Utah State University Logo

Student Health Services

Birth Control Options

Barrier Methods


Placed over the man's erect penis, condoms prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from reaching the womb. When used correctly, latex condoms also can help prevent the spread of chlamydia and sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, genital herpes, and genital warts. Available at pharmacies without a prescription.


Inserted into the woman's vagina, diaphragms cover the cervix and prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from reaching the womb. Diaphragms should be used in conjunction with spermicidal jellies or creams for maximum effectiveness. Must be prescribed and fitted by a health care practitioner.

Cervical Cap

Like diaphragms, cervical caps are inserted into the woman's vagina to cover the cervix and prevent sperm from gaining access to the uterus: Cervical caps should also be used with spermicidal jellies or creams.


Is a contraceptive substance that eradicates sperm, inserted vaginally prior to intercourse to prevent pregnancy. As a contraceptive, spermicide may be used alone. However, the pregnancy rate experienced by couples using only spermicide is higher than that of couples using other methods. Usually, spermicides are combined with contraceptive barrier methods such as diaphragms, condoms, cervical caps, and sponges. Combined methods are believed to result in lower pregnancy rates than either method alone.


Hormone Methods


The birth control shot, administered every 3 months, contains a hormone that prevents pregnancy.


Implants are flexible, match-sized sticks placed under the skin on the inside of a woman's upper arm. They contain a hormone that prevents pregnancy for about 5 years.


Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent pregnancy. Today's pills are safe and effective for most women if taken as prescribed.

Other Methods

IUDs (intrauterine devices)

An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic piece, which contains either copper or a hormone that prevents pregnancy. A doctor or nurse places it into the uterus.

Periodic Abstinence (Rhythm Method)

Periodic abstinence methods consist of avoiding sex during the woman's fertile period. This is accomplished by using the calendar, basal body temperature, or cervical mucous methods.


Either a woman or a man may undergo sterilization. For a woman, this involves surgery to seal off the fallopian tubes (tubal ligation). In male sterilization, or vasectomy, the tubes that carry sperm are sealed, tied, or cut.