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Navigating women's birth control options

WASHINGTON -- Worried about birth control in light of headlines about side effects from Yaz and the patch? Women have options that are safe and effective, including some that are even more reliable.

You can choose a contraceptive that's used daily, weekly, monthly, once every three months, once every three years, even once a decade.

Yet almost half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended -- and experts say confusion and uncertainty is a big reason.

"We have a whole generation now of young adults, the vast majority of whom are sexually active, who are in a fog about modern contraception," says Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "They don't know enough to make a reasonable choice."

In a recent survey, the campaign found 42 percent of unmarried 18- to 29-year-olds said they knew little about birth control pills and two-thirds knew little about even more effective long-lasting contraceptives.

To help, Brown's center has opened a website -- -- to offer frank answers for questions you might be embarrassed to ask.

Wonder how easy it is to use the NuvaRing, or what the once-every-three-months contraceptive shot costs? Can't imagine how to insert the female condom? Want to know if your partner could feel your IUD?

To avoid pregnancy, the average American woman will need contraception for several decades. The right choice when you're 20 might not still be at 35 or 40. Starting in 2013, affording different types may become easier as the new health care law requires insurance to cover contraception with no copays.


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