A look at some modern birth control methods
Biologically-speaking, sexual intercourse has a specific function: propagating the species. But as we all know – and enjoy – sex is about far more than reproduction. Regular sex is great for our mental and physical health. It’s an essential part of intimacy. And it’s just plain fun.
The possibility of an unexpected pregnancy, however, can make sex stressful and kill the moment. Relieve that worry by studying up on modern contraception methods and picking one that will work reliably and conveniently for you and your partner.
The pros and cons of some popular birth control methods
It’s important to keep in mind that the subject of this blog is birth control. The bottom line: if it doesn’t prevent the exchange of bodily fluids, your contraception method will still leave you and your partner susceptible to sexually transmitted disease. Only condoms can protect against most STDs, however, as you’re about to read, not all condoms are treated equally.
- Condoms (male). Condoms come in all types of sizes, colors, flavors, materials, and … how about if we just leave it at that. According to a University of Manchester report, “Among barrier methods, latex condoms provide an impervious barrier in vitro to most STD pathogens, including HIV.” Condoms made from sheep intestinal membranes may provide extra sensitivity and they can protect against HIV, but other viruses, such as hepatitis B, can still pass through. And even latex condoms are not a sure thing against pregnancy:“If you use condoms perfectly every single time you have sex, they’re 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. But people aren’t perfect, so in real life condoms are about 85% effective — that means about 15 out of 100 people who use condoms as their only birth control method will get pregnant each year.”
- Diaphragm: This “shallow, bendable cup” is placed inside the vagina to create a barrier between semen and a woman’s cervix. It is usually coupled with spermicide to increase its effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. Like condoms, diaphragms provide a high theoretical or short-term degree of protection: 94%, when used perfectly. The more realistic, long-term rate is about 88%.
- Female condoms. Similar to a diaphragm, female condoms are slipped into the vagina, thereby preventing semen from breaching the cervix. But while male condoms fit snugly around the penis, female condoms don’t have anything to fit around – so they tend to fall out of position. Hypothetically speaking, they’re highly effective: up to 94%. The problem is, that’s only when worn properly. In actuality, they’re only effective 79% of the time.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) come in two varieties: copper and hormonal. They’re placed inside the uterus during a brief in-office procedure, and can last for 3 to 10 years, depending on the type of device. IUDs require zero maintenance and are incredibly effective – they actually prevent the sperm from being able to swim to the egg. Fewer than 1 in 100 women will become pregnant each year when using the device. They can also be used as emergency contraception for up to 120 hours after intercourse.
- Birth control shots, patches, implants, and pills. Also known as “the Depo-shot,” a once-every-three-months injection prevents ovulation – as do all forms of birth control, which can also be administered via a daily pill regimen, a weekly patch, or an implant replaced about every four years. All of these methods of birth control utilize doses of hormones and range in effectiveness:
- Pill: 91%
- Patch: 91%
- Shot: 94%
- Implant: 99%
The downside may be side effects for some women, such as nausea, weight gain, mood changes, and even decreased libido.
Choose a method that is right for you and your partner
There are various other methods of birth control, from vaginal rings to sponges, the withdrawal method, and cervical caps. Check out this guide for a complete run-down. All have different features and rates of effectiveness, with most of them being less effective than the options mentioned above. Choose an option that’s right for you and your partner, balancing any safety concerns with sensation, side effects, and convenience.
And remember, a condom is the only form of birth control that offers protection against STDs, besides lifestyle changes like abstinence. If you are man who is not in a committed relationship, a latex condom remains the default option because of its convenience, relative effectiveness, and protection against disease.
Once you’ve reduced the stress of any “unintended consequences,” it’s much easier to simply enjoy sex. But if you’re having other worries – such as an issue with getting or maintaining an erection, or you want to proactively improve your sexual performance – there is something you can do about it.
The GAINSWave® treatment has revolutionized the enhancement of male sexual performance. It uses low-intensity soundwaves to break up plaque that blocks blood flow, resulting in firmer, longer-lasting erections.