Types of Safe Rooms

Types of Safe Rooms

Types of Safe Rooms

“What do you suggest for a panic room when you live in Florida and have no basement?”

Based on what you’ve told me, I would recommend putting the safe room above ground with the rest of your home. You may want to remodel a walk-in closet to serve as a safe room using a kit or install a prefabricated safe room that will also serve as a tornado shelter. Thank you for the question and please read on for additional recommendations. – Cache

Traditionally, a safe room (sometimes called a panic room) is a protected space designed to keep the occupants of a residence or business safe from threats such as violence or natural disasters for a short period of time until the threat has passed or rescuers, the police or security can respond.

Mankind has a long tradition of building homes that incorporate minor fortifications such as walls, gates, and barred doors to keep out intruders, non-flammable construction materials, wells to resist a siege, and cellars or citadels that function as safe rooms creating depth of defense and hold back intruders to buy time to escape through concealed exits or allowed reinforcements to arrive.

Designs varied greatly due to variability in wealth, available resources, and the threats the builders faced.

Roman villas, Spanish haciendas, French chateaus, and other country homes often included some type of basic fortification, and city homes and apartments made use of hidden rooms and compartments to protect people or valuables.

The reasons for these defensive works and hidden spaces ranged from religious, political, ethnic, or economic persecution and other forms of warfare and human conflict to natural disaster, espionage, or the production or smuggling of contraband. One form of the volatility after another had people building fortified and/or hidden spaces into homes whether it was hiding Jews and building bomb shelters during WWII, priest holes to hide Catholic priests in England, fallout shelters during the cold war, building citadels into modern-day ships to hide seafarers from pirates.

History is full of examples of safe rooms and the need for them only seems to be growing.

Protected spaces take many forms today: safe rooms, storm cellars, bomb shelters, and fallout shelters.

Various types of multipurpose shelters are common in both public buildings and private residences in many nations who see them as a responsible precaution against threats such as home invasion, robbery, kidnapping, terrorism, war, and natural disasters. Shelter sales have been booming in the US as American rebuilds in the wake of tornadoes and hurricanes.

I bumped up against this very same query as a young man.

My first home was in a southern state where basements were a rarity. I didn’t have enough money to pay someone to build a safe room and I didn’t want the modifications to be a matter of public record, so I went the DIY route. I didn’t have any extra space and ended up modifying a closet nestled under a stairway on the first floor and the walk-in closet of the master bedroom on the second floor.

I lived in a townhouse in a high-crime area, and my main concern was a home invasion, so took the usual precautions of beefing up all the doors, strike plates, locks, and hinges with pins and long lag screws, installed an alarm, a security door, peephole camera (this was long before video doorbells), extra deadbolt locks and window bars (that I could release from the inside) over the one window that was vulnerable.

The purpose of the standard security upgrades was to slow down any attempted break-in and force the intruders to make enough noise to raise the dead, giving me the opportunity to wake up and stumble into a safe room before they broke in, should I be caught sleeping.

The closet under the stairs was centrally located on the ground floor and the sturdiest room in the place. The first thing I did was to give myself the ability to see without being seen. I accomplished this by installing a small, framed mirror on the wall next to the closet, in which I had installed a one-way mirror and cut a viewing port into the wall. Being able to see without being seen is a significant advantage all by itself.

Then I set about accessing the dead space underneath the stairs from within the closet. This was simple enough. I took a drywall saw and cut a small doorway into the sheetrock, low on the wall near the floor. But any safe room I was going to build had to have a secret door. To disguise the cuts, I installed a shelf and bracing for the shelf that went all the way down to the baseboard. Then I installed metal plates on the backside of the door frame and magnets on the piece of sheetrock I had cut out and turned into a “door.”

Once I had access to the space, I set to work installing some ballistic cover.

This was accomplished by measuring the spaces between the studs, constructing concrete molds to the dimensions, and pouring steel-reinforced concrete blocks that fit the spaces. Once cured, I stacked the blocks in between the studs (a few feet high) and secured them in place with steel strapping and nailed steel plates over the exposed studs. That way, if round penetrated a stud between the blocks, a ¼” of mild steel (if memory serves, they were long stakes of some kind that I found at Home Depot) but would hopefully sap whatever energy it had left.

