Category Archives: Birth Control

Sex Education in America: Why Abstinence Only Education Does More Harm Than Good

By: Jillian James

WHAT IS ABSTINENCE ONLY EDUCATION?

Abstinence only education is sexual education that promotes and teaches abstinence until marriage. Discussion of different types of birth control, STDs and STIs, and other sexual topics are excluded completely. Abstinence only education also for the most part only discusses heterosexual relationships and doesn’t provide a depth of information on LGBTQ+ issues.
WHY IS COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION BETTER?

Abstinence education does more harm than good. It is incredibly important to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools because it gives students the power to makes informed decisions about their bodies and their sexual health. According to Advocates for Youth, 88% of millennials support comprehensive sex education.

Comprehensive sexual education gives students the power of knowledge and the resources to be healthy. By discussing sexuality, it becomes less stigmatized and students grow up feeling more self-actualized and confident about their identity and their bodies. Abstinence only education makes sex and sexuality seem shameful and causes students to have low self esteem and question their natural desires.

The idea that teenagers in high school must be “shielded” from comprehensive sexual education is ridiculous and counter intuitive. Teenagers are exposed to sex and sexual acts through music, movies, and pop culture and it is crucial that they are given medically correct information that is taught by a professional.

It is also important to note that the message of abstinence can be taught effectively while still providing comprehensive sexual education. Several studies have shown that providing comprehensive sexual education does not make the teen pregnancy rate go up. In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been dropping over the past few years and many studies owe that fact to wider contraception access and education.

Take steps to educate yourself and research sexual education in your area. If you have any questions at all about sexual health, Planned Parenthood clinics are available to provide educational services and professional help and advising. You can find your local Planned Parenthood and learn more about the educational services they offer at PlannedParenthood.org.

Here’s Why You Need To Care About The Pill

By: Nicole Mclaren

 

Women sometimes take things like access to health care for granted. I am here to remind not only myself but my fellow women with the privilege of having access to things like birth image_7control, how important that is for women. That’s not to say that everyone in the US has access to reproductive health care because I do not believe that all of us do. According to Woman Stats Project the US has more restrictions on abortions than most other developed countries, this includes Russia and Vietnam.

It is important for women with access to birth control to understand the benefits of it. This privilege gives us the choice to have a child when and if we are ready to do so and can have health benefits for some women. According to an independent organization Institute of Medicine access to birth control is one of the things that is necessary to providing preventative healthcare for women. Some of the others on that list are breastfeeding supplies and screening for cervical cancer.

Impoverished women are the most at risk for unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections and other risks. This not only prevents women from participating in the workforce but also keeps them from receiving an education. Women that live in countries where there is an extreme legal or practical restrictions on women’s secondary education there is also less likely to be a national action plan to eliminate gender inequality.

Those of us who are in a place where we have access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care need to take advantage of it and appreciate it. This privilege can be powerful if we use it to improve other women’s ability to access these things that can greatly impact our lives. This could mean having a conversation with someone about the importance of women’s reproductive health care or if it means getting involved with Planned Parenthood or another organization that works to improve access to health care for all women. However you choose to get involved or want that to look like we need to keep the conversation going so that it cannot be silenced.

Sources:

http://www.womanstats.org/maps.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/why-birth-control-should-be-free.html

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ABO-SCALE-1-2016.png

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ATC-SCALE-2-2015.jpg

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/DiscrepancySecondaryEducation2015_11correctstatic.png

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Birth Control: Everything you Need to Know

By: Jillian James

 

Whether you are considering going on birth control for the first time or are looking to change your current method, its important to know your options. Below is a breakdown of the most common types of birth control and their costs.

If you need a form of birth control that requires a prescription, then the first step is to make an appointment at a local Planned Parenthood, a clinic, or a private health care provider. From there you will discuss your options with your doctor and decide on the best method for you and your lifestyle. Every woman is different and has different healthcare needs, and finding the right form of birth control is very important!

All of these forms of birth control are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy. Please note that condoms are the ONLY form of birth control that prevents STDs and STIs. For extra protection, a condom can also be used along with any other of the birth control methods listed below.

