By Rachael Bentley
Birth Control. We’ve all heard about it. We have all sat in those awkward health classes where the teacher shows the class how to put a condom on a banana. We’ve all watched those corny 80s homemade videos where high school students talk about their options like a scene from The Breakfast Club. Those classes usually only taught a few of the many options that are actually out there.
For many college students, condoms are the ultimate go-to method, mainly for being so easy to get a hold of and because they are so easy to use. They also are one of the most reliable ways to protect against pregnancy and STDs with only 1 out of 100 women getting pregnant each year if used continuously and correctly (according to Planned Parenthood). Using condoms allows people to be spontaneous, which as you’ll learn, is not always the case with some birth control options. If you use a lubricant whiles also using a condom, don’t forget to use a water based lube instead of a oil based one because the oils can break down the latex on the condom.
Birth control options like the pill and the patch are the easiest to use and the easiest to get a hold of for most young women, with resources like Health Services and Planned Parenthood within close vicinity. Many women feel much more comfortable knowing that they are in control of their own protection, and with most insurances the pill only costs $10-$30 a month. Like condoms, using the pill and the patch are one of the safest ways to protect against getting pregnant. For many couples the pill/patch is a safe and convenient way to avoid pregnancy if you know that the relationship is monogamous and that there should be no STDs involved. The pill also has other benefits such as helping to clear up acne, preventing bone thinning and clearing up ovarian cysts.
But what about those of us who don’t have just one partner and who may just be enjoying the possibilities of having some single fun while still in college?
Thanks to a Tweet sent to me from a fellow CCSU student, I was introduced to the female condom. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of one, because up until that moment neither had I.
Crowding around a computer with three friends, I went online to do a little research. The Planned Parenthood website claimed that this type of protection is growing in popularity everyday, but to be honest I can’t see why. They look highly uncomfortable and using one correctly seems to be a bit of a challenge, considering six to 16 women end up pregnant out of 100 each year while using them. For those of you who may be overly cautious, do not try to use a female condom and a regular condom at the same time. It will not end well.
Another option for women is a diaphragm, which is a shallow, dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim. It is made of silicone and is inserted into the vagina to provide a barrier. It must be kept in up to six hours after having sex and you can put it in multiple hours before intercourse. The most interesting thing I learned about the diaphragm is the fact that it can be washed and reused. Read into that what you will, but for me that was a definite deal breaker. A diaphragm does not protect against STDs, so for many sexually active people, using a condom is just easier.
When I was a freshman, I lived with another girl who had a very active sex life. I was already fully aware of that fact when one day I opened my fridge and saw a box with her Nuvaring sitting right next to my whipped yogurts. Though I was happy to realize she was practicing safe sex, I was still very confused as to what it actually was.
She explained to me later that you insert the ring vaginally and leave it in for 3 weeks. When you remove it, you get your period for a week and then you just repeat the cycle. Yes, they do get lost “up there” sometimes during sex, and you will need a doctor to get it out. However, they are one of the safer options with less than one in 100 women getting pregnant, but it does not protect against STDs.
With only an 800-word space to get all of this information to you, I will admit there are other options out there for practicing safe sex. Planned Parenthood is a great resource for anyone who may have questions. Many reading this will probably say to themselves, “Well I already knew all of that…,” which is excellent. The more people who know about their options for practicing safe sex, the better. For those of you who don’t know your options, or have any questions, please don’t be afraid to ask or just search online. It’s really amazing the amount of information that is just a few clicks away. We have come a long way since those cheesy ’80s movies; thank goodness.