If you have not made it to the doctor yet, or simply prefer to avoid the doctor, there are some contraceptive choices available over-the-counter (OTC) at your local drugstore, grocery store or discount store. OTC birth control is affordable, accessible and effective, if it is used correctly. Both barrier methods and chemical contraceptive options are easily purchased without a prescription.
Condoms are the most common type of OTC birth control, providing both contraceptive and STD protection. There are three types of condoms available. Latex is the most affordable, but you can also purchase lambskin and polyurethane condoms. Lambskin condoms provide contraceptive protection but will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Polyurethane condoms offer the protection of latex and can be less irritating for those with latex sensitivities or allergies. Increase the effectiveness of condoms by combining them with spermicide.
Spermicidal creams, foams and films are available at your local drugstore. These can be used alone or along with a barrier method like a condom, cervical cap or diaphragm. Many condoms include a spermicide to improve their overall effectiveness. Spermicides are inserted into the vagina before intercourse. Alone, spermicides are a poor contraceptive choice, with a 30 percent typical failure rate.
The Today Sponge
The sponge is another OTC option, combining both a physical barrier and a chemical one. The sponge contains spermicide and physically blocks the cervix. Like the diaphragm and cervical cap, the sponge is most effective if you have not previously had children. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before intercourse and worn for up to 30 hours after intercourse, allowing for spontaneity. Combine the Today sponge with condoms for a reduced risk of pregnancy.