  1. Birth Control Implant (Implanon and Nexplanon)

This form of birth control is a little rod that is inserted in the arm. It is about the size of a matchstick. It must be inserted by a registered healthcare provider and can cost $0 to $800 up front. It can last up to four years.

arm

  1. Birth Control Pills

This is one of the most popular forms of birth control. You take a small pill everyday. It is safe, easy, convenient, and is usually covered by most insurance plans. It is also very easy to get with a prescription. One drawback is that the pill must be taken at the same time everyday or else it loses its effectiveness.

pill

  1. Birth Control Shot

Called Depo-Provera, this is a shot that is injected in the arm or butt. It lasts for three months and can cost anywhere from 0-100 dollars depending on your insurance coverage. The shot makes you stop having your monthly period and must be administered by a doctor or nurse.

depo

  1. Birth Control Vaginal Ring

Commonly called NuvaRing, this is a ring that inserted into the vagina once a month for three weeks to prevent pregnancy. With insurance it can cost anywhere from 0-80 dollars a month. After the ring is inserted you don’t feel it. The ring must be taken out when the three-week span ends and occasionally the ring can also fall out.

ring

  1. IUD

This device looks like a little “T” and is inserted into the uterus. This is a great option for women looking for long-term birth control. An IUD can last anywhere from 5-12 years depending on the type. It costs 0-1,000 upfront depending on your insurance coverage. There are two types: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. The copper IUD doesn’t contain hormones and is the longest lasting. An IUD is the longest lasting method of birth control. A registered practitioner at a doctor’s office or a Planned Parenthood location must insert them. To put the IUD in, the nurse or doctor will insert a speculum, which is a plastic or metal instrument that separates the walls in your vagina. Then they use a special inserter to put the IUD through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The whole process takes about five minutes. Afterward you may experience cramping and backaches.

iud

 

Take action today and make an appointment to find the right form of birth control for you and your lifestyle! You can make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood at myplannedparenthood.org. Call 941-567-3800 to find out what services and plans are covered. Protecting yourself and making sure that you take care of your sexual health doesn’t have to be scary or confusing! Planned Parenthood is here to guide you every step of the way.

 

Sources:

Planned Parenthood National Website

 

 

 

 

Diaphragms: The Lost Method of Birth Control

Lately, long acting birth control methods have been the talk of the town. They are inserted and there is no daily reminder, no responsibility, and no worries. However, many women do not feel comfortable with hormonal birth control methods and they should know all of their options.  The diaphragm was very popular in the 80’s and early 90’s but began losing it luster. A diagram is a shallow, dome shape cup made of silicone. It is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and keep sperm out of the uterus. For the diaphragm to work effectively, it must be used with spermicide. .  In order to get a diaphragm, you have to get a prescription from your healthcare provider and some must be fitted. The price ranges anywhere from 0-90$ depending on the brand and your type of insurance.

If an individual is going to use a diaphragm, they should be comfortable with their body because they have to insert it themselves. It must be placed in the vagina every time there is sexual intercourse and may be left in for up to 24 hours. It can be put in hours before sex so that it doesn’t ruin the moment. After each use, it must be taken out and washed with mild soap and water then air dried. It is important not to use and powders or oil based lubricants because it can break down the material of the diaphragm and cause infection.

The Pros:

  • You can put in the diaphragm hours in advance
  • You can have sex multiple times while it’s in
  • You and your partner should not be able to feel it
  • It does not affect your hormones
  • It decreases the risk of PID and tubal infertility
  • Can be used while breastfeeding

The Cons:

  • It can be hard to insert
  • Can cause vaginal irritation
  • Some women get frequent urinary tract infections
  • You have to use it every time you have sex can get pushed out of place by large penises, heavy thrusting, and some positions
  • You need a prescription

When used perfectly, the diaphragm is 94% effective, but typical use is only 88% effective. The long term methods are more effective but also have pros and cons. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what is the best form of birth control for themselves. To explore all your options visit

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control  or  www.bedsider.org

#ThxBirthControl

KeepCalmCondoms2Tomorrow, Nov. 10th, is “Thanks, Birth Control” (#ThxBirthControl) Day, dedicated to turning up the volume and turning down the controversy around birth control. Here at Feronia, we love to celebrate and thank birth control every day – but on this special day we want to recognize what birth control has meant to Americans: the ability to plan, prevent, and space pregnancies, more educational and economic opportunities, healthier babies, more stable families, and a reduced taxpayer burden.

