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Birth Control

     Even though you may be using birth control with your partner, you can still get pregnant. The reason that no form of birth control is 100% effective is because most forms rely heavily on your using them properly. Some types of birth control are better than others and it doesn't hurt to use a back up method "just in case." IUDs, Norplant and Depo-Provera have very small pregnancy rates, but these forms of birth control still carry a small risk. The Pill, condoms (female and male), diaphragms, and sponges also have failure rates and are very dependant on proper use; if any of these are used incorrectly the chances of pregnancy dramatically increase. Barrier methods of protection can break or slip and when this happens your chance of pregnancy is the same as if you had used nothing at all. Natural planning methods are not very effective and are also subject to error. The only birth control guaranteed to work is the word "no" - if you are not prepared to deal with a pregnancy, abstinence is your only option. For more information on contraception see this link safe-sex.

Emergency Contraception After you have Sex

     If you have sex and either don't use protection or your protection fails, there is one proven option for preventing pregnancy after sex, but it must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse to be effective and should not be used as your primary form of birth control. The "morning after pill" is available by prescription or from health clinics. The "morning after pill" is two doses of the same hormones that are in birth control pills, only in much higher concentration. The pills are taken 12 hours apart and should be taken as soon as possible.

     To get this form of emergency contraception, you go to a hospital, clinic or doctor's office and tell them that you need emergency contraception. They will ask you a series of questions to determine if the morning after pill is right for you. They may even do a pregnancy test to ensure that you are not already pregnant. If you are a good candidate for the treatment you will be given the necessary pills. If it is too late for this option you can ask the doctor about your other choices. Availability of emergency contraception for teens in your area may be limited by law or by parental consent - to find out about availability in your area call your local crisis or pregnancy hotline.

      However, if you are going to use this form of contraception, there are possible short-term side effects that you should be aware of. These are:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Infertility
* Breast tenderness
* Blood clotting

     In rare cases where pregnancy has already occurred before the pills are taken the cycle may cause an ectopic pregnancy which can be life threatening. The long-term effects of the morning after pill are thought to be no different than those associated with regular use of birth control pills although there have been no definitive studies on the subject.

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