What is contraception?
Contraception (AKA birth control) is a form of protection that allows you to have sex with next to no risk of getting pregnant. It is important to remember though, that only one contraceptive, the condom, also protects against sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs).
Here are some types of contraceptives you can use:
- Hormonal: birth control pills, mini-pills, vaginal rings, injections, contraceptive patches, and hormonal intra-uterine devices (IUDs).
- Non-hormonal methods: external condoms and copper IUDs.
- Natural birth control methods: the rhythm method and the symptothermal method
- Emergency methods: the morning-after pill (Plan B) and emergency IUD
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of contraceptives out there. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, and some methods will be more suitable for some people and other methods will be more suitable for others. You can talk to your doctor or school nurse to find the one that works best for you.
If you use the contraceptive method your healthcare professional recommends, every time you have sex, then you are very unlikely to get pregnant. However, no contraceptive is 100% effective. For that reason, you may want to give yourself an extra layer of protection by using a condom as a backup measure to another contraceptive method (bonus: it protects you against STBBIs at the same time).
Contraceptives can sometimes come with side effects or be uncomfortable. If that’s the case, you might want to talk to a healthcare professional to see whether the method you are using is right for you.
You can also reach out to Tel-jeunes to learn more.
Did you know?
Condoms are the only contraceptive that protects against pregnancy and many STBBIs. They’re also widely available; you can get them at the pharmacy, from a healthcare professional, and even at school (bonus: they’re cheap, sometimes even free!).
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Different methods will suit different people better. For example, some people have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, and condoms need to be put on right before you have sex, every time. If those seem like major drawbacks for you, or you have questions about it, feel free to talk to your doctor or a pharmacist about it. They’ll help you find a contraceptive that works for you.
Talking to a healthcare professional
Once you turn 14, your medical information is confidential. You can go to appointments without having to tell your parents. It’s important to know, though, that your parents will still need to give their consent if the care you’re receiving poses a serious risk to your health. They’ll also be informed if you stay at a healthcare or social services facility for more than 12 hours. (Source: Éducaloi)
Who’s responsible for contraceptives?
Yes. It’s not up to only one person to take care of it; both partners need to make sure they’re having safe sex. If you’re not the one physically using the contraceptive, you can support your partner by helping them choose a method, paying for it, and helping them figure out how to use it properly. And if you are the one physically using it, you can tell your partner which method you are using so that they feel more involved and can be a more active participant.
Pulling out, as the name implies, is when the penis is pulled out of the other person before ejaculation. It’s a risky method, because you need a lot of self-control to successfully pull out at the right time. Also, pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) is produced well before ejaculation and it can contain sperm, which means it can cause pregnancy. Also, it doesn’t protect against STBBIs. (Source: FQPN)
Yes. Lots of nurses are able to write prescriptions for contraceptives. For example, school and CLSC nurses can write prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives like the pill, rings, patches, injections, IUDs, or the morning-after pill (Plan B). To learn more, talk to Info-Santé by calling 811. (Source: OIIQ)
Frequently asked questions
If you’ve forgotten to take your pill (either once or multiple times), you can call 811 to talk to Info-Santé or talk to your pharmacist, school nurse, or CLSC nurse to find out what you should do. You can also go here to learn about your options.
The pill protects against unwanted pregnancy, but not against STBBIs. That’s why condoms are best if you have more than one sexual partner. If you and your partner have both taken STBBI tests and you’re exclusive, you can think about not using condoms anymore. That said, some factors (like forgetting to take the pill, taking the pill I combination with certain other medications, or if your body does not absorb the pill correctly because you vomit or have diarrhea) can make the pill less effective. Both you and your partner need to be aware of the risks and be able to respond to them if something goes wrong.
The pill protects against unwanted pregnancy, but not against STBBIs. That’s why condoms are best if you have more than one sexual partner. If you and your partner have both taken STBBI tests and you’re exclusive, you can think about not using condoms anymore.
Condoms are 97% effective, while the pill is somewhere between 99.5% and 99.8% effective. In both cases, the failure rate is largely due to misuse, like broken condoms or forgetting to take the pill. Both you and your partner need to be aware of the risks and be able to respond if something goes wrong. (Sources: FQPN; S.O.S. Grossesse)
You can ask a pharmacist, a healthcare provider at a CLSC or a clinic, or your school nurse for emergency contraceptives (also called Plan B or the morning-after pill). They’ll start by asking you a few questions about your health and your relationship with your partner. You only need to take one pill, but it has to be within 5 days (max) of the unprotected sex.
The morning-after pill is not meant to replace your regular contraceptive. It’s only meant to be used if there has been an accident, like if the condom broke or slipped off (tip: if that happens, make sure you’re using the right sized condom and that you pinch the tip of the condom before putting it on so there’s not too much air near the head of the penis; condoms can also break if the package is opened with a sharp object, and they can become more fragile if they’re used in water). (Sources: FQPN; S.O.S. Grossesse)
Remember that if you’re using contraceptives correctly, then they are very reliable. It is true though that no contraceptive is 100% effective so if you’re having sex, you need to be OK with a certain amount of risk.
Ask yourself whether it really is that risky or just something you’re worried about, and then find ways to manage your stress about it. To do that, think about your reactions, your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviours. You’ll get to know yourself better and find ways to fight your anxiety when it occurs. If you need a bit of help with this, feel free to reach out to us!
Some people prefer to put the condom on right away, while they’re kissing and feeling each other up, so it doesn’t interrupt the flow later. Others prefer not to use it during foreplay because it can make the penis less sensitive. No matter what you decide, though, just make sure the penis is erect before putting the condom on. Remember, there’s a risk of pregnancy whenever pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) or sperm comes into contact with the vulva or vagina. Also remember that performing oral (cunnilingus or fellatio), anilingus (rimjobs), or fellation (handjobs/fingering) without a condom or dental dam can expose you to STBBIs. (Sources: FQPN; CATIE)