Alright, you’re ready to have sex, but you don’t want to get pregnant. What shall you do? This guide was mostly made for vagina-having individuals, but it’s great information for everyone! We recommend that you discuss these options with your doctor, to find the one that suits you the best.
Also, it’s important to note that we’re talking about pregnancy prevention, not sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention—to avoid contracting an STI, always wear a condom, and follow other safe-sex practices. To learn more about safe sex, check out optionsforsexualhealth.org or visit your doctor. We organized these (roughly) in order of effectiveness and didn’t include abstinence—we’re assuming if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t interested in that one.
Small T-shaped devices inserted by a healthcare provider into the uterus. It’s not a comfortable insertion procedure, but it can prevent pregnancy for 3-10 years, depending on the type. Also, it requires almost no maintenance—just check it’s in the right place every once in a while.
A form of permanent birth control. Tubal ligation, commonly known as “having your tubes tied” is one procedure, and a vasectomy, the cutting the supply of sperm to your semen, is another. Both are considered permanent options. You should only get sterilized if you are confident you don’t want to have children or if it’s the best option for your health.
Is a form of injectable birth control that needs to be administered every three months by a health care practitioner. If you aren’t afraid of needles and don’t want to deal with your birth control too often, it might be a great option for you.
Come in many, many brands and types. They contain hormones, and are fairly accessible in BC, though they do require a conversation with a healthcare provider and a prescription. You take one pill each day, and the packs come in a 28-day cycle. You must follow the directions properly to ensure that they’re as effective as possible.
Is a clear, thin, flexible plastic ring that you place internally for your entire cycle. It’s a bit hard to figure out the first time, but once you figure it out, it’s pretty nifty, and you barely notice it. That said, twist funny and it (very rarely) might fall out—you’ll notice, I promise, and you can just put it back after a quick rinse.
Is a weekly skin application that you apply on clean dry skin. It’s changed every week, and you can take a break anytime after three consecutive patches. They don’t come in a diverse range of colours, so they’re not always subtle, but you can wear them almost anywhere—butt, thigh, belly, etc. They have both estrogen and progestin in them.
There are a wide range of products that fall into this category. Most people are familiar with condoms (there are internal and external varieties) but there are also diaphragms, cervical caps, and contraceptive sponges. Some of these products are hard to find in Canada. The aim of all of these products is the same: block sperm from getting to the egg. If you plan to use one of these methods, it’s suggested to combine it with another method, or to also use spermicide, a gel that helps kill sperm before they reach the uterus.
Contraceptive Sponge (24-hour Use) 88% Effective, $25
Diaphragm (multi-use) 88% Effective, $50
External Condom (single use) 87% Effective, $0.50
Internal Condom (single use) 79% Effective, $3
Cervical Cap (multi use) 71% Effective, $35
Fertility Awareness (FAM)
Also called natural family planning. This is one of the least effective methods of birth control (but probably more effective than you might think). It’s always recommended to combine family planning with another method of birth control. FAM works by predicting fertile and infertile times in your cycle and requires commitment from both partners. Some people may find they’re more interested in sexual activity when ovulating (the time when you really shouldn’t have sex) so it can be a real challenge.
There are also emergency contraceptive options. We won’t go into details, but in order of effectiveness, you can use: Copper IUD, Ullipristal (ella), Levonogestral (Plan B, Contingency 1, etc), and Yuzpe Regimen (Alesse, Min-ovral, etc).