Use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are a reliable and effective method of birth control when used correctly.
Use a hormonal method of birth control, such as the pill, patch, or shot. These methods work by releasing hormones that prevent ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovaries.
Consider using a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC), such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant. These methods are highly effective and can be used for several years at a time.
Use the withdrawal method (also known as the “pull-out” method) with caution. This method is not very reliable and can be difficult to use consistently and correctly.
Consider sterilization, a permanent form of birth control, if you are sure you do not want to have any more children.
Use a fertility awareness method to track your menstrual cycle and identify when you are most likely to get pregnant. This can help you avoid having sex or use another method of birth control during your most fertile days.
Keep emergency contraception (the “morning-after pill”) on hand in case of condom failure or unprotected sex.
Don’t rely on birth control methods that are not backed by scientific evidence, such as the rhythm method or douching.
Get to know your body and how it works. Understanding your menstrual cycle can help you identify when you are most at risk of getting pregnant.
Communicate openly with your partner about birth control and use a method that works for both of you.
Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly and practice safe sex to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs.
Use birth control consistently and correctly, following the instructions for your chosen method.
Consider using more than one method of birth control to increase effectiveness.
Keep your birth control prescriptions refilled and store them in a safe place.
Don’t use expired or damaged condoms.
Don’t use oil-based lubricants with latex condoms, as they can cause the condom to break.
Don’t rely on birth control methods that you have to remember to use, such as the pill, if you have trouble remembering to take it every day.
Don’t have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as this can impair your judgment and increase the risk of unintended pregnancy.
Don’t rely on the “safe” days of your menstrual cycle to avoid pregnancy, as this method is not reliable.
Don’t have sex if you or your partner is not ready for the potential consequences, including the possibility of unintended pregnancy.