Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Many Ways to Play Safe *Part Uno*

On the market today there are lots of different kinds of birth control. It seems that some of the biggest problems with teen pregnancy and the spread of STIs is that not enough people know about them. There just isn't enough actual information (other than in advertisements) about what the options are, what they do, and how to get them.
So here is the first part of my- three part- basic, but slightly complicated list of birth control options available right now. This way, hopefully, more of you will know more and be able to play safer.

Birth Control Pills
(and other Hormonal Methods)

BC comes in all shapes and sizes. From pills to shots to patches to little plastic rings you stick up your crotch, they're all over the place. In some countries, they even have birth control for men- finally! Birth Control works in several ways, depending on what kind you use. Most do three general things;
-prevent sperm from reaching eggs
-prevent eggs from fertilizing
-prevent uterus lining from building up, so if something is fertilized, it cannot attach and grow.
Not to mention all the other add-ons they've been throwing into these things lately. Now BC can fight acne, help you loose weight, or make your skin brighter, its pretty friggin' cool.

Anyway, these are what is called "Hormonal Methods" of birth control, which means that unlike Barrier methods like condoms, caps, and diaphragms, they rely solely on the hormones they give you.
Other kinds of hormonal methods include the ring- like NuvaRing, patches, shots, and even inserts, which are little rods they put under the skin of your arm. These are pretty cool because they last for like five years.
But you have to remember that because these do use hormones, they aren't right for everyone.
I had a roommate who used the NuvaRing for about a month, and was an absolute bitch the entire time. Constantly moody and always rude, she was quick to get rid of the thing. Another friend, Bell- who I will probably mention a lot, hence her pseudonym- was put on like four different kinds of pill one after another because all of them kept giving her mood swings, infections, or what have you. It got to the point where now she doesn't even bother to use it.
But really, BC is worth a shot. I use Yaz and I've never had a problem with it, you just never know. Ask around, ask your doctor, stop by the local clinic, just do it. The last thing anyone needs is an unwanted pregnancy, so do your best to keep it from happening.

*Protection Point* Don't forget that birth control isn't always perfect. Unless you take your pill at EXACTLY the same time EVERY single day, you aren't using it 100% correctly, and it's easy to screw up. Always do you best to take it at the same time and ALWAYS use condoms, even if you use BC. Both as a backup for that extra 1.1% margin of error, and because no hormonal BC prevents STDs. So just be sure.


Condoms are the most accessible form of birth control around. No prescriptions, no pills, no problems.
The main point of condoms is that they catch sperm so it doesn't enter the vagina. No meeting, no pregnancy. They also provide a limited protection from STDs, and they're the only birth control method that does, which is why they're so important.

Guys, never allow yourself to feel that birth control is a girls problem. And girls, never expect a guy to bring a condom. Never, for either of you. Always feel its your responsibility, that way you're always prepared. And really, it is your responsibility either way. Girls, we know it's no fun to have a baby. Boys, the last thing you need right now is some chick from that one night stand months back calling to say she's pregnant. Really, its unnecessary trouble. So keep it from happening. Condoms aren't cheap, I know, but do your best to keep your drawer full of them. Stop by your local clinic or student health center and grab a handful, then problem solved!

On another note, you know how guys always complain that they don't want to use condoms because it "feels different"? Don't fall for it! While condoms can reduce sensation by a tiny bit, it is not worth getting pregnant-or an STI- over. He's probably going to want to have sex with you no matter what, so insist! If you say "Condom or NO sex", he'll probably sulk a bit, but eventually cave.

There are even tons of instructions and videos on how to use them!
Here's a cute British one that includes what to do about foreskin and how to keep the condom from slipping.

*Protection Point* Don't forget that Pre-Cum (the stuff that comes out when I guy gets excited) can have sperm in it! Don't let the penis too close to the vagina until that things wrapped up.

Condoms are also great because they protect a variety of actions. They can- and should- also be used during Oral and Anal sex.
That last part's actually really important. A lot of young people think that because anal sex can't get them pregnant, they don't have to use a condom. They couldn't be any more wrong. Because the (I hate this word) anus is not actually made for sex, it isn' doesn't adapt as well. The vagina is a muscle, the anus isn't. It is also very fragile. Too hard of a push can tear the tissue, and that's how bacteria gets in. Whether it's an STD or HIV, its a whole lot easier to get it through unprotected anal sex than regular intercourse, even if you are gentle. This goes for everyone who has anal sex; heterosexual, homosexual, men, or women.

I think the biggest problem with BC Pills (etc) is that you typically need a prescription to get them. But really, that's not a big deal. Go to the doctor, talk to your mother, stop by the local clinic or Planned Parenthood (which doesn't need parental consent) and ask for it. Typically you shouldn't run into any problems.
Let me know if you do though, I'm curious.


This stuff is- essentially- like pesticide, only it kills sperm instead of bugs. But really, they're the same thing anyway, right? But that's it, really, it kills sperm. Not a lot of explanation needed.
The good thing about it is you can get it in a lubricant- which is very helpful stuff for most- in gels, individual packs, or already on condoms. I like spermicidal condoms because it's sort of like doubling your protection without needing anything extra. And the stuff is pretty damn easy to find. You can get it at most drug stores, sometimes Wal-Mart, and always at Adult stores, so it's not a complicated thing at all.

Spermicide is often used with Diaphragms and Cervical Caps (which we will talk about in the future), to help kill any sperm that gets through the cervical barrier.

*Protection Point* Please! Do not just use Spermicidal lubricant or gel and no condoms. Spermicide does NOT prevent STIs, and it is not even close to a 100% guarantee to prevent pregnancy either.

That's it for now. I hope it is helpful. In the next part we will cover the more female-based products like Cervical Caps, Diaphragms, and Female Condoms. Following that will be whatever's left over, along with those things that it is especially important NOT to use as a contraceptive.

Please, please, please don't forget to leave a comment to tell me what you think of this column, another column, or whatever. Whether its a question (always welcome!), a comment, of a suggestion, I'd love love love to hear from you!

Play Safe!
<3 Sin <3

1 comment:

Roland Hulme said...

where did you get that cute picture of the drowning sperm?