Santa Clara University

Wellness Center

Forms of Contraception

Santa Clara University is a Jesuit, Catholic institution and aims to educate students in the Catholic tradition. This webpage explores Catholic values and beliefs about sexual intimacy and provides information about the various forms of contraception, including abstinence. This is not meant to promote the use of contraception, but rather provide information on how young people who choose to engage in sexual intercourse can best protect themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. 

First Off. . . . Be clear about your values.
Before you decide to have sex, make sure you seriously consider your values. What do you believe? What does your faith tradition say? It is important to have good factual information -- and discuss with trusted professionals, family members and kowledgable freinds the many different perspectives including moral, spiritual, and emotional values. Sexual intercourse can connect two people in a profound way. It can involve us with another at the deepest levels - emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. The Roman Catholic tradition believes that a permanent, faithful, fruitful and loving marriage is the most appropriate home for sexual intercourse because it provides the right environment to sustain the gift of one person to another over time.

Abstinence-- the only method that when used 100% correctly can prevent pregnancy and STIs

Abstinence is defined as refraining from sexual activity. But in reality, abstinence means different things to different people, cultures and religious groups. For some, it means choosing the total absence of any type of sexual activity with another person, and for others, it simply means choosing not to have vaginal or anal intercourse.


Technically, abstinence is a form of contraception. The two types of abstinence covered here are:

  • Periodic abstinence is a way that sexually active women prevent pregnancy by becoming familiar with their fertility patterns and abstaining from vaginal intercourse on the days they think they could become pregnant. This is also known as the "rhythm method."
  • Continuous abstinence is not having vaginal intercourse with a partner at all, but potentially still engaging in sexual activity that does not involve penetration. This type of abstinence acts as a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm out of the vagina. Traditionally, continuous abstinence is the type of abstinence discussed in sexual education classes.


  • Even without vaginal or anal penetration, other sexual activity such as oral sex can expose you to STIs, and awareness of this is important.
  • If semen spills on or near the vagina, pregnancy is still possible, even without penetration.

If You Choose to Have Sex. . . Make Sure You Know the Various Methods of Contraception

Barrier & Chemical Methods (click here) 

Cervical Cap
Male Condoms (“Do’s and Don’ts About Condoms”)
Female Condoms
Contraceptive Sponge


Hormonal Methods (click here)  

Injectable Contraceptives (Depo-provera)
Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills
Progestin Only Contraceptive Pills
Contraceptive Implant (Norplant)
Skin Patch
Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)


Surgical Methods (click here)  

Male Sterilization

Female Sterilization

Choose the Best Method of Contraception for You!

Choosing a method of contraception is an important decision. If the method you choose doesn't fit your lifestyle, it's unlikely you'll use it correctly and consistently, increasing your chances that the contraceptive will fail.  Remember, what works for your best friend may not be what's best for you.


Here are some things for both men and women to think about and to talk about with a healthcare professional before making a decision:

  • Have I had problems using this method before?
  • Am I afraid of using this method?
  • Will I have trouble remembering to use this method?
  • Will I have trouble using this method correctly?
  • Will it work? How effective is it?
  • What are the side effects?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Will it affect my future fertility?
  • Will it help prevent sexually transmitted infections?
  • Is my partner opposed to this method?
  • Do I want to be able to use a method without my partner's or parents' knowledge?
  • Will this method enable me to be spontaneous?
  • Does this method conflict with my religious, cultural or moral beliefs?

Finally, before you leave with a prescription in your hand or a recommendation from a healthcare professional, make sure you understand how the method works and, what side effects to expect. 



**NOTE: The Cowell Health Center practicioners cannot prescribe birth control pills or other forms of contraception.  In addition, condoms can not be distributed on campus.    


On-Campus Resources


Printer-friendly format