I also installed blocks against the lower steps in the stairs and nailed Kevlar (from surplus body armor) to the bottom side of the stairs and poured an extra block to protect the “door” which was more of an entry hatch. By the time I finished, I had constructed a little safe room, long enough for two to sleep comfortably and protected on all sides, which I stocked with body armor, weapons, gas masks, lighting, food, water, blankets, and a portable toilet.

I created another one-way viewport with a view of the stairway and my front door that was concealed by the carpet. Had I lived in that home longer, I would have installed hinges and freed a section of a few steps in the stairs, enabling it to be lifted, giving the little safe room a second exit, which is a must-have, even for a tiny safe room. But that’s the nature of DIY projects, you improve them as you can. The reason I only brought the concrete up to waist height and built viewports is that I don’t like the idea of being fish in a barrel with no way to shoot back. If I had the money, I would have rather extended the ballistic protection up to the ceiling and installed firing ports below the viewports, but I didn’t get that far.

Lastly, most of you may encounter some psychological obstacles to cutting into the walls of your beautiful home. I was doing some extensive work on that home when I sold it to relocate. I had opened a 4’ x 12’ hole in both sides of a wall in the master bedroom, and the effect on the value was negligible if any. Sheetrock, paint, and spackle are cheap. Dying is much more expensive.

Unfortunately, the bulk of commercial safe room solutions are out of reach for most survivalists, but there is one type of commercial safe room solution that is useful to a great many survivalists. Commercial safe rooms come in all shapes and sizes, from inexpensive storm cellars and pre-fabricated steel above-ground storm shelters that can be bolted to the foundation to custom underground complexes built to order from steel-reinforced concrete.

If you can afford a commercial solution, that’s great. If you can afford to install it without anyone knowing where you are installing it, even better.

The commercial safe room product of use to the greatest number of people is undoubted the prefabricated safe room kit. Kits provide the hard to source materials such as bullet, breach, and pressure-resistant doors, door frames, and overhead beams and allow the homeowner to procure the bulk of the material locally, avoiding shipping and labor costs. Prefab saferoom kits also enable the homeowner to build out the saferoom in secrecy, although the value of secrecy may have to be weighed against the value of compliance with building codes in counties that require a building permit.

I provided the traditional definition of a safe room at the beginning of this article.

Unfortunately, the typical commercially-designed safe relies on its strength to keep occupants safe until reinforcements arrive, but what if reinforcements don’t come? Given enough time, aggressors will burn the occupants out or to death, just like they did to Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi.

Only preparing for rescue and not for self-recovery reminds me of survival instructors who teach people to stay put to the exclusion of all other possibilities even though far more Survivors self-recover than are rescued. A safe room should include options for self-recovery including escape and fighting back instead. You may need your safe room the most in the middle of civil unrest or a natural disaster, right when emergency services are the least likely to be functioning. Therefore, the wise survivalist plans for self-recovery in addition to the rescue.

If you are serious about building or buying a safe room, check out the 264 pages of guidance FEMA put together in Risk Management Series – Design Guidance for Shelters and Safe Rooms. It was paid for you with your tax dollars, so you might as well.

You can’t call for assistance without communications, so safe rooms should make use of radio and possibly satellite communications in addition to a landline, cellular, and internet. Because of the way some safe rooms are constructed, this typically means that the safe room will need its own external antennas. Saferoom communications should be wired and powered independently of the rest of the home.

The main idea of the safe room is to make you safe to hide from and wait out aggressors. To do that, you will need a place to lay down, light, warmth, water, food, a place to sleep, and a toilet. You should also include trauma, first aid and burn kits, fire blankets, and gas masks. If your safe room is also a fallout shelter, you will need much more equipment, but that is another topic.

One of the main reasons I built my first safe room was the threat of home invasion.

I have heard every dumb answer to this threat you can possibly imagine and often from highly trained special forces guys who should know better. It usually goes something like, “Break into MY home?! Bring it on!” I also hear that same excuse from survivalists who are too addicted to convenience to protect their privacy, “I get off on death threats. I hope they come looking for me.” While these responses may be funny or sound macho, they do not constitute an effective defense.

Unless the victim has prepared well ahead of time, home invaders have a lot going for them.

