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Birth Control Options

Hormonal methods

Birth control pill (taken every day)

  • Must take at the same time every day
  • Hormones stop ovulation (monthly egg release)
  • Changes cervical mucous, making it difficult for sperm to get into the uterus
  • Can regulate period, reduce bleeding and cramping
  • When used properly, it's over 99 per cent effective

The patch (applied once a week)

  • Patch placed on the buttocks, upper outer arms, lower stomach, or upper body (not breasts)
  • Applied once a week for three weeks, then removed for one week (patch-free week)
  • Hormones are released into the skin, and it works like the pill
  • 99 per cent effective

NuvaRing (used once a month)

  • Flexible plastic ring is inserted into the vagina (by you) for three weeks, and then removed for one week (one ring-free week)
  • Hormones are released from the ring into the walls of the vagina
  • Works to prevent pregnancy like the pill and the patch
  • 99 per cent effective

Depo-Provera (shot given every three months)

  • Hormone injection given by a health professional in the arm or buttocks
  • Stops the ovaries from releasing an egg and thins the lining of the uterus
  • 99.7 per cent effective

Intrauterine system (inserted every three to five years)

  • T-shaped device inserted into the uterus by a health professional at an office appointment
  • Contains the hormone progestin, which thins the lining of the uterus and thickens cervical mucous
  • Can reduce bleeding and cramping
  • 99.9 per cent effective

Non-hormonal methods

Intrauterine device (inserted every three, five or 10 years depending on type)

  • T-shaped piece of plastic and copper inserted into the uterus by a health professional at an office appointment
  • The copper changes the chemistry of the uterus and stops sperm from fertilizing the egg
  • 99 per cent effective

Male / external condom

  • Fits over the penis
  • Prevents sperm from entering the vagina
  • Comes in different sizes, colours, flavours and styles
  • Free at any Public Health location
  • Protects against some sexually transmitted infections
  • When used properly, they are 97 per cent effective

Female / insertive condom

  • Inserted into the vagina by you
  • Lines the inside of the vagina and covers the woman's genitals
  • Free at any Public Health location
  • Protects against some sexually transmitted infections
  • When used properly, they are 95 per cent effective

Morning After Pill - Plan B

  • Delays or prevents ovulation
  • Use within five days of unprotected sex. The sooner you use it, the better it works.
  • Available at walk-in clinics, Sexual Health Centres or pharmacies
  • No prescription needed
  • When used in the first 48 hours after unprotected sex, it's 85 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy
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