When you decide to start having sex, you have to also think about whether or not you are ready to be a parent. Having a baby is a major decision and will cause huge changes in your life. Not only does it cost a lot of money to pay for diapers, clothes, food, and doctor bills, as well as sleeping less, not being able to hang out with your friends as much, and taking on a ton of new responsibilities, it also means that plans that you have will probably have to be delayed, like going to college, learning a skilled trade, or traveling. Of course, just like choosing whether or not you want to have sex, you have options available to you that can help you reduce your chance of getting pregnant. If you do get pregnant or think you might be pregnant, there are also options available to help you make good decisions and get the support you need.
One of the biggest obstacles to using birth control can be talking to your partner.
If you can’t talk to the person you’re going to have sex with about birth control, you might want to wait a little longer and focus on developing your relationship first.
The most common birth control methods that use hormones (chemicals that your body naturally makes to control things like your period, making sperm, dealing with stress) require a doctor’s visit. The doctor will tell you about the side effects from taking hormonal methods. The negatives include weight gain, acne, nausea, moodiness; however, there are also some positive side effects such as clearer skin, a more regular period or no period at all, and less cramping. There are several different hormonal methods to choose from depending on your lifestyle (are you good at remembering to do things every day or do you tend to forget?) and what works for you. These include the pill, regular injections, patches that go on your skin, and rings that go inside your vagina. If used regularly and correctly, all hormonal methods are very good at preventing pregnancy, and are completely reversible when you decide you do want to get pregnant.
Other methods that require going to the doctor or health center are the diaphragm, cervical cap, and IUD. Both the diaphragm and cervical cap are made out of rubber and go inside the vagina and cover the cervix, to prevent the sperm from entering. The IUD, or intrauterine device, is inserted into the uterus (womb) through the cervix and makes it nearly impossible for a fertilized egg to start growing into a baby. IUDs must be inserted and removed by a doctor or in a health center.
Another method that blocks the sperm from ever meeting the egg is the condom. There are both male and female condoms, and both can be purchased at a drugstore and usually even at grocery stores and convenience stores. You can buy condoms no matter how old you are – you don’t have be 18 or 21 to buy them. For guys, the male condom is one of the cheapest forms of birth control, is easy to use, and easy to get. Right now, there aren’t many other options for men. Male condoms are rolled down the penis before sex, and it’s important to use some type of water-based lubricant to prevent the condom from tearing and for comfort. Don’t use baby oil, cooking oil, lotion, petroleum jelly, butter, or anything else that contains oils as a lubricant because they will cause the condom to rip.
Female condoms are more expensive and are inserted into the vagina before having sex. Some women say that they can be difficult to use, especially the first time. Both the male and female condom also help prevent some STDs and HIV. It’s a great idea to practice both male and female condoms before you decide to have sex. When the time comes to use it in action, you won’t have to fumble around or read the instructions if you’ve practiced it a few times!
For more info, check out this helpful chart at Bedsider: https://bedsider.org/methods