I base this on being trained by and eventually training SpecOps and SWAT team members on dynamic entry and high explosive breaching as this phase of my career taught me a thing or two about preparing homes to resist home invasion … even against guys who do it for a living. Imagine that you are sound asleep, snoring away, and “BANG!” you are startled awake by the door giving way and the rumbling of feet running up the stairs toward the master bedroom. I have played out this scenario many times and it is all I can do to get myself and my wife into the safe room and the door shut before they get to the master bedroom. If you think you are going to wake out of a sound sleep, roll out of bed like James Bond, Jerry Miculek, and Chris Kyle all rolled into one, and take on all comers with a handgun, you’re going to die in your underwear and that will be that.

Even mere mortals can, however, stumble into a safe room and lock the door, giving them time to gather their wits, properly arm themselves and engage the aggressors from behind hardcover.

When I write about self-recovery in the context of safe rooms, I mean being able to fight or flee, and what you need to flee is a screened escape route. Screened means that it cannot be seen and preferably cannot be heard either. I understand that it is not realistic for many of us to build escape tunnels that exit a safe distance from the property. The important thing here is that a safe room has a second door that is not visible from the first. It may exit to the attic, the basement, or to another part of the home, but without a second exit, the homeowner completely sacrifices mobility.

Fortunately, this just means installing a second, hidden door. People spend much of their lives indoors and are used to seeing doors, windows, and walls. This constant programming makes hidden exits and compartments very effective.

When we look at a building, our brains very quickly complete the picture for us. When we see a wall in a tactical situation, we tend to take it at face value and assign a label to it: “wall.” We don’t automatically think, “that’s just sheetrock” or “a section of that brick could be fake.” There could two people with carbines about to unleash all kind of steel-core hate on us from behind armor through that sheetrock and we would be none the wiser. There could also be an exit, but unless it looks like an exit, we are unlikely to find it in time.

Cache Valley Prepper is the CEO of Survival Sensei, LLC, a freelance author, writer, survival instructor, consultant and the director of the Survival Brain Trust. A descendant of pioneers, Cache was raised in the tradition of self-reliance and grew up working archaeological digs in the desert Southwest, hiking the Swiss Alps and Scottish highlands and building the Boy Scout Program in Portugal. Cache was mentored in survival by a Delta Force Lt Col and a physician in the US Nuclear Program and in business by Stephen R. Covey. You can catch up with Cache teaching EMP survival at survival expos, teaching SERE to ex-pats and vagabonds in South America or getting in some dirt time with the primitive skills crowd in a wilderness near you. His Facebook page is here. Cache Valley Prepper is a pen name used to protect his identity. You can send Cache Valley Prepper a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com

GREAT INFOMATION!

I picked up a few pointers from your article. Q: will antennae to the safe room allow you to use one’s cell phone? Concrete walls and being underground blocked the cell signal.

A friend had his landlines cut and phones were out of commission until the calvary arrived.

Here is a fire starter that might interest you? http://www.lightningstrikefirestarter.com

keep up the good work

Types of Safe Rooms

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Body Armor Selection

Body Armor Selection

Body Armor Selection

This is a Guest Post by Anthony.

The Internet has become more than just the main source of information.  The rise of online shopping has led to virtually all products becoming available for online purchase.  The world’s most noticeable online marketplaces include eBay, DHgate, and others.  Body armor is no exception and has also become available for online purchase.

Although buying body armor online is simple and allows you to save time and money, there are still certain things a buyer should consider before purchasing body armor online.  Although there are a lot of frauds on the Internet, who just want to stuff their pockets with cash, we won’t speak about that in this article.

Body armor is a very important piece of gear for preparedness.  No one buys body armor just to have it.  Every person that purchases a vest has their own reasons to do it.  Some people are working at jobs that demand them to wear body armor.  This includes security guards, bodyguards, prison guards, police officers, SWAT, etc. But, even among civilians there are people, who should have body armor on them, when going out of their homes, if they want to stay safe.  Some situations that it would be a good idea to have body armor are when you live in a dangerous neighborhood, or when your life has been threatened, if you think you are being stalked, or even in during or after a disaster situation where the civilian population may be out of control, or even when there are riots in the streets, or anytime that law enforcement officers are tied up with bigger problems.

