Contraceptives are one of the biggest tools that the sexually active have if they want to reduce their chances of contracting an STD or unwanted pregnancy. However, there are a lot of different contraceptive options out there, many of them designed for different purposes and preferences. Because of this, each of them has different pros and cons, and people must understand each of them. Assuming that one method of contraception will provide full coverage when it doesn’t could cause significant issues for you down the line. Here’s the rundown of your different options.
The largest benefit when it comes to male condoms is that they are the only option on this list that helps reduce your chance of STD/HIV infection. Condoms are estimated to be around 90% effective when it comes to HIV protection, though it should be noted that these only apply to latex condoms. Condoms made from other materials for people with latex sensitivities will have reduced effectiveness when it comes to STD prevention.
Another significant benefit is the relative accessibility of condoms. These are very inexpensive and can be easily found in most pharmacies/general stores.
The main drawback of male condoms is the fact that they are single-use, and you need to have a new one present in any situation where sexual activity is likely. There is also the risk of them breaking, which negates any preventative benefits.
Birth Control Pills
The main advantage of birth control pills is that they have a 91% success rate regarding pregnancy prevention. On top of this, they have a variety of other useful benefits for women, including making periods lighter, reducing cramps and acne. Many of the other options in this tier of effectiveness also require implanting or inserting, which may not appeal to some women.
The major drawback when it comes to birth control is the fact that women need to continuously take them at the same time every day to see the effects. Failing to stay on schedule will require another contraceptive method.
In terms of cost, the affordability of birth control pills will depend on your health insurance. With some plans, you can get birth control for free, while for others, you will need a co-pay. There’s also the risk of side-effects like nausea, as well as interactions with other medications.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
These are implanted devices that stay in the uterus for several years after being inserted by a doctor. There are two different types. The copper version keeps fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus, while hormonal ones release progestin. This impacts ovulation and helps the cervix block sperm. Both versions boast the highest success rates when it comes to contraceptives, and have the added benefit of being able to last years, compared to single-use condoms or having to take birth-control pills repeatedly.
In terms of cons, if you don’t have this covered by insurance, it is one of the more expensive methods to use. Also, you need a medical provider to implant the device initially. In the first 20 days after the implant, there is an increased risk of infection.
For women interested in long-term birth control, this is one of the ideal options. On top of having a high success rate, this is done by putting an implant under the skin that releases progestin. While it lasts for three years, you can also have it removed at any time you wish, though it does require minor surgery to do so. The main cons of hormonal implants include potentially irregular periods. Also, it doesn’t provide any protection against STDs.
When it comes to protection from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, while you have a lot of options on the table, you always want to stick to the greater mentality of being safe and planning ahead. In case you have an unprotected sexual encounter and suspect that you have contracted something, or suspect having contracted something in general, be sure to visit one of our testing sites. The sooner you know where you stand, the easier it is for you to respond.