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Your guide to birth control

Using birth control gives you control over your health in many ways, including preventing pregnancy, and helping you have lighter periods, fewer cramps, and less acne. Plus, certain methods can help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). And most Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost.

Birth control options

There are lots of birth control methods available. Which one you use depends on your personal preferences, medical history, and lifestyle. Will you remember to take a daily pill? Are you comfortable with hormones? Do you want something you don’t have to worry about for a few years? No matter your needs, there’s a birth control method for you.



Emergency contraception

Sometimes you need a birth control backup plan. Emergency contraception can be used within 5 days after unprotected sex, but it’s best to use it as soon as possible. Some are available without a prescription at drugstores and pharmacies — including Kaiser Permanente.

For teens

It’s your body and it’s up to you to take care of your sexual health. Get up to speed on birth control, how to get it (with your parent or on your own), and your right to confidential appointments. Plus, educate yourself on sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), sex, and more.

Your right to privacy

You can get confidential health care for birth control, STIs/STDs, pregnancy, depression, and other mental health conditions, including drug and alcohol use. That means anything you and your provider talk about will stay between you and your health care team. Your privacy is protected by law. The only time your provider would break confidentiality is if you tell them you’re being abused or if you plan to hurt yourself or someone else — in those situations, they’re required to do so by law. If you have any issues you’d like to keep completely private, call the doctor’s office and ask to set up a confidential appointment.

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Birth control videos

Birth control myths

Myth: The birth control pill causes weight gain

Fact: Researchers have found no evidence that birth control pills cause weight gain. While this is true today, this wasn’t always the case. When birth control pills first came out in the 1960s, they had higher levels of estrogen, which can, in fact, cause weight gain. But today’s birth control pills have much fewer hormones, so weight gain is not likely.

Taking the pill, or any hormonal birth control, may cause fluid retention before your period. This can cause you to gain a few pounds, but it should go away once your period is over. 

Though it’s rare, some people can gain weight on the pill. If that happens to you, talk to your provider about it. They can help you find a different birth control method that works better for you.

Myth: Birth control will make it harder for you to get pregnant in the future

Fact: Birth control doesn’t affect your fertility and has no long-term effects on your ability to have a baby after you stop taking it.

Once you stop using birth control — whether it’s an IUD, implant, pill, patch, or ring — you can get pregnant right away. The only method that takes a little longer to stop preventing pregnancy is the shot. It can take up to 10 months for the shot to leave your body.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs) actually have more of a chance of affecting fertility. STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause permanent damage to your reproductive organs and lead to infertility, if untreated. That’s why it’s so important to use a condom and why you should regularly get tested for STIs.

Myth: You should only use the IUD if you've had kids

Fact: The IUD is appropriate and safe for people with and without kids. Not having kids has no bearing on whether or not you can use the IUD. 

This myth is so common because it used to be true. Years ago, you could only get an IUD if you already had children. Doctors recommended it because after you give birth, your cervix and uterus are slightly larger. This makes inserting the IUD easier and using it more comfortable.

Today, there are newer and smaller IUDs, which are easier to insert and more comfortable for every user.

Myth: To "cleanse" or "take a break" from hormones, you should occasionally stop taking birth control

Fact: You don’t need to “cleanse” or detox your body from birth control. There are no medical benefits to taking a break from birth control. You can safely stay on your chosen method of birth control for as long as you want. Taking breaks from birth control may increase your risk of an unwanted pregnancy.


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