Safe sex and contraception

There are many options for safe sex. Campus Health Center also provides support for safe sex. When choosing the method that is best for you, you should consider: 

  • Do I ever want a pregnancy and if so, when?
  • What do I value most in a method?
    • Effectiveness
    • Cost
    • Easy to use
    • Discreet
  • Is it important for me to have a period every month?
  • Do I want non-contraceptive benefits, like lighter, less painful periods or less acne?

Types of contraception

  • Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

    IUDs are small, “T-shaped” device inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. IUDs affect the way sperm move, preventing them from joining with an egg. They are safe, one of the most effective forms of birth control, and long lasting. IUDs can be effective for 12 years (Copper), 5 years (Mirena), or 3 years (Skyla, Liletta) . Less than 1 out of 100 people using an IUD will get pregnant each year while using an IUD. Mirena is commonly used for heavy bleeding and cramps. The ability to become pregnant returns quickly after removal of IUD. Possible disadvantages of an IUD include: mild/moderate pain during insertion, spotting or irregular periods (Progestin), increase in cramps and bleeding (Copper) and rarely, insertion can cause puncture of wall of uterus.

  • Implants

    An implant is a matchstick-sized rod that is inserted by a health care provider in the arm to prevent pregnancy. It is safe, effective and convenient. Implants provide 3 years of protection against pregnancy and the ability to become pregnant returns quickly when the implant is removed. Possible disadvantages of an implant include: irruglar, unpredictable bleeding patterns and/or soreness, bruising or swelling for a few days at the insertion site. 

  • Depo shot

    The depo shot is a shot prescribed by a health care provider that is injected into the arm to prevent pregnancy. The shot releases a progestin, which prevents ovaries from releasing eggs, meaning that ovulation does not occur. It is safe, effective for 3 months and convenient. Less than 6/100 people taking depo will get pregnant each year if they always use the shot as directed. It also improves cramping during painful mestruation. It can cause irregular, unpredictable bleeding and possiblities related to weight gain, return to fertility and/or temporary bone and hair thinning. 

  • Birth control pills

    Birth control pills are a daily pill prescribed from a health care provider to take at the same time of day to prevent pregnancy. They are made of hormones - either estrogen, progestin or both that prevent ovaries from releasing eggs, meaning that ovulation does not occur. These pills are very effective if taken correctly. Less than 1/100 people taking birth control pills will get pregnant each year if they always take the pill each day as directed and about 9/100 people taking birth control pills get pregnant each year if they do not always take the pill as directed. They are relatively inexpensive with a quick return to fertility possible after stopping the pills. They can also be used to change the timing/frequency of a period, improve acne, reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, improve painful and heavy periods. There are rare but serious risks for blood clots in smokers and those who are obese and over the age of 35. There are also estrogen related side effects such as breast tenderness and nausea/vomiting. 

  • Vaginal rings

    Vaginal rings (NuvaRing) are a small ring that is prescribed by a health care provider that is inserted in the vagine once per month for three weeks to prevent pregnancy. The vaginal ring releases the hormones estrogen and progestin, preventing ovaries from releasting eggs, meaning that ovulation does not occur. It is safe, effective and convenient and about 9/100 people using the vaginal ring will get pregnant each year with typical use. Some disadvantages to the vaginal ring are increased vaginal discharge, estrogen-related side effects and the ring may be pulled out during vaginal penetration but effectiveness shouldn't be affected if immediately put back in. 

  • The Patch

    The patch is a thin piece of plastic worn on the skin by a person who can become pregnant. It is easy to get with a prescription from a health care provider and should be applied once a week for three weeks on the butt, stomach, upper arm or torso and then removed for the fourth week. The patch releases estrogen and progestin hormones through the skin, preventaing ovaries from releasing eggs and thickening cervical mucous. It is safe, effective and convenient and works best when a new patch is applied the same day and time each week. About 9/100 people using the patch get pregnant each year with typical use of the patch. It regulates the menstural cycle and also helps with shorter, lighter periods and less cramping. It can cause skin irritation and similar estrogen-related side effects like the birth control pill. 

  • Condoms

    Condoms are the only contraceptive method that protects against both pregnancy and STIs and can be used with another form of birth control for extra protection. They are made of latex or plastic and can be used for vaginal, anal or oral sex. They are also an option from CHC's Condom Club. 

    External condoms are worn on the penis and prevent pregnancy by collecting pre-cup and semen from the penis when it ejaculates, preventing sperm from entering the vagina. By covering the penis and keeping semen out of the vagina, anus or mouth, condoms reduce risk of sexually transmitted infecttions. Only 2/100 people become pregnant if their partners use it correctly. If not always used correctly, 18/100 people will become pregnant each year. 

    Internal condoms are a pouch inserted into the vagina that collects pre-cum and semen when a penis ejaculates inside the vagina. It reduces the risk of STIs and can be used for vaginal and anal intercourse. If people who can become pregnant always use internal condoms correctly, 5/100 will become pregnant each year. If not always used correctly, 21/100 people will become pregnant each year. 

  • Dental Dam

    A dental dam is a latex or polyurethane barrier that prevents STI transmission between oral-genital and oral-anal sex as 70% of cancers in teh back of the throat are linked to HPV, a common vaccine-preventable STI. Dental dams can be purchased in stores and online, or created from a male condom and can only be used onced. They are also an option from CHC's Condom Club. 

  • Pull-out method

    The pull-out (withdrawal) method is also called "coitus interruptus" and requires the penis to be removed from the vagina before ejaculation occurs. While there is no monetary cost associated, it requires a high level of self-control to do so and pre-cum may contain sperm, making this a less effective method of birth control. Studies show that 22/100 women using this method will become pregnant each year. 

  • Diaphragm

    A diaphragm is an inexpensive, shallow, bendable cup that is placed inside the vagina, against the cervis. It covers the cervix during sex to prevent pregnancy. It is possible to add spermicide to your diaphragm before inserting to make it more effective but it may be messy. Diaphragms are resuable and rarely hinder sexual experience, however they require consistent use for each sexual encounter and it can be difficult to insert into the vagina.

  • Emergency contraception (EC)

    EC is knowing as "Plan B" or the "morning after pill." They are oral pills available over the counter in MIchigan to take to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. They are safe and effective but not an ideal regular form of contraception. EC methods do not cause abortions but they prevent ovulation, fertilization or implantation. If a person is pregnant, EC will not work because it needs to be used before the egg attaches; however there is no increased risk to a fetus from use of EC pills. 

Supplemental resources