V. Birth Control: Barrier, Hormonal, & Behavioral
Birth Control/Contraception: a regimen of one or more actions, devices, or medications followed in order to deliberately prevent or reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant or, in some cases, catching STIs.
Some people and cultures don't believe in certain types of birth control, but that is no reason to not be safe. Even if it is against your beliefs, please always consider using birth control if you are planning on being sexually active, especially if it is with more than one partner or with a partner whose sexual history you do not know or doubt.
Warning: I cannot possibly discuss every single type of pill and method available and the combinations you can use. It is important that you talk to your doctor if you want more information on birth control, especially with hormonal and behavioral methods.
For clarification, perfect use rate refers to the failure rate when the method is used perfectly. Typical use rate refers to how effective the method is when it is typically used.
These are methods that operate by physically preventing sperm from entering the uterus. A few of these forms are the only ways to protect against STIs.
It is important to remember that certain lubricants can dissolve condoms, so always use a water based lubricant that states it is condom-friendly.
Condom. This is a device that is placed upon the male peni.s and physically prevents ejacu.lation from entering the partner. It can prevent pregnancy and the spreading of STIs. Most condoms are made from latex, but you can find types made out of polyurethane or lamb intestine. Can be purchased from a pharmacy without a doctor's visit.
Perfect Use: 2%; Typical Use: 10-18%
Female Condom. This is a device that is placed inside the partner to prevent pregnancy and reduce the spreading of STIs by physically blocking ejacu.lation from entering the partner. They can be made from polyurethane, nitrile rubber, or latex. Can be purchased from a pharmacy without a doctor's visit.
Perfect Use: 5%; Typical Use: 21%
Cervical Cap. This device is that is fitted over the cervix before intercourse and physically stops sperm to prevent pregnancy. It does not prevent against STIs! You must visit a doctor to have these fitted to you and some women may not be able to use them. It can be placed into the cervix well before intercourse and should be left in for a minimum of 6-8 hours after ejacu.lation, but should be removed within 48-72 hours. Some are disposable while others can be washed and reused for up to one to two years depending on the type and they can be made out of latex or silicone.
Perfect Use: 9-26%; Typical Use: 15-32%
Diaphragm. This device is a latex or silicone dome that is placed into the cervix to create a seal with the vagin.al walls to prevent pregnancy. It does not protect against STIs and it is recommended to use one with spermicide. You must to visit a doctor to be fitted for use. To use this device, you should insert it before sex and it must remain inside for a minimum of 6-8 hours after ejacu.lation, then be washed for reuse. It can cause a possible urinary tract infection and, in rare cases, toxic shock syndrome.
Perfect Use: 6%; Typical Use: 10-39%
Sterilization. Referred to as a vasectomy for males, it involves the cutting and closing of the tubes that carry sperm to prevent pregnancy. Women undergo a tubal litigation, which involves cutting, clipping, or cauterizing the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. Both involve operations and are permanent, though tubal litigation is a longer, more major surgery that requires longer recovery time than a vasectomy. A hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus, can also prevent pregnancy. None of these methods prevent STIs.
Perfect Use: <1%; Typical Use: <1%
Contraceptive Sponge. A sponge that is inserted into the vagin.a and placed over the cervix before sex to trap sperm. The sponge is then left in for several hours before removal. It largely relies upon the use of spermicide, which makes many question its effectiveness, and it does not prevent STIs. It can cause yeast infestions, urinary tract infections, and, in rare cases, toxic shock syndrome, particularly in women who are allergic to spermicide.
Perfect Use: 9-26%; Typical Use: 16-32%
These are methods of birth control that affect the hormonal system in order to prevent pregnancy. There is no protection against STIs with thse methods.
Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill/"The Pill".
Progesterone Only Pill.
Contraceptive Vagin.al Ring.
These are methods that involve regulating the timing or methods of intercourse to prevent the introduction of sperm into the female reproductive tract, either altogether or when an egg may be present.
Fertility Awareness. Involves the use of different practices to keep track of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. There are two types, one is symptoms based, which involves tracking body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical positions, and the other is calendar based, which involves tracking your period dates. You must strictly stick to the cycles to prevent pregnancy and it does not prevent STIs. This is not recommended for teenagers and you should speak to a doctor before using these methods.
Symptom Tracking-Perfect Use: 1-3%; Typical Use: 3-25%
Calendar Tracking-Perfect Use: 5-9%; Typical Use: 3-25%
Coitus Interruptus/"Pull Out Method". This involves having sex, but the man pulls out before ejacu.lating and then ejacu.lates outside and away from his partner. This method is heavily reliant upon self control, which is why it has a high failure rate, and is not recommended for teenagers and inexperienced men. It is important to not have sex immediately after ejacu.lating in order to prevent pregnancy, which can be caused by the possible presence of sperm in the man's precum. There is no protection against STIs when using this alone.
Perfect Use: 4%; Typical Use: 15-28%
Avoiding Vagin.al Intercourse. This is the choice to have anal, oral, or non-penetrative sex. The chances of pregnancy are virtually zero, though it is still possible. If you choose to have unprotected sex, there is still a strong possibility of catching an STI.
Abstinence. The act of not participating in any sexual activity, particularly penetrative sex. This is the only way to absolutely prevent pregnancy and STIs.