Birth Control Methods

How do birth control methods work?

Birth control methods work in different ways, depending on the type.

Hormonal birth control works by:

  • Stopping ovaries from releasing an egg cell.
  • Preventing the sperm and the egg cell from meeting.
  • Thinning the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg cell does not stick to it.
  • Thickening cervical mucous to make it harder for sperm reach the egg cell.

Barrier methods (condoms) work by:

  • Creating a barrier so that ejaculation (cum), which contains sperm, does not enter a partner’s body.
  • Condoms also help prevent against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV.

How does pregnancy happen?

  • Pregnancy can happen when sperm connects with an egg cell. This is called fertilization. The fertilized egg travels into the uterus. If the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining a pregnancy happens.
  • Sperm comes out of a penis when ejaculating during sexual arousal. Sometimes this substance is called semen or cum.
  • Egg cells are stored in the ovaries and released into the fallopian tubes.
  • If a penis ejaculates in or near a vagina, sperm might enter their partner’s reproductive system, which could create a pregnancy.

What kinds of birth control are there?

There are many different methods of birth control. Some do not require a prescription. You can buy these at a pharmacy (drugstore), grocery store or online:

  • External condom
  • Internal condom
  • Emergency contraceptive pill (can be used up to 5 days after sex)

You must see a health care provider for the following methods of birth control:

  • The birth control pill (oral contraceptives)
  • The birth control patch
  • The birth control shot
  • An IUD/S
  • Vaginal ring
  • Permanent birth control

How do I decide what birth control method to use?

This is a personal choice based around your health, your body, and how often you want to use/replace the birth control. You might want to consider the following questions when choosing a method:

  • How does the method work?
  • How often do I want to think about taking/replacing the method?
  • Do I need to see a health care provider to get it?
  • How well does the method work to prevent pregnancy?
  • Does the method help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the method?
  • Is there anything about the method that will discourage me from using it correctly?
  • Do I have any health problems that I need to think about when choosing a method?
  • Does the provincial health care plan, Treaty, or personal health insurance pay for it? If not, can I afford the cost?
  • Will my partner(s) help pay for some of the cost?
  • What are my birth control needs at this time in my life? How do I feel about an unplanned pregnancy?
  • Will my partner(s) support my choice? Do I need a discreet method?
  • Am I opposed to any methods because of personal beliefs?
  • Do I have other health considerations that may affect my choice?

What are some other things to remember?

  • Birth control is not one size fits all. What works for one person may not work as well for someone else. Sometimes you need to try a few different options before you find the one that works for you.
  • Hormonal birth control can have side effects. Talk with your health care provider about different options.

Where can I get more information?

  • From your health care provider, community health clinic, or public health nurse. If you need a regular health care provider, call the Family Doctor Finder at 204-786-7111.
  • From the Facts of Life Online: e-mail your questions to
  • From a Teen Clinic if you are 21 or younger.
  • Our youth website,

Sexuality Education Resource Centre 2021

To view or download a PDF version of this information, click here: Birth Control Methods 2021