Birth Control & STI

Birth Control

Birth control is described as any method used to prevent a pregnancy. There are many safe and effective birth control methods available. Taking time to learn about each method will help you make your decision. Only you can decide what is best for you. At Famcare, a nurse can discuss all of your birth control options with you and help you select the best method for you. You can also find information about different types of family planning methods at


Avoiding sexual intercourse. Simply put, “just say no.”

Reversible Methods of Birth Control

Intrauterine Contraception
The Intrauterine Device- IUD

The IUD is a small ‘T’shaped device that is placed inside the uterus by a specialty trained Nurse Practitioner. The copper IUD doesn’t have hormones and can stay inside your uterus for up to 10 years. It’s typical use failure rate is 0.8%.  The LNG (Levonorgestral) IUD releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. It can stay in your uterus for 5 years and it’s typical failure rate is 0.2%.

Hormonal Methods

Implant (Nexplanon)
The implant is a single, thin rod that is placed under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. It contains a  hormone (progestin) that is released into the body to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in the arm for 3 years. Typical use failure rate is 0.05%.

The Shot (Depo-Provera)
Depo-Provera, also called “the shot,” is a progestin shot that is injected into a woman’s arm or buttocks every three months. Typical use failure rate is 6%.

Birth Control Pills
Also called a combination oral contraceptive pill; “the pill” contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. It generally works by preventing ovulation. For the pill to work, it must be taken at the same time daily. If you are older than 35 and smoke cigarettes, or have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, the Nurse Practitioner may advise you to use another family planning method. Typical use failure rate is 9%.

The “progestin only” pill (mini pill) is a good option for women who can’t take estrogen. It must be taken at the same time each day. Typical use failure rate is 9%.

Hormonal Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (Nuva Ring)
You place a small, flexible ring inside the vagina for three weeks, take it out for a week to have your period, then put in a new ring. The ring continuously releases a low dosage of hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy.

The Patch
A thin, flexible plastic patch is worn on the skin (lower abdomen, buttocks and upper body, except on the breast) and releases the hormones progestin and estrogen to protect against pregnancy.  Typical use failure rate is 9%, but may be higher for women weighing more than 198 pounds.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is NOT a method of birth control.  It will have no effect if you are already pregnant and will not cause an abortion. It can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex or after an accident, such as when a condom breaks. The sooner that you take the pill, the better it will work. There are three different kinds of emergency contraception pills available, some can be bought over-the-counter at a pharmacy.

Barrier Methods

Male Condoms
Male condoms prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from entering the vagina. Latex and newer synthetic condoms help to protect against pregnancy, some STIs and HIV. Lambskin condoms also protect against pregnancy but may not be as effective against preventing STIs and HIV. Condoms can only be used once. Do not use oil-based lubricants such as baby oil, lotions or petroleum jelly with condoms. You can buy condoms and with water-based lubricants at a pharmacy. Famcare provides free male condoms to male and female patients.

Female Condoms
The female condom prevents sperm from entering a woman’s body and may also prevent some STIs. Like the male condom, it is available without a prescription at a pharmacy and is intended for one-time use only. A female condom should not be used along with a male condom. Typical use failure rate is 21%.

Spermicides are available in foam, film, jellies, and suppositories that contain a sperm-killing chemical, usually nonoxynol-9. They are most effective when partnered with a barrier method, like a male condom, diaphragm or cervical cap. They are available without a prescription in stores and pharmacies.

A diaphragm is a shallow latex cup that fits in the vagina to cover the cervix and block sperm. Diaphragms must be used with spermicide. Typical use failure rate is 12%.

Permanent Methods of Birth Control

Sterilization is a safe and highly effective  method of permanent birth control. These methods are meant for people who are sure that they do not want to ever become pregnant.

Male Sterilization- Vasectomy
This procedure prevents sperm from entering semen so that it can no longer fertilize an egg. It does not affect ejaculation. A vasectomy is done in an outpatient surgical center or doctor’s office. It takes about 12 weeks after the surgery for a man’s sperm count to go to zero and he must visit the doctor several times for testing to count his sperm. Another form of birth control should be used until his sperm count is at zero.

Female Sterilization- Tubal Ligation
A woman can have her fallopian “tubes tied” (closed) so that sperm and eggs cannot meet and become fertilized. This procedure can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgery center and the woman can go home the same day. This birth control method is effective immediately.

Female Sterilization- Transcervical Sterilization
This procedure is done in a doctor’s office. A tiny device is inserted in to each fallopian tube and causes scar tissue to grow and permanently close the tubes, which takes about three months. Another form of birth control should be used until the doctor confirms that  the fallopian tubes are completely closed.



Sexually Transmitted Infections (also know as sexually transmitted diseases- STDs) are viral or bacterial infections that are spread from one person to another during sexual or intimate contact. Depending on the infection, it can be spread through any type of sexual activity. More than half of all of us will get a sexually transmitted infection at some time in our lives. Sexually transmitted infections may or may not cause symptoms, so it is possible that you could have an infection or spread an infection without even knowing it.

