Girl Talk 101
Episode 2 Contraception
What is contraception?
Contraception is the deliberate use of artificial methods to prevent pregnancy and in some cases the contraction of STI’s as a consequence of sexual intercourse.
When should you use contraception?
Contraception should be used mainly when you are planning to engage in sexual activities with no intention to conceive, however some methods of contraception can be used before being sexually active in order to help regulate your cycle and potentially lighten the flow of your period.
How does contraception work?
Each method of contraception works differently here are the 4 workings I discovered whilst doing research…
- Hormonal- Some of them work by stopping an egg from being released every month
- Barrier Method- This method works by preventing sperm from reaching the egg
- Sterilisation- This blocks the reproductive function and can be done for both men and women
- Hormonal- Prevents a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus
The contraceptive pill works by preventing ovulation (which is the releasing of an egg) this means there is nothing to be fertilised and in turn prevents pregnancy. Most birth control pills include synthetic forms of 2 female hormones these are estrogen and progesterone. This pill must be taken daily for 3 weeks, you then have a week break in order to have your period and then once your period has finished you start again. Its 99% effective and will be effective 95% of cases. However be aware that the contraceptive pill will not protect you at all from contracting STI’s. Other things to be aware of… These 6 things can stop the pill from being fully effective.
- “detox” tea
- Certain anti-biotics
- Diet tablets
- Constipation medication
- Taking it late (inconstancies with time)
The Male Condom-
Male condoms are made of very thin latex that prevents a man’s sperm from coming into contact with his sexual partner, and when used correctly during penetrative sex can protect you from STI’s. If you are allergic to latex you can also buy latex free ones that are made of polyurethane so there is no excuse not to wear them.! Provide 95% protection from pregnancy and STI’s (such as Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and HIV) You can buy them in different sizes, flavours and textures for whatever activity you want to use them for. Take note that the % of effectiveness is under the condition that a condom is used correctly, improper use of a condom will decrease the effectiveness significantly and therefore its recommended that you use condoms as a combination method. Things to remember about condoms…
- 18/100 women fall pregnant due to incorrectly using condoms
- Novelty condoms you find when visiting tourist like shops don’t necessarily protect you from pregnancy or STI’s
- Remember to consider your partner when using condoms, you may not be allergic to latex but your partner might be and there are alternatives
- Dental dams are similar to condoms in what they are used for but are a great option if you are a woman having sexy time with another woman
- Despite what people say wearing a condom will not minimise the sensation of sexual acts, it may feel slightly different but it won’t be game changingly so!
Female condoms are worn inside the vagina to prevent sperm from reaching the womb, when used correctly during vaginal sex they help prevent pregnancy and the contraction of STI’s and have been proven to be 95% effective. Female condoms tend to be a little more expensive but they are less likely to break. You can however buy them over the counter the same way you can purchase male condoms. Here are some things to know about the female condom…
- Female condoms can be fun for foreplay
- They can increase pleasure for both partners
- They provide dual protection
- Female condoms aren’t just for vaginal sex
- Female condoms can be inserted up to 8 hours before actually having sex
- They can be used with both oil based and water based lubricants
- You don’t have to wear both female and male condoms at the same time as this could cause both condoms to split or tear.
The fem cap works by stopping sperm from entering the uterus. Before inserting the fem cap spermicide should be applied to the device in order to create an effective method of preventing pregnancy. This will not provide any protection with regards to sexually transmitted infections therefore its best used as a combination method (Male condoms as well). The cap can be inserted up to 6 hours before sexual intercourse and must be left in for at least 6 hours after sex before removing, it must not stay in for any longer than 48 hours. Here are a few things you should know about the fem cap.
