Contraception lower the chances of unplanned pregnancy and/or reduce the chance of spreading or contracting STIs. There are a variety of options to choose from when thinking about contraception and are put into two broad categories of ‘no prescription required’ and ‘prescription required.’

Contraception without a prescription Include:

external condoms: A barrier method of latex, polyisoprene or polyurethane that cover the penis and collects the semen, among other fluids. Condoms have the possibility to break or leak if not used correctly and oil-based lubricants can break condoms as well. Condom’s material does degrade over time and can become brittle. If correctly used the external condom barrier is 98% effective, however studies show that due to poor use condoms are 85% effective. External condoms also prevent against STIs and are usually free at the local health department.  

internal condoms: A barrier method that prevents sperm from entering the uterus or anus. Internal condoms can be inserted for up to eight hours prior to intercourse but should be removed directly after. Internal condoms can be found at most drug stores and are advised to be used without external condoms to prevent tearing. The effectiveness rate for internal condoms is 95%, however, with poor usage the actual effectiveness is closer to 79%. Internal condoms prevent STIs when used properly.

pull out: The removal of the penis before ejaculation. This method of contraception becomes more effective when used with other forms of protection. Without other forms of contraceptives, the pullout method is 78% effective, when paired with the use of a condom becomes 96% effective. This form of contraception offers no protection to STIs.

Spermicide: A chemical contraceptive that blocks the sperm from entering the cervix. A person would insert the foam, cream, gel, or film into their vagina prior to intercourse.  When used alone this method is 71% effective, however when used with a barrier protection is 97% effective. Without other barriers spermicide provides no protection to STIs.    

the sponge: A small plastic sponge full of spermicide, this contraceptive is inserted and covers the cervix. The spermicide stops sperm from passing as is 91% effective when used alone. However, for those on their period this may irritate the vagina and increase risk from STIs. Even when not on one’s period this provides no protection against STIs.  

dental dam: Used for oral sex and can be placed over the vulva or anus during oral sex. Dental dams protect for STIs only and can be made by cutting an external condom apart. The dam itself is a thin piece of latex.

Abstinence: Abstaining from all sexual activities (oral, anal, or vaginal) and it is the most effective form of contraception. Abstinence is 100% effective at preventing STIs and pregnancy.  

Medically prescribed contraceptives include:

birth control: A pill taken by those with a uterus. The pill release hormones that prevent ovulation and thickens cervical mucus. If taken regularly this is non-stop protection from pregnancy; it can make periods regular and shorten menstrual cycles. Birth control pills offer no protection from STIs and is not immediately effective after taking the first pill. If taken regularly the pill is 99.7% effective however is closer to 91%.

the patch: A small hormone releasing patch that is replaced every week. After three weeks using the patch it advised to take a week off. If used properly the patch is 99% effective and stopping unwanted pregnancy; however, the patch is closer to 91% effective and leaves no protection for STIs.

the shot: A prescribed shot that is at first administered by a provider. This shot is not effective until after a week and is effective for twelve weeks. After these weeks, the next shot can be done by the provider or at home if prescribed. If shots are taken on time each twelve month then the shot is 99% effective. If a shot is missed or taken late the effectiveness drops to 94%. Some side effects from the shot may include irregular or no periods, headaches, depression, acne, or weight gain. The shot provides no STI protection and only protects against pregnancy.

Diaphragm: A dome shaped silicone or latex cup that is inserted into the vagina and can be left in for up to 24 hours and be used for multiple sexual encounters. After a sexual encounter, the Diaphragm stays inserted for six more hours. The cup blocks sperm from entering the cervix and is 94% effective if used correctly, though is closer to 88%.

the cap: Like the Diaphragm is a dome shaped silicone or latex cup. The cup is filled with spermicide and inserted into the back of the vagina to cover the cervix. The effectiveness goes down after giving birth however it is 86% effective or 71% if used improperly or after giving birth. The cap has no protection against STIs.

the ring: the ‘NuvaRing’ is a ring that is inserted into the vagina that secretes hormones. The ring can be worn for three weeks, followed by a week break. The hormones released prevent ovulation and thicken the cervical mucous. If used correctly its 91% effective but has no protection for STIs.

IUD: An intrauterine device (IUD) is a long active T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to provide pregnancy protection. A copper IUD can stay in place for up to 12 years and other stay in 3-6 depending on the brand. IUDs are over 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy but has no protection for STIs.

The implant: A snack plastic rod that is inserted under the upper arm skin of a person with a uterus. Much tike the IUD these implants can last up to three years and are over 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies. Though there are no protections for STIs provided.

PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis are for those at a higher risk for HIV and can reduce the risk of catching HIV from sex by 99% if used correctly. PrEP does not prevent pregnancies or other STIs but is important for HIV positive sexual health.

Emergency contraception: A pill taken after unprotected sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy ad depending on time taken after intercourse can be 75-99% effective.  

Take aways:

There are lots types of contraception’s and depending on your situation there may be more pros and cons to each of these listed here. Talk to your provider about your sexual health needs and remember the internal or external condoms are some of the most easily accessible forms of contraception’s that protects against STIs as well.


CenterStone. (2020, October 02). Forms of contraception. Retrieved April 01, 2021, from

CDC. (2011). [Brochure]. Author.

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Birth control methods & OPTIONS: Types of birth control. Retrieved April 01, 2021, from

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