Read about condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, and morning-after pills (emergency contraception) below!
What Are They? Condoms are small, thin, latex or plastic sleeves to cover the penis or dildo during oral sex and vaginal or anal penetration to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections. Condoms keep sperm from entering the vagina and fertilizing eggs, thus preventing pregnancy. Condoms also create a barrier between skin and bodily fluids that could spread STIs from one partner to a partner. It is important to use condoms even if a partner is using another form of birth control, as they are the only method of preventing the contraction of STIs.
Where Can I Get Them? You can purchase condoms at Walgreens, CVS, 7-11, or you can pick them up *for free* at UHS, from the Spectrum Center in the Union, or at one of our or the CSG's condom distributions!
Effectiveness Against Pregnancy: 82%-98% (Imperfect to Perfect Usage)
STI Prevention: Condoms (male, female, and dental dams) are the only method, aside from abstinence and actual monogamy with a clean partner, to prevent the contraction of STIs.
Tips for Correct Condom Usage: Use condoms throughout all penetration and oral sex, from start to finish. Make sure the condom is rolled on the penis or dildo the right away before any genital contact.
birth control pills
What is "The Pill"? Birth control pills are pills containing hormones that you *take every day at approximately the same time* to prevent pregnancy. The pill prevents ovulation, which means that no egg is available for fertilization. A common myth about the birth control pill is that it aborts fertilized eggs, AKA embryos, every month, but this is not true. The pill also thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to even get into the uterus in the first place!
Where Can I Get the Pill? You need a prescription to obtain birth control from a pharmacy in Michigan. You can get a prescription from your primary care provider, from a UHS physician or nurse practitioner, from a Planned Parenthood physician or nurse practitioner, *or online* from websites such as Nurx or PRJKT RUBY.
Effectiveness Against Pregnancy: 91%-99% (Imperfect to Perfect Use)
STI Prevention: Birth control pills do NOT prevent the contraction of STIs. The only protection against sexually transmitted diseases is the use of condoms.
Tips for Correct Birth Control Pill Usage: It is very important to *take the pill at approximately the same time every day.* Skipping a day or failing to take it at the same time every day is what leads to unplanned pregnancies while on the pill. In order to remember to take it at the same time every day, we suggest setting an alarm on your phone and keeping your birth control with you, in a purse or in your backpack. Ask friends and/or family to remind you as well!
*We suggest using condoms for all intercourse to prevent the spread of STIs, but it is even more important to use condoms as a secondary method of contraception if you are prone to forgetting to take your birth control pill. Skipped days make the medication much less effective.*
What is an IUD? An IUD or Intrauterine Device is a tiny, plastic, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is a long-term and reversible birth control option. Currently, there are 2 types (copper and hormonal) and 5 brands available for use. ParaGard is the only copper option. Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena are the four hormonal options. Both types of IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the movement of sperm so that they cannot reach the egg. Sperm are repelled by copper, and hormonal IUDs serve to thicken the cervical mucus to block and trap sperm and also sometimes keep eggs from leaving the ovaries (i.e. stop ovulation) so that they are not available to be fertilized. IUDs can last for up to 10 years but can also be removed at any time.
Where Can I Get an IUD? You must make an appointment with your own provider, UHS, or Planned Parenthood. Usually, you would have a consultation appointment to choose the right device prior to the insertion appointment.
How Much Are IUDs? IUDs can cost between $0 and $1000, depending on health insurance and type/brand of IUD. Prices can vary between providers as well. Don't be afraid to ask your health insurance company or your provider!
Effectiveness Against Pregnancy As Regular Contraception: >99% Less than 1 out of 100 women who use an IUD get pregnant each year. There is no room for patient error: once your IUD is inserted, you can forget about it until it expires.
Effectiveness Against Pregnancy As Emergency Contraception: The ParaGard (copper) IUD can work as a method of emergency contraception as long as it is inserted within 5 days/120 hours after unprotected sex. It can be more than 99.9% effective, meaning it can be even more effective than the morning-after pill, described below. If time is of the essence and you need to make an emergency appointment, you can do so at our local Planned Parenthood - Ann Arbor.
STI Prevention: IUDs do NOT prevent the contraction of STIs. The only protection against sexually transmitted diseases is the use of condoms.
How to Choose the Right IUD: Consult your provider, or a physician or nurse practitioner at UHS or Planned Parenthood!
The MOrning-AFter Pill (Emergency Contraception)
What is the Morning-After Pill? There are two types of morning-after pills, a pill with ulipristal acetate (Ella) and a pill with levonorgestrel (brands include Plan B One Step, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, My Way, AfterPill, and there are often generic options available at drug stores.) You can take Ella up to 120 hours/5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. You can take levonorgestrel pills up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but it is more effective the sooner you take it.
How Does It Work: A common myth about the morning-after pill is that it is an abortion pill. This is not true. You do not immediately become pregnant after sex. Sperm can live inside the female body for up to 6 days after ejaculation. The morning-after pill simply works by keep the ovary from releasing an egg. That being said, if your body has already started ovulating, morning-after pills will not be effective. This is why timing is important. Still, it is almost impossible for people to know for sure whether they are ovulating or not, so it is best to take EC pills as soon as possible.
Why Would I Take the Morning-After Pill? Maybe you had or were forced to participate in unprotected vaginal sex, forgot to take your birth control pills, change your patch or ring, or get your depo shot on time. Perhaps the condom broke or slipped off your partner after ejaculation or your partner didn't pull out in time. If you use emergency contraception (EC) correctly after unprotected sex, you are much less likely to become pregnant. You should not use EC as your primary form of birth control.
Where Can I Get It? You can purchase the levonorgestrel pill at Walgreens, CVS, and Planned Parenthood. You do not need a prescription for levonorgestrel. You do need a prescription for Ella, the ulipristal acetate pill. However, you can get a very fast online medical consultation and prescription with next-day delivery here.
Effectiveness Against Pregnancy: Levonogestrel Pills (i.e. Plan B) are up to 89% effective when taken within 72 hours/3 days after unprotected sex; its effectiveness decreases up to 120 hours/5 days. Ella is 85% effective if taken within 120 hours/5 days of unprotected sex.
How Much Is It? Costs for the morning-after pill can range from $20 to $60 depending on the brand and the pharmacy. However, Plan B One-Step offers a coupon for $10 off on their website!
STI Prevention: The morning-after pill does NOT prevent the contraction of STIs. The only protection against sexually transmitted diseases is the use of condoms.
Tips for Correct Usage: Take the morning-after pill as soon as possible after unprotected vaginal sex!