Take Charge of Your Sexual Health

What you need to know about preventive services

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Talk with your provider about your plans for having, or not having, children. He or she can then provide information on the best contraceptive methods for you. Long-acting reversible contraceptives – the intrauterine devise (IUD) and the implant – are amont the easiest and most reliable methods for all women who want to prevent pregnancy. Other available methods include injections, birth control pill, the vaginal ring, the patch, diaphragm, sponge, cervical cap, and male and female condoms. If you’re done having children or know you don’t want any, permanent contraception (e.g., tubal ligation) may be right for you. Natural family planning methods and abstinence (not having sex) are other options.

Your provider can also tell you about emergency contraception (EC), or the "morning after pill." EC can prevent pregnancy if taken within a few days of having unprotected sex. EC is available to anyone without a prescription at family planning clinics and pharmacies. 

STI Prevention 

Using a male or female condom every time you have sex is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting many STIs, including HIV. Other effective ways to protect yourself include abstinence (not having sex) or having only one partner who you know does not have an STI. If you have sex without a condom, have an STI or recently had one, or have a new partner and are unsure of their health status, talk to your provider or a health educator. They can counsel you on ways to protect yourself and your partner from STIs, including whether medications to prevent HIV infection are right for you. People who do not have HIV but are at high risk of becoming infected can stay healthy by taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) might be prescribed if you think you've been exposed to HIV. Also, consult the resources at the end of this guide for more information about preventing STIs.


It’s Your Body!

You know your body better than anyone. Always tell your health care provider about any changes in your health. Speak to them about any concerns you may have about conditions, diseases, or issues related to sexual functioning or performance.