A brief history and look at different forms of contraception.


  Method What it looks like How it works Advantages Disadvantages
  Male Condom

Tips & Tricks



Blocks semen from entering the vagina or anus.

How to use

Safe, effective and easy to get

Prevents both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections

Latex free options are available

Decrease spontaneity, and may feel uncomfortable putting on

You have to be sure to use it correctly - every time!

  Female Condom



It is inserted into the vaginal canal prior to penetration.

How to use

Latex free

Can be used in the vagina or anus

The external ring of the condom may provide extra clitoral stimulation,thus enhancing pleasure

Can be difficult to insert, uncomfortable to wear 

More expensive and harder to find than male condoms

May feel uncomfortable interrupting foreplay to put in

  Birth control pills (oral contraceptives)


92%- 99.7%

Take 1 pill per day orally for 3-3.5 weeks. Changes hormone levels in body

How to use

Does not interfere with spontaneity

Increases menstrual regularity

Can provide protection from ovarian cysts, uterine and breast fibroids, specific cancers, and pelvic inflammatory disease

Requires a prescription

No protection from STIs

Potential side effects

Can be expensive

Must remember to take 1 pill per day, every day

  Intrauterine Device (IUD)



Small plastic device is inserted by a physician to bottom of cervix

Two types: Paraguard and Mirena 


How to use

Least expensive method of contraception over time

Do not interfere with spontaneity

Long-lasting contraceptive effects

Mirena IUD reduces or eliminates menstrual flow

Can also be used as emergency contraception

Once removed, fertility is quickly restored

Require moderately painful insertion and removal procedures

May cause irregular bleeding and spotting

Heavier periods if using Paraguard IUD

No protection from STIs

  WithdrawalHow to use


73% - 96%

Involves withdrawing the penis from the vagina or anus before ejaculation

It is an acceptable means for those who use another birth control method or for religious reasons

It is better than nothing

No protection from STIs

Can be difficult and stressful to use

This requires trust from the female partner and control by the male partner

  Three-month Injectable (such as Implanon)



A shot that is injected once every 3 months

How to use

Does not interfere with spontaneity

Reduces menstrual flow

Does not contain estrogen

Moderately expensive

Must schedule office visits once per 3 months to be injected 

Can experience a range of side effects

Bone density loss (but will return after use stops)




92%- 99.7%

Inserted in the vagina once per month; it releases a constant amount of estrogen and progestin

How to use

Does not interfere with spontaneity

Increases menstrual regularity

Easy to use

Has lower levels of hormones than other hormonal methods

May offer protection from pelvic inflammatory disease and specific cancers

Prescription is necessary

No protection from STIs

May cause side effects

There is risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

It may take 1-2 months for a woman's period to return after discontinued use



84% -94% 

Inserted in vagina before intercourse creating a barrier between female reproductive organs and sperm

Should be left in place at least 8 hours after intercourse

How to use

Allows partners to engage in intercourse multiple times using the same method

May reduce risk for cervical dysplasia and cancer

Protects against pregnancy

Does not affect hormone levels

Requires prescription

Does not protect against STIs

May be difficult to insert and may shift during intercourse

Cannot be used during menstruation

  Contraceptive Sponge



Pushed in through vagina to cervix. Blocks entrance to uterus, absorbs sperm, and deactivates sperm 

How to use

Immediately effective

Does not affect hormone levels or spontaneity

Partners can engage in intercourse multiple times during a 24-hour period

Does not require prescription

Does not protect against STIs

Can be found in many pharmacies

May be difficult to insert

Cannot be used during menstruation

May increase risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome



I take birth control pills. What should I do if I miss one?

 For women using 21 or 28-day combination birth control pills. 

Number of pills missed When pills were missed What to do Should I use a back-up method?
First 1-2 Pills Beginning of Pack

Take a pill as soon as you remember.

Take the next pill at usual time.

1-2 Pills Days 3-21

Take the pill as soon as you remember.

Take the next pill at the usual time.

3 or more Pills First 2 weeks

Take the pill as soon as you remember. 

Take the next pill at the usual time. 

3 or more Pills Third week

Do not finish pack. 

Start new pack.

Source: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Drugs and herbs that interact with birth control pills

What to use with condoms

Where can I find birth control on Elon's Campus?

1) The Health Center

For prescription birth control and free condoms

2) SPARKS! Office 

For free condoms (latex, latex-free, vegan), dental dams, Lube, and female condoms

AND you can request these safe sex supplies anonymously here