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Abstinence
This word means not doing something. It is most commonly used to describe not engaging in sexual behaviors. Each person decides which sexual behaviors they include in their definition of abstinence. A person who practices sexual abstinence may say that they are “abstinent,” and what qualifies as being abstinent from sexual behaviors can vary from person to person.

Barrier method
Contraceptive methods that protect against pregnancy by placing a physical barrier between sperm and egg. This includes condoms, diaphragms, female condoms and the sponge. Some barrier methods protect against the transmission of STDs (condoms) others do not (diaphragm).

Birth Control
A collection of methods that are used to prevent pregnancy. Also known as contraception.

Birth Control Pills
A hormonal method of birth control that prevents ovulation. Also called “the pill” or oral contraceptives, this method is 99-percent effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use, which means when taken every day at about the same time. “The pill” is prescribed by a health care provider and dispensed by a pharmacy. Birth control pills do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Cervical Cap
A small plastic or rubber cup that covers the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Also known as a barrier method of birth control, it must be used with spermicide for maximum effectiveness. It is 80-91-percent effective at preventing pregnancy and is prescribed by a health care provider and dispensed by a pharmacist. It does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Coitus Interruptus
A method of birth control where a guy pulls his penis out of his partner’s vagina before ejaculation. It is not recommended because it is unreliable, but it is better than not using any method at all. This method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. It is also known as pulling out or withdrawal.

Condom
A latex or polyurethane sheath rolled over a male’s penis to prevent semen and pre-cum from entering another person’s body.

Some people use the word “condom” to refer to the female condom, which is a polyurethane pouch that has two flexible rings on either end. One ring is inserted into the vagina and the other ring stays just outside of the vaginal opening.

Contraception
Methods that are used to prevent pregnancy. This is another term for birth control.

Depo-Provera
A hormonal contraceptive method that is injected into a girl’s arm or buttock every 12 weeks by a doctor or clinician. It works by preventing ovulation and by thickening cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering an egg. It is also known as “Depo” or “the shot.”

Diaphragm
A dome-shaped rubber cup used with a spermicidal gel or cream that covers the opening to the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. It is 80-percent effective with typical use and 94-perecnt effective with perfect use at preventing pregnancy. It does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Emergency Contraception
A way to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected vaginal intercourse or intercourse where the method of birth control failed.

Emergency contraception (EC) comes in the form of pills (commonly known as the “morning-after pill,” even though it can be taken it up to five days after). The pills are sold under the name Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice and ella. EC can be up to 75 – 89-percent effective if taken within 72-120 hours and for most brands is more effective the sooner it is taken. ella, however, is fully effective for all 5 days.

Plan B One-Step is available for sale over-the-counter at pharmacies for anyone regardless of age.

Plan B One-Step emergency contraception is not effective at preventing pregnancy in people over 176 pounds. If you weigh over 176 pounds and need emergency contraception, you should speak to a health care provider about possibly using another emergency contraceptive pill or a copper IUD.

Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel are approved for sale without a prescription to those who are 17 and older from a pharmacist. If you are 16 or younger, you will need a prescription for Next Choice, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel. The EC pill ella is only available with a prescription regardless of age. Prices may vary for each of these options depending on the brand, the pharmacy and which state you are in.

Female Condom
A polyurethane pouch that has two flexible rings on either end. One ring is inserted into the vagina and the other ring stays outside the vagina. The rings help to hold the condom in place. Female condoms are 79-percent effective with typical use in preventing pregnancy, and 95-percent effective with perfect use. They also offer protection against some sexually transmitted diseases. They can be purchased without a prescription and, when the inner ring is removed, can be used during anal intercourse as well. Female condoms should not be used at the same time as male condoms.

Lybrel
A birth control pill. Lybrel is different from other birth control pills because women never experience their periods while taking it.

Male condom
A latex or polyurethane sheath rolled over a penis to prevent semen and pre-cum from entering another’s body.

NuvaRing
A form of hormonal birth control. The NuvaRing is a soft, flexible and transparent ring that prevents pregnancy when inserted into the vagina, up near the cervix. It releases a combination of hormones, and is 98-percent effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use. NuvaRing is worn inside the vagina for three weeks and then removed at the beginning of the fourth week, then a new one is inserted a week later. It must be prescribed by a health care provider. It does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Safer Sex
Being responsible about shared sexual behaviors by doing things that reduce your chances of getting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease and/or becoming (or getting a girl) pregnant. Usually, this means educating oneself about STDs and pregnancy, using latex barriers like condoms and dental dams, limiting the number of partners a person has, and getting tested for STDs on a regular basis. Because nothing is 100 percent safe, aside from continuous abstinence, the term is “safer” rather than “safe” sex.

Vasectomy
A surgical contraceptive procedure in which a man’s vas deferens are cut and burned, closed or tied off. It is designed to be a permanent procedure but in some cases and with additional surgery it can be reversed. Vasectomy does not affect a man’s sexual performance. The only difference post-vasectomy is that the semen he ejaculates will no longer contain sperm.

Withdrawal
A behavioral method of birth control that involves pulling a penis out of a vagina before ejaculation so that no sperm gets inside the vagina. Because it can be challenging to stop before ejaculating, and it does not provide any protection against STDs, it is not recommended as a reliable form of birth control. This method is also known as pulling-out or coitus interruptus.

Sterilization
A permanent form of birth control. It is a minor operation that stops the ovum (egg) and sperm from joining. Typically, this method is used by older men and women who have decided they do not want any more children. Female sterilization is also known as tubal ligation or “getting the tubes tied.” Male sterilization is called a vasectomy.