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Contraceptive methods are not one-size-fits-all. Picking a method that fits your life is one of the keys to success. Only you can decide which method is best for you. Sometimes figuring out this information can be overwhelming. For more information about these methods, IUP students may schedule a free contraceptive consultation with the Health AWAREness office.

Remember, abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy. If you choose to be sexually active, you can reduce your risk of unplanned pregnancy by using effective birth control consistently and correctly. Below is a list of contraceptive methods.

Barrier Methods

  • Male condom — keep sperm from getting into a woman’s body. Latex condoms help prevent unplanned pregnancy, HIV, and STI transmission. Natural or lambskin condoms also help prevent unplanned pregnancy, but may not provide protection against HIV and STIs. This method has a typical use failure rate of 18 percent.
  • Female condom — keep sperm from entering inside the female’s body. This method can be inserted into the vagina up to eight hours before intercourse and can help prevent STIs. This method has a typical use failure rate of 28 percent.
  • Diaphragm or cervical cap — are placed inside the vagina, before intercourse, to cover the cervix to block sperm. Both methods come in various sizes and must be fitted by a medical provider. This method has a typical use failure rate of 12 percent. 

Hormonal Methods

  • Implant — is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a women’s upper arm. This rod contains progestin that is released into the body. It can stay in the body for over three years and has a typical use failure rate of 0.05 percent.
  • Injection or “shot” — is an injection of the hormone progestin into the buttocks or arm of a woman. The shot is given every three months from a medical provider and has a typical use failure rate of 6 percent.
  • Combined oral contraceptives or “the pill” — are pills that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. The pill must be prescribed by a doctor and taken at the same time each day. This method as a typical use failure rate of 9 percent.
  • Progestin only pill or “mini-pill” — are pills that only contain progestin. Mini-pills must be prescribed by a medical provider and be taken at the same time each day. This method as a typical use failure rate of 9 percent.
  • Patch — is a skin patch that is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. This method must be prescribed by a medical provider and has a typical use failure rate of 9 percent.
  • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring — is a ring that is placed inside the vagina to release hormones progestin and estrogen. This method has a typical use failure rate of 9 percent. 

Intrauterine Contraception

  • Copper T intrauterine device (IUD) — a small device that is shaped in the form of a "T" that is inserted inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years and has a typical use failure rate of 0.8 percent.
  • Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD) — a small T-shaped device that is placed inside of the uterus. It releases a small about of progestin each day to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to five years and has a typical use failure rate of 0.2 percent. 

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods 

Having an understanding of your monthly fertility pattern can help prevent unplanned pregnancy. Your fertility pattern is the number of days in the month when you are fertile. It also helps to track the days when you are infertile and when fertility is unlikely. If you do not want to get pregnant, you do not engage in sexual activity on the days you are fertile, or use an alternative method of birth control, such as a condom. This method has a typical use failure rate of 24 percent. 

The fertility method does not protect you from STIs unless you are using an alternative method of birth control, such as a male condom. In this case, your risk of contracting an STI may decrease. 

Contraceptive Sterilization 

Contraceptive sterilization is a permanent, safe, and effective approach to birth control if you do not desire a pregnancy in the future. Sterilization methods have a typical use failure rate of less than 1 percent. Below are list of sterilization methods. For more information on these methods, please consult your medical provider. 

  • Female sterilization — tubal ligation or “tying tubes” — fallopian tubes are tied so that sperm and eggs cannot meet for fertilization.
  • Transcervical sterilization — with the assistance of a medical device, scar tissue grows in the fallopian tube to permanently plug the tubes.
  • Male sterilization — vasectomy — keeps a man’s sperm from going to his penis so his ejaculate never has sperm that can fertilize an egg. 

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is not a regular birth control method. It can be used within 120 hours of an episode of unprotected intercourse, including after no birth control was used during consensual sex, if the birth control method failed (i.e., condom broke), or in cases of rape and sexual assault. There are two emergency contraceptive methods:

  • Women can have the Copper T IUD inserted within five days of unprotected sex.
  • Women can take emergency contraceptive pills up to five days after unprotected sex, but the sooner the pills are taken, the better they will work.

One of the most widely used methods of emergency contraceptive is Plan B. This emergency contraception pill is a progestin birth control pill containing Levonorgestrel in a special dosage designated for use as emergency contraception. Plan B works by (1) preventing ovulation; (2) temporarily altering the uterine lining; (3) reducing the changes of fertilization in the fallopian tube. Emergency contraceptive pills are not Mifepristone (often referred to as the “abortion pill”).

Contraception at IUP Health Service

IUP Health Service offers several contraceptive and sexual health services, including:

  • Emergency contraceptive services ($25)
  • Condoms at the medical records office (currently no cost)
  • Routine contraceptive care by appointment with a Women’s Health nurse practitioner
  • Screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STD). A $15 charge covers this lab work. An appointment is needed for this testing.
  • Annual pap tests and breast exams for women (lab work is sent off campus and is not included in the health fee). An appointment is needed with a Women’s Health nurse practitioner for this service.
  • The Gardasil vaccine for HPV. There is a $140 charge to the student’s account. Paperwork is provided to submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement. If you have already had the vaccine, you must provide information about the date(s) and location it was given.
  • If students wish to have their “depo” injections at the Health Service, they need to either have the prescription from their personal gynecologist or make an appointment with a Women’s Health CRNP to get a prescription. The nursing staff can perform the injection. Call ahead to discuss how to receive the depoprovera injection at the Health Service.

Visit the Women’s Health webpage for more information about these services.

Want to Learn More about Contraception?

Request a free contraceptive consultation!

If you have questions about contraception, you can meet with a member of the Health AWAREness staff to discuss your options. We will provide you with information, answer your questions, and help you find local resources to meet your health needs. Consultations are at no cost to you.

Visit the Contraceptive Consultation Request Form page to request an appointment.

Sources: Love Is RespectPlanned Parenthood, Women's Health, CDC, MayoClinic

Disclaimer: This site is a resource for IUP students. It is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. IUP Health Service staff members are available to treat and give medical advice to IUP students. Visit the IUP Health Service website for more information. 

For more information, visit our resource library.

  • Health AWAREness
  • Suites on Maple East
    Suite G-59
    901 Maple Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-4799
  • Fax: 724-357-4457
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.