Birth Control Options Available to You

Now that the Supreme Court has removed women’s constitutional right to abortion, having access to other methods of birth control is more essential than ever.

Thankfully, individuals and couples who want to plan their families and take control of their reproductive health have many options available when it comes to contraception, each with its own advantages and considerations.

Your Options

According to Planned Parenthood, there are 18 unique options for preventing pregnancy. Most are for women but there are a few for men, and they include everything from abstinence to surgery. You should choose the best one for you based on effectiveness, frequency, cost, and whether you need your health care provider to prescribe it.

Barrier Methods

These include male and female condoms, cervical caps, contraceptive sponges, and diaphragms.

  • Condoms — Male condoms are usually made of latex and go over the penis. They capture the man’s ejaculation making them 87% effective. They also protect against sexually transmitted infections. Female condoms cover the inside of the vagina and work the same way as a male condom. They are 79% effective. That increases when used with other forms of birth control. Use a new condom every time you have sex.  
  • Cervical cap — It must be inserted deep into the vagina to cover the cervix, blocking access to the egg. It is up to 86% effective when used with spermicide. You need a prescription, and they can cost up to $90. Use a new one each time.
  • Diaphragm — You can use your diaphragm multiple times as long as you take care of it, and there are no holes or tears. It must be used with spermicide. Apply the spermicide no more than two hours before sex. You can keep your diaphragm in for up to six hours. Just add more spermicide. You need a prescription. They are 83% effective.
  • Sponge — It fits against the cervix to block sperms’ access to the egg. It also has spermicide. Spongesare between 78% and 86% effective. Put one in each time before sex.

Short-acting Hormonal Methods

These include birth control pills, patches, injections, and the vaginal ring. People who can become pregnant have to use these daily, monthly, or every three months.

  • The pill — There are two kinds: combination pills that have estrogen and progestin; and progestin-only pills. The combination pills are the most common. Taken daily, they prevent ovulation so there is no egg to fertilize. It does NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and you will need a prescription.
  • The patch — It sends estrogen and progestin through the skin to stop ovulation when used on schedule. It must be changed weekly on the same day to be up to 93% effective. You need a prescription.
  • The ring — There are two brands but they essentially work the same way: put them inside the vagina and remove them monthly. One brand you replace monthly, the other you reinsert each month for up to a year. Both require a prescription. When used properly they are up to 93% effective.
  • The shot — It’s an injection of Depo-Provera taken every three months. It is 96% effective if taken on time, and contains progestin and prevents ovulation.

Long-lasting Hormone Devices

There are some longer-term options that still leave the door open for children but require less calendar watching. These birth control methods for people who can become pregnant include intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants.

  • The implant — You have it inserted in your arm and it releases hormones that stop you from ovulating. It’s about the size of a matchstick and you don’t have to think about it for five years. You can have your doctor remove it if you decide you want to get pregnant. It is 99% effective.
  • The IUD — That stands for intrauterine device. There are two types: copper and hormonal. The IUD goes into the uterus and stops sperm from going past either with hormones or copper. Copper IUDs are sometimes used as an alternative to the morning-after pill. IUDs are effective birth control for eight to 12 years.

Other Methods

Let’s start with the extreme methods of sterilization. There is tubal ligation for women and a vasectomy for men. Women have their fallopian tubes cut to prevent eggs from traveling to the uterus. Men have their vas deferens cut, preventing sperm from entering their semen so there will be no sperm when they ejaculate during intercourse.

The fertility awareness method is a way to track signs of fertility. You can combine several methods like tracking your temperature, checking your vaginal discharge, and charting your menstrual cycle to determine when you’re ovulating and avoid sexual intercourse during those times.

Some couples practice withdrawing, where the man pulls out of the woman’s vagina before ejaculating. This is only 78% effective as there can still be sperm that slips in right before ejaculation. It is most effective when combined with another form of birth control.

Mothers have used breastfeeding as an extremely effective form of birth control, but it has to be done perfectly to work. The newborn must be fed every four hours during the day and every six hours at night. Following this schedule keeps mom from ovulating – and she can’t get pregnant if she’s not ovulating. This method, called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is 98% effective up to six months after the baby is born.

Finally, there is abstinence. No one can get pregnant if they’re not having sexual intercourse. They could be participating in other forms of sexual activity, but abstaining from intercourse is 100% effective.

Questions and support

AltaMed can answer your questions about birth control, offer counseling, provide pregnancy testing, information on safe sex, STIs and HIV tests and treatment, pap and HPV tests, or anything related to your sexual or reproductive health. We can also connect you with community resources.

Call (888) 499-9303 for more information or to make an appointment.

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Our Unwavering Commitment to Women’s Health Care

After the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established the constitutional right to have an abortion, reproductive freedoms in the United States are now under attack. Since the reversal on June 24, 17 states have banned abortion entirely, while a further seven intend to enact a ban. In Texas, a trigger law will allow abortion providers to be sued for “no less” than $100,000.

In California, along with 21 other often liberal-leaning states, abortion rights remain protected for now. As a response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order prohibiting patient data from being shared with out-of-state entities seeking to prevent or punish abortions. In November, California voters will have the chance to add abortion as a state constitutional right, ensuring the procedure remains legal. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to vote this year.

