Knowledge Based Methods

Knowledge-Based Methods rely upon your understanding, awareness and action to prevent pregnancy. With attention, these methods are very effective.

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Withdrawal (Pulling Out)

What is it? The man takes his penis out of his partner’s vagina before climax and ejaculation (before he comes). He needs to ejaculate away from the woman’s body. Even sperm on her legs or vaginal lips can travel into her vagina. Depends on a man’s self knowledge and self control.

How to use: To remove any stray sperm from previous ejaculations, the man should urinate and wipe the tip of his penis before intercourse. Contrary to public perception, pre-ejaculate usually does not contain sperm.

Health Impacts: Drugs, alcohol, young age or lack of sexual experience can reduce success. It is less effective for men who have multiple orgasms.

Note: It can be much more effective than many health providers realize. Reduces, but does not eliminate risk of transfer of HIV from male to female.

Access: Free and available anytime.

Effectiveness: 78%-96%

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Breastfeeding (Lactation Amenorrhea)

What is it? Breastfeeding stops egg development if the following three things are true: the baby feeds solely on mother’s breast milk, the mother hasn’t had a menstrual period since childbirth, and the baby is six months old or less.

How to use: If you infrequently give the baby small amounts of liquid or solid, the method is still effective as long as you breastfeed every 4 to 6 hours, including at night.

Health Impacts: Breast milk has positive health effects for the baby including protection from many different illnesses and allergies.

Note: If the mother has HIV, breastfeeding can pass the infection to her baby.

Access :If you need help, contact your local midwife, doula or lactation consultant. There are many online resources and hotlines you can call.

Effectiveness: 98%

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Fertility Awareness

What is it? When you understand your fertile time (days you can get pregnant), you can prevent pregnancy by avoiding intercourse or using a barrier method or withdrawal on fertile days.

How to use: With a calendar and special charts, keep a written record of first and last days of periods, monitor and document changes in your vaginal fluid, position and appearance of cervix daily, and take your basal body temperature daily (at rest, first thing in the morning). It is easier with support from a partner.

Health Impacts: No health risks or side effects. Increases knowledge and awareness of your body.

Note: Takes time and effort daily, especially at first. Many couples say this method is rewarding and brings them closer. Knowing your fertile time can help you become pregnant when you want to.

Access: Learn this method from books, classes or online. Tools like thermometers, charts, and ovulation tests are easily available.

Effectiveness: 76%-99.6%

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Sex Without Intercourse

What is it? You can experience intimacy, closeness, pleasure and orgasms when you engage in touching but avoid vaginal intercourse.

This opens the door for a better understanding of your own and your partner’s bodies which can bring better communication and more satisfaction.

How to use: Examples include kissing, petting, use of sex toys, oral or anal sex, manual stimulation, masturbation, same-sex sex, telephone or talking sex, fantasizing, play-acting, reading or writing your own erotic literature.

If release of sperm occurs, make sure it is far away from your vaginal opening.

Waiting to have sex, taking a break from sex, or saying no to sex are also ways you can assert your personal power to prevent pregnancy.

Health Impacts: Use condoms to prevent spread of STI/HIV for anal or oral sex, or when using sex toys.

Access: Free and available anytime.