CHOICES : A Sourcebook of Reproductive Health Care in Maryland

Birth Control


Birth Control

Birth control, or contraception, is critical for all sexually active people, regardless of sex or gender. Contraception is very important because it can help to prevent pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are many different options and methods available. You may need to try several different kinds of birth control before you find the one you like best. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any side effects or issues you might have.

Popular Methods

Male Condoms
Condoms provide the best protection against STIs. They are inexpensive (usually less than $0.50) and are often available for free at clinics or on college campuses. You can get condoms at almost any pharmacy, grocery store, or convenience store. You can also order them online quite easily. Condoms can be stored so that they're available whenever needed. However, you need to use them correctly and every time in order for them to be effective.

The Pill
Also known as oral contraception, the pill is a dose of hormones that keeps your ovaries from releasing eggs. The pill is taken every day and works the best when you take it at the same time each day. It can also help you regulate your period. You need to get a prescription in order to use the pill. Prescriptions can be obtained through your doctor or at a clinic, such as Planned Parenthood. Some people experience negative side effects, but a doctor can help to find the kind of pill that works best for you. It’s important to note that the pill does not protect you or your sexual partner from STIs, so it is best used with the male condom or other barrier method.


An IUD is a small,T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the uterus by a medical professional. The IUD offers around 5 years of worry-free sexual activity. The IUD rests securely in the uterus without interfering with sexual activity. Some IUDs have hormones that may help regulate your period. Others are completely hormone-free. Without insurance, an IUD can cost between $500 and $600, but insurance will often cover at least part of the cost.It is important to note that IUDs do not protect you or your partner from STIs, so an IUD is best used with a condom.

Picking Your Method


Your health care provider can help you to figure out which method is right for you, but this handy chart from provides a great comparison between the different methods. Visit for more information.

As was mentioned above, not all forms of birth control protect against STIs: when used correctly and consistently, condoms provide the best protection. For more information about STIs, visit the American Sexual Health Association's STI information or call the STI hotline 1-800-227-8922.

A publication of the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund
Home en español A publication of the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund