When it comes to birth control -- you have options!

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From abstinence to IUDs and everything in between, there are so many ways to prevent pregnancy. In California, teens can get FREE and confidential birth control services, and do not need permission from an adult to get the method that is right for them. Here’s some information about the different methods, to help you find the best one for you when you are ready to start using birth control:

Abstinence: Not having sex – or abstinence -- is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many young people in California are using abstinence as a method. In fact, less than one-third of California high school students have ever had sex. You can choose abstinence at any time, even if you have had sex before. Some people who choose to use abstinence also have another back-up method of birth control, in case they change their mind and decide to have sex in the future.

Long-term methods: IUDs and implants are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, last for years, and can be removed at any time if you decide these methods are not right for you anymore. Implants are inserted inside your upper arm and release hormones that keep your body from releasing an egg. An IUD goes inside the uterus. Some types release hormones that keep your body from releasing an egg and others use copper to keep sperm from meeting with an egg. Both IUDs and implants have to be placed and removed by a doctor.

Hormonal methods: The pill, patch, ring, and shot release hormones that keep your body from releasing an egg. These methods can be up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if they are used perfectly. A pill is taken every day, an adhesive patch is changed on the body once a week, the ring works for a month, and if you choose the shot, you have to get one every three months. Once someone decides to stop using any of these methods, they are no longer effective at preventing pregnancy.

Condoms (internal and external): Condoms are the only method of birth control that also protect against STDs. Internal condoms (sometimes called female condoms) go inside the body, and external condoms (sometimes called male condoms) go over a penis. Condoms create a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Condoms, however, are not as effective as some other methods of birth control. Condoms can and should be used with another method of birth control for STD protection. Find free condoms!

Learn more about these methods of birth control or visit a clinic near you to get the one that’s right for you. Remember, teens in California can get birth control for FREE and do not need a parent or guardian to get birth control, but it’s always a good idea to talk to a trusted adult about medical care, if possible.