Birth Control Methods

dot design for HealthQ sexual health clinic in Haverhill, Beverly, and Lawrence

Which Method is Right For Me?

Let us help you decide. At HealthQ, we will ask what’s important to you and walk you through the options. When choosing a method, you may want to consider how well does it prevent pregnancy? How do I use it? How often do I have to remember it? Are there side effects? What if I decide to get pregnant? Should I use condoms for dual protection against pregnancy and STIs? When deciding a method of birth control, Lawrence and the surrounding Massachusetts area have HealthQ locations to answer these questions.

We Offer the Full Range of FDA-Approved Methods

Use the chart below to learn more about each method—what it is, how well it works, how to use it, pros and cons, and whether it protects against STIs.

Explore Your Birth Control Choices

Method

The Implant
Nexplanon®
null

How well does it work?

> 99%

How to Use

A health care provider places it under the skin of the upper arm.

It must be removed by a health care provider.

Pros

It can be used for up to 5 years.

It often decreases cramps.

After 1 year, you may have no monthly bleeding at all.

It may lower the risk of uterine lining cancer, ovarian cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Cons

May cause spotting.

It may cause mood changes.

Method

Progestin IUD
Liletta®, Mirena®, Skyla®, and others

How well does it work?

> 99%

How to Use

A health care provider places it in the uterus.

It is usually removed by a health care provider.

Pros

It works for 3 to 7 years, depending on which IUD you choose.

It may improve monthly bleeding and cramps.

After 1 year, you may have no monthly bleeding at all.

It may lower the risk of uterine lining cancer, ovarian cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Cons

May cause spotting.

Method

The Shot
Depo-Provera®

How well does it work?

94%

How to Use

Get a shot every 3 months.

You can get the shot at a health care office, or you can give yourself the shot.

Pros

Each shot works for 12 weeks.

It usually decreases monthly bleeding.

After 1 year, you may have no monthly bleeding at all.

It may lower the risk of uterine lining cancer, ovarian cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Cons

It may cause spotting, weight gain, depression, hair or skin changes, or change in sex drive.

It may cause delay in getting pregnant after you stop the shots.

Side effects may last up to 6 months after you stop the shots.

Method

Progestin-Only Pills
Camila, Nor-QD® Micronor

How well does it work?

91%

How to Use

You must take the pill at the same time daily.

Pros

It’s easy to use.

It may lower the risk of uterine lining cancer, ovarian cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Cons

It often causes spotting, which may last for many months.

It may cause depression, hair or skin changes, or change in sex drive.

Method

External Condom

How well does it work?

82%

How to Use

Use a new condom each time you have sex.

Use a polyurethane condom if allergic to latex.

Pros

Can buy at many stores.

Can put on as part of sex play/ foreplay.

Can help prevent early ejaculation.

Can be used for oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Cons

Can decrease sensation.

Can cause loss of erection.

Can break or slip off.

Method

Internal Condom

How well does it work?

79%

How to Use

Use a new condom each time you have sex.

Use lubrication as needed.

Pros

Can put in as part of sex play/ foreplay.

Can be used for anal and vaginal sex.

May increase pleasure when used for anal and vaginal sex.

Good for people with latex allergy.

Cons

Can decrease sensation.

May be noisy.

May be hard to insert.

May slip out of place during sex.

Requires a prescription from your health care provider.

Method

Withdrawal
Pull-out

How well does it work?

78%

How to Use

Pull penis out of vagina before ejaculation (that is, before coming).

Pros

Costs nothing.

Cons

Less pleasure for some.

Does not work if penis is not pulled out in time.

Must interrupt sex.

Method

Diaphragm
Caya® and Milex®

How well does it work?

88%

How to Use

Must be used each time you have sex.

Must be used with spermicide.

Pros

Can last several years.

Costs very little to use.

May protect against some infections, but not HIV.

Cons

Using spermicide may raise the risk of getting HIV.

Should not be used with vaginal bleeding or infection.

Raises risk of bladder infection.

Method

Spermicide
Cream, gel, sponge, foam, inserts, film

How well does it work?

