There are lots of forms of contraception out there and many people have questions about which is best for them. Whilst your GP can give you advice that’s tailored for you, here are some of the most common questions.
He hates condoms!
Q. My new partner refuses to use condoms, with the result that we haven’t had sex yet and are on the point of falling out. He says they reduce his pleasure and wants me to start taking the pill. Should I give in, as this argument is making us miserable?
A. He’s putting his pleasure ahead of your sexual health. Do you care enough about him for this not to be an issue? Condoms can help protect you from HIV and other STIs as well as preventing pregnancy. Although many men say that condoms result in a loss of sensation, the reality is that this is a minor change and unlikely to be of major importance to his enjoyment (and him taking longer can increase yours). If you do decide to go ahead with this relationship, you can more than make up for this loss in other ways. Safe sex practices such as stroking, rubbing, massage, fantasy sharing, mirrors, videos and sex toys are all ways in which you can ensure that he has more pleasure than ever before. If he’s still not prepared to use a condom, show him the door. Your health is too important to take the risk.
Q. My boyfriend and I use condoms, but last night one split. As I am underage, I can’t contact my doctor, so how can I get hold of the morning-after pill?
A. Doctors are used to this situation, so you should get in touch with yours right away. Alternatively, you could contact a sexual health clinic – they are often based at hospitals. Whichever you decide, you will be advised in total confidence. The ‘morning-after’ pill, more accurately called emergency contraception, can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse and is 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, (in the UK and the US it is currently only available on prescription). If the 72 hour deadline has been missed, an IUD can be fitted for up to five days after unprotected sex. If you do become pregnant, you will have to contact your doctor anyway, so make an emergency appointment today and get things sorted out.
Q. I am 28 and know that I never want children. I enjoy an active sex life, but the worry of pregnancy is always with me. Could I be sterilised, so that I can forget about contraception and focus on my love life?
A. Female sterilisation, depending upon how it is done, can be a relatively minor operation, which is highly effective in preventing pregnancy. Periods continue as normal and there are rarely any side effects. However, it should be seen as a permanent step, as reversal is a more major operation and success rates stand at only 70%. In some countries it might be difficult to find a doctor to perform this operation on you, as you are childless. Doctors have much experience of the trauma a changed mind can bring and although you feel certain in your decision now, you may well feel differently in a few years time. Talk to your doctor or family planning clinic about alternative long-term methods. These include the IUS (a combination of an IUD and hormonal implant which can be left in place for up to 3 years), contraceptive implants which can last up to five years and contraceptive injections which last either eight or twelve weeks.
Q. Are there any natural methods of contraception which work?
A. None are reliable. Natural fertility awareness techniques involving penetrative sex (such as the rhythm method, the temperature method, withdrawal and the cervical-mucus method) are really only suitable if becoming pregnant would not be a major problem. They are likely to be used by couples who know each other well (none of them offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases) and who are aiming to regulate the timing of pregnancy rather than prevent it. The natural methods that do work are non-penetrative sex, such as mutual masturbation, or where an alternative part of the body, such as the armpit, is used for coitus.