For most people, sex is a lot more fun when you know that you are NOT going to get pregnant. How well do you know your birth control? Are you an expert, or are you still practicing birth control at a junior high level?
Last Modified: 2013-08-29 | Tags »
Sex, safe sex, birth control, the pill, condoms, pregnancy, STDs.
Prescription birth control, otherwise known as the pill, is one of the most commonly used methods for contraception. Watch this video for more information about the pros and cons the pill.
Transcript: Oral contraception, more commonly known as "the pill," is the most popular method of prescription birth...
Oral contraception, more commonly known as "the pill," is the most popular method of prescription birth control in the United States. It comes in two forms: combination, and progestin-only, which is often referred to as the "mini-pill." Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin, two types of hormones similar to those made naturally by a woman's ovaries. This combination pill works primarily by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. Some combination pills, like Yas and Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, contain less estrogen for women who feel the effects of the hormone more strongly or those who prefer to take minimal doses. The mini-pill, which only contains progestin, works by thickening a woman's cervical mucous and thinning the lining of the uterus. It may also suppress ovulation, but not reliably like combination pills. For this reason, the Mini-Pill is less forgiving than the combination pill and MUST be taken at the same time each day. To start taking the pill, you must get a prescription from a doctor, who will decide which type and dose is best for you. After getting the prescription filled, a woman should begin taking the pill according to her doctor's instructions. For maximum efficacy, the pill should be taken at the exact same time every day. Combination pills come in 21 or 28-day packs. Both have 21 hormonally active days of pills, while the last seven days in a 28 pack are simply "reminder" pills, which do NOT contain any hormones. Progestin-only pills come in 28-day packs, every day of which contains hormones. Regardless of the type of combination pill a woman takes, menstruation occurs during the fourth week of her cycle. Women taking combination pills have the option of suppressing a period by skipping the "placebo" week and starting a new pack immediately. Meanwhile, with the progestin-only pill, the periods can be irregular, or even disappear altogether. The pill is such a popular method of birth control due to its price tag-about $15 U.S. dollars a month-and its high rate of effectiveness-over 99 percent when used perfectly. In addition, the combination pill has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer of the ovaries and uterus. Other benefits include a reduction in acne, osteoporosis, and premenstrual symptoms. Of course, the pill is not for everyone. It has been shown to slightly increase the risk of a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain. For this reason, it is NOT recommended for use by women with a history of blood clots, blood clotting disorders, or uncontrolled high blood pressure. Nor is it recommended for smokers over the age of 35. In addition, women over 180 pounds, or who have a body mass index above 30, and those who take certain medications like St. John's Wort, may find the pill less effective. If you are taking oral contraceptives, remember that your birth control does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so you will want to use a condom as back-up. The pill is a very effective method of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but it is not for everyone. Women that may have trouble remembering to take contraception should explore other methods.More »
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Many people who have sex choose to use over the counter birth control. Learn more about non prescription birth control in this video.
Transcript: Millions of people who choose to engage in sex use over-the-counter, or OTC, methods of birth control,...
Millions of people who choose to engage in sex use over-the-counter, or OTC, methods of birth control, including male and female condoms, the sponge, and spermicides. Over-the-counter methods are appealing because they are available without a prescription, are inexpensive, and don't alter a woman's hormones. The most commonly used method of birth control is the male condom. A condom is a latex or plastic sheath that is worn on the penis to collect semen. If used perfectly EVERY TIME, condoms are 98 percent effective against pregnancy, but with typical use, they are about 85 percent effective. In addition, condoms are most effective when used with a separately applied vaginal spermicide. To put on a condom, unroll it over an erect penis to the base, leaving about a half- inch of space in the tip for semen. The female condom is another OTC method, effective 95 percent of the time when used perfectly, or 80 percent effective with typical use. It offers some protection against STDs and is a good alternative for people who are allergic to latex. The female condom is a plastic pouch with rings at both ends. It is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and prevent sperm from entering the uterus. To use it, insert the closed ring into the vagina like a tampon. Let the outer ring hang an inch outside the vagina. While using a lubricant can make both the male and female condom more comfortable, NEVER use an oil-based brand with latex, as this can cause breakage. Condoms are more effective when combined with another method of birth control, like spermicides. Although spermicides can be used alone, they only reduce pregnancy by 85 percent, and are ineffective at protecting against STDs. Spermicides, which are available in cream, foam, jelly, and suppository form, block the entrance to the uterus and immobilize sperm. Although each preparation is a bit different, a spermicide should generally be inserted into the vagina about ten minutes before intercourse. Spermicide should be reapplied before each additional sexual encounter. Another birth control method that utilizes spermicide is the soft, plastic female sponge. The sponge covers the cervix to block sperm, and generally reduces pregnancy risk by 70 to 90 percent depending on a woman's conception history and accuracy of use. The sponge continuously releases a spermicide. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before intercourse and must remain in place for at least six hours afterward. Before inserting the sponge, activate the spermicide by moistening it with water and squeezing gently. Then, fold the sponge upward from the loop at the bottom and slide it deeply into the vagina. While each of these OTC methods offers protection against pregnancy, none of them are 100 percent effective, and only condoms offer any protection against STDs. Sex is fun, but it does come with risks. Remember to talk to your doctor AND your partner about the birth control method that is right for you, and to use it correctly every time!More »
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A diaphragm is an internal birth control device. It has proved to be a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy. Learn more about diaphragms in this video.
