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Contraceptives: Choices
(What is there,and how effective is it?).

If we're honest with ourselves we would all probably admit that having sex before marriage isn't the best of ideas, and we would all probably be able to say that the reason it's not a good idea is because it's dangerous. But why is it dangerous? All we really hear is, "Don't do it", "It's a sin", "You can get HIV or a baby" and yet we know that there are devices out there to help prevent those things from happening. How effective are those methods? What are they? If we have made the decision to be sexually active, then I feel we should know about not only the risks involved (of which there are plenty) but also ways that can help keep us safer and how effective those ways are. All of our choices, after all, should be informed.

There are many different forms of "birth control" or contraceptive devices, going all the way up to surgery. However, I thought it would be best to highlight the choices that we hear about most often, and which most young people choose.

One of the two most popular is the condom. Condoms can be brought at any drugstore/pharmacy, and they are very cheap. In fact, some centers give them away. The way that the condom works is by immobilizing sperm so that it cannot enter the uterus and join with an egg. Also, because some condoms are made out of latex, they are one of the only contraceptive devices that help protect against sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. When used correctly, and assuming that the condom doesn't break, they are between 89-98% effective.

Another very popular method is the birth control pill. There are two kinds of birth control pill: the combination pill that contain estrogen and progesterone and others that use only progesterone. Women on birth control pills take the tablets once a day. They have many other advantages, such as relief during menstrual cycles, and can help clear acne up. However, they also carry some major disadvantages, including weight gain or loss, depression, and the fact that they must be taken daily in order to be most effective. When taken daily, though, they are usually between 95-99.9% effective against pregnancy. They do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, though. A physician must prescribe the pill to the woman, though this usually isn't a problem. Doctors are usually willing to prescribe the pill, with or without parental consent.

The third option is a little less popular, though it has recently begun to increase in popularity. There are several names for this method, including "Plan B", and the "Emergency Contraception." It is also called the "morning after pill." There are two ways to have this procedure done. The first is by having an insertion within 5 days of unprotected sex. This is usually over 99% effective. The other way is to take two doses of pills 12 hours apart beginning within 72 hours of unprotected sex. This is usually between 75-89% effective. There are, however, numerous risks involved and this method should only be considered if you have unprotected sex, with no other contraceptive devices used.

Note that the only method (and one of the only methods, period) that helps prevent against sexually transmitted diseases is the condom.

Girls: If you have had sex, with or especially without, a contraceptive device and have

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Missed your period
  • Stomach cramps

And believe that something isn't quite normal, then you should go out and buy a home pregnancy test. They can tell you with 99% accuracy whether you're pregnant or not.

Only complete sexual abstinence is 100% effective against both pregnancy and STDs. Using birth control method(s) can help reduce the risk greatly but regardless of whether you are using one of the methods or not, if you believe that you may be pregnant, it's imperative that you find out as soon as possible so that you'll have all the more time to think about the choices you'll then have and want you want to do.

Remember, too, that sex is one of God's most beautiful, powerful and meaningful gifts. When saved until you're inside a marriage, it's twice as powerful and fun, too because the emotional attachment and security marriage brings you makes it even more special. God is not trying to keep you from having fun by saying you can't have sex until you're married: instead, He's trying to give you the best gift of all: the experience of actually becoming a part of another person, while knowing that the other person "wants" you for more than just your body.

Source: www.plannedParenthood.org
See also: Sex before Marriage, Risks of Unprotected Sex.