Currently, condoms are the only widely available, proven method for reducing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during sex. Condoms work.
There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, you can explore the range of contraceptive choices available.
You can download our birth control method comparison chart and print out a copy to bring to your healthcare provider, so your provider can help you make the choice that’s best for you.
ASHA’s Sex+Health Podcast
There are about 61 million women of reproductive age in the United States, many of whom will use some type of birth control for several decades. There are lots of options available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this episode we’re talking with Dr. Noor Dasouki Abu-Alnadi, known as “Dr. Noor” to her patients, to explore what’s available including several new and exciting options.
How women choose birth control
Listen to real women discuss their choices
Protecting Your Fertility
You can begin protecting your fertility well before you are ready to start a family. Nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and decisions about sexual behavior influence a person’s ability to conceive a child and a woman’s ability have a safe delivery. In the ideal situation, you will be able to:
- Choose if and when you want to conceive a child
- Biologically conceive a child
- Deliver a healthy infant
Most people don’t realize that their reproductive health system is the most fragile system in the body. You need to know how to protect your future fertility. The decisions you make as a young person can affect your ability to have children later in life. By engaging in unprotected sex, you put yourself at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems. For example:
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Fifteen percent of all American cisgender women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. It often results from untreated STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can lead to serious consequences that affect a woman’s ability to have a baby, her experience during pregnancy and delivery, and the well being of her newborn.
- Genital herpes: Generally, herpes doesn’t usually have severe health consequences and doesn’t usually interfere with a person’s ability to become pregnant. In rare circumstances, however, herpes infections can affect the well being of the newborn infant. For this reason people who are thinking about becoming pregnant or are already pregnant should talk with their healthcare provider about protecting their baby.
- HIV: It is recommended that all pregnant women get tested before their baby is born. While routine testing for all populations is important to prevent the spread of HIV, it is especially important for expectant mothers. HIV can be passed between a mother and child during labor, and later through breastfeeding. By testing in advance, women and their doctors can create plans to protect the well being of their unborn children. Through medical treatments during delivery and feeding practices thereafter, HIV positive pregnant women can have HIV negative children.
What you can do to protect yourself and your fertility:
- Use condoms correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
- Get an annual physical where you request annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings (strongly recommended for cisgender women 25 and under).
- Get tested and ask your sexual partners to get tested (before you start having sex!)
- Recognize when you are in an abusive relationship and know who to call.
More to explore
Don’t be shy to talk with your partner about safer sex and condoms: For both of you, this is one of the most important conversations you can have. It’s also one of the smartest!
There is another update to the ongoing court battle over mifepristone, one of two drugs used in most medication abortion.
An FDA advisory panel voted unanimously last week that Opill, a progestin-only birth control pill, should be available over the counter.
For those with insurance coverage, internal condoms can now be ordered for free online and shipped directly.
ASHA recognizes each February as National Condom Month! Time to learn more about condoms, lube, and safer sex.