Will birth control help with cramps?

Yes, but it depends on the type of birth control option that you’re considering. That severe pain you’ve experienced while on your period? It’s called dysmenorrhea (gross name, we know), and when you use a birth control option like the implant—which doesn’t contain estrogen—it can significantly diminish those time-of-the-month pains.

How can I ask my partner to get tested without making it awkward?

Suggest that you go get tested together. Set aside some time one evening to go to a clinic as a couple. Remember, this isn’t just about your health—it’s about your partner’s health, too. Mention that when you bring up the possibility of getting tested. As a side note: if your partner is outright hostile to idea of an STD screening, that should be a major red flag for you.

Which is more effective: an IUD or a diaphragm?

Diaphragms are much cheaper, clocking in at around $75, to an IUD’s $1,300. But IUDs (Intrauterine Devices, in plain English) are far more effective at preventing pregnancies: how effective, you might be asking? 99% effective. But remember, the only thing that’s going to protect you from an STD is a condom. So be sure to use both barrier methods in combination with one another.

I have diabetes. What are my birth control options?

Some contraceptives can increase your blood sugar (hormonal birth control), increase your risk for infection (IUDs), or impact your cardiovascular health. Birth control isn’t off the table for you, but it might be a little more complex of an issue than you think. Talk to your doctor for more clarification—they’ll help you find the option that works best for you.

I'm allergic to latex. Should I not use condoms?

It goes without saying, if you show symptoms of being allergic to latex—itching, redness, scratchy throat or difficulty breathing when exposed—avoid using those types of condoms altogether. But there are plenty of equally effective condom alternatives out there: polyurethane condoms and polyisoprene condoms, both of which are made from plastic or synthetic rubber, are great choices.

Are condoms expensive?

They usually cost anywhere from $0.18 to $1.83. But, as a general rule of thumb, they’re far less expensive than prescription birth control medication—and, we should add, far more accessible, too. You can purchase condoms at gas stations, pharmacies, and certain grocery stores with little to no fanfare. Plus, you don’t have to be a certain age or need permission from a parent or guardian to buy them.

Is the implant dangerous?

No. While all procedures have some level of risk, countless people choose to get the implant each year. This is the best option for folks who want to go the low-maintenance route—once it's inserted, the implant is effective for up to four years.

I have an STI. What do I do now?

First, breathe. The good news is that many STIs are treatable with antibiotics and other medications. If you’ve noticed symptoms, or if you’ve gotten a test that confirmed what you thought to be true, then talk to your parents, your doctor, or a healthcare provider at your local clinic about next steps—this will usually involve prescription medication.

I'm worried about the condom breaking. Should I use two?

This is a totally normal concern. This may seem like a good insurance policy, but using two increases the amount of friction, and can make the condoms tear. So this is not advisable. If this doesn't give you the peace of mind you need, go to a doctor and talk about other birth control options, like the pill or an IUD.

Will the pill make me depressed?

Every woman is unique, so you might have side effects from the pill that your friends don’t have. But remember: depression and anxiety are both serious, no matter what causes them. If you feel like you’re depressed or have anxiety, then you should tell your parents and make an appointment to talk to a doctor right away. About 18% of people in the US suffer from anxiety or depression in some form, so you’re definitely not alone.

My boyfriend wants to have sex before we go away to college, but I don’t. What do I do?

Going your separate ways after high school isn’t a great reason to have a sex. It might actually be a reason not to since your relationship is about to change a lot! Remember, you are in control, so if you’re not ready make sure your boyfriend knows that.

My boyfriend doesn't want to use a condom because I'm on the pill. Is that okay?

The pill can protect you from an unplanned pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from any STIs, so it’s always a good idea to use both.

Can my IUD fall out?

There's a small chance your IUD can be expelled. What that essentially means is this: it moves from where it's supposed to be, at the top of the uterus, into its lower half--or even into the vagina. Your doctor should be able to teach you how to make sure it's in the right position, but if you think anything seems wrong, go ahead and make an appointment to speak with him or her right away.

Can I use a condom more than once?

Nope, condoms are a one-time only method. If you’re looking for free or reduced cost condoms, try contacting your nearest health center. A lot of times they’ll have them available for teens!

If my birth control stops my period, how will I know if I'm pregnant?

