Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Info and tips for correct and consistent contraceptive use!

Recently, the Guttmacher Institute released a report saying what we have known for a long time to be true. Birth control works! Contraceptives are essential in preventing unwanted pregnancies and in the case of condoms, sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Correct and consistent use of contraceptives dramatically reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies.

In case you missed it, the key part of that sentence was correct and consistent. Most contraceptive failure is caused by the user (read: you and/or your partner). The good news is that most misuse can be easily prevented by following the directions of your chosen birth control method. In addition to that tidbit of common-sense, here are some additional tips to ensure your birth control is working at the highest level possible:

  • There are many hormonal contraceptive options, the most popular being the birth control pill. The pill works the best when it is taken once a day at the same time. Taking it around the same time of say 4-5 times a week just isn’t gonna cut it. If you find it hard to remember to take the pill each day, try setting a reminder alarm on your cell phone or sign up for one of the many free online services (like MissMint.com) that send a daily reminder via text or an email. You could also make taking the pill part of your regular routine. Do you have a skin care or bed time routine that you perform every day at the same time? Take your pill at the beginning of your routine and soon it will become an unforgettable part.
  • If you miss two or more pills, be sure to use a back up method. Important side note: vomiting within a two hour period of taking the pill is the equivalent of skipping a pill.
  • If you are just beginning the pill or starting a new brand and find yourself facing nausea, try taking your pill at night, which can help reduce the side effect of nausea.

If you find that the pill doesn’t work for you – for whatever reason - there are other methods you can try:

  • The Patch is a hormonal birth control that is placed on your skin and changed once a week. Think square band-aid, but all adhesive. You wear it three weeks per month with one inactive week.
  • The NuvaRing is a soft plastic ring that is inserted vaginally once a month for a three week time span. Just like using tampons, it may take some getting used to, but once they work out the initial kinks, many women enjoy the freedom of only thinking about their birth control once a month.
  • The IUD is a small flexible plastic or copper device that is shaped like the letter T and inserted directly into the uterus. You can get an IUD with or without hormones and they last from 5-10 years. FYI: If you are a young woman without children, you may have to do some searching to find a doctor willing to insert an IUD.  
Because they are not taken daily, there is less chance of missing a dose with these methods. However, with the Patch or NuvaRing it is still important to mark your calendar to make sure you’re on schedule with replacing when needed.

If you choose a hormonal type of BC, be aware (or beware!) that certain antibiotics and supplements can make any form of hormonal birth control less effective. Ask your doctor or pharmacists before you start any new medication or supplements!

The downer is that these methods do not protect against STIs, so condoms still play an important role in keeping sex safe.
Come back tomorrow to hear about condom use and some mistakes to avoid!

2 comments:

Anna Spears said...
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Anna Spears said...

Thanks so much for this article. It is a lifesaver. It's hard to do research and compare different kinds of birth control. This article will make for a good rule of thumb when women think about getting their own birth control plan.

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