AltaMed believes all women deserve the right to safe and equitable health care of their choosing. We remain committed to delivering the very best access to reproductive resources and information. Here’s what’s available for you.

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Family Planning

Family planning services are essential to the health of women, and their children. AltaMed offers birth control, pregnancy testing, and referrals to a fertility specialist, so you can determine if and when you want to start a family. Contraceptive services extend to teens and young adults, and are always confidential.

If you do choose to become a parent, we’re here for you with prenatal care and pediatric services. For over 50 years, we’ve helped families grow healthy.

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Health Education

When it comes to women’s health, access to easy information makes a huge difference. Knowing where to begin can be challenging. AltaMed offers resources on a variety of important health topics, so you can stay informed about your unique health needs.

Learn about:

We also offer community health classes. These lessons cover general health topics including stress management, healthy living for seniors, and more.

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Essential Screenings

As we age, our health needs change and become more complex. Staying current with recommended screenings is an important part of your overall well-being.

Health experts recommend scheduling routine well-woman exams as you reach certain milestones:

  • Age 13-15: Girls have their first Gynecologist appointment
  • Age 21: Women should begin getting Pap tests no less than every three years
  • Age 30: Women should receive HPV-testing Pap Smears once every five years
  • Age 50: Women should have a mammogram every two years (Age 40 for those with a family history of breast cancer)

Early detection of serious diseases is vital. An estimated 12% of women, for example, will develop breast cancer in their lives. Luckily, the 5-year survival rate is 99% when detected early. If you or a loved one has been delaying routine checkups because of the pandemic, now is the time to makean appointment.

Our Commitment to You

Despite a time of serious upheaval around our country, AltaMed remains committed to empowering women on their terms. No matter your health needs, you can find easy, culturally sensitive care close to home. Interested in becoming a patient? Call (888) 499-9303 or click here to get started.


Health Care Services for Every Woman

Women’s health care matters. Whether you hope to one day start a family, or plan on being child-free for life, your reproductive well-being is vital to your overall health.

AltaMed understands this and provides a host of essential services and materials for you, regardless of your age, your stage in life, or your desire to be a parent. These resources are available in-person or online via telehealth appointments.

Reproductive Health Care

Your reproductive system is complex, and its health will impact the rest of your body. Unfortunately, reproductive disorders affect millions of Americans every year. Women bear the greatest burden during pregnancy, so the risk to their reproductive health is higher, particularly when there’s another body growing inside them.

Anyone with female reproductive organs should seriously consider getting cervical cancer screenings sometimes called Pap tests or Pap smears. These tests screen for abnormal cells on the cervix with the potential to lead to cervical cancer. These cell changes are caused by HPV, but the pap test does not detect HPV itself– more on that later.

Pap tests are often part of regular well-woman exams. How often you are tested for cervical cancer depends on your age, medical history, and previous results. Most people can wait until 25 to start getting tested, though you can get a Pap test every three years starting at 21. Once you reach 30, a Pap test and an HPV test should be taken every five years until 64. You may not need one anymore after that.

Testing for Sexual Health

Your body is your own, but sexual health is a vital component of reproductive health. AltaMed is committed to supporting your sexual health in a safe, confidential, and nonjudgmental environment. Your sexual health should not just be important to you, but your potential partners as well.

Some sexually transmitted infections have been shown to affect fertility if left untreated. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the leading causes of preventable infertility. Left alone, these infections can spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease which may lead to permanent damage of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues potentially leading to infertility.

Even if you’re pregnant, you can still contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI), so it’s important to get treatment to improve the chances for a safer pregnancy and delivery for both mom and baby. Problems during pregnancy like low birth weight, premature rupture of membranes, or premature labor have been linked to untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Untreated gonorrhea has also been linked to miscarriages. Newborns passing through the birth canal can develop eye infections when exposed to chlamydia or gonorrhea, and lung infections if exposed to chlamydia.

The Threat of HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in the United States, affecting 79 million Americans in their late teens and early 20s. HPV types are numerous, and HPV usually goes away without causing any health problems. When HPV lingers, the results can be genital warts and cancer.

A two-dose vaccine, ideally started at age 11, has become common practice to be given to patients, regardless of their gender. Adults ages 27- 45 who are not vaccinated and who have been sexually active may speak to their provider about receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is so effective that in just 10 years after it was recommended, certain HPV infections fell by 86% in girls ages 14-19, and 71% in women in their early 20s.

Women who are pregnant and have HPV can develop genital warts that will increase in number and size during pregnancy and could complicate a vaginal delivery. In rare instances, the mother’s infection has been linked to noncancerous growths in the newborn’s larynx.

Family Planning

Having a healthy reproductive system is vital no matter where life takes you. If you decide to build a family, the best time to do that is when you and your partner are ready. Planned pregnancies typically result in healthier babies and fewer medical problems for mom.

AltaMed can help with the development of a reproductive plan, offer counseling, provide pregnancy testing, birth control, and referrals to a fertility specialist. We are here for you so you can get ready for the changes that come with giving birth. In addition to in-person visits, AltaMed offers telehealth appointments for services that don’t require physical examinations.

It’s in Your Control

We’re committed to keeping women healthy at every stage of their lives, offering confidential information on birth control, safe sex, cervical cancer screenings, STI, and HIV tests and treatment. Call (888) 499-9303 for more information or to make an appointment.

Birth Control Options Available to You