72%

How to Use

Insert spermicide each time you have sex.

Pros

Can buy at many stores.

Can insert as part of sex play/ foreplay.

Comes in many forms: cream, gel, sponge, foam, inserts, film.

Cons

May raise the risk of getting HIV.

May irritate vagina, penis.

Cream, gel, and foam can be messy.

Method

Emergency Contraception Pills
Progestin EC (Plan B One-Step® and others) and ulipristal acetate (ella®)

How well does it work?

58-94% Ulipristal acetate EC works better than progestin EC if you are overweight Ulipristal acetate EC works better than progestin EC in the 2-5 days after sex.

How to Use

Works best the sooner you take it after unprotected sex.

You can take EC up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

If pack contains 2 pills, take both together.

Pros

Available at pharmacies, health centers, or health care providers: call ahead to see if they have it.

People of any age can get progestin EC without a prescription, and it doesn’t interact with testosterone.

Cons

May cause stomach upset or nausea.

Your next monthly bleeding may come early or late.

May cause spotting.

Ulipristal acetate EC requires a prescription, and we don’t know whether or not it interacts with testosterone.

May cost a lot.

Method

The Pill

How well does it work?

91%

How to Use

Must take the pill daily.

Pros

It may improve monthly bleeding and cramps.

Can improve acne.

Helps prevent cancer of the ovaries.

Cons

May cause nausea, weight gain, headaches, change in sex drive.

May cause spotting in the first 1-2 months.

May counter the effects of testosterone.

Method

The Patch
Ortho Evra®

How well does it work?

91%

How to Use

Apply a new patch once a week for three weeks.

No patch on week 4.

Pros

It may improve monthly bleeding and cramps.

No pill to take daily.

Cons

Can irritate the skin under the patch.

May cause spotting in the first 1-2 months.

May counter the effects of testosterone.

Method

The Ring
Nuvaring®

How well does it work?

91%

How to Use

Insert a small ring into the vagina.

Change ring every month.

Pros

One size fits all.

Private.

Does not require spermicide.

It may improve monthly bleeding and cramps.

Cons

Can increase vaginal discharge.

May cause spotting in the first 1-2 months of use.

May counter the effects of testosterone.

Method

Fertility Awareness
Natural Family Planning

How well does it work?

76%

How to Use

Predict fertile days by: taking temperature daily, checking vaginal mucus for changes, and/or keeping a record of your periods.

It works best if you use more than one of these.

Avoid sex or use condoms/spermicide during fertile days.

Pros

Costs little.

Can be used while breastfeeding.

Can help with avoiding or trying to become pregnant.

Cons

Must use another method during fertile days.

Does not work well if your periods are irregular.

Many things to remember with this method.

Does not protect against HIV or other STIs.

No-Scalpel Vasectomy

A no-scalpel vasectomy is an effective and safe form of permanent birth control. This is a simple, outpatient procedure to make a man sterile. After the operation, sperm can no longer mix with semen. No-scalpel vasectomy does not affect sexual function. Intercourse and masturbation should feel the same.

The main difference between no-scalpel and conventional vasectomies, offered by many urologists, is how the physician accesses the vas deferens, the ducts that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, where it mixes with semen.

The no-scalpel vasectomy can be done more quickly than a conventional vasectomy, requires no sutures to close up incisions, involves less pain and bleeding, and is just as effective as a conventional vasectomy.

When considering a procedure like a vasectomy Beverly, Haverhill, and Lawrence‘s HealthQ locations are a leading choice in Massachusetts.

Get Dual Protection

Male and female condoms are the only birth control methods that offer protection against pregnancy and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They prevent semen containing sperm from entering the vagina and protect the user from coming into contact with another person’s body fluids that may contain HIV or sexually transmitted diseases. If you want to use a more effective method of birth control, but still want to protect yourself against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, you may want to consider dual protection by using a condom along with your preferred method of birth control.

At HealthQ, we offer free condoms for your safer sex practice and sexual health.

dot design for our sexual health clinic in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Beverly

Book Your Appointment

Book an appointment online or by phone or text. We do our best to schedule same or next day appointments.

BOOK NOW