How does birth control work? What are the common birth control mistakes to avoid?
Babies are beautiful creatures and bringing them into the world should never be considered a mistake. However, if one is not yet ready to become a parent or get pregnant again, there are a lot of options available to stay on the “safe side.” You should note though that for these options to be effective, you need to be very accurate in using them.
What is birth control?
Contraception, often known as birth control, is used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods can function in a variety of ways:
- Preventing sperm from reaching the eggs. Condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and contraceptive sponges are among the examples.
- Preventing eggs from being fertilized by the ovaries. Birth control pills, patches, needles, vaginal rings, and emergency contraceptive tablets are all examples.
- IUDs, which are inserted into the uterus, are long-term forms of birth control. They can be left in place for years.
Mistakes occur. It’s a natural part of existence. When it comes to birth control, though, a mistake might have serious consequences: an unintended pregnancy.
Avoid these common birth control mistakes
Contraception can be very helpful to enjoy sex while preventing an unwanted pregnancy. However, they should be used consistently and with caution. Keep these common birth control mistakes in mind so you can prevent doing them and stay on the safe side.
1. You’re inconsistent
Image form iStock
If you miss three or more combination birth control pills (the most common form, which contains both estrogen and progestin), you’re out until you’ve taken the pills for seven days straight – therefore you’ll need to use backup birth control during that week.
If you miss even one or two of a pack’s first tablets, you’ll require seven days of backup birth control (such as condoms).
Progestin-only pills must be taken at the same time every day, with backup contraception required for 48 hours if you are more than three hours late.
Set a daily alarm on your smartphone, jot it down in your agenda or calendar, or download a pill-reminder app. This instils in you the habit of taking it on time, every time, without hesitation, making it the most efficient method of avoiding pregnancy.
If you miss a dose, use a backup birth control method during sex, such as a condom or diaphragm, and take the pill as soon as you remember that day. If you don’t recall until the next day, take two pills to get back on track.
However, if you have missed more than two doses, you should contact your doctor to find out what you should do next. You may need to start a fresh pill pack at this point.
2. You’re taking the wrong pill
People refer to it as “the pill,” although there are many distinct sorts, with some being more successful than others.
If you’re breastfeeding, have heart illness, migraines, or other reasons you can’t take estrogen, a progestin-only pill (or “mini-pill”) may make sense, but a combination pill provides additional pregnancy prevention. Discuss with your doctor how to strike a balance between the highest level of efficacy and your other needs and concerns.
3. You disregard backup
You don’t require backup birth control if you get an Implanon or start taking a combination pill within five days of your period starting, but if you start at any other time during your cycle, you’ll need condoms or another birth control method for the first seven days.
Backup is required for progestin-only pills for the first 48 hours of use. Whatever type you choose, consult your doctor to see if you require back up until it begins to function.
4. You select the wrong condoms
Image from iStock
Too-small condoms can break, and there is some evidence that polyurethane condoms break more frequently than latex condoms.
Condoms made of latex, polyurethane, and lambskin all prevent pregnancy, but lambskin condoms may not protect against HIV. So, unless you have a latex allergy, lambskin condoms may not be your best option.
5. You’re using condoms incorrectly
Condoms must be used appropriately in order to be effective. If done correctly, they are 98 per cent successful; if not, they are just 83 per cent effective.
Use one before any genital contact, not just during intercourse or climax, because even a few drops of pre-ejaculatory fluid can result in pregnancy.
Squeeze the tip of the condom to get the air out before putting it on to avoid breakage. Before pressing the condom to the penis, check which direction it unrolls and if you make a mistake, throw it away in case there is already semen on the tip.
6. You use condoms that are expired or defective
It’s simple to buy a box of condoms, put it somewhere safe, and then forget about it. They do, however, have expiration dates. Also, where you store condoms has a big impact on how well they work. Keeping one in a wallet or back pocket might harm it due to body heat and friction, making it more prone to tearing.
Examine the expiration dates on your condoms and replace them as needed. Keep them away from heat as well. Keep them in a cold, dry area, such as a nightstand.
