There are 43 million women in the US right now who are at risk of unwanted pregnancy, which means there are a lot of men out there who are similarly at risk. Knowing all of your options for pregnancy prevention can give you that confidence boost you need in knowing that you and your partner are being safe. If you are not ready for that next step, make sure you know about how you can effectively prevent it.
Condoms are one of the most convenient and cost effective methods of contraception, and they are available for men and women to use. You will want to be sure you are using them correctly in order to best prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
For male condoms, there are some guidelines you will want to follow to ensure that the condom quality isn’t compromised:
- There are natural and lambskin condoms, but these types are not as effective as latex condoms when it comes to protection from STDs.
- Don’t double up. You only need to use one condom at a time.
- If you put the condom on the wrong way, don’t take it off and try again. You will want to throw that one away in case there is any semen or tears on it now.
- Using oil-based lubricants can weaken the quality of your condom.
- Don’t reuse condoms. Once you have used a condom, throw it out!
Female condoms, though they seem less popular, actually have a lot of benefits if you choose to use them:
- You can insert a female condom up to eight hours prior to having sex.
- You can use any kind of lubricant with these condoms.
- They protect you and your partner from STDs.
- They don’t require that your partner immediately remove their penis after ejaculation.
- Size truly does not matter!
- They are latex-free, so those with latex allergies can relax.
Most importantly, use a condom every time you have sex, but don’t use a male and female condom at the same time. If you are trying to increase protection beyond wearing a condom, try looking into different spermicide options. Spermicides are chemical foams or gels used to kill sperm that a female can insert into her vagina about an hour before sex.
If you and your partner are trying to go for a more natural approach, fertility tracking may be a more attractive option for you. This method involves tracking the patterns of the menstrual cycle in order to determine when ovulation is occurring. It calls for increased communication between partners, so couples typically develop better ways to communicate through this method.
Gaining this better understanding helps couples decided when they should or should not have sex depending on whether they want to get pregnant or not. Couples can also decide whether or not they think they need extra protection, such as condoms, depending on where a woman is at in their menstrual cycle. As some added benefits, fertility tracking is inexpensive, does not have any side effects, and no one has to change up their medications.
However, there are outliers that can make this process difficult to follow, like irregular periods, viral infections that affect body temperature and vaginal infections that affect discharge. While this method does not require a doctor’s visit, it is usually best to check in with your doctor to make sure you have a solid understanding of this method and all that is involved.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
If a woman is not looking to go forward with that more permanent solution, then an intrauterine device (IUD) may be the way to go. IUDs are better at preventing pregnancy than condoms, the pill, the patch, the ring or the shot. A healthcare provider inserts this device into the uterus, and depending on what kind of IUD is chosen, it can last 3-10 years after insertion. Once it is inserted, there is no upkeep to worry about. A woman would only need to visit their healthcare provider if it were to ever come out (though this is rare), if there was any initial discomfort after insertion which is more common, or if it was time to start having children.
In some cases, a more permanent prevention method may be appropriate, such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation. A vasectomy procedure involves being put under local anesthesia while a healthcare professional cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens—the two tubes that carry sperm to his penis. Women have the option of getting a tubal ligation in order to permanently prevent the chances of getting pregnant. A tubal ligation, or “getting your tubes tied,” is when a woman has an outpatient procedure done to have her fallopian tubes cut, sealed, clipped, or tied.
At Community Access Network, we realize that more permanent decisions like this are completely personal and should be an extensive conversation between yourself and your primary care physician, as well as with your partner if appropriate. It’s important to educate yourself on these options prior to making the commitment.
With so many options to consider, you will want to be sure to choose what is best for you in the long-term plan. If you are having trouble choosing the best pregnancy prevention plan for you, or you have questions about how to carry out your decision, come speak with one of our Community Access Network primary care doctors. We are ready to help you with whatever you may need! Call us to make an appointment today.