There’s a lot to celebrate around birth control: The ability to plan, prevent, and space pregnancies is directly linked to benefits to women, men, children, and society, including more educational and economic opportunities, healthier babies, more stable families, and a reduced taxpayer burden.

  • Planning our families and using birth control can help women pursue their goals. The number of women in the workforce since 1965 has nearly tripled. And by 2013, more than six times as many women were completing four or more years of college than in 1960.
  • Many of the gains women have made since 1965 — in timing and spacing our children, in obtaining education, entering the workforce, and moving closer to pay equity — are the direct result of access to birth control.
  • Birth control was named one of the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ninety-nine percent of sexually active American women have used birth control! It’s a normal part of women’s lives and should not be a taboo topic or the subject of political posturing.

Birth control is basic health care for women: The average woman will spend about 30 years of her life trying to avoid pregnancy. No single birth control method is right for all women at all times. Women’s reproductive needs change throughout their lives, and their birth control should match those needs.

For women who want to know about their birth control options, PlannedParenthood.org is a good place to start.

Want to join us tomorrow in saying thank you to birth control?! Here’s what you can do:

  • Use the hashtag #ThxBirthControl on your social media platforms and share these great graphics from Bedsider
  • Shout out your story — why you use birth control and how it’s helped you
  • Share this infographic on birth control with your followers
  • Keep the conversation going past the 10th with the hashtag #BirthControlHelpedMe
Tagged , ,

How to Shop for Condoms

Today we’re reposting an oldie, but goodie. Happy condom shopping!

When you’re standing in the condom aisle, seconds seem like hours. Your eyes dart nervously across the colorful packaging, waiting for some clear sign that you should grab one particular box and make a mad dash for the checkout line. Oh yeah, then there’s that pack of gum to grab.

Condom shopping doesn’t have to be difficult or awkward. If you use my three-point condom shopping system, you’ll be outta’ there and gettin’ busy before you know it.

Step #1 – Material

Condoms are made from three different materials – latex, polyurethane and lambskin.

  • Latex: helps prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; stretchy, yet durable; ring at base; reservoir tip for ejaculate; inexpensive (or free if you get them at the health department or Planned Parenthood)
  • Polyurethane (fancy word for plastic): helps prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, safe for those with a latex allergy; less stretchy than latex, but still durable, ring at base; reservoir tip for ejaculate; transfers heat better than latex; female condoms come in this material
  • Lambskin: helps prevent pregnancy ONLY (because it is made from animal intestinal lining, it has small pores that bacteria and viruses can fit through, but sperm are bigger, therefore contained by the condom); a bit more eco-friendly than latex or polyurethane; safe for those whose culture or religion dictates the use of a “natural” method of birth control or for those not worried about sexually transmitted infections; no ring at base (more like a drawstring); no reservoir tip for ejaculate; distinct odor; fairly expensive

So, decide which material is right for you and, when you’re shopping, let your eyes wander to the bottom right side of the boxes – that’s where the material type is usually printed. I recommend latex or polyurethane.

Step #2 – Expiration Date

Condoms are manufactured about 5 years before they expire so if your condoms expire next month, they’re already 5 years old. Age degrades the material, making condoms more likely to break. The expiration date is usually printed on the back or side flap of the box and on each individual condom, as seen below:

condom

Step #3 – “The Extras”

By “extras” I mean lubricant, spermicide, size, texture, flavoring, etc. Here’s the skinny on the “extras”:

  • Lubricant: unless you have a bottle of safe lubricant (water-based, because oil-based breaks condoms) handy, opt for lubricated condoms for vaginal and/or anal sex. For oral sex, either get a dental dam or cut an unlubricated condom up the side.
  • Spermicide: this is often called nonoxynol-9 and is a chemical that helps to kill sperm. The use of spermicides is debatable on several fronts. Do your research before you decide on this one.
  • Size: condoms are basically one-size-fits-all. There are, however, “slim fit” and “extra large” versions. Just remember, condoms are SUPPOSED TO BE SNUG.
  • Texture: ribbed or studded – truth is, it doesn’t matter much, particulary for penis-in-vagina sex. Why? Because the vaginal walls have very few nerve endings, making it hard to feel tiny ribs or studs. Think about it – women can wear tampons for hours and not feel a thing! Really, ribs and studs and such are just marketing tools.
  • Flavoring: If it tastes like strawberries, that means it has some sugar and flavoring to make it taste like strawberries. These condoms are meant for oral sex only. Sugar can cause a yeast infection because it throws off the pH balance in the vagina.

But what about the brand name!!!??? I get this question a lot. Just pick a trusted brand. You might need to try various types of condoms before you find one that you really like.

If going to the store to purchase condoms or going to the health department or Planned Parenthood to get free ones is just too intimidating for you, do your shopping online.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Condom Use Among Young African American Men

Today’s guest post was written a sex educator who specializes in peer-to-peer pregnancy prevention programs. He understands the cultural nuances that influence the decisions young people make and works to help youth realize their potential. 

Condom use can be a taboo topic, especially within certain cultures and ethnic communities, including the African American community. When you dissect the African American community into subsets (by age, for example) you see trends in attitudes about condom use. According to the Black Aids Institute, young African American men report a 20.5 percent condom usage rate. It’s alarming to consider that 4 out of 5 young black men are not using condoms during sexual intercourse. Lack of condom use among African-American men can be seen as a direct correlation to higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, HIV, and other STI’s within the African American community.

couple

Research done by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation conducted a qualitative study on condom use behaviors among urban African-American men ages 18-24. That research revealed various reasons for non-condom use:

  • Lack of interest in condom use
  • Lack of immediate access to condoms
  • Inconvenience
  • The mood-killing length of time it takes to put on a condom
  • Partner’s disinterest in condom use

The most commonly expressed rationale for not using condoms among the research participants was their general disinterest in using condoms. It is evident that there may be some cultural perceptions among young African-American men that promote the non-use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Education is a critical component to refute many of the misconceptions that this population has in regards to condom use and it may be highly beneficial for Sexual Health Educators to consider the use of peer-to-peer education.

Some of the perceptions of condom use among young African-American men are driven by peer influence. A literature review of peer-to-peer programs done by Advocates for Youth revealed the following results:

  • Improved reproductive and sexual health outcomes, including reduced incidence of pregnancy, births and STIs
  • Reduced sexual risk behaviors, including delayed initiation of sex, increased contraceptive use and condom use, reduced number of new sexual partners as well as increased abstinence among sexually experienced youth, reduced incidence of unprotected sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased partner communication
  • Increased incidence of testing and sharing test results, including testing for HIV, for STIs, and sharing positive test results with a partner

Lack of condom use among African-American men has far-reaching public health consequences and effective strategies must be implemented to mitigate the cultural behavioral norms that promote non condom use. Peer education appears to be a promising model to educate young African-American men about the benefits of consistent and appropriate condom use.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Fun Friday: The Guy’s Guide

Bedsider produced a fun, yet educational series of PSA’s aimed at guys, and today we’re sharing the one about emergency contraception. Enjoy!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Why Don’t More People Use Condoms?

Most of us know that condoms are great at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, so why aren’t more people using them? The most common reasons why people state they don’t use condoms are:

  • It takes away from the moment
  • It smells or tastes bad
  • Some men lose their erection
  • Reduces pleasure for both men and women
  • They don’t have one when they decide to have sex
  • Their partner will think they don’t trust them if they ask to use a condom
  • Their partner will think they sleep around if they ask them to use a condom
  • Fear of being identified as “high risk”

Man unwrapping condom, woman lying on bed in background, close-up of hands, close-up

All of these are valid reasons, but there is more to it. Most people know at least a little bit about the risks of unprotected sex and the consequences, but someone’s “Perceived risk” is a bigger factor in whether they choose to protect themselves. Education by itself is not enough to change behavior. Our personal beliefs on how likely we are to become infected with STI’s or pregnant play a much bigger role in whether someone uses a condom use. The components of these beliefs are part of the Health Belief Model listed below which can help an individual or medical provider address sexual risk and behavior.