body armor 2

First of all, it is necessary to decide what type of body armor you need – bulletproof or stab proof or both!  This is why the reason for the purchase is important, because it helps to predefine your choice.  Don’t hassle with buying a bulletproof vest that just looks cool, make sure it is functional!  Every vest has a protection level.  The protection levels are determined by two entities in the world the UK HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch) and the US NIJ (National Institute of Justice), these agencies provide ratings for stab proof and bullet proof vests respectively, they also cooperate on their ratings, which makes them globally recognized and utilized by manufacturers from all over the world. Be advised that only certain online manufacturers follow these protective standards a good example of one of these is http://www.safeguardarmor.com.  If you are working in a position, where you have a possibility of being stabbed, shot at, or both, look for the respective body armor that has a protection level for those possible threats.  If you live in a dangerous neighborhood, where you could catch a stray bullet on your way home, buy a Level II or Level IIA bullet proof vest for a proper protection.  A level II or level IIa vest with a level I edged protection will protect you from most of your common everyday street threats.

Secondly, you must choose the right size body armor.  Sizing is extremely important, when buying body armor.  If you buy body armor that is too large, it will dangle, feel uncomfortable, won’t let you move freely, and will just not be as effective.  In the same time, if you purchase body armor that is too small, it will be too tight and may leave unnecessary holes, because of not being properly zipped up or fastened.  Also, don’t think that body armor is unisex.  There are special models made for women to match the specific shapes of a female body.  So, if you are a woman looking for body armor, don’t forget about this tiny little fact, when choosing your purchase.

In the end, make sure that the store you are dealing with can be trusted.  You can check client feedback at various Internet forums.  Just introduce “store name + feedback” into the search line of the search engine you are using and you will find out all the information you need about the store.  In case it’s eBay, you can review sellers’ feedback right away.  This is a great way to protect you from fraud.

When you have decided, which model and brand of body armor you are going to buy, make sure you’ve considered all of these facts before making the final deal.  And, remember, there are no absolutely perfect stores, neither online, nor in your neighborhood, city, and even in the world.

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Last but not least, if you are a shooter you may also want to Click This Link, that will take you to a page that provides FREE plans for building an awesome Portable Shooting Bench from one single sheet of plywood.  Or if you are an outdoorsman and you spend time in the wilderness you may also want to Click On This Link, to go to a page where you can download my FREE mini-ebook that describes all of the most important steps needed to affect your rescue if you were lost in the wilderness.

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Body Armor Selection

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What’s the Best Birth Control?

What’s the Best Birth Control?

What’s “best” among birth control methods differs from person to person. What’s right for you may not be right for everyone. And your needs may change over time, too.

You should think about:

You can compare facts about birth control methods in the sections below, including the basic ways they work.

When doctors talk about how effective a birth control method is, sometimes there are different rates when it’s used “ideally” — meaning exactly the way it was designed — versus how the average person uses it in real life. “Typical” use takes into account that people can’t or don’t always use birth control correctly or consistently.

Keep in mind, out of every 100 women who don’t use any form of birth control, you can expect about 85 to get pregnant within a year.

Type: Behavior

How it works: Some people consider abstinence to mean zero sexual contact (complete abstinence). Others say it’s when the penis does not have contact with the vagina (contraceptive abstinence).

Number of pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: As long as you abstain


STD protection?
Yes, when you practice complete abstinence; no, if you only practice contraceptive abstinence.

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: Highly effective when used correctly. No side effects. No cost.

Cons: Giving up sex for a long time may be very hard. It may be hard to say “no” or “stop” while you’re enjoying other sex play.

Type: Medical

How it works: The two fallopian tubes that connect your ovaries and uterus are blocked, tied, clamped, sealed, or cut. Known as a tubal ligation, it’s commonly called “getting your tubes tied.”

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Ongoing

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Permanent, one-time procedure

Cons: You’ll have to go to the hospital, and you’ll need general anesthesia for the surgery. Risks of pain, bleeding, infection, and ectopic pregnancy afterward. Not meant to be reversed.

Type: Medical

How it works: The tubes from the testes to other glands are blocked so the semen no longer has sperm.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Ongoing

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: One-time procedure. Only needs local anesthesia.

Cons: Risks of pain, bleeding, and infection. Waiting period before it’s effective. Not meant to be reversed.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: Using a needle, a doctor sticks a matchstick-sized rod with progestin under the skin on your arm.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 3 years

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Long-term protection against pregnancy. Can be reversed easily if you want to become pregnant.