Most types of birth control are pretty reliable if you’re using them correctly, but some do keep you from having a monthly period. If you’re worried that you might be pregnant, you can always get a pregnancy test from your local drug store or make an appointment at the nearest teen-friendly health center.

If you need the peace of mind of a monthly period, talk to your doctor. She can recommend a different type of birth control that can keep you on a more regular cycle.

Do I need a prescription for birth control?

In some states you can get the birth control pill at a pharmacy without a prescription. It was even something that South Carolina considered in 2017. If the rules do change in South Carolina, people under 18 will still likely need to visit a health care center to talk to a doctor—and you’ll need your parents’ permission if you’re under 16. No matter what the laws are, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor—and your parents—before you start on any type of birth control. That way you can make sure you’re looking out for your physical and mental health.

What's the best birth control method?

That depends. If you’re looking for the most reliable method, then abstinence is the only thing that can give you a 100% guarantee. If you’re looking for the best birth control, then it’s different for everyone. The best birth control method is the one that you feel most comfortable with and that you can use correctly every time.

What do I do if my parents find out I’m having sex?

Constantly worrying that they’ll find out can be pretty stressful. Why not just sit down and have a conversation with them? Let them know that you’re being safe and that you just wanted to be open about what’s going on in your life. Once you tell them, they can actually be a great resource for relationship advice or for help getting birth control.

What do I do if I’m a virgin, but my boyfriend’s not?

It can be scary when one person has more sexual experience than the other. The most important thing to remember is that you are in control. Just because he’s had sex before doesn’t mean you can’t be abstinent if you want to. Talk to him and let him know that even though you care about him a lot, you’re just not ready. 

Can I get a birth control patch that matches my skin tone?

Unfortunately, the patch only comes in one color and it’s similar to the color of a Band-Aid. The good news is that you can put it just about anywhere on your body, so it should be pretty easy to hide under your clothes. If you’re still worried about it being really noticeable, you can always ask your doctor if there’s another type of birth control that would work for you.

How old do you have to be to buy condoms?

You don’t have to be a certain age to buy condoms in South Carolina. You can find them in most drug stores, grocery stores, and gas stations. You can even buy them online! Better yet, make an appointment at your nearest health clinic to talk about your birth control options—lots of clinics offer free condoms. Using a condom will help protect you from STIs even if you decide to use another birth control method.

How do I know that the health center won’t tell my parents about my appointment?

There are a lot of teen-friendly health centers in South Carolina (you can find them on our health center locator). That means they’re specially trained to understand you want privacy and to find ways to help you get it. When you make an appointment be sure to ask some questions like:

  • Will you send the bill to my parents?
  • Can I see a doctor without my parents’ permission?
  • Will my parents have access to my records?
  • How will you contact me about my appointment so my parents don’t find out? 

Remember, you are in control of your own health. If there’s anything you want to know, don’t be afraid to ask.

How do I ask my mom about birth control?

Try being straightforward and let her know exactly why you’re asking about birth control. Is it because you’re just curious or are you thinking about having sex soon? No matter what, let her know you want to be responsible and protect yourself when you do decide to have sex.

Will an IUD make my cramps really bad?

It depends. Not everyone has the same reaction to the same IUD. Let your doctor know what your cramps are typically like each month. If they’re usually light and not a problem, then you’ll probably be okay with most IUDs. But if they’re heavy and painful, your doctor might suggest you only consider certain IUDs so they don’t get worse.

Can I get birth control for free?

Yes and no. A lot of these clinics will work with you on price, which means even if it’s not free it will still be affordable. Sometimes clinics like these will have special programs that can help girls get free birth control. Start by making an appointment and your health care provider can help walk you through your options.

Can an IUD cause acne?

We all know that the pill can help some girls with acne, but most IUDs aren’t prescribed for that reason. Plus, we all react a little differently to different birth control options. If clearing up acne is a big concern of yours, be sure to let your doctor know that when you’re choosing a birth control option. If you do choose an IUD and see an increase in acne, don’t panic. Let your doctor know what’s going on and she can help you decide what to do next.

What should I do if my boyfriend cheated on me?

If you have had sex with your boyfriend (or are planning to) it’s a good idea for both of you to get tested for any STIs just in case.

Can I still play sports if I have the implant?

Your implant shouldn’t have a big impact on the sports you play. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor about the type of actives you do and get her advice. And if you ever feel like your implant is out of place or if you feel any pain, be sure to call your doctor right away!

How do I know if I have an STI?

