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Birth Control: When To See A Doctor

Find answers to commonly asked questions about Birth Control.

What is Birth Control?

Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. If you have sex without birth control, there is a chance that you could get pregnant. This is true even if you have not started having periods yet or you are getting close to menopause.


The only sure way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. But finding a good method of birth control you can use every time can help you avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Birth Control Facts – 

There are many different kinds of birth control. Each has pros and cons. Learning about all the methods will help you find one that is right for you.

  • Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). "Long-acting" means that it will prevent pregnancy for years. "Reversible" means that you can have it removed if you want to get pregnant later. Some LARC options use hormones. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a type of LARC that are placed in the uterus by a doctor. There are two main types of IUDs: the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD.

  • Hormonal methods include birth control pills, shots, the skin patch, and the vaginal ring. Birth control that uses hormones is very good at preventing pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs also use hormones to prevent pregnancy.

  • Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, and sponges. In general, these do not prevent pregnancy as well as IUDs or hormonal methods do. Barrier methods must be used every time you have sex.  Buying the necessary spermicidal jelly to use with the diaphragm is difficult.

  • Natural family planning (also called fertility awareness) can work if you and your partner are very careful. You will need to keep good records so you know when you are fertile. And during times when you are fertile, you will need to skip sex or use a barrier method.

  • Permanent birth control (sterilization) gives you lasting protection against pregnancy. A man can have a vasectomy, or a woman can have her tubes tied (tubal ligation). But this is only a good choice if you are sure that you don't want any (or any more) children.

  • Emergency contraception is a backup method to prevent pregnancy if you didn't use birth control or a condom breaks.


For hormonal or barrier methods to work best, you have to use them exactly the way your doctor or the package instructions say. Even then, accidents can happen. So it is a good idea to keep emergency birth control on hand as backup protection. You can buy "morning-after pills," such as Plan B, in most drugstores without a prescription.

Doctor Matters recommends HERS for Birth Control:

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