Transcript: A woman can often avoid an unwanted pregnancy by inserting one of several prescription forms of birth...
A woman can often avoid an unwanted pregnancy by inserting one of several prescription forms of birth control, such as the diaphragm, the ring, or the implant. Women who use internal birth control appreciate that it is not felt by either partner, nor does insertion interfere with sex play. On the other hand these forms all require a doctors prescription to obtain and are initially more expensive than over-the-counter methods. The most common of these, the diaphragm, is a dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim made of latex or silicone. This barrier method is used with a spermicide cream or jelly. The diaphragm is inserted into the vagina and fits securely over the cervix. This blocks entry to the uterus, while the spermicide immobilizes wayward sperm. The diaphragm should be inspected under a light before insertion to be sure that no punctures have developed. Two hours or less before intercourse, squirt spermicide in the cup and spread the extra around the rim. Find a comfortable position and separate the vaginal labia. Fold the cup in half, then push the device back in the vagina. The front rim should be wedged behind the pubic bone and the cup should be covering the cervix entirely. Leave a diaphragm in place for six hours after intercourse. If properly cared for, a diaphragm can often be used for about two years. But because changes, such as weight gain, can alter the fit of the diaphragm, bring your device with you to every ob-gyn appointment. Both the contraceptive vaginal ring, called the NUVA-ring, and the progestin implant, called Implanon, are hormonal methods which protect against pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. For this reason, they are more than 99 percent effective with perfect use, compared to the diaphragms 94 percent. The implant, or Implanon, is a plastic device which is the size of a match. Once inserted, it begins releasing the hormone etonogestrel, a progestin, immediately. A doctor inserts Implanon into the arm after numbing the area with local anesthesia. It can be left in place and be effective for up to three years, or can be removed earlier if pregnancy is so desired. Women who use the implant may experience irregular bleeding, but some wind up not menstruating at all. The vaginal ring, on the other hand, contains estrogen and progesterone and encourages a normal 4-week cycle. NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina once a month. Its then left in place for three weeks, and taken out for one, during which time menstruation occurs. Insert the ring by pressing the sides together and sliding it gently into the vagina. Unlike with the diaphragm, exact placement is not crucial, since the ring releases hormones through the vaginal mucous. Because both the ring and the implant alter a womans hormones, some side effects, like irregular bleeding, weight gain, or breast tenderness may result. All of these methods are effective, but require more of a commitment than over-the-counter birth controland NONE of them protect against sexually transmitted diseases. If youre considering internal methods of birth control, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each before making a decision!More »
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How effective birth control is depends on your contraception method and how perfectly it's used. Learn more in this video.
Transcript: Anytime you're getting busy in the bedroom, there's a chance you'll conceive. So, if you're not ready...
