When couples plan for a family, it also involves discussing the use of contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Check out these answers to several common questions about birth control.
“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me,” sings American hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa in “Let’s Talk About Sex.” They were certainly saying the quiet part out loud in an era where folks were much more conservative. Fast forward several decades, and the world has, thankfully, become a lot more progressive.
Today, sex is a more open conversational topic, whether about serious matters like mutual consent or more titillating subjects like increasing one’s pleasure under the sheets. This level of receptiveness and openness also means it’s easier for medical professionals to educate people and debunk any misconceptions they might have.
Fortunately, couples engaging in family planning shouldn’t have problems discussing sex. The issue here would be using birth control when they’re not ready for a child. Believe it or not, condoms aren’t your only option, with many alternatives available. What’s a couple to do, then? It’s time for you to get the full lowdown.
What Is Birth Control?
With this definition in mind, abstaining from sex is also a form of birth control. The risk of getting pregnant is eliminated, as insemination is not possible if one doesn’t engage in sexual intercourse.
Other birth control methods achieve the same result through other means. For example, killing sperm to block them from reaching the egg or preventing the egg from being released from the ovary.
Each contraceptive has its pros and cons, which will be discussed below. For what it’s worth, no single birth control method reigns supreme over the rest.
For couples who are sexually active but aren’t ready to have a child just yet, use a birth control method that both parties are comfortable with. Take the intrauterine device (IUD), for example. This tiny device is highly effective and can be easily removed. Still, you might experience a few side effects for a few months after insertion.
How Effective Is Each Birth Control Method & What Are Their Side Effects?
Birth Control Method*
Skin irritation (rare).
Cramps, spotting (in between periods), irregular menstruation.
Vaginal or penis irritation, urinary tract infections.
Birth control pills
Headaches, nausea, spotting or menstrual bleeding (when taking active pills), breast tenderness, mood changes.
Vaginal irritation, bladder and urinary tract infections.
Surgery (e.g., vasectomy, tubal ligation)
Pain & discomfort, bleeding, swelling, discoloration.
*This list is not exhaustive. Plenty more are available for you to choose from, with different efficacies and costs.
There’s a wide range of contraceptives for you to choose from. Each one works differently, and not all of them are equally effective. Also, take note of the different birth control side effects.
If you want something affordable and widely available, look no further than condoms. Supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, and many more retailers will have this contraceptive in stock no matter when you drop by. Not only do condoms have a relatively high success rate of preventing pregnancies, but they can also protect against STIs.
Another affordable and commonly used contraceptive is birth control patches and pills. Although these don’t safeguard you against STIs, it shouldn’t be a concern if you and your partner are committed to each other and completely honest about your bedroom activities. Furthermore, most side effects of birth control pills aren’t severe and go away over time or if you switch to a different formulation.
Birth control pills can delay or stop your period, especially for continuous or extended-cycle pill regimens. If you and your partner aren’t trying for a child yet but would like to remain sexually active, there’s no need for you to suffer from menstrual cramps, bleeding, or other problems.
Certain contraceptives can even be used together to prevent pregnancy and lower your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). For example, you can pair condoms with contraceptive pills.
8 Commonly Asked Questions About Birth Control You Need To Know the Answers To
1. Which Birth Control Is Right for Me?
This is a question that’s best answered by you and your partner. Both parties in a relationship must be comfortable with the chosen contraceptive, regardless of affordability or effectiveness.
Take abstinence as an example. Although it completely negates the possibility of pregnancy and STIs, few couples would be happy with this option.
2. How Long Does Birth Control Take to Work?
This depends on the contraceptive.
For example, abstinence and condoms are effective from the get-go. IUDs are a mixed bag. Certain brands work immediately after insertion, and others become effective only when they’re inserted during the first week of your period.
If you’re concerned that your chosen contraceptive isn’t working as it should after having unprotected sex, perform a check with twoplus Fertility’s Pregnancy Test Kit. Not only is it cost-effective and easy to use, but you’ll also receive reliable results in as quick as three minutes.
3. Which Birth Control Is Best for Me?
As mentioned above, there isn’t one birth control method that lords over the rest.
In terms of effectiveness and STI prevention, abstinence leads the pack by a country mile. However, few couples would be satisfied with this option.
That’s why the best pregnancy-prevention tactic is the one you and your partner are absolutely comfortable with.
4. How Much Does Birth Control Cost?
The cost of contraceptives has a range that’s as wide as the options available for you.
For one, abstinence won’t cost you a cent. At the other end of the spectrum, surgeries like vasectomies and tubal ligation procedures can cost up to thousands of dollars.
When choosing a contraceptive, keep the cost in mind, not just the effectiveness.
5. Are There Any Differences Between the Various Birth Control Pills?
Unlike minipills, combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin. Meanwhile, minipills only contain progestin. Both oral contraceptives stop you from ovulating and prevent the sperm from fusing with the egg (although the success rate isn’t 100%).
If you’re unsure which contraceptive to choose, speak with your primary doctor or gynecologist to help you pick the right one. They will also guide you on when you should start the birth control pill to maximize its effectiveness in warding off unwanted pregnancies.
6. How Reversible Is Each Birth Control Method?
Again, this depends on the contraceptive that you select.
Surgeries like vasectomies and tubal ligations are irreversible. They should only be considered if you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to have children.
As for birth control patches and pills, your ovulation will typically restart a few weeks after you stop taking them. Ditto for the removal of IUDs.
7. What if My Chosen Birth Control Method Fails?
You’ll need to act quickly if your birth control fails, whether it’s a condom breaking or an IUD falling out.
One effective method that you can use would be consuming an emergency contraceptive pill, also known as the “morning-after pill.” Although you can take it within 3-5 days after unprotected sex, it’s better to consume it immediately after the deed is done.
8. Do I Need To Be Sexually Active To Use Birth Control?
Not at all. Certain contraceptives have to be used while you’re having sex. But others, like birth control pills and IUDs, don’t require you to perform intercourse.
In fact, specific birth control methods like going on the pill have added benefits too. For example, research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology highlighted that going on the pill could help:
- Make your period more regular
- Reduce the likelihood of menstrual cramps
- Promote better blood circulation
- Lower the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer
- Tone down acne breakouts and excessive hair growth (if combination pills are used)
Make Birth Control Work for You Instead of Against You
Deciding which birth control to use is vital to family planning, especially for couples who want to stay sexually active without worrying about pregnancy.
Most of us are familiar with condoms and abstinence. But these are just the tip of the iceberg regarding contraceptives. Do your research and decide on one that works for you best at this stage of your relationship. And if you need guidance, remember that your gynecologist is just one consultation away.
The questions above are just some common ones that many of us have when it comes to penis-in-vagina sex. Know your options for birth control are never limited, and your sex life need not suffer because of this.
Now, aren’t you glad that Salt-N-Pepa got the sex talk going?