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Birth Control Comparison
What is it?: Either made of latex, or animal membrane (natural
skin), the condom fits over the man's penis, preventing sperm from
entering the woman.
How does it work?: The man puts it on over an erect penis
just prior to sexual intercourse and the ejaculate remains inside.
Combining a spermicide with condoms decreases the chance of pregnancy
if the condom breaks. Condoms must be removed immediately after
intercourse, and is a disposable, one time use article.
Effectiveness: 90% effective if used alone, 95-97% if used
with a spermicide as well.
Advantages: Condoms are widely available from grocery stores,
drug stores and vending machines. They are inexpensive, easy to
use, do not interfere with the body's natural hormones, and protect
Disadvantages: Can be messy and inconvenient, decrease physical
sensation, interrupt sexual spontaneity, people with latex allergies
can use the "natural skin" condoms, but these do not protect
Method: Today Sponge
What is it?: A small polyurethane device (similar to a diaphragm
but smaller) that is inserted over the cervix and feels like vaginal
How does it work?: The sponge fits over the cervix and contains
large amounts of spermicide, it acts as both a physical and chemical
barrier to prevent sperm from entering the cervix. This one-time
use device simply needs to be moistened with water and inserted.
It can remain in the vagina for up to 24 hours, and may be used
multiple times without additional spermicide being added. Must remain
in vagina for at least 6 hours after last act of intercourse.
Effectiveness: 89-91% effective
Advantages: inexpensive, widely available non-prescription
method of contraception, does not interfere with hormones or fertility,
allows for relatively spontaneous sex, are safe for people with
latex allergies, not perceptible by either partner during intercourse.
Disadvantages: messy, does not protect against STD's
It is important to carefully consider what type of birth control
is best for you. Some factors to consider are whether you want long-term
birth control (such as the IUD, or implants), or you only want occasional
protection (condoms or the sponge). You must also consider what
impact the hormonal birth control methods will have on your body,
as some women can be on them comfortably for years, while other
women find the side effects not worth it. Some women with particularly
heavy or painful periods often choose hormonal birth control, such
as the pill or Depo-Provera because of the lessening of cramps and
menstrual bleeding. Another factor to consider is age. Many of the
hormonal methods are not recommended for women over 35, and methods
like the IUD are not recommended to young women. It is necessary
to decide what it is that you are looking for in birth control and
weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each method. If you have
any questions, or are unsure if you are suited for a particular
method, it is recommended that you ask your doctor.