Birth Control Methods

How do birth control methods work?

Birth control methods can work in several ways, depending on the type:

  • By stopping the female’s ovaries from releasing an egg cell.
  • By preventing the male’s sperm and the female’s egg cell from meeting.
  • By thinning the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg doesn’t stick to it.
  • By thickening cervical mucous to make it harder for sperm reach the egg cell.

How does pregnancy happen?

  • Pregnancy might happen when sperm from a male body meets with an egg cell from a female body.
  • Sperm comes out of a penis when it ejaculates during sexual arousal.
  • Egg cells are stored and released within the female reproductive system.
  • If a penis ejaculates near a vagina, sperm might enter a female’s reproductive system, meet with an egg cell, and pregnancy may happen.

How do I decide what birth control method to use?

You can answer the following questions to help you decide which method(s) to use:

  • How does the method work?
  • Do I want 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 make it difficult to use correctly?
  • Do I have other health concerns that I need to think about when choosing a method?
  • Does the provincial health care plan pay for it? If not, can I afford the cost?
  • Will my partner(s) pay for part of the cost?
  • What are my birth control needs at this time in my life? How do I feel about an unplanned pregnancy?
  • How often do I have sex? What kind of sex might I have? Will I remember to have my method with me every time I have sex?
  • Will my partner(s) support my choice? Do I need a discreet method?

What kinds of birth control are there?

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

  • External/male condom
  • Internal/female condom
  • Emergency contraceptive pill (for emergency use)

You must see your health care provider for other methods of birth control:

  • The birth control pill (oral contraceptives)
  • The birth control patch
  • The birth control shot
  • IUD
  • IUS
  • Vaginal Ring
  • Permanent birth control for females and males

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 or toll-free at 1-866- 690-8260, or go to
  • From the Facts of Life On-Line: e-mail your questions to
  • From a teen clinic if you are under 22 years old.


Cervical mucous – The fluid produced by the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.

Egg cell – The female reproductive cell. When meets with sperm, there is a chance of pregnancy.

Ejaculate/Ejaculation – The release of semen from the penis. “Ejaculate” is also sometimes known as “cum”.

Sperm – The male reproductive cells, carried out of the penis in the semen during ejaculation.

Uterus – Part of the female reproductive system; the uterus is a pear-shaped, hollow organ. If an egg cell is fertilized with a sperm, it nests within the uterus and a fetus begins to grow inside of it. The uterus is also called the “womb”.

Vagina – The muscular tube that connects the cervix to the outside of the female body; where the menstrual blood comes out from the uterus, where a baby comes out from the uterus during childbirth, and where a penis or sex toy might go in for vaginal intercourse.

SERC believes that all individuals have the right to access unbiased sexual and reproductive health information and services. They must also have the opportunity to explore their values and attitudes in making informed choices that are most appropriate for them, and have those choices respected and supported. SERC supports and defends a pregnant person’s right to choose parenting, adoption, or abortion.

Developed in collaboration with:

Klinic Community Health and Literacy Partners of Manitoba 2007
Sexuality Education Resource Centre 2016