Perceived Susceptibility People will not change their health behaviors unless they believe that they are at risk. Ex: 
If someone doesn’t think they are risk for STI’s they won’t use a condom.

Perceived Severity 
The likelihood that someone will change their behavior depends on the severity of the potential consequences. Ex: I had a pregnancy scare and now I always use a condom.

Perceived Benefits 
People won’t change their behavior if there isn’t something in it for them.
 Ex: I really like the way it feels without a condom and partner doesn’t make me use one.

Perceived Barriers People won’t change their behavior if they think it will be hard. Ex: My partner and I have already had unprotected sex and I can’t start using condoms now.

Self-Efficacy The extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and/or reach goals. For many individuals something has to change or connect with them to make them step back and decide that their current choices are not working for them or place them in danger. Ex: If a person truly believes they can avoid chlamydia by negotiating condom use, they are apt to be more successful in reaching their goal.

Things to consider:

  • Get tested if you don’t know your status or your partners status.
  • Think about your risk factors and what safer sex strategies you could implement.
  • Go to a reliable website to learn more about safer sex or make an appointment and learn how to protect yourself and make safer sex fun.

Sources: here and here

Tagged , , , , , , ,

What’s the Best Birth Control for Teens?

Well, the obvious answer is abstinence: 100% effective when used correctly. But what method is second best? Third best?

If you’re a teen reading this, here’s what to expect from your pediatrician, per the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics: they will conduct a developmentally-targeted sexual history, assess risk for sexually transmitted infections, and provide appropriate screening and/or education about safe and effective contraceptive methods. Basically, they will ask you a choiceslot of personal questions that may make you uncomfortable, but it is really important to be honest with them. The information you give them is confidential, meaning they can’t share it with your partners, parents, friends, etc. They can’t match you to the best birth control method for you unless they have all of your behavioral and medical information in front of them. And sometimes it takes a few tweaks to get it right. Your doctor will advise you to spend 3-6 months getting used to your birth control, as it takes time for your body to adjust. Pay attention to any side effects you might be having and report back to your doctor the next time you see them.

implantNow back to what’s best for adolescents. Often, what’s considered the best is heavily influenced by what’s the most effective. Please look at this table so you can see the difference between “perfect use” and “typical use” of each contraceptive method. Take a look at “single-rod contraceptive implant.” This method is considered the best for teens who are or plan to be sexually active because it’s perfect and typical use rates are the same, and after a year’s use, 84% of women choose to stick with it. Unlike pills, patches, rings, and condoms, this type of contraception, also known by its brand names, Implanon and Nexplanon, is hard to mess up. Why? Because it is implanted into the upper arm, where it can stay for up to 3 years, preventing pregnancy. It can even be inserted immediately after birth.

Next in line are IUDs (intrauterine devices) in terms of effectiveness. There are two types of IUDs, hormonal and copper, lasting between 3 and 10 years. The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception. What single-rod implants and IUDs have in common are their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, ease of use, and their long-term coverage. They are often referred to as LARC’s, or long-acting reversible contraception. LARCs are as effective as birth control methods (aside from abstinence) can get without being permanent (like sterilization).

ALL birth control comes with side effects. You must weight the benefits and risks with your doctor. And remember, only abstinence and condoms will give you protection from sexually transmitted infections. It is a good idea to use your hormonal birth control WITH condoms.

If you are a parent reading this, there are a plethora of resources out there for you. Start with the American Academy of Pediatrics to read the most current guidelines. Visit Advocates for Youth to learn what to say and when to say it. Call your local Planned Parenthood affiliate as most have educators that you can talk to, learn from, ask questions, and even practice with.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,