What Birth Control Is Best For Me?
As Janelle Monae put it, I live my life on birth control. But… which one? Here’s how to figure it out!
Diaphragms, condoms, and IUDS, oh my! When it comes to birth control, the options are positively dizzying. Should you be wrapping it up? Applying a patch? Popping a pill? To know what option might be best for you, it’s good to get a pregnancy-preventing primer.
First up, the basics. Birth control refers to anything people use to avoid pregnancy, and it comes in two broad categories: hormonal and non-hormonal. Hormonal contraception uses progesterone and/or estrogen to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. Non-hormonal contraception uses barrier methods or other technologies to prevent sperm from coming in contact with the egg. Both have their positives and negatives!
Hormonal contraception uses progesterone and/or estrogen to prevent pregnancy, while non-hormonal contraception uses barrier methods and other technologies.
Hormonal Birth Control Methods:
- The IUD
- The implant
- The shot
- The pill
- The patch
- The ring
There are a number of upsides to hormonal birth control. Not only is it generally more reliable in preventing pregnancy, it’s also easier to use and more discreet, in that it doesn’t require sex to be interrupted (as compared with someone having to dash off to put on a condom). However, hormonal contraception can cause a number of side effects, such as: a decreased sex drive, acne, or mood swings. It can also be expensive or difficult to access depending on your location, and sometimes it can take awhile for your period return after stopping it, which could interfere with trying to get pregnant down the road.
Non-hormonal Birth Control Methods:
- Copper IUD
- External condoms
- Internal condoms
- The sponge
- The cervical cap
- Fertility Awareness Methods
Non-hormonal contraception is generally easier to access and has fewer side effects. Depending on your health insurance status, it can also be cheaper than some hormonal options. And most non-hormonal methods don’t affect the menstrual cycle (the one exception being the copper IUD). However, non-hormonal contraception is less reliable in preventing pregnancy overall, and it can interrupt or limit sex to certain windows of time.
So, how do you decide which method is best for you?
Start by considering a couple of key questions. These will help you work out your priorities when deciding which birth control to try:
1. What Do You Care Most About?
- Easy to use
- Easy to access
- Low maintenance
If reliability and ease of use are most important for you, then IUDs, implants, and the shot are great options. If accessibility and low hormone levels are most important to you, condoms, the sponge, diaphragms, cervical caps, and Fertility Awareness Methods are your go-tos. If cost and ease of access are most important, generic brands of the pill are your best bets. Think about which factors are most important to you, then start eliminating birth control methods that don’t align with your priorities.
Think about which factors are most important to you, then start eliminating birth control methods that don’t match your priorities.
2. How Much Time You Want To Spend On Your Birth Control?
- A few seconds each time you have sex
- A few minutes a day
- A few seconds a day
- A few seconds a week
- A few seconds every three months
- A doctor’s appointment every few months
- A doctor’s appointment once, then no time at all for a few years afterward
If you don’t mind spending a few seconds each and every time you have sex getting supplies prepped, condoms, cervical caps, spermicide, and diaphragms are good options. If you’re open to spending a few minutes a day on your birth control strategy, FAM/FABM methods may suit you, as they require daily cycle-tracking, temperature-taking, and cervical mucus monitoring. The pill only requires a few seconds to take, but you have to be sure you have a consistent schedule, as it must be taken at the same time every day.
If you don’t want to deal with thinking about your birth control on a daily basis, there are a number of longer-lasting options. The patch only needs to be replaced once a week, and the ring every three months. The shot requires a short doctor’s appointment every three months, and an IUD only requires one doctor’s appointment for insertion, and then lasts five years. Decide how much time you want to put into your birth control and eliminate methods that require more than you want to invest.
It’s totally normal to try a few different methods in order to figure out what works well for you.
Once you’ve decided what’s most important and how much time you want to invest, you can decide which method you want to try. It’s totally normal to try a few different options in order to figure out which works well for you. Many people have to try a few different pills or brands of condoms before finding the one that feels best. And some people try the shot, an IUD, or an implant only to decide a different method would work better—and that’s totally okay!
