People have more control over their reproductive health than ever before. The best way to prevent an unintended pregnancy if you're sexually active is to use reliable birth control correctly and consistently. Some forms of birth control like condoms have added benefits. When you use them properly, condoms may lower the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases. Plus, they're inexpensive and free of hormones. Other types of hormone-free contraception are also available for women who want protection against an unplanned pregnancy.
Condoms Facts and Benefits
Condoms are a safe and reliable form of birth control. Unlike birth control pills, they're free of hormonal side effects. Just as importantly, they may reduce the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Condoms are made of a variety of materials. Condoms made of latex are among the most common. Condoms made of other materials including polyurethane and polyisoprene are an option for couples allergic to latex.
You'll discover an assortment of condoms, both latex and non-latex, made of strong but thin materials. Because they're thin, they're more comfortable to wear and are less likely to interfere with sexual pleasure. Condoms in the past had a strong scent of latex. Today a number of latex condoms are manufactured in a way that gives them a pleasant scent. Various levels of lubrication, from light to extra-lubricated, are available. For extra protection against pregnancy, some are lubricated with a spermicide, an ingredient that kills sperm. Some condoms are ribbed, contoured or textured for extra pleasure.
Female Contraception Options
Female condoms let women take control of their own reproductive health. A female condom consists of a polyurethane tube that's closed at one end and has a flexible ring at the other. It's inserted so that the closed portion covers the cervix to prevent pregnancy. Female condoms may reduce the risk of pregnancy and lower the risk of sexually transmitted disease. Contraceptive gels are another option for women that want to prevent pregnancy.
Spermicidal Gels and Sponges
Contraceptive gels are formulated with a spermicide that kills sperm on contact in order to reduce the risk of pregnancy. To use it, you would place gel into the reusable applicator and insert it into your vagina prior to sexual activity. Always follow the instructions closely for maximal protection. Contraceptive inserts and contraceptive sponges are other convenient ways to protect against pregnancy. These methods use a spermicide to kill sperm. In addition, they serve as a barrier to block the movement of sperm.
What is Emergency Contraception?
Also available without a prescription is emergency contraception which may reduce your risk of pregnancy if you failed to use contraception or you used it improperly. Always follow the directions and use within 72 hours of sexual activity. Emergency contraception has some disadvantages. It won't protect you against sexually transmitted diseases and it can have side effects. Use it only as a back-up, not as your regular form of contraception.
Practice Safe, Protected Sex
Consult your doctor in order to understand your options when it comes to preventing against unwanted pregnancies. You and your doctor should review your medical history and lifestyle in order to make the best choice.