Image of birth control pills


This page contains information on safer sex practices and contraception, as well as resources that are available to you at the University of Idaho. There are many things to take into consideration when deciding which option is right for you. Methods for preventing pregnancy include abstinence, IUD, hormonal, barrier, and the fertility awareness method.  To effectively prevent STI's, choose abstinence or barrier methods (condom, dental dam).  The Student Health Clinic or the Vandal Health Resource Room are great resources on campus to answer questions and help you to find an option that is right for you.  For an off-campus provider, you may choose from a variety of local physicians, Moscow Family Medicine, or Planned Parenthood in Pullman.

For online guidance on selecting the right contraceptive for you, click HERE.

For more information on each method including effectiveness, pros & cons, click HERE.

Methods of Contraception


Abstaining from all types of sexual contact is the only way to be 100% protected from pregnancy and STI's.

Barrier Methods

Condoms are the most common form of barrier contraceptives. They can only be used once but are up to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy and may help to prevent STI's. There are many different brands and options for condoms on the market now and they are easy to get, making them a very common method. FREE CONDOMS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE STUDENT HEALTH CLINIC, the Vandal Health Resource Room, and in the WOMEN’S CENTER.  Risks include breaks and tears which will decrease the effectiveness.  Check out this great website and video for in-depth information about using condoms effectively, or contact us for more information.  Other barrier methods are female condoms and spermicides, but these tend to be less effective.  

Intrauterine Contraceptives

Intrauterine devices and systems are small devices placed inside the uterus by a physician. They are highly effective forms of long term birth control.  Both more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, the IUD can stay in place for up to 10 years and the IUS can stay in place for up to 5 years.  IUD and IUS do not prevent STI's.

Hormonal Methods

There are various forms of hormonal contraception available today including pills, shots, patches, implants, and rings.  Hormonal birth control methods work to alter the hormone patterns in women to prevent pregnancy.  Each method has pros and cons that are important to consider when deciding which one may be right for you.  The hormonal methods are generally 91-99% effective at preventing pregnancy, most effective when used correctly. For example, taking the birth control pill at the same time every day makes it the most effective. Hormonal birth control methods do not prevent STI's.

Fertility Awareness Method

The Fertility Awareness Method is when women choose to abstain from sexual intercourse when they are fertile. There are many ways to predict ovulation (temperature, mucus, calendar), but in order for this to be effective, it takes a lot of work.  Knowing your menstrual cycle can possibly be an effective way to prevent pregnancy, however you must have a regular menstrual cycle, and monitor it very closely. With typical use, which refers to average use, this method has a 25% failure rate in preventing pregnancy.  The Fertility Awareness Method does not protect against STI's.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is birth control you can use to prevent pregnancy up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex.  It is safe and effective.  You can purchase emergency contraception at health centers and pharmacies, including our on-campus STUDENT HEALTH CLINIC and STUDENT PHARMACY.  Costs vary from $30 to $60.

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