What is birth control? Birth control is something that a person uses to prevent pregnancy when they want to have sex with a partner in which a sperm and an egg could meet up.
How many different kinds of birth control are there?
Currently, there are numerous different birth control options available in Canada. There are three main categories of birth control:
- Hormonal: A hormonal method is a method like the pill, patch, ring or birth control shot that contains synthetic hormones (similar to what is already produced by the ovaries) to prevent an egg from being released(ovulation), thicken cervical mucus, and thin the lining of the uterus. Hormonal methods are always prescribed and monitored by a Dr. or a nurse because not every female is able to use them safely.
- Barrier: A barrier method is anything that blocks the sperm from travelling through the uterus to meet up with the egg. Condoms (external/male and internal/female), cervical caps, spermicide, and the sponge are all barrier methods. Condoms are the most effective type of barrier method and they are also they easiest to find. They also help to reduce the risk of STIs.
- Other: The other group of birth control includes IUDs, abstinence, natural family planning, and permanent methods such as vasectomy and tubal ligation which use different methods of preventing pregnancy. The most commonly used methods of these are Abstinence and IUDs.
Do you have to be a certain age to get birth control? Do I need my parent’s permission?
You do not need to be a certain age to get birth control and you do not need parental permission in BC. We always recommend having an adult you can talk to for support and guidance as they can be helpful in decision making.
Do all birth control methods help to prevent pregnancy and STIs?
No. When birth control methods are used correctly, they can be very effective in the preventing pregnancy. However, other than abstinence (not having sex) condoms are the only method that will also help to reduce the risk of STIs. Condoms can be used with any method of birth control except other condoms – the friction between the two condoms will cause them to become weaker and break!
Where do you get birth control?
Hormonal Methods are all prescribed by a Dr or nurse so you must get a prescription for them at clinics or doctor’s offices. You then take the prescription to the pharmacy to have it filled. Some clinics likes Island Sexual Health can sell them to you right at the clinic.
Condoms are free at lots of health clinics, youth clinics, and school counselling offices. You can also buy them at drug stores, gas stations, and some grocery stores. You can buy them at any age. IUDs are prescribed and inserted by a Dr so you must attend a doctor’s appointment to access.
How much does birth control cost?
The cost of birth control depends on the method you’re using and where you get it. It is often cheaper at Island Sexual Health and other community clinics than at other places. Sometimes if your parent/guardian has extended medical coverage it can be provided free. Don’t ever let the cost of birth control prevent you from using it! There are ways to get it for lower cost or even free.