Let’s talk about sex: birth control basics

The weekly “Let’s talk about sex” series will look into a different topic about sex and sexuality in an effort to raise awareness, bring education and be a forum for discussion. To write in and share your opinions and stories, email mast@plu.edu

Some people don’t believe in certain methods of birth control, and if you’re that person, I don’t mean to offend you. However, students around campus should know about birth control and how effective, realistic and expensive different types are.
To preface, I am a woman, I’ve been sexually active for five years and I’ve tried most of these methods.
Hormonal implants freak me out. Hormonal implants are like small pods that they put into your arm that inject hormones directly into your body. With that comes risk of infection of course, but I haven’t seen or heard of many of those and statistics show those numbers are low.

I felt my sisters once and I couldn’t even give it a try after that. What made it worse was that she called it her “nubbin” because it was like a small animal attached to her vein. Since I haven’t tried it, I called her to get her opinion for you and she told me: “I love it. Not having to remember a pill is great and to stay regular and not worry about getting my period, it’s amazing.”
The implants do not protect you from Sexually Transmitted Infections. So, if you’re having casual sex, please still wear a condom.

Moving on.

Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD) are T-shaped and are inserted into the uterus. They are long lasting, and are the most effective type of reversible birth control. Once again, because they’re long lasting and live inside your body, they do not protect against STIs. However, they can be removed at any time and they don’t need daily attention.
Like anything inserted into your body, you have a chance of infection for the first 20 days, but once again, infection isn’t common.

Birth control pills are the most common form of birth control that I know of. In my experience they regulate your period well and can calm down any raging hormones you might get. Sidenote: they really helped with my acne too, so that’s a pro.
Birth control pills do have to be taken every day, so if you’re a forgetful person they probably aren’t for you. They also don’t protect against STIs so please still wear a condom unless you and your partner are committed and have been checked by a doctor. The pills are also only available via prescription but the Health Center is pretty good about making them available to students.

Condoms are another age old, effective form of birth control. They act as a barrier between you and whatever you’re canoodling with that night… and usually in the morning you’re grateful to have had that barrier.

Condoms do expire, do break and they definitely aren’t one size fits all. I’ve had partners who they’ve been too big had it break during intercourse. I’ve also had partners who were too small for the condom and that’s just an awkward moment…. usually followed by an even more awkward “not gonna happen.”

Of course there are other forms: diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges and spermicide are used around campus but I don’t have personal stories to go with those. And I’ve never used them.

Some other methods I’ve used that I’m not too proud of include: pulling out, beginning with intercourse and finishing with hands, mouths and other body parts and, of course, the age old Plan B or “Morning After Pill.”

Pulling out is dumb. I regret it. If you’ve ever done it I’m sure you regret it too. Or you at least should.

Beginning with unprotected intercourse and moving onto hands and mouths and such is almost a safe option, but you have to really trust your partner to be vocal and communicate about when things are getting too far.

Plan B is effective. I have heard plenty of horror stories about taking the morning after pill but the two times I’ve done it (once after not using protection and the other after a condom broke) I have had no bad side effects other than my period starting early that month.

My advice to anyone who is nervous about getting pregnant or getting an STI is to choose a method that you’re comfortable with, pills, IUD, etc. and also use condoms until you have a consistent partner and you are both checked for any STIs or viruses. That will even make the sex better.

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