Condoms and The Pill

The two most common types of contraception

Without a doubt, the two most popular birth control methods among college students are condoms and the birth control pill. If, like many college students, you’re hungry for more information about these contraceptives, you’ve come to the right place.

Condoms

Condoms are sheaths, usually made of latex, that enclose the penis and prevent semen or other secretions from escaping. They are the most common form of birth control, in part because they are so cheap and easy to obtain. When used correctly, condoms are 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and the transmission of most STDs.

In fact, condoms are the only contraceptive that acts as a true safeguard against STDs (but keep in mind that condoms may be ineffective at preventing the transmission of HPV and hepatitis). The probability of pregnancy can be further diminished by combining a condom with another contraceptive, such as a spermicidal jelly, cream or suppository. The most common mistake when using a condom is to not leave space at the tip of the condom for semen.

The only time when it’s safe to even consider not using a condom during sex is in a monogamous relationship with someone who doesn’t have any STDs (make sure you have a negative test as evidence of this) and whom you trust 100 percent to never cheat or lie. While a marriage meets these criteria, few college relationships do. Thus, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of always using a condom.

The Pill

Oral contraceptives, commonly called “the pill,” are taken by over 100 million women around the world. A small pill is taken at the same time each day and releases a hormone that suppresses ovulation. When used properly, the pill is 99.9 percent effective. However, it’s often misused, and 3 percent of women on the pill will become pregnant as a result of this. The pill can be obtained via a prescription from a doctor or clinic. Cost varies, but some health plans or public clinics supplement or cover the cost.

If you ever forget to take a pill, take it as soon as you remember. Be sure to use a condom if you have sex during a month in which you missed a pill. If you forget two or more pills in a row, consult your doctor for further instructions.

The pill offers health benefits beyond contraception, including a regulated menstrual cycle, decreased menstrual flow, a reduction in acne and even protection against some forms of cancer. It does not offer any protection against STDs and can cause side effects such as tender breasts, irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain and nausea. Most side effects disappear over time. There are no known long-term effects for women who take the pill.

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