- The Cap does need to be prescribed
- It may be less effective if you have previously given birth
- Increases your risk of vaginal infections
- Must be worn every time you have sex
- It can last up to 2 years
An IUD is an intrauterine device that is small and usually “T” shaped birth control device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are 2 types of IUD
- Hormonal IUD
- Copper IUD
This is a long-term reversible method of contraception. A hormonal IUD will release a synthetic form of progesterone into the uterus, this thickens the vaginal mucus to stop sperm from reaching the egg. A copper IUD will release copper to act as a spermicide. Its reported to be a good contraceptive option for teens due to it being a long-term solution to pregnancy prevention. Here are a few facts about the IUD or coil…
- IUD’s start working immediately
- Some people report periods being heavier and menstrual cramps being worse
- Hormonal IUD’s can sometimes mean little or no periods
- Insertion can range from uncomfortable to painful depending on the individual
- If you are in the U.S you may want to check your insurance as some insurance companies cover you for the coil and others do not
- It will not protect you from STI’s so use a barrier method as well
The contraceptive implant-
The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod that gets inserted by a medical professional under the skin in your upper arm and works by releasing progesterone to control fertility. The implant is 99% effective and is reported to be 90% more effective than the contraceptive pill. Once inserted the implant may prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years depending on which implant you and your GP discuss. Once again this is a long-acting reversible method. Here are some facts about the contraceptive implant…
- This will NOT protect you from STI’s
- It’s a very effective method of contraceptive
- Great option if you cannot use estrogen as part of your contraception
- May cause irregular bleeding
- The implant has to be prescribed
The Contraceptive Sponge-
This form of contraception combines the barrier method with spermicidal methods. This is a specially designed sponge that is inserted into the vagina each time you have sex in order to prevent you from falling pregnant. It works by releasing a spermicide called Nonoxynol-9, that kills or paralyses any sperm that enters the vagina. You may want to know these things before deciding to use this method…
- Its only 89-91% effective
- You must wait 6 hours after sex before removing
- You can’t use this during your period
- Does NOT protect you from contracting STI’s
- Its hormone free
- It’s not messy
- It can be purchased over the counter
This method is an alternative to other hormonal contraceptives such as the pill. It is a syringe filled with Depo-Provera and Noristerat that are injected into a muscle in your arm or in your buttocks Or a needle with Sayana is injected under the skin. It works like the implant in the sense that it uses progestogen to stop the monthly release of an egg. Its 99% effective and 1 injection will protect you against pregnancy for either 8,12 or 13 weeks depending on the injection you decide to have. The contraceptive injection will not protect you from STI’s so it’s a good idea to use condoms in combination.
The contraceptive patch-
The contraceptive patch is a transdermal patch that is applied to the skin once a week for 3weeks and released a synthetic version of estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. It works by changing the hormonal balance in your body so that your body does not release eggs. It also makes vaginal mucus thicker in order to create a plug at the neck of the womb to make it harder for sperm to reach it. Here are a few facts to help you with your decision…
- The patch needs to be prescribed by your GP
- It will NOT prevent you catching STI’s
- If you weigh more than 198lbs it may be less effective
- It may delay the return of your natural cycle when you decide to stop using it as a contraceptive
- Tender breasts and skin irritation are common side effects
- Some report their periods being lighter and more regular
- It strengthens bones
- It can help reduce acne
- It can help reduce painful period cramps
Also known as the “Morning after pill” this little tablet is a birth control measure that can be used after unprotected sex has taken place in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It can work in 3 ways…
- It can stop an egg being released
- It can stop sperm from fertilising an already released egg
- It can stop a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus
There are two emergency contraceptive pills, Levonelle which can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse and ellaOne which can be consumed up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. It’s worth noting that the level of effectiveness is higher the sooner it’s taken after such event. Here are some facts and statistics…
- 95% effective after 24 hours
- 88% effective after 48 hours
- 58% effective after 72 hours
- Stomach ache, nausea, tiredness, irregular menstrual bleeding and headaches are all common side affects
- Does not affect your fertility
- GP, Family Planning clinic and in some cases a pharmacy are where you can get an emergency pill
It’s worth knowing that this should not be used as your main method of contraception and should only be used when unprotected sex has taken place in an unplanned or unanticipated situation.