Cons: May cause changes in your bleeding pattern and weight gain. Possible breast and stomach pain.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: A small T-shaped device that has progestin goes into your uterus.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 3-5 years

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before having sex. Once removed, it’s possible to conceive. Can be used while breastfeeding. May cause lighter periods or no periods.

Cons: May cause irregular periods, pain, or ovarian cysts. In some unusual cases, in unusual cases, can make pelvic infections worse In rare instances, the IUD may get stuck in or on your uterus or a cause serious infection.

Type: Medical

How it works: A small T-shaped device with copper goes into your uterus. It keeps sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg. It may keep the egg from attaching to the lining of your uterus.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 10 years

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before having sex. Once removed, it’s possible to conceive. Can be used while breastfeeding.

Cons: May cause cramps or bleeding. In some unsusual cases, can make pelvic infections worse. In rare instances, the IUD could get stuck in or on your uterus or cause a serious infection.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: Your doctor gives you a shot of progestin.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 3 months

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before having sex. Birth control protection starts with the first shot. Reversible. Can use while breastfeeding.

Cons: Must get repeat injections on time. You may lose bone density when you get shots for more than 2 years in a row. You could have bleeding between periods, headaches, weight gain, nervousness, or tummy discomfort. You may not ovulate for up to a year after a shot.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: You put a flexible plastic ring into your vagina. It releases progestin and estrogen.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 1 month for each ring

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Easy to use. Nothing to do right before having sex.

Cons: Must keep the ring in place, and change it timely. Vaginal discharge, mild discomfort. Increased risks of heart attack and stroke. Can come out of place.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: You stick a square patch that’s about 2 inches across on your abdomen, buttocks, arm, or back. Your skin absorbs estrogen and progestin from it. Use it for 3 weeks, then skip a week so you have a period.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 1 week per patch

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Easy to use. Nothing to do right before sex.

Cons: Must be changed on time. May cause a skin reaction. Raises risks of blood clots and strokes.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: You take a pill with progestin and estrogen every day.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 3 months or 1 year, depending on your prescription

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before sex. Fewer or no periods. Makes menstrual cramps and acne less severe.

Cons: Must take a pill at the same time every day. May cause more spotting between periods than with regular birth control pills. Fewer or no periods makes it harder to know if you’re pregnant. Changes in your period, nausea, breast tenderness, headache, high blood pressure risks, and greater chances of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: You take a pill with progestin and estrogen every day.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 1 month per package

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before sex. Makes periods more regular and lighter. Makes menstrual cramps and acne less severe.

Cons: Must take a pill at the same time every day. Changes in your period. Nausea, breast tenderness, headache. You may develop high blood pressure. Higher risks of blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke.

Type: Hormonal

How it works: You take a pill with progestin every day.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: 1 month per package

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Nothing to do right before sex. Can be used while breastfeeding. Makes periods lighter. Makes menstrual cramps less severe. May be used by women who shouldn’t take the regular birth control pill because of high blood pressure, blood clots, migraines, and smoking over age 35.

Cons: Must take a pill at the same time every day. Can cause irregular bleeding, headache, breast tenderness, nausea, and dizziness.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You load a dome-shaped disk with sperm-killing jelly (nonoxynol-9) and put it into your vagina to cover your cervix.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 2 hours

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Works immediately. Can’t be felt by you or your partner. Can be used while breastfeeding. No hormonal changes. Can be inserted hours before having sex. Can be left inside the vagina for up to 24 hours, as long as you add spermicide each time you have sex and then every 2 hours afterward.

Cons: Must be fitted to your size and refitted often. Can cause irritation, allergic reactions, or infections. Spermicides with nonoxynol-9 can increase risks of HIV/AIDS. Must leave diaphragm in at least 6 hours after sex. More than 24 hours of use raises risks of toxic shock syndrome.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You put a thin sheath over your erect penis right before sex and take it off before the penis gets soft.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: One act of intercourse

STD protection? Yes

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: Widely available, easy to carry, and disposable. Latex condoms are the best protection against STDs other than abstinence.

Cons: Must be used every time you have sex. Makes sex less spontaneous, since you need to put the condom on properly. May cause irritation or allergic reactions.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You put a thin pouch into your vagina before sex.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: One act of intercourse

STD protection? Yes

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: Can be inserted before sex. Less decrease in sensation for men than with a male condom. Stronger than latex.

