By Planned Parenthood of Arizona Education Team

Have you heard of birth control? Are you taking it yourself or know of someone who is? It’s no surprise if you are familiar with birth control, and it’s also no surprise if the uses and methods are confusing. To make sense of it all, we are going to make it as easy as 1 – 2 – 3…or Why, What, and How.

  1. Why are you taking birth control?
  2. What options do you have?
  3. How do you access birth control?

Although birth control is commonly known as a pill used for preventing pregnancy during sex, its capabilities go far beyond that. And that’s why there may be uncertainty around birth control uses and methods. As we get into the details, it’s important to remember that choosing a birth control that is best for you is all that matters!

In order to do that, there are a few things to consider…

  1. Why are you taking birth control? 
  • Pregnancy prevention / safer sex
  • Ease and regulation of periods / cramping / PMS
  • Acne
  • Managing endometriosis
  • Reduce risk of anemia
  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

This is not an exhaustive list, but it provides the most common uses for birth control. It’s also important to keep in mind that many uses can be fulfilled through a single birth control method. 

There are additional components to consider when choosing which birth control is right for you:

Cost, convenience, effectiveness, easy-to-use, and hormonal level. Having an intimate understanding of WHY you are taking birth control and WHAT is important to you, will help inform your decision on WHICH birth control method is best for you.

  1. What options (methods) do I have?

Planned Parenthood provides an accessible graphic of all the birth control options that highlights which method relates to these specific uses. Or, if you’d rather take a short quiz, Planned Parenthood can provide specific options that are curated just for YOU!

  • IUD
  • Implant
  • Shot
  • Vaginal Ring
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Condom
  • Internal Condom
  • Diaphragm
  • Sponge
  • Cervical Cap
  • Spermicide

***The section below comes from Planned Parenthood Federation of America***

  1. How do you get birth control?  

You can get some types of birth control, like condoms, at drugstores or convenience stores. Anybody can buy condoms, and you don’t need to show your ID. Sometimes you can get free condoms from community clinics, your school nurse, or Planned Parenthood health centers. Condoms help protect you from STDs, too, and they are the only form of birth control that has this protection except for lifestyle choices such as abstinence. So it’s good to use condoms even if you’re on another method of birth control.

If you get the IUD, implant, or shot, your doctor will give it to you in the health center. If you choose the pill, patch, or ring, you’ll probably get a prescription. You can use the prescription to pick up your birth control at a drugstore or pharmacy. Some doctors might even have pills, patches, or rings in the health center to give to you at your appointment.

If you have health insurance, you probably won’t have to pay anything for your birth control. If you don’t have health insurance, ask your local Planned Parenthood health center about how to get free or low-cost birth control.

Do you need your parents to get birth control or will your parents find out if you are on birth control? 

It depends on the laws where you live and/or your doctor’s policies. But many places have special laws that let teens get birth control privately. Either way, talking to your parents about birth control can be really helpful. Read more about birth control, your parents, and privacy.

We know this is a lot of information to work through, but the more you know the more confident you can be in your decision with birth control. If you have any questions, you can use our chatline (while remaining anonymous) to talk to one of our sex educators — they can help you along this journey!