Keeping safe: condoms & Co.

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It’s about to happen. You have been waiting for this moment for a long time. You have butterflies in your stomach when you think about what’s about to happen, and you just have to look into your partner’s eyes to see that they feel the same.

You may feel emotionally ready to have sex, but you also have to be ready on a practical level too. You need to think about how you will prevent unwanted pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Contraceptives belong to this moment as much as butterflies do.

Loads of options

It is not only girls who have to think about contraception. There are loads of options available for both men and women. After all, you both have sex so it’s only fair that you are both responsible for using contraception. Here are some of the most common contraception methods:


Condoms are an effective way to prevent both STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are made from thin rubber and slide over the penis to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. You must use a new condom every time you have sex. Condoms are 99% effective if used properly, but remember, no contraceptive offers 100% protection. You can get condoms at your local supermarket or chemist. Some doctors and nurses also provide them for free.

Contraceptive pills

Birth control or contraceptive pills are the most commonly used contraceptive among girls. There are two different types of pill with different hormone levels. The hormones prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, so the girl does not get pregnant. You have to remember to take the pill every day, at roughly the same time. The contraceptive pill is very reliable, but it doesn’t protect against STDs. In the early stages of a relationship it could be a good idea to use both the pill and a condom, especially if you or your partner have had previous sexual relationships. The birth control pill must be prescribed by your doctor.

Other contraceptives

There are other contraceptives, such as the intrauterine device (IUD, also known as the coil) but they are not that common among teenagers. You can have an IUD with or without hormones. Your doctor can give you more information about this.

The female condom or diaphragm is another contraceptive. It’s made of latex or silicone and fits inside your vagina. It should be used with spermicide to be most effective. A spermicide is a chemical that destroys sperm on contact. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.

Yet another one is the contraceptive patch, which looks like a big plaster and is applied to a leg or arm. It then emits hormones that stop the ovaries from releasing eggs. You change the patch once a week. If you consider using the contraceptive patch, please talk to your doctor. He or she can also give you a prescription.

If you have forgotten to use contraception at all, the condom has split or you forgot to take the contraceptive pill, you can use emergency contraception. To ensure pregnancy doesn’t occur, you must act quickly (within three days of having unprotected sex). Emergency contraception only works if the girl takes an emergency contraceptive pill or an emergency coil. In most countries, only a doctor can prescribe either method. However, this method of contraception does not prevent STDs – so to be safe, you should always use a condom.

How to choose what suits you best

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There are many more types of contraception, but not all are suitable for everybody and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Some contraceptives carry risks for people with congenital heart defects. For example, birth control pills can raise blood pressure and are therefore not the best choice for people with certain heart defects. Your doctor can help you decide which contraceptive is right for your body and your lifestyle, and over time you will also learn what suits you best through experience.

Whatever contraceptive you decide on, it is very important that you follow the instructions on how to use it. If you don’t, you will reduce the contraceptive’s effectiveness and expose yourself to greater risk of pregnancy or STDs. Your doctor or nurse will be able to explain more about this. If you use a contraceptive properly, then you can enjoy your sex life without worrying unnecessarily, safe in the knowledge that you are taking good care of your sexual health.

Author(s): Ulrika Hallin
Last updated: 2010-04-07

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Comments on this article

03.03.2012 | rosy arias, venezuela
hola tengo comunicacion interventricular y me gustaria saber que tipo de anticonceptivo puedo usar q sea seguro y q no sea el preservativo y porq?? de acuerdo a mi patologia congenita