Cons: Can slip while using. May be hard to insert or remove. Not easy to find. More costly than male condoms.

Type: Behavior

How it works: The man takes his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: One act of intercourse

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: Free. Can be used with other forms of birth control.

Cons: The man may not pull out in time. Pre-ejaculate can still contain sperm.

Type: Behavior

How it works: You track your fertility to help you figure out which days to abstain or use a barrier method. There are different ways to do this.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: As long as it’s practiced

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: May be OK for some religious practices. Inexpensive. Helps you understand your body better.

Cons: Requires careful record keeping. You can’t be sexually spontaneous during fertile periods. Not useful if your period cycle lasts fewer than 26 or more than 32 days.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You put a disk with sperm-killing jelly (nonoxynol-9) into the vagina before having sex.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 24 hours

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? No

Pros: Works immediately. Can have sex more than once while inserted, with no need to add more spermicide.

Cons: May not fit well for women who’ve had a baby. Can cause irritation or allergic reactions or be difficult to remove from vagina. Spermicides with nonoxynol-9 can increase risks of HIV/AIDS. Must leave sponge in for at least 6 hours after sex. More than 24 to 30 hours of use raises risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You put a soft cup loaded with sperm-killing jelly (nonoxynol-9) inside the vagina to fit snugly over the cervix.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: Up to 42 hours

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Hormones? No

Pros: Smaller and uses less spermicide than a diaphragm. Reusable. Can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex. Can have sex more than once while inserted, with no need to add more spermicide.

Cons: May not fit well for women who’ve had a baby. May need to be resized. May cause irritation, allergic reactions, or abnormal pap smears. Spermicides with nonoxynol-9 can increase risks of HIV/AIDS. Must be left in for at least 6 hours after sex. More than 48 hours of use raises risks of toxic shock syndrome.

Type: Barrier

How it works: You put a foam, cream, jelly, film, or tablet containing sperm-killing nonoxynol-9 into your vagina.

Pregnancies per 100 women:

How long it lasts: One act of intercourse

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? No

Hormones? No

Pros: Easy to insert. Lubricates vagina.

Cons: Must be put inside the vagina 5-90 minutes before sex, and left inside for at least 6-8 hours after. May cause irritation, allergic reactions, and infections. Can increase risks of HIV/AIDS.

Type: Emergency hormonal

How it works: Stops an egg from leaving the ovary. May also prevent an egg from getting fertilized or attaching to the uterus lining.

Effectiveness: 7 out of 8 women who would have gotten pregnant won’t.

When it works: Up to 3 days after having unprotected sex or birth control failure

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? No, if you’re 18 or older; maybe, if you’re not

Pros: You can buy Plan B One-Step without a prescription. Next Choice and Plan B are available over-the-counter if you’re age 17 or older.

Cons: Not meant for regular birth control. If you’re under 17, you may need a prescription. May cause nausea, vomiting, tummy pain, fatigue, and headache.

Type: Emergency hormonal

How it works: Blocks a hormone to stop or delay the ovaries from releasing an egg. May also prevent the egg from attaching to the uterus lining.

Effectiveness: 6 or 7 out of every 10 women who would have gotten pregnant won’t.

When it works: Within 5 days of having unprotected sex or birth control failure

STD protection? No

Need to see a doctor? Yes

Pros: Can be taken later than other forms of emergency contraception. May be more effective than other emergency contraception if you’re overweight.

Cons: Not meant for regular birth control. Requires a prescription. Risks of headache, nausea, tummy pain, menstrual cramps, fatigue, or dizziness. Use only birth control methods without hormones for the next 5 days.

SOURCES:

The Kinsey Institute: “Choosing the Right Contraceptive Method.”

Dailard, C. The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, December 2003.

FDA: “Birth Control: Medicines to Help You.”

UpToDate: “Pregnancy rate (percent) during first year of use of contraceptives” and “Emergency Contraception.”

American Sexual Health Association: “Birth Control Method Comparison Chart.”

Center for Young Women’s Health: “Contraception: Success and Failure Rates of Contraceptives.”

Guttmacher Institute: “Contraceptive Use in the United States.”

CDC: “Effectiveness of Family Planning Methods.”

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: “Choosing a Birth Control Method.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Progestin-Only Contraceptives.”

Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Birth Control Methods Fact Sheet.”

Liletta.

Mirena.

Skyla. 

Pagination

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