Birth Control Methods
This page is a general overview of contraceptive methods currently
available in Canada. All methods of birth control have various side
effects not detailed here. Complete information can be obtained
from your health care provider or local family planning clinic.
For women, a tubal ligation involves cutting and tying her fallopian
tubes so her eggs cannot reach the uterus to be fertilized. Menstrual
cycles will be unaffected.
For a man, a vasectomy involves cutting and tying his vas deferens
so that sperm cannot be ejaculated. Sperm takes up only around 1%
of semen, so the amount he releases will remain the same after surgery.
A local anaesthetic is used.
Progestin is released continuously into the body via six capsules
which are inserted under the skin of the upper arm. Ovulation is
inhibited and cervical mucous is thickened, preventing sperm from
reaching the egg. The capsules work for five years, but can be removed
earlier if desired.
Depo Provera contains progestin which is administered by injection
in the arm or buttocks every 12 weeks. It prevents ovulation and
thickens cervical mucous.
Birth Control Pill
The pill uses estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation. The
pill must be taken at the same time every day. Mini pills, which
only contain Progestin, work by thickening the cervical mucous to
block sperm from reaching the egg and thinning the lining of the
uterus. Ovulation may also be inhibited.
IUD (intra-uterine device)
The IUD is a small, copper-coated device which sits inside the
uterus. It works by destroying sperm before they fertilize the egg.
Depending on the brand, the IUD can remain inside a woman's body
for up to 10 years.
Condoms are worn by either the man or woman, and work by preventing
sperm from entering the vagina. Condoms are more effective if used
in combination with a spermicide.
The female condom is a polyurethane sheath placed inside the vagina.
It has two flexible rings at each end of it. It is inserted into
the vagina with its closed end high inside and the larger, open
end just outside the labia.
The male condom is a latex sheath worn over the penis.
A spermicide comes in various forms: gels, film, foam, and suppositories.
It works by killing sperm.
Vaginal contraceptive film (VCF) is a square of hardened gel to
be inserted high into the vagina. Your body heat will melt the film
so the spermicide can disperse.
Contraceptive foam appears similar to mousse. It is inserted into
the vagina, close to the cervix, with an applicator.
Gel can be inserted into the vagina either with or without an applicator,
or directly into a condom.
The latex diaphragm holds spermicidal gel up against the cervix
and also acts as a barrier to sperm. The diaphragm must be fitted
by a physician.
The rubber cap fits tightly over the cervix via suction. It stops
sperm from reaching the cervix. The cap must by fitted by a physician.
In the event of unprotected sex---failure of a birth control method,
using no method, etc.---there are two other methods which can prevent
an unwanted pregnancy.
The Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) can be used up to 72 hours
after unprotected sex. There are various types of ECP; generally
there will be two doses of pills 12 hours apart. The first dose
must be taken within the 72-hour time limit. The pills work by preventing
fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg in the wall of
An IUD (intra-uterine device) can be inserted up to seven days
after unprotected sex. This will kill any sperm in the uterus. The
IUD can then remain in place and work as a regular method of birth