Anytime you're getting busy in the bedroom, there's a chance you'll conceive. So, if you're not ready for that kind of a threesome, consider contraception carefully. Before you get hot and heavy, you should know that only abstinence provides a 100% guarantee that you won't get pregnant. Since you probably won't choose that option, you should know how good your birth control method really is at preventing conception. The effectiveness of any form of birth control is measured by something called the birth control failure rate, which tells us, on average, what percentage of couples using that birth control method will get pregnant during a full year of use. For example, if a contraception method is 90% effective, 10% of all women using that form of birth control would become pregnant over the course of a single year. But effectiveness is a tricky word, because many people make mistakes when they use birth control-like forgetting to take the Pill, or pulling out too late while using the withdrawal method-that can reduce the success of their contraception method. That's why the effectiveness of most birth control methods is reported in two ways effectiveness when used perfectly, and a real effectiveness rate, which is based on how people actually use it. According to the FDA, hormonal methods of birth control have the best rates of success. The Pill, for example, has a 99.1-percent effectiveness rating with perfect use, and a 95% rating with standard use. An intrauterine device, which is place in a woman's uterus by a doctor and therefore has not standard use, has over a 99% effectiveness rating. The hormonal shot, which is also administered by a doctor is 97.7% effective. Similarly, the hormonal implant, like Norplant, which is inserted by a doctor, is always 99.9% effective. The male latex condom is 97% effective if used perfectly, but only 86% effective with typical use. The diaphragm is 94-percent effective with perfect use, and 80-percent effective with standard use. When used alone, spermicide is 94-percent effective if applied correctly, but only 74-percent effective based on actual use. Natural methods, like withdrawal, are not particularly effective at preventing pregnancy. The withdrawal method is 96-percent effective with perfect use, but only 81-percent effective with typical use. And, if you choose to forgo birth control altogether for a full year, there is an 85 percent chance that you'll become pregnant! Measuring the effectiveness of birth control in a single use is harder, because the likelihood of a woman getting pregnant varies dramatically throughout her menstrual cycle. Nonetheless, you can get an estimate of how effective one of these methods is for a one-night stand, by taking the annual failure rate and dividing it by 50. For example, if you use a male condom, here's the math: The male condom is 86% effective annually, so it has a 14% annual failure rate. Divide 14% by 50, and you get .3%. So, all other things being equal, if you use the male condom the way it's typically used, your chances of getting pregnant are less than 3 in 1,000. Whichever method of birth control you choose, there is still a chance that you'll get pregnant; and remember many forms of birth control offer no protection against STDs.More »
Last Modified: 2013-01-02 | Tags »
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Tired of taking the pill? Behavioral birth control may be just the thing for you. Learn about the pros and cons of this method by watching this video.
Transcript: Behavioral methods of birth control rely on couples adjusting their sexual practices to reduce the chances...
Behavioral methods of birth control rely on couples adjusting their sexual practices to reduce the chances of an unplanned pregnancy. These methods are advantageous in that they are free and require no prescription. Withdrawal is a method of birth control whereby a man pulls his penis out of the vagina before ejaculation. This can prevent pregnancy by keeping a sperm from meeting the egg. Unfortunately, 30 percent of people who rely on the withdrawal method conceive anyway. This is because even pre-ejaculate can cause a pregnancy. It also takes a LOT of self-control for a man to pull out at the height of pleasure, particularly if he is prone to premature ejaculation. Some couples rely on behavioral "fertility awareness methods," or FAMs. These depend on a woman tuning in to her body's ovulation cycles and refraining from sex on days when she is likely to release an egg. Before a couple can use FAMs, they must understand that a man's sperm can live in a woman's body for five or six days. A woman's egg, meanwhile, survives for one day after release. There are several ways to determine if a woman is ovulating, one of which is called the temperature method. A woman's body temperature rises minutely-between 0.4 to 0.8 degrees-on the day she ovulates, and remains elevated until her period. A couple is less likely to conceive between three days after the temperature rise to the day it falls again. A woman's body temperature rises minutely-between 0.4 to 0.8 degrees-on the day she ovulates, and remains elevated until her period. A couple is less likely to conceive between three days after the temperature rise to the day it falls again. Other couples use the calendar method, where the woman charts her menstrual cycles and abstains from sex on the days she's likely to be fertile...usually the five days prior to, day of, and day after, ovulation. Other FAMs include the standard days method, whereby a woman uses a special string of beads to chart ovulation, and the mucous method, where she monitors vaginal discharge to determine when conception is likely. While each of these FAMs can work, they are only about eighty percent effective, assuming the methods are followed strictly. Human error and other common factors can contribute to the failure rate. This is because ovulation can be altered by even slight stressors, like illness or diet alterations. In addition, most women don't ovulate at the same time every month, and charting fertility patterns consistently requires much dedication! Because behavioral methods other than abstinence have such a high margin of error, they are NOT recommended as primary means of birth control. In addition, none of the behavioral birth control methods (with the exception of abstinence), offer ANY protection against another common result of intercourse: sexually transmitted diseases. Intercourse can easily result in conception, so couples who don't wish to have a child should use birth control when being intimate. Talk to your doctor about the method that's best for YOU.More »
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Permanent birth control is more common than you'd think. Click here to watch this video and find out more about these birth control methods.