The great thing about birth control is that it puts you in charge.
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Is Period Sex OK?
Is it ok to have sex on your period? It sure is! So if you want to, go for it. Read on for tips on comfort, pleasure, and mess management.
It seems like menstruation is slowly becoming more talked about and normalized. It’s about time! Most people with a uterus menstruate at some point in their lives, so why not discuss it? The days of being embarrassed to buy tampons and pads are over. Now there are many more choices like cups and sponges and everything in an abundance of sizes and styles.
Sex On Your Period Is A-Okay!
Speaking of choice, it’s high time we discussed period sex. Here’s the bottom line, if you want to have period sex, there is no reason not to. If you don’t want to, well then don’t. If you might want to but have some questions, then read on.
If you want to have period sex, there is no reason not to. If you don’t want to, well then don’t.
It’s a lot more fun talking about sex than about cramps, and some people’s libidos are super charged during period days so wanting to have sex while you’re menstruating is a common thing. If this is you, go for it with a few tips on communication, safety and, of course, pleasure.
Start By Discussing Period Sex With Your Partner
Let’s say either you, or your partner, wants to try period sex. Anytime you want to try something new in the bedroom, it’s a good idea to begin with a conversation. Don’t assume - discuss!
Be kind and always talk about how you feel, not how your partner should feel. Listen. If you just quiet down and listen, you’ll be surprised at how much information you are able to receive from your partner.
What Sort Of Period Sex Are You Comfortable With?
Decide on your comfort levels for period sex. Just touching, yes or no to oral, penetration with fingers, or with a toy or penis? Then you have a guide and you will be able to push the envelope through agreement and not surprise.
Safer Sex When Menstruating
Just like other body fluids, your menstrual blood will carry STI’s. It’s always a good idea to make sure you and your partner have been tested. During your period your cervix is higher and more open, so bacteria flows more freely.
Decide on your comfort levels for period sex. Just touching, yes or no to oral, penetration with fingers, or with a toy or penis?
Why Am I Horny When I’m On My Period Anyway?
Remember, it’s normal to feel extra horny after you begin menstruating. Progesterone, which has been building up to help fertilize an egg, is at a low point when you don’t need to fertilize that egg and you get your period. Progesterone lowers libido so your libido builds when progesterone is low. It’s science.
Estrogen and testosterone will soon kick in and put your libido at its high point around week two of your cycle. That’s when you’re most likely to conceive. Get it?
How To Deal With The Blood During Period Sex
Worried about the blood? Did you know that during your entire period, you only release 3-4 tablespoons of blood? It doesn’t all come out during sex either.
During that communication part you may find that neither of you are really bothered by the blood and you’ll both enjoy the added lubrication from more fluids in your vagina. In which case, just put a dark towel underneath you and go for it.
Or, if you want an easier clean up, shower sex is a great option! Let the blood wash straight off down the drain.
Just put a dark towel underneath you and go for it... Or, if you want an easier clean up, shower sex is a great option!
Still not convinced but want to try? Using a menstrual disc or a sponge that sits up high, closer to your cervix, will absorb most of the blood before it flows out of you. These methods are different from a tampon FYI - you do not want to leave a tampon in during penetration! A tampon is great for external play or oral sex though.
Best Sex Positions When On Your Period
Try out different positions to see what feels best when you have your period. Since your cervix moves up a little bit higher during menstruation, the feelings may be different. If doggie style is normally painful, it may not be because of the extra lubrication and higher cervix. Also, missionary style or anything where you’re on your back will result in less blood on the sheets.
Orgasms Can Help Ease Cramps!
There is no biological reason to avoid sex during menstruation. In fact, if you have cramps, sex may be just the thing to lessen them since orgasms release endorphins and help to relax the uterus. Period sex may be a whole new adventure for you. Remember to stay safe, try different positions and use a dark colored towel. The rest is just another sexy exploration. Enjoy!