Let's start with some stuff about birth control?....
Actually not really such a fun fact - but I caught your attention. Can you believe in a health survey done by the Centers for Disease Control, that (in general, not at prom.....) MORE THAN A THIRD OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO HAD SEX DID NOT USE A CONDOM!!! Do NOT be one of those people. Birth control helps prevent pregnancy, but not all methods minimize (notice I don't say totally prevent) the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
BIG THING TO REMEMBER:
- Abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse (Yes, those all count as sex) is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. The correct and consistent use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, including HIV infection. However, no protective method is 100% effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any infection or pregnancy. (courtesy of the CDC - I couldn't have said it better myself.
ANOTHER BIG THING TO REMEMBER:
- Knowledge is power. (That is my mantra). You aren't a little kid any more. And you aren't a full blown grown-up yet. You are in between, which is a pretty cool place to be. But decisions you make now can have huge grown-up consequences, and it is up to you to keep the future you want in front of you and to make mature decisions to go with mature behaviors you may choose to do.
- translation please: if you are going to have sex, you need to talk to your partner about sexually transmitted infections (ever had one, ever been tested, ever had sex without a condom?), pregnancy (for heterosexual couples) what are we going to do to prevent pregnancy?, and the emotional part (is it "just sex" - or is it an act of love...? - more on how sex is rarely "just sex" HERE) Then you need to plan in advance to prevent pregnancy and prevent infection and that means going and getting birth control and condoms. In advance. Before hormones are raging and passions are surging... you get the idea.
So, what are different methods out there for birth control? Here is a summary for you... birth control methods can be grouped by the way they work:
- Continuous Abstinence AKA: no sex, never, not at all, not a little
- Natural Family Planning/Rhythm Method AKA mapping out the female cycle to GUESS when you might get pregnant so you skip sex then
- Barrier Methods AKA: The Sponge, Diaphragm, Cervical Cap, and Cervical Shield,
- Female Condom, Male Condom. These methods block the sperm from getting to that egg...
- Hormonal Methods AKA: The Pill - different kinds, The Patch, injections, Vaginal ring. Hormones are used to interfere with the sperm fertilizing the egg, or to prevent the egg from being released at all. No egg, no pregnancy.
- Implantable Devices AKA: IUD, Rods that go in the arm. These interfere with the sperm fertilizing the egg, and may also act like hormonal methods.
- Permanent Birth Control Methods (surgery)
- Emergency contraception AKA: day after pill, others.
You can see there are a lot of options. Notice that "pulling out" is not listed as birth control. That's because it isn't.
So, how do you know what is right for you? I think this tool from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is really helpful and helps sort through the different methods to help you make a choice that is good for you.
ARHP - Birth Control Tool
This is an important discussion to have with your doctor or nurse. You need to talk with your doctor or other health professional if you are planning to have sex to make sure that you are prepared. Remember, no matter what method you choose, you must use a condom - male or female - to minimize the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Nothing makes your risk for pregnancy ZERO except for no sex at all.