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What Works?

November 29th, 2004

By Sal Roach

With the winter season creeping up, more and more people will be spending time indoors and, shall we say, creating their own leisure time activities. While there is no better way to spend the holidays like this, if you don’t want any reminders of your Christmas presents to each other coming out next September, you should be sure you are using the proper methods of birth control.

With all the focus being on disease prevention, there is little these days on birth control, and what works best. So, in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, eCureMe speaks out on the truths and myths of birth control.


The truth is that the only method to prevent pregnancy is abstinence, but since we know that is not going to happen, here are some others.

If you cannot practice abstinence, then there is something known as a fertility awareness methods, in which a woman knows when her window of opportunity is open for her to get pregnant. There is a 9 day period during her cycle when a woman is able to conceive, Abstinence during these times can help to insure against any mistakes. This method runs about a 75% rate of success or failure, whichever way you want to look at it.

Next on the list at about a 65 % rate is the condom. Now, if you have a condom laying around in your wallet or had been exposed to heat, do not use it. Take that extra trip to the store or wait another day, because this can cause the condom to break. Also, using massage oils, baby oils, Petroleum Jelly or anything other than KY Jelly or other WATER based lubricants, gives the condom a greater chance of breaking. Also, when ejaculation occurs, be sure to grip the condom by its base and pull out slowly to avoid spillage. Even with a condom, it is safest to pull out before full ejaculation occurs.

For women, the pill is about 95% effective, but can cause tremendous side effects, such as vaginal dryness, mood swings and actually, can also create a lack of sexual wanting. If you drink and smoke heavily and are over the age of 30, the pill can loose some of its effectiveness, and may also increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots.

While a bit old school, the IUD, which secretes a hormone called progesterone, the same hormone a woman’s body produces during her menstrual cycle, is about 90 percent effective, but must be checked regularly by the health care provide that inserted it. It strengthens the muscles in the uterus, thus preventing the sperm to enter.

Depo-Provera is a shot that women receive every three months that injects progestin in through the woman’s backside and is almost 99% effective. Again, vaginal dryness and mood swings can occur when using this form of birth control, and it may cause an irregular menstrual cycle.

The Diaphragm or Cervical Cap, which once were thought to be great protectors, are really only about 60 percent effective and even less than that in women who have already had one child. This needs to be used with a spermicide before each sexual encounter, and is quite time consuming and ineffective, but is a good back up if you wish to use multiple methods of birth control.

Many other methods that use the hormones progestin and estrogen, such as the patch or ring, are about 90 percent effective, but each have side effects that vary in each patient, so be sure to check with your health care provider to check on allergies or other related items.

If you are planning on using the "withdrawal" method, you are playing with fire. At the point when a penis becomes erect, there is already sperm present that can impregnate.

If you are using foams or gels, make sure they contain spermicides. If you are using this, the product needs to be put in place one hour before use and up to six hours after. I know this all sounds like a cook book, but better to be safe than overcook, and have to deal with what’s in the oven later.

Sex comes with responsibility, so make sure you know what you are using before you use it, because in this case, you break it, you buy it.

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