The most popular form of birth control for penetrative sex, penile condoms can be used for penises, porous sex toys, over fingers, and even can be cut into a dental dam. In their traditional use, penile condoms are placed over the penis to catch semen and serve as a barrier between possible transmission of STDs. There are a variety of condom types and come in many sizes, colors, textures, and shapes as well as flavored and lubricated. Some vagina owners may find that certain condoms, especially pre-lubed options, may upset their vaginal pH levels. The most common condoms are made out a latex, which can stretch up to 800%. Latex condoms can be used with water based or hybrid lubes, as oil or silicone based lubes can effect the integrity of the condom. There are also non-latex condoms for persons with allergies or who prefer lubes made from polyurethane, silicone, lambskin, or other high tech synthetic materials. Lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs and all condoms integrity can be affected by yeast infections. Condoms are 82% effective as they can slip and break, especially it they are not worn correctly.
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Vaginal condoms, sometimes referred to as the female condom based on the brand name, can be inserted into the vagina or anus before sex. These condoms are made from a soft plastic, nitrile, and pre lubed for easy use. They are inserted similarly to a tampon or menstrual cup. Simply squeeze the ring, insert up into your cervix and remove your fingers, allowing the outer ring to hang outside your body. Vaginal condoms are latex free, single use and shouldn’t be used with a penile condom. When used as directed, there is a 95% protection rate. However, because of they are relatively new to the market, they are often misused, bringing that rate down to 79%.
Birth Control Pills
Birth Control Pills are a daily pill that contain hormones, either just estrogen or combined with progestin, that affects natural ovulation. The pill stop ovulation from happening, therefore not releasing an egg that can be fertilized by sperm. It also can increase the mucus present on your cervix, helping block any sperm from entering. The birth control pill is considered to be 91% affective and does require a prescription. There is a lot of debate over the pros and cons of birth control however the benefits and side effects differ from person to person. Some of the common negative side effects include weight gain, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, missed periods, spotting, and mood changes. However some of the positive benefits can be mood balancing, acne treatment, cyst treatment, decrease of PMS symptoms. I has also been known to reduce chances of cancer, prevent bone thinning, and protect against anemia. If you’re looking into trying birth control, the key is to find the right one that works for you which may take some trial and error. Birth control pills do not protect you against STDs.
Latex Dental Dam and Gloves
Much like the condom method, latex dam and gloves can be used as a barrier during sex to prevent the transmission of STDs. Dental dams can be used for oral sex of the vagina, penis or anus. Gloves are not only a great way of keeping anal play safe, they can also make play time cleaner and smoother. It is not recommended to use these methods for penetrative sex or for the use of preventing pregnancy.
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The intrauterine device or IUD is a small, T shaped insert made of plastic or copper. Plastic IUDs contain the birth control hormone progestin and works much like a birth control pill in terms of stopping ovulation, as well as stopping sperm from entering the cervix. This IUD can be kept in place for 3 to 6 years and is 99% effective in guarding against pregnancy. The copper IUD is doesn’t contain hormones and can be kept in up to 12 years. Both forms of the IUD don't protect against STDs but they are an excellent form of long term, low maintenance, reversible birth control. In addition to being effective and convenient, IUDs can help control PMS and unruly periods. It is easy to remove and doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant, once removed. However there are some disadvantages. There is pain, spotting, and cramping associated with the insertion as well as the few months that follow. The copper IUD can actually make periods heavier. There can also be complications with the cervix being punctured by the IUD yet this is not common.
Birth Control Implant
The birth control implant, or contraceptive implant, is a small, matchstick shaped implant that sits under the skin of the upper arm. Since this form of birth control is hormone based, using progestin, it’s only compatible with vagina owners. The small rod implant slowly releases the hormone into the bloodstream, working much like birth control pills do, and stops ovulation. The birth control implant can last up to 4 years but can be taken out anytime by a doctor. Not only is the implant convenient, over time it can help make periods lighter. However there are some cons of the implant that are common. Increases in acne, breast pain, headaches and weight are normal as your body acclimates to the hormone. It can also cause ovarian cysts and does not protect you from STDs.