Transcript: Non-reversible birth control, or sterilization, is the most popular method of preventing conception in...
Non-reversible birth control, or sterilization, is the most popular method of preventing conception in the United States, perhaps because it does NOT affect a couple's sex life. The female procedure is called tubal sterilization and the male operation is called a vasectomy. No matter which procedure a couple chooses, they must know that their decision is PERMANENT and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Vasectomy is more common than tubal sterilization and the procedure is nearly 100 percent effective. A man's reproductive cells, called sperm, are made in the testes. They then pass through two tubes, called the vas deferens, and mix with other fluids to form semen, which exits the penis during ejaculation. A vasectomy works by blocking both vas deferens tubes, therefore preventing sperm from entering the semen. Usually, a vasectomy takes place in a doctor's office under local anesthesia. An incision is made on each side of the scrotum. Then, a doctor will either tie the vas deferens, block them with clips, or cauterize them with heat, cold, or electrical currents. Also available is a "no-incision" procedure, which involves making a small puncture in the scrotum to reach the tubes. The cost for a vasectomy varies from 400 to 1,000 U.S. dollars. After a vasectomy, sperm remain in the body for about three months. Until a semen analysis shows an absence of sperm, a couple MUST use additional birth control as conception is still possible during this time of sperm clearing. A tubal sterilization is equally as effective, but is more invasive and costs more than a vasectomy...In the United States, up to $6,000. Therefore, it's generally advised that a mutually monogamous couple undergo a vasectomy over a tubal ligation. During tubal sterilization, a woman's fallopian tubes are closed. Because these tubes are where egg meets sperm, this makes pregnancy impossible. All tubal sterilizations involve an incision and are performed in an outpatient hospital setting under general anesthesia. Interestingly, as a non-contraceptive side benefit, a tubal ligation has been associated with a reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer. Most commonly, a minimally invasive procedure involving a laparoscope is used for the tubal sterilization process. However, a mini-laparatomy can also be performed when necessary. Additionally, sterilization can be completed during a cesarean-section if so desired. While each procedure is a bit different, they all involve a surgeon making an incision in the abdomen. The tubes are either tied shut, fastened with clips, or cauterized. A method which does not involve an incision is called the Essure permanent birth control procedure. During this procedure, the cervix is numbed and a camera that provides a view of the uterus called a hysperscope, is inserted into the vagina. Two soft metallic coils are then placed at the opening of the fallopian tubes. The coils cause scar tissue to grow and block the tubes. This method must be followed by a radiologic test called an HSG, or hysterosalpingogram, to demonstrate that the tubes are definitively blocked and another form of birth control is no longer necessary. Permanent sterilization is just that-permanent. If you are considering this option, it's vital to weigh the pros and cons with your partner before undergoing these life-changing procedures!More »
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Think about using an IUD? Check out this video to learn all you need to know about internal birth control.
Transcript: An intra-uterine device, or an IUD, is a T-shaped, plastic instrument that is inserted into a womans...