There are some STIs, like genital warts, that are spread by skin touching skin. That means you can get them even if you’re using a condom. The only sure way to know if you have an STI is by getting tested by a health care provider

Will I still get my period if I use low-maintenance birth control?

Low-maintenance birth control isn’t designed to stop your period, but some people who use certain types of IUDs stop having periods completely. It’s a completely safe side effect, but it might freak some people out not to have that peace of mind each month. Talk to your doctor about the chances you’ll stop having a period and what it might mean for you. 

How do I ask my doctor about birth control?

Spend some time looking at your birth control options so you’re ready when you get into the office. Usually, your doctor will ask you if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Try responding with something like “I was hoping you could tell me a little more about IUDs (or implants, or the pill, or whichever method you’re most interested in). If that doesn’t work, try just diving right in and telling her you’re interested in learning more about your birth control options. She’ll probably have some follow up questions that will help her recommend the best option for you, so be prepared to be honest about your sexual health. Remember, your healthcare provider isn’t there to judge you. All she cares about is that you stay healthy and safe.

What do I do if my boyfriend doesn’t want me to talk to other guys?

Your boyfriend should never tell you who you can and can’t talk to. Not only is it not part of a healthy relationship, it’s not practical. You’ll probably have to talk to other guys in class or to work on group projects, right? Try talking to your boyfriend about how you need the freedom to talk to whoever you want. Remember, trust is important in every relationship.

How do I tell my boyfriend I’m not ready for sex even though I’m not a virgin?

Try starting a conversation before things get too intimate. Be clear that you want to wait and let him know why. If you need more tips, check out our Talk to Your Partner guide. Remember, just because you’re not a virgin doesn’t mean you owe anyone sex. It also doesn’t mean you can’t be abstinent if you choose.

My boyfriend wants to go through my phone. Do I have to show it to him?

Definitely not! Trust and boundaries are part of every healthy relationship. Try talking to him about why he thinks he needs to look through your phone and why you’d rather keep your phone private. If that doesn’t work, think about whether or not this relationship is right for you.

Can I get pregnant if I missed a birth control pill this month?

Birth control pills work best if you take them the same time every day. If you keep forgetting to take your pill, you might want to ask your healthcare provider about low-maintenance birth control options. The best part about these is that you don’t have to remember to do anything or take anything once you’re using them.

Do I have to use condoms if I have a low-maintenance birth control?

Low-maintenance birth control is great for preventing unplanned pregnancies, but it doesn’t protect you against STIs. So, you should always use a condom when you have sex—even if you are using low-maintenance birth control. 

What happens if I forget to take my birth control pill?

First of all, don’t panic! Your birth control should have come with instructions on how to take it, what to do if you accidentally skip a day, and when you need to use backup protection like a condom. If you can’t find the instructions, or if they’re confusing, go ahead and call your health care provider. She’ll be happy to help!

When can I say “no” to my boyfriend?

There’s no such thing as going too far to say no. You can tell your partner to stop at any time. Remember, it’s your body and you’re in control!

What happens if I don’t like my low-maintenance birth control?

That’s okay! Not every type of birth control is right for every person. Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about getting it removed and what other options you have for birth control. Before you go, be sure to make a list of the things you don’t like about the birth control so your doctor can help you find something that will be a better fit for you.

Will the pill clear up my acne?

There are three types of birth control pills that are FDA approved to also treat acne. If it’s a big concern for you, make sure your health care provider knows that when you’re talking about your birth control options. Then you can work together to find a solution that meets all of your needs.

How can I afford birth control?

You’re not alone. Lots of women worry about how they’re going to afford their birth control. The good news is there are options that are free or low-cost. Start with your clinic and ask them what options are available to you. 

Will I get my period on an IUD/Implant?

It depends on the type of low-maintenance birth control you’re using and how it affects your body. Ask your doctor what to expect and any warning signs you should look for. 

Will my doctor tell my parents I asked about birth control?

Not unless you tell her it’s okay. Even though you’re not an adult, you still have the right to privacy when you’re talking to your doctor about sex, birth control, or STIs. Learn more about your rights.

Do my parents have to come with me to a clinic?

Absolutely not! There are teen-friendly clinics in South Carolina that are trained to help you protect your privacy and feel comfortable talking to a doctor about your sexual health.

How do I know which condoms to buy?

