Contraception- Birth Control Methods

Disclaimer- Information listed is not a promotion for anyone to use contraception or to be sexually active but simply an explanation of the various methods available and how they work.

Contraception is the use of a device, method, medication, surgical procedure or agent to prevent pregnancy. No contraception available is 100% effective although if used consistently and correctly, as directed, it can be highly effective at preventing an unintended pregnancy. Condoms are the only birth control method that will also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Various contraceptive methods are available at the Student Health Services on campus by prescription or over the counter at the pharmacy. Costs vary depending on form of birth control selected.

Contraception is available as two different methods, permanent or reversible.

Permanent methods of birth control include female and male surgical sterilization procedures. One newer type of female sterilization procedure that is less invasive is called transcervical sterilization, and involves a procedure done through the vagina and without an abdominal incision.  These procedures are  not available at Student Health Services.

Reversible methods of birth control vary from barriers, spermicides, intrauterine devices, and hormonal methods. Birth control methods available to each individual will depend on their health history and potential contraindications. Some of these methods are available through the Student Health Services. Please call to set up an appointment to discuss these options.


Reversible methods that are most commonly used by college students include the following:

Barrier Method – Male condoms, female condoms, spermicide, diaphragm

Barrier methods work by forming a “barrier”, preventing sperm from entering the uterus. Condoms for both male and female use are the most common form of barrier contraception used. In addition to contraception, condoms also prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  Always using condoms is strongly recommended even in conjunction with other birth control methods. Condoms are available over the counter, are affordable, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Spermicides are also a form of barrier method used to kill the sperm. They are available over the counter in foam, gel, cream, film, suppository or tablet form and can be used in addition to the male condom, diaphragm or cervical cap. Diaphragm/ cervical cap is a cup like device placed inside the vagina to block the sperm from entering the cervix. They must be fitted by a doctor and are not available at the Student Health Services.


Intrauterine devices- (IUD) Mirena, Skyla, Paragard

The IUD is a T-shaped device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy and is considered a long term, reversible birth control method. The Paragard does not contain hormones and will be effective for 10 years. The Skyla contains hormones and will be effective for 3 years. The Mirena will also release hormones and be effective for 5 years. The IUD must be inserted by a healthcare provider and is not available through the Student Health Services at this time. However, if you choose to request an IUD for contraception, we can set up a referral to a gynecologist in the area for the procedure.


Hormonal Methods of Contraception- Implant, injection, oral contraceptive pills, vaginal ring

Nexplanon is a flexible rod implanted into the upper arm of females by a trained healthcare provider that releases hormones for 3 years. Medroxy-progesterone (Depo) is an injectable contraceptive (shot) given in the healthcare providers office every 11-13 weeks. Oral contraceptive pills are the most common form of birth control and come in a wide variety of hormonal combinations. Pills need to be taken orally on a daily basis to prevent pregnancy. A hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring (Nuva Ring) is a ring containing hormones that you insert into the vagina and keep in for 3 weeks. It is then removed for one week to allow for a period and then a new ring is inserted. All of these forms of hormonal contraception are available at Student Health Services, and one can call for an appointment to further discuss these options available.

FYI: Based on National Guidelines, females and those with female genitalia will need to have an up-to-date pap smear on file to start or maintain a prescription for birth control. Pap smears are started at age 21.  Also, we recommend that all sexually active students have routine STD testing at least yearly.  The Pap smear and all STD testing are available at the Student Health Services, and one can call to make an appointment.