Regardless of someone’s age, gender, or sexual orientation, sexual health is an important part of nearly every adult’s life. Without proper contraceptives, people can put their partners at risk of unwanted (or unexpected) pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses. To help you and your partner stay safe, here are some accessible forms of birth control that you have access to:
Condoms and Dental Dams
Condoms are one of the most well-known forms of birth control, and can be purchased at drugstores, convenience stores, and even some gas stations. They are the best line of defense against spreading STIs, and are fairly inexpensive. As long as the condom itself isn’t damaged, expired, or already used, they are good to go.
Dental dams, on the other hand, act somewhat similar to the condom but instead of being put over a penis, dental dams go inside the vagina. While these are less common than condoms, they work just as well.
Birth Control Pills and Patches
The more controversial part of contraceptives come in the form of birth control, a kind of hormone therapy that helps prevent sperm from even encountering an egg in the first place. While on birth control, hormones are released that prevent ovulation—meaning egg cells won’t leave the ovaries. These hormones can also be used to regulate and reduce the menstrual cycle, and help relieve debilitating symptoms, and even prevent ovarian cysts from forming to some extent.
Birth control pills and patches are prescription items that must be refilled once a month, and taken at the same time each day, every day in order to work. In many states, they are covered by insurance, including Medicaid.
Birth Control Implants
Just like birth control pills, a birth control implant can stop eggs from leaving the ovaries, and prevent sperm from entering the fallopian tubes by releasing hormones that thicken the uterus’ lining. These implants are about the size of a match, and can be inserted into the arm by a doctor once every five years. This method is best for people who are looking for hormone therapy they don’t need to make a schedule for. Implants can also be removed whenever the user wishes, meaning its effects are reversible as well.
Another form of long-term birth control can be found in IUDs, or Intrauterine Devices. IUDs can work a number of ways, and all last roughly six years, depending on the brand. Most forms of IUD use hormone therapy to help prevent pregnancy, although some use copper (a natural sperm repellent). It is always best to ask your doctor which kind of IUD is right for you. IUDs can be removed just like implants can, and can be used as plan B contraceptives in some cases as well, given they are used within 5 days of intercourse.
Where can I go to Discuss my Sexual Health?
If you need to discuss your sexual health with someone, you can talk to your doctor, OBGYN, Urologist, or someone at Planned Parenthood. Remember, you know yourself best, and if something feels wrong, speak up!