An intra-uterine device, or an IUD, is a T-shaped, plastic instrument that is inserted into a womans uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of IUDs available in the United States: ParaGard and Mirena. ParaGard is an older form of an IUD that contains copper. Its presence encourages the body to release leukocytes and prostaglandins, substances that are hostile to both sperm and eggs, or ova. Mirena does this as well, but it also contains progestin. This hormone decreases the frequency with which a woman releases eggs. In addition, Mirena changes the structure of a womans cervical mucous, making it difficult for sperm to meet egg. Both ParaGard and Mirena have a more controversial element: They act to thin the lining of the uterus, which may inhibit the implantation of an already fertilized egg. Some individuals believe that this is a form of abortion and opt not to use this type of birth control. Although both types have different methods of action, they are inserted in the same manner. A doctor measures the length and width of the cervix and uterus with an instrument called a sound. Then, a tube containing the IUD is inserted through the vagina into the uterus. Once there, the devices folded arms open up to a T-form. Strings at the bottom of the IUD are then snipped to rest just outside the cervix. They can be felt with a finger, and assure a woman that her IUD is in place. IUD insertion may cause pain and cramps, and some doctors recommend taking pain medicine prior to the procedure. It can also help to insert the device mid-cycle, when the cervix is naturally dilated. Once inserted, an IUD is more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, lasting for five years in Mirenas case, and ten or more in ParaGards. Should a woman decide to have her IUD removed early, she might take up to a year to get pregnant. This long length of time, unobtrusive placement, and ease of use, all contribute to the IUDs popularity. In addition, its $200 to $500 price tag makes it the cheapest form of long-term birth control in the United States. In addition, Mirena can reduce or even end menstruation within one year of insertion. ParaGard, on the other hand, may increase menstrual flow by 50 percent. Generally, this form of birth control has relatively few side complications, although on a rare occasion, the device will push through the wall of the uterus, resulting in a uterine perforation. If this is left undiscovered, the IUD can move around and damage internal organs. Also, in the unlikely event that a woman becomes pregnant while using an IUD, she is more likely to miscarry, give birth prematurely, or have an ectopic pregnancy, which is a dangerous condition whereby a fertilized egg develops in a fallopian tube. To avoid a pregnancy, its important for a woman to wash her hands, insert her finger into the vagina, and feel for the string between periods, thereby ensuring that the device has not moved. Intra-uterine devices are incredibly effective and very popular, however, they do NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of an IUD.More »
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Some women may choose to use hormonal birth control rather than other options. But how do you know if the patch or the shot are right for you? Watch this video to find out more about these methods.
Transcript: Hormonal birth control is extremely successful at preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but some women find...
Hormonal birth control is extremely successful at preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but some women find taking daily oral contraception to be an inconvenience. For these people, other hormonal methods may be useful, including the patch and the shot. The shot, which is more commonly known under its brand name, Depo-Provera, is an injection of hormones that prevents pregnancy. Depo-Provera stops conception in several ways, mainly by preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens a woman's cervical mucous and reduces motility of the fallopian tubes, making it less likely for a sperm to join an egg. In addition, the shot thins the lining of the uterus, which may make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. Some people consider this an early form of an abortion and therefore find it unethical. In addition to the hormonal changes which help to prevent pregnancy, most women experience a reduction in their menstrual flow, or a complete cessation of periods altogether. A woman using Depo-Provera receives the injection in a doctor's office every twelve weeks. It works to prevent conception for the full three months afterward. The shot is 97 percent effective and usually costs between $30 and $75 U.S. dollars, per injection. This, in conjunction with the fact that Depo-Provera does not contain estrogen, (a common ingredient in many hormonal methods), makes it popular with the women who use it. However, use of the shot beyond two years is not advised as it is associated with bone density loss and osteoporosis. For this reason, some women may prefer a newer method of hormonal birth control: the patch. The patch is a thin, beige-colored device that adheres to a woman's skin like a band-aid for a week at a time. After receiving a prescription for the patch, a woman will apply the sticky part to the skin of her buttocks, stomach, upper arm, or upper torso. On the same day a week later, the patch should be removed and replaced. This continues for three weeks, with a one week break during which a woman has her period. This device works in the same manner as Depo-Provera. With correct use, the patch is more than 99 percent effective and is usually quite affordable at about $30 U.S dollars per month. However, women who are over 180 pounds or who have a body mass index greater than 30 may experience less success with this method. In addition, the patch is not recommended for people who take certain medications, like those used to treat seizures. In general, both the shot and the patch are quite effective at preventing pregnancy; however neither offers protection against sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, some women use condoms to reduce STD transmission and for back-up pregnancy prevention. If you're considering a hormonal method of birth control, carefully weigh your options and talk to your doctor about which may be right for you!More »
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