on protection! Hormonal birth control doesn’t offer protection against STDs, so using a condom ensures that you and your girlfriend will be protected, and is a safer option if you do choose to have sex.

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What is a good age for an IUD?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, long acting birth control options, like the IUD, are a great birth control option for teens because they’re super effective and can last for up to 12 years (depending on which kind you get). While IUDs are safe for teens to use, your best bet is to have a conversation with your health care provider about which method is best for you, since everyone’s body is different! If you need help finding a doctor, check out our Clinic Locator. To explore the other birth control options that are available to you, take a look at our Birth Control Explorer!

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For my first time we have planned to use condoms, should I take the next day pill too?

It’s awesome that you’re planning to be protected with condoms! Should the condom break or if you get nervous about pregnancy, emergency contraception is certainly an option. You might also want to visit your doctor and see they can help you find a secondary method of birth control, like the pill or the shot, so that you’re doubly protected when you have sex! Emergency contraception isn’t meant to be used every time that you have sex, so it might be a good idea to check out the other methods of birth control that are available to you that you can use along with a condom.

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Is it okay to ask for an IUD even though I'm still in high school? I thought they were for older girls and women who've already had kids.

It’s more than okay to ask for an IUD in high school! In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, long acting birth control methods (like the IUD) are great options for teens because they’re super effective and can last for up to 12 years (but can be removed at any time), depending on what kind you get. While IUDs are definitely safe for teens, your best bet in finding the right birth control for you is to have a conversation with your doctor, since everyone’s body is different. If you need help finding a doctor, check out our Clinic Locator. To explore the other birth control options that are available to you, take a look at our Birth Control Explorer!

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Do you need to be having sex to get birth control? I'm not having sex but I heard the pill has great benefits

Great question! A lot of people do take the pill for reasons other than birth control, but since everyone’s body is different, the pill doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. The best thing that you can do is talk with your doctor! Be honest about why you want to go on the pill, and your health care provider will be able to tell you about the benefits of the pill and help you decide whether or not that method is best for you.

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I'm still slightly underage so I feel weird going and buying condoms, is there like an age limit to buy condoms like there is for tobacco and alcohol? What should I do if someone I know sees me buying them?(my family is Catholic so it would be a big deal)

Nope, there’s no age limit for buying condoms! It’s normal to be a little bit nervous when you’re buying condoms for the first time, but it’s super important to be protected if you decide to have sex. If you want to avoid coming face to face with a cashier, try to go somewhere with a self-checkout counter. There are also places that will give you condoms for free, so you might want to check out this Condom Finder. It can be awkward, but consider having a conversation with your parents about your opinions on sexual health and contraception.  

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My girlfriend is allergic to latex in condoms. But a friend told me "sheepskin" will work. What is that??

Sheepskin or lambskin condoms are an alternative to latex condoms that many people who have a latex allergy use. They can be a little pricier than latex condoms, but they’re a great option if your partner has an allergy. Your local drug store should stock these types of condoms as well as other non-latex options. Something important to note about this kind of condom is that while it does prevent pregnancy, it does not protect against STDs. If you or your girlfriend is interested in looking at other forms of birth control that may be available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer!

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How do you get "The day after pill" if you feel you really need it? Where do you get it and how?

If you really need emergency contraception, you have a couple of options. The easiest is to take a look for Plan B or a generic levonorgestrel-based form of emergency contraception, because these are available in pharmacies and from retailers like Amazon and don’t have an age restriction. If you’re not able to find it in your pharmacy, just ask the pharmacist on duty—they should be able to help! If you’re able to make a doctor’s appointment, you can look into ella, which doesn’t have an age restriction but does require a doctor’s prescription.  If you need help finding a doctor, check out our Clinic Locator; just type in your zip code for more information about health centers near you!

If you’re not on birth control or are unhappy with your current method, it’s super important that you find a birth control method that works for you so that you’re protected! Check out our Birth Control Explorer to see what options are available to you, or have a conversation with your doctor! Your health care professional will be able to recommend a method of birth control that will be the best fit for you, since everyone’s body is different.

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Is the nexplanon implant painful?

The implant should not be particularly painful, because a numbing solution is used when it’s inserted into the arm. The best thing that you can do if you’re worried about the side effects associated with a certain birth control method is to talk to your doctor and friends who have gone through the procedure They will be able to advise you as to what form of birth control will work best for your body. If you’re interested in looking at other methods, check out our Birth Control Explorer to see what other methods are available to you!

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Are there other male birth control methods other than condoms?

Other than abstinence, which is the only 100% effective method of birth control, condoms are a guy’s best bet when it comes to preventing pregnancy. Many guys also rely on  withdrawal, or the pull out method. If you’re using withdrawal, your partner should also use a form of hormonal birth control so that you can double up on protection.

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How do I know what kind of condoms to buy for my boyfriend?

