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ABSTINENCE
How it works: No sexual intercourse.
Effectiveness: Almost 100%
Average cost: Free
Advantages: Almost 100% effective. It is possible to get pregnant without having sexual intercourse if there is ejaculation near the vagina. There is protection against STDs if there is no sexual contact at all. You can get STDs with vaginal intercourse. Herpes can be contracted through oral sex. Genital warts is possible. Free. No prescription is needed
Disadvantages: It can be difficult to resist peer pressure, partner pressure or your own sexual feelings.
How to use it: Refrain from having sexual intercourse.


MALE CONDOM
How it works: It prevents sperm from reaching the cervix.
Effectiveness: 80-90%
Average cost: $1.00 - $3.50
Advantages: No prescription is needed. Protects against sexually transmitted diseases. Safe. Fertility returns upon discontinued use.
Disadvantages: It can break. Need to plan ahead. Woman may be allergic to spermacidal or latex. Can be used only once. Must be used each time. May interfere with spontaneity. Animal membrane condoms don't protect against HIV.
How to use it: Unroll the condom over an erect penis allowing a pocket at the end to collect sperm.


FEMALE CONDOM
How it works: It prevents sperm from reaching the cervix. It lines
the inside of the vagina and covers the cervix like an inverted male condom.
Effectiveness: 75-85%
Average cost: $1.50 - $4.00
Advantages: It protects against some sexually transmitted diseases. No prescription needed. Fertility returns immediately upon discontinued use. Can be inserted up to eight hours before love-making. Medically safe. Allows women to control use.
Disadvantages: Decreased vaginal sensation. Need to plan ahead. Protrudes outside the vagina which may be distasteful to some couples. May be difficult to insert. Cost more than male condoms.
How to use it: Place sheath into the vagina prior to intercourse. You must be sure it is properly in place. See additional information for proper placement.


THE PILL
How it works: Man-made hormones mimic the ones your body naturally produces monthly so your body thinks you are already pregnant.
Effectiveness: 99%
Average Cost: $25-45 (per month)
Advantage: It reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts. It may also decrease PMS, acne, bleeding, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and breast tenderness. Periods become more regular and it can be used by women over age 40. It does not interfere with lovemaking.
Disadvantages: It does not protect against STDs and must be taken daily. Cannot be used by those with a history of breast cancer, blood clots or at risk to develop blood clots, liver disease, kidney disease,
unexplained uterine bleeding, smokers over age 35, melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and those on certain medications. It also should not be used by those with light periods, high blood pressure, diabetes, migraine headaches, depression, sickle cell disease, fibroids.
How to use it: A prescription hormone pill is taken at the same time daily for 21 days after which no pill or a sugar pill is taken for 7 days to complete a 28 day cycle.


DIAPHRAGM
How it works: A soft, rubber dome forms a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the cervix. A spermicidal gel which is used with it kills or immobilizes sperm.
Effectiveness: 85%
Average Cost: $20-45 (excluding cost of gel)
Advantages: It is safe and fertility returns immediately with discontinued use. Can be inserted two to three hours before having sex. It may reduce the risk of cervical cancer and has some STD protection.
Disadvantages: It needs a prescription and must be fitted by a health care professional. It must be left in place for six to eight hours
after intercourse and must be used each time. It may become dislodged and some women may be allergic to spermicides. Should not be used by women with a history of toxic shock or frequent bladder infections.
How to use it: Apply spermicide inside and around the rim of the diaphragm and then place it deep inside the vagina, covering the cervix.


There are other types of contraception but the ones mentioned above are most commonly used. It is important to use contraception every time you have sex unless you are planning a family. If you and your partner have not been tested for STDs, it is important to use a condom for protection.