Preventing an unintended pregnancy

Not ready for a baby? Then make sure you know how to prevent pregnancy. The best way to prevent pregnancy is not to have sex, of course. Choosing abstinence (meaning choosing not to have any kind of sex at all) not only protects you from pregnancy, but also from sexually transmitted infections (STI). If you do make the decision to become sexually active, make sure you know how to reduce your risk of getting an STI and prevent unplanned pregnancy.

While condoms help prevent both STIs and pregnancy, other forms of birth control (also called contraception) only help prevent pregnancy. While you may choose different forms of birth control, remember that condoms are the best form of protecting against STIs as well.

There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don't want to get pregnant, download our birth control method comparison chart to help you make the choice that's best for you. Remember: many options to prevent pregnancy do not protect you against STIs.

Don't believe the hype!

Maybe you've heard some "facts" about pregnancy (and ways to avoid it). Like, a girl can't get pregnant the first time she has sex. Or that you can't get pregnant is you are on your period. Right? Wrong. Learn how to to separate the myths from the facts. A girl can get pregnant even if:

  • she is having a period
  • she does not have an orgasm
  • she does not have vaginal intercourse very often
  • she has vaginal intercourse standing up
  • she urinates right after sex
  • she douches right after sex
  • a man pulls his penis out of her vagina before he ejaculates
  • she jumps up and down after intercourse
  • she hasn't had her first period yet
  • she is under 12 years of age
  • it is her first time
  • the man only touches the outside of her vagina with his penis

Plan B

If you've had sex and didn't use any type of birth control, or if the birth control you used failed, you have the option of emergency contraception up to three days afterwards. Plan B-One Step prevents pregnancy for up to 72 hours (3 days) after having unprotected sex. It is not intended for regular use and does not protect you from STIs or HIV. It can't be used if you are already pregnant. If you are 15 or older, you can purchase Plan B-One Step over the counter at almost all drug stores. You will need to present a government issued photo ID (like a driver's license) as proof of your age.

There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don't want to get pregnant, you can explore the range of contraceptive choices available. You can download our birth control method comparison chart and print out a copy to bring to your healthcare provider, so your provider can help you make the choice that's best for you.

Learn more about . . .

how to use a condomsCondoms

Do you know how to use a condom? Where to store it, how to open it, how to put it on correctly? Are you sure? Check out ASHA's animation to learn about how to use one correctly and read more about condoms on IWK.

healthy relationships your sexual health

What you do now sexually directly affects your sexual health in the future. Learn more about taking care of your sexual health.