Hi! My name is Christine Gannon and I run the Sexuality Program for the Deaf at Planned Parenthood SE PA. Each month this Health Bridges website has topics about ideas about how to advocate for yourself in the health care setting. This time I will talk about taking control of outcomes related to your sexual life.
If you are having sex, and you do not want to become pregnant or get your partner pregnant, you can use birth control methods to help you.
At Planned Parenthood, we offer a full range of sexual health care services that are provided to women, men and teens each year all over the country at reduced fees.
No birth control is 100% effective, but it is more effective when used correctly. It’s a good idea to speak to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of each method.
Deciding to use birth control is a personal decision, and it requires you think about what you want for yourself, your partner, your family, and your future. You have the right to use protection every time, all the time.
There are many things to consider when choosing birth control:
- How well does it work?
- Is it easy to use?
- Where can I get it?
- How much does it cost?
- What are the side effects?
- Will this method protect me from HIV and other STIs?
- Do I need to use it every day? Or only when I want to have sex?
- Can I use it by myself if my partner won’t help?
- Does it fit with my values and beliefs?
Some birth control methods require a visit to a doctor or your local Planned Parenthood clinic.
THE PILL, THE PATCH, THE RING, THE SHOT
Women can take hormonal birth control methods, including the pill, the patch, the ring, and the shot (Depo-Provera). These methods use artificial hormones to prevent pregnancy and they are very effective when used correctly. They do not provide protection against HIV and
Protection Tip: Keep a calendar to remember when to get a new pill pack, switch the patch or ring, or get a shot!
An IUD is a small t-shaped device inserted by a doctor into a woman’s uterus to help prevent pregnancy. It is generally very effective, and can be used for several years at a time. A doctor can remove it at any time.
Protection Tip: Some IUDs release hormones to block pregnancy and some don’t, so talk to your doctor about which one is right for you!
A diaphragm fits into a woman’s vagina to create a barrier against sperm. Diaphragms are inserted before sex, then taken out afterwards. They can be used for five to ten years, although a woman may need a new one if she loses or gains 10 pounds.
Protection Tip: Use spermicide with your diaphragm to make it more effective!
Implanon, also known as the implant, is a thin match-sized piece of plastic that is inserted into a woman’s arm. It releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. It is effective for up to three years, although a doctor can remove it at any time.
Protection Tip: Since this is a newer method, call your local Planned Parenthood clinic first
to see if it is available!
Some birth control methods are available over the counter at your local drug store.
Condoms are used during sex as a barrier against sperm and body fluids. Male condoms (put on the penis) and female condoms (inserted in the vagina) are the only birth control that help protect against HIV and STIs.
Protection Tip: Check the expiration date and make sure that the condom does not have any holes!
These are chemicals placed in the vagina before sex to kill sperm. They come in many different forms: foam, film, suppositories, and the sponge.
Protection Tip: Use them with other methods so you are better protected!
Emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill or Plan B, is a back-up in case the condom breaks, a woman forgets her pill, or no birth control is used. It’s a pack of two pills that a woman can take up to 5 days or 120 hours after unprotected sex. It prevents pregnancy from happening, but does not cause an abortion if the woman is already pregnant. It can be purchased at a drug store if a woman is 17 or older, or at a doctor or Planned Parenthood at any age.
Protection Tip: The sooner you take it after sex, the better it works!
Remember, only abstinence is 100% effective. If you do become pregnant, you have options. Visit a Planned Parenthood clinic to learn more.
All of the methods identified here are reversible. If you want to become pregnant, simply stop using the method.
Again, my name is Christine Gannon. Call 1-800-230-PLAN or go to www.plannedparenthood.org for more information about birth control options and to get in touch with the Health Center nearest you.
If you would like to learn more about this topic or if you have resources to offer, please contact us.