Male and female Sterilization
Sterilization is a surgical procedure that is performed to stop people and animals from producing offspring. For women the procedure involves sealing or blocking the Fallopian tubes which connect the ovaries to the womb, this is usually done under general anesthetic however it can be done under local too. For men it’s called a Vasectomy, this is a minor procedure where the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis are cut, blocked or sealed this prevents sperm from reaching seminal fluid. It is easier for this procedure to be reversed for men as its quite difficult and invasive to reverse the female surgery. It’s worth knowing that although it can be reversed there is no guarantee that you will be fertile again after this has been done. Sometimes sterilization can be done on the NHS however a reversal surgery will not be covered by the NHS. In most cases its found to be 99% effective however there is a rare chance that it will naturally reverse. Women although you will not be able to conceive naturally after this procedure you will still experience periods on a monthly basis.
Natural Family Planning-
Natural family planning is a collection of methods using signals from your body to determine which days you are most likely to get pregnant. The ovulation method is when you track your cervical mucus throughout your cycle to determine when fertalisation is most likely to occur, the most likely time to fall pregnant tends to be the days just before and just after ovulation takes place and cervical fluid is usually stretchy, clear and slick. You essentially use this information to help you avoid having unprotected sex around this time. Things you need to know…
- In order for this method to work you need to know your cycle and be quite in tune with your body, if you aren’t this method may not be a great choice for you
- It can be between 75% and 99% effective depending on which natural family planning method you would like to use
- This method can also be used to help you fall pregnant should you and your partner decide the time is right
- You should ideally give yourself 6months to get to know your cycle before enough for this method to be effective
- Illness, travel, stress and lack of sleep are all factors that can prevent you from getting accurate signals from your body
- Natural family planning will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections at all!
Myths about contraception
- The pull out method is a reliable form of birth control? False, it’s is possible for liquid to be released from the penis prior to orgasm and this will contain sperm that can impregnate you.
- The only contraception options are the pill and condoms? False, there are loads of different methods for protecting and preventing pregnancy and the contraction of infections and it’s important that you do your research!
- Two condoms are safer than one? Although you would think an extra layer of protection is best it can actually cause condoms to split or break making it overall ineffective.
- You can’t get pregnant if you go to the toilet or shower immediately after sex? This is a huge misconception sperm are very good swimmers and usually by the time you are on the toilet or in the shower the sperm is already on its way to the final destination and nothing will likely stop it.
- It’s alright to reuse a condom if you don’t have another one? ABSOLUTELY NOT both female and male condoms are made to be a one use product, please don’t attempt to wash, dry and reuse!
- Emergency contraception must be taken the “Morning after”? This is untrue the morning after pill has a misleading name as it can be effective up to 3 days after unprotected sex however it will be more effective the sooner it’s taken.
- Condom size doesn’t matter? Although it makes for a great joke its actually very important that you wear the correct condom size as wearing one to small or too big can make it ineffective.
- If you’re breastfeeding you can’t get pregnant? This one isn’t as black and white if you are exclusively breastfeeding then it’s likely that your body will supress the hormones that cause ovulation however it’s not fool proof method and if you supplement with formula it’s not guaranteed at all to work as a form of contraception.
- You have to have had kids in order to get an IUD? False although in the past some IUD’s were more comfortable and easier to insert if you had had children newer devices are smaller and therefore make it easier to be inserted for women without having a prior pregnancy.
This blog post has not been written by a medical professional however thorough research has gone into the information provided for you. I do encourage you to speak to your doctor or do your own research before choosing or changing your contraceptive method, there are reliable links provided below to get you to the right place for all your needsJ
All methods of contraception- https://www.dred.com/uk/types-of-contraceptives.html
Which method suits me?- http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/which-method-suits-me.aspx
NHS contraception- http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/contraception.aspx
Coil and IUD- https://www.dred.com/uk/intrauterine-contraception.html