Happy World Contraception Day, everyone!

I’m gonna talk about some different types of contraception and sex education today, in order to spread the knowledge!

There are “Barrier Methods” of contraception, which are meant to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus in order to prevent pregnancy. These would include both external and internal condoms (I refuse to say ‘male and female condoms’ because those terms are inherently cis-sexist and support a gender binary), and it also includes Diaphragms, Cervical Caps, and Contraceptive Sponges. These forms of contraception are to be used and then removed in order to prevent pregnancy and the passing of different diseases/infections.

Next, there are “Hormonal Methods” of birth control, which regulate and/or stop ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy. (At some point, I’m going to make a post about the process of ovulation and menstruation, but not today!) The most well-known method is called the pill, which has a combination of synthetic estrogen(s) and progestin(s) (unless it’s the placebo week) and you take one pill a day in order to prevent pregnancy. (There is also a pill that has progestin-only, which thickens cervical muscles to make it harder for sperm to swim around and enter the fallopian tube.) Then there is the patch, which releases hormones to the bloodstream through the skin and should be applied once a week for three weeks. Vaginal rings (NuvaRing) are thin and flexible and are inserted into the vagina for three weeks, and then removed for one week for a period. Then there are shots -Depo shot is pretty well known, and this method lasts for three months. Implantable rods are surgically inserted under the skin of the upper arm, and can remain there for up to 5 years.

After the hormonal methods, there are intrauterine methods, which are commonly called IUDs. There are copper IUDs, which cause an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg, and can remain in the body for up to 12 years. The other option is hormonal IUDs, which can be used for up to five years, and causes the thickening of the cervical muscles, thinning of the uterine lining, and can prevent ovulation.

Now, all of this is, obviously, a very brief overview, and there are many other sites you could go to for more in-depth information about each of these methods. I recommend doing research before starting a new method of birth control, in order to completely understand how effective it is and how to properly use it. Then you can discuss more in-depth matters with your doctor, who will write the prescription for you.

I also wanted to pull your attention to the new Health Care Reform and how that impacts birth control. As you might’ve noticed from above, most of the methods that are available really only impact people with vaginas. Hormonal methods and intrauterine methods only impact people with vaginas, barrier methods are a little more open but still mostly focus on the same. This is to say that birth control and sexual health is commonly left up to the women* to deal with and handle and pay for (even though the best birth control is for people with penises), and now the health care reform is trying to, at least, remedy the cost. If you have a prescription, your birth control should be free if it’s the patch, pill, ring, shot, implant, IUD, or sterilization. This can be extremely exciting and liberating for those of us who have had to pay for birth control methods every month or so for a long period of time.

And, just a general word of advice, please use your method of contraception in the proper way! That means that if you’re taking the pill, you should take one pill around the same time every day -if you miss/skip more than two pills in a single pack, you need to switch methods. This means that if you’re using an external condom, get the right size -there is so much misinformation about how condoms stretch and expand and can fit any penis, but seriously you need to get the size right or there is a bigger chance of it breaking and, thus, pregnancy (it also is bad for the penis if the condom is too tight, and it can slip off if it’s too loose). Seriously, do your research and use contraception properly if you want to avoid pregnancy.

Happy World Contraception Day -I hope you learned something new about sexual health and wellness, and that you spread the information to others as well!