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Birth Control Summary

Male Condom, Latex/Polyurethane

FDA Approval Date: Latex: Use started before premarket approval was required. Polyurethane: cleared in 1989; available starting 1995.
Description: A sheath placed over the erect penis blocking the passage of sperm.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 11 (a, b)
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions (less likely with polyurethane)
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Except for abstinence, latex condoms are the best protection against STDs, including herpes and AIDS.
Convenience: Applied immediately before intercourse; used only once and discarded. Polyurethane condoms are available for those with latex sensitivity.
Availability: Nonprescription

Female Condom

FDA Approval Date: 1993
Description: A lubricated polyurethane sheath shaped similarly to the male condom. The closed end has a flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 21
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): May give some STD protection; not as effective as latex condom
Convenience: Applied immediately before intercourse; used only once and discarded.
Availability: Nonprescription

Diaphragm with Spermicide

FDA Approval Date: Use started before premarket approval was required.
Description: A dome-shaped rubber disk with a flexible rim that covers the cervix so that sperm cannot reach the uterus. A spermicide is applied to the diaphragm before insertion.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 17 (b, d, e)
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions, urinary tract infection. (c) Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but serious infection, when kept in place longer than recommended.
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Inserted before intercourse and left in place at least six hours after; can be left in place for 24 hours, with additional spermicide for repeated intercourse.
Availability: Prescription

Cervical Cap with Spermicide

FDA Approval Date: 1988
Description: A soft rubber cup with a round rim, which fits snugly around the cervix.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 17 (b, d, e)
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions, abnormal Pap test. (c) Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but serious infection, when kept in place longer than recommended.
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: May be difficult to insert; can remain in place for 48 hours without reapplying spermicide for repeated intercourse.
Availability: Prescription

Sponge with Spermicide

FDA Approval Date: 1983 (Not currently marketed)
Description: A disk-shaped polyurethane device containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 14-28 (d, e)
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions, difficulty in removal. (c) Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but serious infection, when kept in place longer than recommended.
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Inserted before intercourse and protects for repeated acts of intercourse for 24 hours without additional spermicide; must be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse; must be removed within 30 hours of insertion. Is discarded after use.
Availability: Nonprescription; not currently marketed

Spermicide Alone

FDA Approval Date: Use started before premarket approval was required. Starting November 2002, only one active ingredient will be allowed.
Description: A foam, cream, jelly, film, suppository, or tablet that contains nonoxynol-9, a sperm-killing chemical
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 20-50 (studies have shown varying Failure Rates)
Some Risks: (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irritation and allergic reactions, urinary tract infections (c)
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Instructions vary; check labeling. Inserted between 5 and 90 minutes before intercourse and usually left in place at least six to eight hours after.
Availability: Nonprescription

Oral Contraceptives--combined pill

FDA Approval Date: First in 1960; most recent in 2000
Description: A pill that suppresses ovulation by the combined actions of the hormones estrogen and progestin.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Dizziness; nausea; changes in menstruation, mood, and weight; rarely, cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, and strokes
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None, except some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease
Convenience: Must be taken on daily schedule, regardless of frequency of intercourse.
Availability: Prescription

Oral Contraceptives--progestin-only minipill

FDA Approval Date: 1973
Description: A pill containing only the hormone progestin that reduces and thickens cervical mucus to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 2
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, less protection against ectopic pregnancy
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Must be taken on daily schedule, regardless of frequency of intercourse.
Availability: Prescription

Patch (Ortho Evra)

FDA Approval Date: 2001
Description: Skin patch worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body that releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 1 (Appears to be less effective in women weighing more than 198 pounds.)
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Similar to oral contraceptives--combined pill
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: New patch is applied once a week for three weeks. Patch is not worn during the fourth week, and woman has a menstrual period.
Availability: Prescription

Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (NuvaRing)

FDA Approval Date: 2001
Description: A flexible ring about 2 inches in diameter that is inserted into the vagina and releases the hormones progestin and estrogen.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Vaginal discharge, vaginitis, irritation. Similar to oral contraceptives--combined pill
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Inserted by the woman; remains in the vagina for 3 weeks, then is removed for 1 week. If ring is expelled and remains out for more than 3 hours, another birth control method must be used until ring has been used continuously for 7 days.
Availability: Prescription

Post-Coital Contraceptives (Preven and Plan B)

FDA Approval Date: 1998-1999
Description: Pills containing either progestin alone or progestin plus estrogen
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): Almost 80 percent reduction in risk of pregnancy for a single act of unprotected sex
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected intercourse.
Availability: Prescription

Injection (Depo-Provera)

FDA Approval Date: 1992
Description: An injectable progestin that inhibits ovulation, prevents sperm from reaching the egg, and prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: One injection every three months.
Availability: Prescription

Injection (Lunelle)

FDA Approval Date: 2000
Description: An injectable form of progestin and estrogen
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Changes in menstrual cycle, weight gain. Similar to oral contraceptives--combined.
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Injection given once a month.
Availability: Prescription

Implant (Norplant)

FDA Approval Date: 1990
Description: Six matchstick-sized rubber rods that are surgically implanted under the skin of the upper arm, where they steadily release the contraceptive steroid levonorgestrel.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Irregular bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches, difficulty in removal
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Implanted by health-care provider in minor outpatient surgical procedure; effective for up to five years.
Availability: Prescription. In July 2002, Norplant's manufacturer announced that it will no longer distribute the Norplant system. Women using the system should contact their doctors about what their contraceptive options will be after the five-year expiration date of their Norplant systems.

IUD (Intrauterine Device)

FDA Approval Date: 1976 (f)
Description: A T-shaped device inserted into the uterus by a health professional.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Cramps, bleeding, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, perforation of uterus
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: After insertion by physician, can remain in place for up to one or 10 years, depending on type.
Availability: Prescription

Periodic Abstinence

FDA Approval Date: N/A
Description: To deliberately refrain from having sexual intercourse during times when pregnancy is more likely.
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): 20
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): None
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: Requires frequent monitoring of body functions (for example, body temperature for one method).
Availability: Instructions from health-care provider

Surgical Sterilization--female

FDA Approval Date: N/A
Description: The woman's fallopian tubes are blocked so the egg and sperm can't meet in the fallopian tube, preventing conception. (g)
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Pain, bleeding, infection, other post-surgical complications
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: One-time surgical procedure.
Availability: Surgery

Surgical Sterilization--male

FDA Approval Date: N/A
Description: Sealing, tying, or cutting a man's vas deferens so that the sperm can't travel from the testicles to the penis. (g)
Failure Rate (number of pregnancies expected per 100 women per year): less than 1
Some Risks (serious medical risks from contraceptives are rare): Pain, bleeding, infection, other minor postsurgical complications
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): None
Convenience: One-time surgical procedure.
Availability: Surgery
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(a) Projected from six-month study and adjusted for use of emergency contraception.

(b) If spermicides are used with barrier methods, be sure that the spermicide is compatible with the condom or diaphragm (won't cause it to weaken or break). Oil-based lubricants (such as petroleum jelly or baby oil) will cause latex to weaken and should not be used with these methods.

(c) Spermicides should not be used during pregnancy.

(d) Medications for vaginal yeast infections may decrease effectiveness of spermicides.

(e) Less effective for women who have had a baby because the birth process stretches the vagina and cervix, making it more difficult to achieve a proper fit.

(f) First approval date of currently marketed IUDs. Some IUDs were sold before premarket approval was required. Those products are no longer on the market.

(g) A contraceptive option for people who don't want children. Considered permanent because reversal is typically unsuccessful.

For more resources, go to www.ChoiceLinkup.com.

 
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