Birth Control Patch
The birth control patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that sticks to the skin much like a bandage. This patch slowly releases estrogen and progestin in the body, stopping the natural ovulation process in persons with vaginas. This birth control patch needs to changed once a weekly and be left off every 3rd week for a natural period to occur. The patch needs to be placed on clean, dry skin to stay in place. If applied correctly, it should stay on during swimming, exercising and showering. The benefits can be reduction of acne, it won’t affect weight and can actually lighten and shorten periods. This method of birth control can protect against ovarian cancer, anemia, pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian cysts. There can be some cons to the patch- spotting, breast tenderness, nausea and changes in mood. The birth control patch does not protect you against STDs.
Birth Control Shot
The birth control shot is an injection of progestin hormone that provides birth control protection for 3 months. A prescription is needed for the shot however it can be administered by a healthcare professional or done at home. The birth control shot is 94% effective and does not protect against STDs. This shot, which is given every 3 months, stops the ovulation process. In the short term, spotting or irregular periods are common and eventually periods may even stop with consistent use. Weight gain, bloating, and headaches can occur, though acne affects can vary from person to person. This method of birth control can protect against ovarian cancer, anemia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian cysts, though it can adversely affect bone density over long time use.
Birth Control Vaginal Ring
The birth control vaginal ring, mostly commonly known by the brand name Nuvaring, works much like any other birth control hormonal implant. Estrogen and progestin are slowly released through the ring that sits inside the vagina. The vaginal ring is 98 to 99% effective when used correctly, including insertion and proper waiting periods. A new ring needs to be used every month and a prescription is required.
Breastfeeding as birth control, also known as the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM), is a temporary birth control method for new mothers. For the first 6 months, if a new mother is breastfeeding continuously, there no is hormone released to start the process of ovulation. When a natural menstrual cycle occurs after 6 months, another form of birth control should be used.
A cervical cap is a silicone cup inserted up into the vagina up to 6 hours prior to sex. This cap can be used in conjunction with a spermicide adding in the prevention of pregnancy. The cervical cap is 71-86% affective and doesn’t protect against STDs. There are some concerns over spermicide being body safe as it can cause skin rashes, infections, allergic reactions and UTIs.
A diaphragm is much like a cervical cap, being a dome shaped, silicone cup that’s inserted into the vaginal a few hours before sex. The only difference it has from a cervical cap is it’s shape and therefore where it sits. Its 88% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Fertility Awareness Method
The fertility awareness method, also known as the cycle method, has gotten a new burst of popularity coming out with FDA approved apps supporting the method. However, unless you have a consistent period without fail, this may not be the method for you. The FA Method is a combination of counting days, taking daily temperatures, PH tests and ovulation tests to determine what days you can have unprotected penetrative sex. It takes a lot of effort and is really easy to get wrong, making it only 76% to 88% effective. Of course, this method doesn’t protect against STDs and does require you to use another birth control method on that days that you are ovulating and therefore fertile.
Spermicide is a chemical that kills sperm, not allowing it to enter the cervix. Spermicide can be found in creams, gels, lubes, films, foams and condoms. Spermicide has an average preventive rate of 72% and does not protect against STDs. There are some concerns over spermicide being body safe as it can cause skin rashes, infections, allergic reactions and UTIs.
The pull out method is often thought of as a non birth control because of the inconsistency of it’s pregnancy prevention and lack of any STD protection. The range of effectiveness ranges from 73% to 96% and is based on the self awareness and self control of the partner with the penis. There is a lot of debate over whether pre-ejaculate, the liquid released from the penis to help with natural lubrication, contains sperm which can cause pregnancy and most likely differs from person to person. This method provides no protections from STDs.