There’s no “right” brand of condoms. When you go to the store, the majority of the condoms you’ll see will be made from latex, which is durable and will protect you from both unplanned pregnancy and STIs. If you or your partner has a latex allergy, you can look for polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms. These are a little harder to find, but will provide the same protection as latex condoms

How can I get condoms without my parents knowing?

You don’t need to show ID or have a prescription to buy condoms. You get them for free at some local clinics or you can buy them at stores like Walmart, Target, and most drugstores.

Should I be worried about the side-effects of taking birth control?

The best thing is to be informed and stay in control. It's true that any medication you take can have potential side effects. Compare your options, talk to your doctor, and find a method that you feel comfortable with.

Can I get birth control even if I’m not planning on having sex?

Absolutely! Sex isn’t a requirement for birth control. Be prepared and in control. 

Can I use tampons if I have an IUD?

You shouldn’t have a problem using a tampon with an IUD because they each are in a different part of your reproductive system and are separated by your cervix, so they shouldn’t interfere with each other. Just be careful to never pull on the strings of your IUD—and if anything feels off, ask your healthcare provider about it. 

How do I know which low-maintenance birth control to use?

There’s no one “right” option for everyone. Take a look at Power to Decide's list of birth control options and see which one you’re most interested in. 

How long does it take for low-maintenance birth control to start working?

Well, it depends. If you get a non-hormonal IUD, you’re protected as soon as you get it. If you get the implant during the first five days of your period or the hormonal IUD seven days after your period starts, then you’re protected immediately. If you get it any other time, be sure to use a backup method for the first 7 days after you get it inserted.

Can I still be abstinent if I’ve already had sex?

Absolutely! Being abstinent just means you’ve made the decision to not have sex. It’s something you can decide for yourself. Any day. Any time. Plus it’s the only 100% effective way to make sure you don’t get pregnant or get an STI. 

Can you get low-maintenance birth control removed early?

Definitely! They’re designed to work for years, but if you aren’t happy with your choice of birth control your health care professional can remove it at any time. You can get pregnant as soon as it’s removed, so make sure you talk to your doctor about what type of birth control might work better for you.

Where can I get low-maintenance birth control?

Most teen-friendly health centers offer it to teens and a lot of the time they can give them to you for free or at a low cost. You can find a teen-friendly health center using our health center locator.

Does getting the implant hurt?

Maybe a little. Your doctor will numb your arm before she inserts the implant, so you shouldn’t feel too much when she’s implanting it. Some women do have pain in their arm after they get the implant, but that doesn’t happen to everyone. Ask your doctor what you can expect. 

Can I get birth control without my parents knowing?

Yes—if you’re 16. In South Carolina you can get a prescription for birth control without your parents’ permission if you’re 16 or older or if you’re married. You can find a teen-friendly health center using our locator. If you’re still nervous, be sure to ask what the health center will keep private when you’re making your appointment. 

Does the pill make you gain weight?

Probably not. It’s such a common concern that doctors have spent a lot of time researching whether or not it’s true. They’ve found over and over again that the pill doesn’t make you gain weight. Since every person is different, you might know friends who gained weight when they were on the pill, but that doesn’t mean it will happen to you. If you’re worried that the pill is making you gain weight, talk to your doctor. She might be able to find you a different option that you’re more comfortable with. 

Can I use low-maintenance birth control if I’m only 15?

Yes! It’s actually one of the best methods out there for teens because it’s so easy to use. After your doctor inserts it, you’re covered for 3-12 years. No pills to remember. No prescriptions to fill. You can just do you.

Learn more about the different types of low-maintenance birth control and then visit a health center to get it. 

How do I tell my boyfriend I don’t want to have sex right now?

Take a deep breath and just come out and say it. You should always feel comfortable saying no to sex. If someone’s pressuring you to do something you’re not okay with, that’s not a healthy relationship. If you’re feeling nervous about having to say it in the moment, try having a conversation about what you’re ready for before things go too far. 

Does the pill start working right away?

Not quite. It typically takes between 48 hours and 5 days depending on what type of pill you’re using. Be sure to check with your doctor about your specific type of pill. 

If you have sex with a condom do you also have to be on the pill?

It’s always a good idea to use condoms and another form of birth control! Condoms are 98 percent effective if you use them the right way and if you use them every time you have sex. They protect against sexually transmitted diseases as well as pregnancy.