7. You don’t have an emergency plan
If a condom breaks or falls off, an IUD or emergency contraception (commonly known as the “morning-after pill”) can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
However, the pills must be taken within 72 hours (up to 3 days) of unprotected sex, and the sooner the better, according to the producers. Experts believe emergency contraception works if used within 120 hours, or up to 5 days, but again, sooner is preferable. It’s a good idea to keep some on hand just in case.
8. You haven’t looked at other options
Some folks cannot remember to take their medication on a daily basis. If this describes you, consider switching to a “more ‘forgettable’ method that doesn’t rely on taking a pill every day, such as a contraceptive implant or an intrauterine device,” according to Alison Edelman, MD, a clinical gynaecologist and associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
You could also try birth control injections (Depo Provera), a three-month shot in the arm, as well as sponges, rings, patches, diaphragms, and other methods.
9. Your vaginal ring falls out
To use the ring properly, insert it into your vagina and wear it for three weeks. You take it out for the last week of the cycle, during your period, and then replace it. However, the ring can fall out or you may fail to change it on time.
If the ring slips out, clean it with cool water and replace it as soon as possible, preferably within 3 hours. You will still be safe against pregnancy.
However, if the ring has been out of your vagina for more than 3 hours and it is the third week of the cycle (i.e., not your period week), toss it out and replace it straight away. Use a condom or another barrier technique if you have intercourse in the next 7 days.
10. You don’t check your diaphragm before using it.
A diaphragm resembles a shallow cup. You insert it into your vagina to protect your cervix and prevent sperm from entering your uterus. About 2 hours before sex, prepare the diaphragm by soaking it in spermicide and inserting it like you would a tampon. Because this approach requires more prep work with your hands, the diaphragm may be harmed in the process.
Diaphragm Birth Control | Image from iStock
When you’re not using your diaphragm, you should take care of it. This entails washing it with soap and warm water, allowing it to air dry, and storing it in a clean, dry location away from direct sunshine and heat. You should also inspect it for cracks, holes, and wrinkles. Fill the diaphragm cup with water to check for leaks.
If you discover any damage, consult your doctor about getting a replacement. Use an alternative sort of birth control in the meanwhile.
11. Your nails tear the sponge
Long fingernails can cut or break contraceptive sponges during insertion, reducing effectiveness.
Even little nicks or tears might become infected during intercourse, so keep your nails short or use caution. Also, avoid nicking or tearing condoms with jewellery, fingernails, or teeth.
12. You take your sponge out early
Contraceptive sponges must be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse to be effective (but they should not be left in for more than 30 hours overall).
Diaphragms must be left in place for six to eight hours after sex, but must be removed at least once every 24 hours for cleaning.
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13. You rely solely on spermicide
According to research, spermicide can make other means of contraception, such as condoms and the pill, even more effective. However, spermicide alone provides very little protection against pregnancy.
14. You don’t use lubricants
If vaginal dryness is an issue, use a lubricant with your condoms – not just for comfort, but also for protection.
A lubricant that is not based on oil can help keep condoms from tearing or breaking.
15. You’re using a wrong lubricant
In under 60 seconds, oils or oil-based lubricants (such as Vaseline, baby oil, and mineral oil-based body lotions) can significantly degrade latex condoms.
Choose a lubricant that is water- or silicone-based, which is available in the family-planning section of drugstores and supermarkets. Remember that many lipsticks contain oils that might damage latex.
16. You are taking medicine that may interfere with your birth control.
Pills, patches, and vaginal rings prevent pregnancy by changing hormone levels, however, some medications or supplements can lower those levels in your body. This includes several HIV medications, epilepsy medications, and the antibiotic rifampin (Rimactane).
Before beginning a hormonal type of birth control, consult your doctor about all medications, vitamins, and supplements you use, including those that appear to be innocuous.
Several factors should influence your decision on birth control. These include your health, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, and desire to have children in the future. Your doctor can advise you on the best method of birth control for you.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.