A condom (rubber, prophylactic) is a sheath worn over the penis. Condoms originally were designed to block the escape of sperm, but now have been shown to be effective in blocking entry and exit of bacteria and some viruses. Most condoms are made of latex but some, called "skin condoms," are made of sheep intestine. Only the latex condom should be used for disease protection because the AIDS virus, and possibly other disease agents, are able to penetrate the larger pores in the skin condom.
Vaginal spermicides are products such as foam, jelly, cream, suppositories or film that are inserted deep into the vagina on or near the cervix shortly before sexual intercourse. Most of these products contain nonoxynol-9, a chemical that kills sperm on contact. To be effective, a spermicide must be used every time intercourse occurs.
We recommend that vaginal spermicides always be used with condoms.
Emergency contraception (also known as EC or the morning after pill) works to prevent pregnancy in the case of unprotected intercourse. For maximum effectiveness, EC should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. However, EC may be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected intercourse.
It depends. Some changes in menstruation are normal and should not cause concern. It is possible for a woman to miss her period because of weight loss or gain, vigorous exercise, stress, illness, or other changes that affect her body.
In older women, menstrual periods usually become lighter and less frequent as menopause approaches and hormone levels decrease, although sometimes periods become heavier and more frequent.
Since pregnancy can also cause missed periods, if there is any possibility of pregnancy, a woman should make an appointment with her clinician.
Please see our handout on Oral Contraceptives and refer to the heading "What do I do if I miss a pill?" Or you may refer to the printed information insert that comes with each pack of your birth control pills.
If your question is not answered adequately, you may call the Women's Health consulting nurse at 206-221-2491.
If you are trying to decide on a method of birth control appropriate for you or are wanting to change your current method of birth control, call the Patient Services Center (PSC) at 206-616-2495 and ask for an appointment with the family planning counselor in Women's Clinic.
She will review with you in detail the methods of birth control available and assist you in making an appointment with a clinician.
Ortho Evra or "the patch" is a birth-control patch. It contains the hormones norelgestromin and ethinyl estradiol, hormones similar to those used in birth control pills. Each contraceptive patch, which is thin, beige, flexible, and square, is worn on the body for 1 week at a time.
Women's Health Clinic provides expert, women-centered care with a focus on gynecology, obstetrics, and preventive services.