If you do feel you may be at risk for an STI, getting tested allows you to get any treatments you may need. We are here to answer your questions. The caring staff at FamCare can talk with you about STIs and help you get any testing or treatment you may need.


Chlamydia is the most common STI in the United States. Millions of men and women are infected each year through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most people with Chlamydia do not have any symptoms which is why all women under 25 years old and women over 25 years with risk factors need to be tested each year. Untreated Chlamydia infections can cause problems with productive organs that make it difficult or impossible to get pregnant later on. Some symptoms for women include: vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, pelvic pain and burning when urinating (peeing). Men may have a watery discharge (drip) from the penis, swelling pain or tingling in the penis or testicles and burning or pain with urination. Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is caused by two types of viruses: Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV1) and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV2). In the US, about 1 out of every 6 people aged 14 to 49 years have genital Herpes. Most people who have Herpes do not know it because they have no, or very mild symptoms. Genital Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters around the mouth, genitals or rectum. The virus may also cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fever or swollen glands. You should get checked if you or your partner notices any of these symptoms. Herpes can’t be cured, but there are medicines that can decrease or prevent outbreaks and help stop the spread of the virus to your partner.


Gonorrhea is a common bacterial sexually transmitted infection that affects millions of men and women each year, especially ages 15-24 years. It can cause infections in the rectum, genitals and throat through vaginal, anal or oral sex. While some people have no symptoms, men may have a white, yellow or green discharge form the penis, a burning feeling when urinating and sometime swollen or painful testicles.

Women may have an increase in vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods or burning with urination.  Rectal infections may cause painful bowel movements or anal soreness, itching or discharge.  All women under 25 years old and women over 25 years with risk factors need to be tested each year. Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics.


Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

HPV is the most common STI in the US. It is a viral infection that affects men and women and can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex and other close skin-to-skin touching during sexual activity. The virus can spread even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Most men and women who get HPV never develop symptoms and the infection usually goes away completely by itself. However, if it doesn’t “clear” on its own, they virus can cause genital warts and some kinds of cancers in men and women. Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or a group of bumps around the vagina, penis or anus. They may be small, large or shaped like cauliflower. The warts may go away on their own, or may require treatment by a healthcare provider. The types of HPV that cause genital warts do not cause cancer. HPV infections usually go away by themselves but having an HPV infection that does not go away can cause certain kinds of cancer to develop. HPV infection isn’t cancer but can cause changes in the body that lead to cancer. These include cervical cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both women and men. HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). There is no test for HPV available for men at this time. Women over 30 are encouraged to get tested as a screening for cervical cancer. There is no approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat.There is a vaccine that both males and females can get to help prevent them from getting HPV.

All boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years old should get vaccinated for HPV.  If they did not get vaccinated when they were younger, catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21;  females and males and females with compromised immune systems through age 26. It is also recommended for gay and bisexual men who have sex with man through age 26.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from being infected with the hepatitis B virus. In the US, hepatitis B is most commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. It can be a mild illness lasting a few weeks, or it can become a serious lifelong illness. Common hepatitis B symptoms include a mild fever, headache, joint pain and muscle aches. Symptoms of hepatitis B also include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain and clay-colored stools. Jaundice is also a hepatitis B symptom and results in the skin and whites of the eyes turning yellow. Many people who have Hepatitis B do not have symptoms. Medication is available to reduce the extent of damage to the liver. While there is no cure for hepatitis B, a vaccine is available to protect against it.


HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. In some cases, HIV symptoms do not appear for 10 years or more. Common symptoms of HIV/AIDS include extreme fatigue, rapid weight loss, as well as recurring yeast infections (in the mouth). Night sweats are also common, as are low-grade fevers. Red, brown or purplish splotches may also appear under the skin, inside the eyelids, mouth or nose. AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection. Women with HIV/AIDS may also experience other STIs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), or changes in their menstrual cycle. HIV has no cure. Antiretroviral medications are usually prescribed to reduce the amount of virus in the body, and to help a person stay healthy.


Syphilis is a bacterial STI that can be spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Sores caused by Syphilis can be found on the lips, mouth, penis, rectum or vagina.

You can be infected with syphilis and have no symptoms at all, or mild symptoms that look like other conditions or diseases. Because syphilis sores can be hidden in the vagina, anus, under the foreskin of the penis, or in the mouth, sometimes Syphilis is left untreated for years and can cause serious complications in your body and to your baby. In the early stage, the painless syphilis sore after the first infection can be confused with a harmless bump, zipper cut or ingrown hair. The second stage can cause a rash on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, in just a few places on your body or all over. Syphilis can be diagnosed with a blood test and  cured with antibiotics.