Buying condoms can be tough. When you’re in the drug store, you’re confronted by a million options, but the truth is that all of those condoms aren’t all that different. You and your partner might develop a preference to one brand over time, but you can’t go wrong with just a lubricated condom.

It might feel a little bit awkward, but you can always ask your boyfriend what kind he prefers.  He might not have a preference, which is also totally fine! As long as you’re using protection, the brand doesn’t really matter. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, check out this Condom Finder to see if there’s a place to get free condoms near you.

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How can I get condoms without my parents finding out?

There are no age restrictions on condoms, so you’re able to pick them up at your local drug store. It’s normal to feel a little bit nervous the first time that you buy condoms, but there’s no shame in being protected. You also might want to check out the Condom Finder to see if there’s anywhere to get free condoms near you!   Don’t rule out talking to your parents though!

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Do I need parent consent for birth control?

The short answer is no, you don’t need parental consent for most forms of birth control if you’re a minor. The easiest form of birth control to get is condoms, because there are no age restrictions, don’t require a visit to the doctor, and are available at pharmacies and even some grocery stores. If you’re looking for a hormonal method of birth control (like the ring, pill, or patch), things can get a little tricky because each state makes its own rules patient confidentiality if you’re under 18. When you’re scheduling a doctor’s appointment to talk to your health care provider about one of these methods, tell the doctor your age, ask if you need parental consent for your visit and for the method that you’re interested in, and make sure that the clinic guarantees confidentiality. If you’re using insurance under a parent’s name, try calling your insurance company and doctor’s office to ask about confidentiality.

Need help finding a doctor? Check out our Clinic Locator; just type in your zip code to find a health center near you.

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My boyfriend and I want to be safe when we eventually have sex... So, my question is what is the most effective birth control methods? The pill? IUD? Also, are you more protected from pregnancy using two types of protection, like a condom and the birth control pill?

It’s so awesome that you guys are thinking ahead when it comes to contraception. Long acting forms of birth control, like the IUD and the implant are the most effective, and are really convenient since there’s no upkeep once these methods are inserted. Options like the pill also work really well, but only if you remember to take them every day around the same time. Your best bet when figuring out what birth control method is best for you is to have a conversation with your doctor, since everyone’s body is different. If you want to learn more about the birth control methods that are available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer! If you need to find a doctor, just pop your zip code into our Clinic Locator for more information about health centers in your area.

Also, it’s always a great idea to double up on protection! Since male and female condoms are the only way to prevent STDs other than abstinence, using one of these methods along with hormonal birth control can ensure that you and your partner are protected during sex!

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What age is acceptable to get an IUD? I'm almost 17 and I'm sexually active. I have taken birth control pills for my period for a little over a year and they haven't seemed to work. I don't want to get pregnant and my period is awful. Is an IUD the correct solution.

An IUD is a great option for teens—it’s really effective, and can last for up to 12 years (depending on what type you get) and can be removed at any time. You might also want to check out other long acting forms of birth control, like the implant, but the very best thing you can do is have a conversation with your doctor. Explain exactly what you’re looking for in a birth control, and they should be able to recommend a form of birth control that’s right for you and your body. If you’re looking to read up on the other forms that are available to you before your appointment, check out our Birth Control Explorer! If you need help finding a doctor, just put your zip code into our Clinic Locator for more information about health centers near you.

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Can a guy get birth control?

Yep! Guys can pick up condoms at the drug store or supermarket, and there’s not even an age limit. When it comes to hormonal birth control, these methods require a doctor’s visit, so the girl using the birth control will have to make a visit to her doctor.

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Can you use condoms and spermicide together? Or do you have to get special spermicide lube condoms?

You can’t use spermicides and condoms together, because liquids like spermicides or even lubricants can damage or breakdown a condom.  If you’re interested in using a spermicide, you’re correct that there are special spermicide lubricated condoms you can buy. Spermicides must be used with methods like the diaphragm and sponge.  If you’re interested in other forms of birth control that you can use along with a condom, check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more about methods like the IUD and the shot!

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What are the risks with the copper IUD? How should one decide if the hormone one is better than no hormone?

Although both hormonal and non-hormonal versions of the IUD are super effective, some women do report pain or discomfort when their IUD is first inserted. This doesn’t mean that everyone experiences these drawbacks—they’re just some of the commonly reported ones. The best thing that you can do is have a conversation with your doctor! They will be able to explain all of the risks, benefits, and side effects of every form of birth control, including the IUD, and help you decide which method is best for you! If you’re interested in what other forms of birth control are available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer. If you need help finding a doctor, just put your zip code into our Clinic Locator to find a health center near you.

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Can the Nuva ring come out when having sex?

Yes, the ring can come out when you have sex. It's important to check that the ring is still in place every time you have penetrative sex (or change your tampon!). If the ring has fallen out you have around 3 hours to find and insert a replacement ring before back-up contraceptive is required. 

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