BUT, a condom can break, so it is a good idea to have a backup form of birth control, like the pill. 

Why don’t guys want to use condoms?

Every guy may have his own reason for not wanting to use a condom. However, when having sex, the decision to not use condoms should be agreed upon by both people.If one person refuses, then sexual intercourse should not occur. Remember, unprotected sex can put you at risk for pregnancy, STDs and even HIV/AIDS.

Learn how to talk to your partner

How do STDs spread?

There are a couple of different ways. Some, like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV/AIDS, are spread through bodily fluids, including vaginal secretions, semen, or blood. Others, like herpes or genital warts can be spread through skin-on-skin contact with an infected sore. 

Using a latex condom every single time you have sex will help protect you and your partner from STDs and STIs. And if you are sexually active, don’t forget to get tested often! 

Learn more about safe sex and STIs

Is it wrong to ask your partner if they’ll get tested for everything before you have sex? What if they flip out?

Definitely not! Getting tested is a great idea for both of you—even if you plan on using condoms. Before they have a chance to flip out, talk with him or her about why you want the tests. Since you can get an STI from skin-to-skin-contact, vaginal fluid, and pre-cum, that means you can get an STI even if you’ve never had sex. 

How do you know when it is the right time to have sex?

There’s no checklist to tell you when the right time is—it’s different for everyone. Ask yourself if you’re emotionally and mentally ready to have sex. It’s also important to have a conversation with your partner about taking that step or waiting and about using birth control and condoms if you do decide to take that step. 

Think about it, talk about it, then make a plan

Can a guy be too big for condoms?

Definitely not. Condoms come in a lot of different sizes and they can all stretch pretty far. 

Can someone be allergic to condoms?

Some people are allergic to latex, which is what a lot of condoms are made out of. Lots of major condom brands make a latex-free version and you can find them the same places you find latex condoms.

Can you get pregnant if you have sex during your period?

You can get pregnant every time you have sex. That's why you should use both birth control and a condom every time you have sex. 

Why does it matter if I have an STI if I don't have any symptoms?

Even if you don’t have symptoms now, an STI can give you problems when you’re older, like a lot of pain in your pelvis or you might not be able to have a baby when you’re ready. Did you know that most people with HIV don’t have any symptoms until 10 years after they got the infection? You can pass on an STI and even though you don’t have symptoms, your partner might. The best thing to do if you think you have an STI is to go to your doctor. 

Learn more about common STI myths.

I don’t want to have sex until I’m married. Does that make me weird?

Definitely not. Lots of people wait until they’re married or in a long-term relationship before they have sex. Some people do it for religious reasons, some for personal reasons, and for some it’s a family value. Let your partner know why waiting is important to you. Remember, if your partner respects you, he or she won’t pressure you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.  

What do I do if I think I might be pregnant?

Don't panic. The first thing you can do is take an over the counter pregnancy test. You can get those at stores like Walmart or Target. If you still think you’re pregnant after taking the test, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out for sure. If you don’t have a doctor, you can go to a teen-friendly health center.

If your doctor tells you you’re pregnant, the next step is to tell your parents—or another adult you trust—and your partner. Get tips on how to tell your parents

How do I know what type of birth control to use?

When it comes to birth control, everyone’s a little different. It doesn’t matter what method your friends, sister, or mom uses. What’s important is what works for you. Think about you and your lifestyle when you’re choosing a method. Are you too forgetful to remember to take a pill? Are you trying to keep from getting pregnant for up to ten years? Look through Power to Decide's list to find a method that appeals to you. From there, schedule an appointment with your regular doctor or at a teen-friendly clinic to talk to a doctor about the pros and cons of the methods you’re interested in.

How do I ask my partner to use a condom?

Try talking about using condoms before you have sex. That way you’re not talking about it in the heat of the moment. Explain why it’s important to use condoms to help prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Let your partner know that it’s not that you don’t trust him, you’re just trying to protect both of you.

How do I get condoms if I can’t get to a health center?

You can buy condoms for a low cost at most gas stations, convenience stores and stores like Target and Walmart. You don’t have to be a certain age to buy them and you don’t have to show an ID. 

When is too young to start having sex?

There’s no right age to start having sex. It’s a really personal decision and one you have to make for yourself.

The most important thing is to make sure you—and your partner—are emotionally ready to take that step and that you use birth control and condoms to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy and STDs. Learn more about making a plan to stay safe