What’s lube got to do with it? [Sponsored] Note: this post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.
My first memories of learning about birth control are literally all awkward. Like class full of teenagers sitting in a room and staring at jumbo-sized slides of gonorrhea awkward. Like Mean Girls awkward. All I knew was that I didn’t know much, and the last person I wanted to ask was my conservative health teacher.
And as much as I love them and value their wisdom, I wasn’t about to stroll into my parents’ room after dinner and ask them about barrier methods. No, thank you—I was not tryna get sent to the motherland for being “fast.”
I remember really wanting a space where I could do some streamlined, comprehensive learning…on my own because it’s my body. And this shit is awkward enough without someone else regulating my thoughts on it. We’ve all heard so many bizarre rumors about birth control (no…having sex in a hot tub doesn’t prevent you from getting pregnant, but I’d be lying if I said 12-year-old Hannah didn’t believe that for 30 seconds).
Especially in light of the ongoing war on reproductive rights, it’s increasingly important to keep ourselves updated on not only contraception, but also STI prevention and treatment. And it’s so important to have that basic knowledge for yourself before you talk to your partner(s) about their preferences. Having a solid baseline knowledge of contraception methods and STI prevention radically improves your sex life (or so my non-abstinent friend told me…hey, mom!)
What’s cool is that now I have that space—and I get to share it with y’all! :) Bedsider.org’s super helpful tools, guides, and interactive forums spell out damn near everything you could want to know about multiple methods of birth control (and maybe some stuff you don’t). It’s free, it’s simple, and it’s definitely less awkward than your grandmother’s “just keep them legs closed” speech.
Reality check: More than half of all people who have sex will get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in their lifetime.
Women between the ages of 15 and 24 have about a 1 in 30 chance of contracting a common STI like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
We hope that doesn’t include you—and we want to help you prevent it—but if it does happen, it’s your responsibility to tell your partners. Yep, even if you might lose them. Even if you’re scared. Even if you’re afraid the news will get around. It’s the right thing to do.
I’m just going to address this quickly because I still get funny looks/questions/laughed at when I talk about wearing condoms, using condoms or buying condoms. Indeed, my spouse and I both have vaginas, but we use condoms regularly. The problem (and my frustration) is:
A. Not everyone uses condoms right now, especially people who don’t have penises
B. Some people without penises really need to use condoms
For some education on why you should use condoms, even if you don’t have a penis or don’t use a penis in sex:
The rate of HPV that’s spreading and how easily it’s spread is scary, and can lead to full-blown cancer. Someone in my family had pre-cancerous cells found in them and they still have to get regular check-ups to be screened for cancer in their cervix. There are also a ton of other STI’s that can be had from fluid contact (vagina to vagina included, or even from fingers, tongues, etc.) and shared toy use.
Also, a lot of common toys, especially dildos, are made from materials that can’t be sanitized effectively, so not only does that increase a risk of passing along STIs, but it also can lead to bacterial infections from the toys never being able to be truly cleaned, or other nasty reactions from non-medical-grade PVC or other materials that your body doesn’t like.
So, people who have vaginas or use toys: USE CONDOMS AND USE THEM EFFECTIVELY, as this comic demonstrates. Use them as dental dams, use them on your fingers, use them on your toys, use them for switching between vaginal and anal play, etc. etc. You can very literally save your, or someone else’s life, and I feel like the only time condoms are brought up is when there’s a penis involved. There’s no excuse not to be safe, and that includes not having a penis.
Yet another reason why condoms are awesome and important!
Birth control, way back when: the 1980s
Modern life isn’t perfect, but there are definitely some perks—like a whole lot more options when it comes to birth control. But what methods were couples using in the days of yore, while dialing land lines and watching Bewitched? Let’s get in the WABAC machine and find out!
In the 1980s, growing public awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic made condoms more popular than ever as people increasingly looked to prevent sexually transmitted infections in addition to pregnancy. Condoms became more widely available (in vending machines and schools, for example), and were heavily advertised as tools for safe sex.
As more research was done on the health effects of hormones, lower-dose birth control pills continued to gain ground. Non-hormonal barrier methods like the sponge (which debuted in 1983) and the diaphragm, which had been extremely popular before the advent of the pill, came into the limelight after the Dalkon Shield made many women wary of IUDs.
The silver lining? The decade’s health scares pushed the conversation around sexual health out into the open, allowing more folks to easily access information about safe sex and birth control.
“Don’t listen to rumors about AIDS, get the facts!” image by Public Health Service, HHS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Today is World AIDS Day, 2013, and we’re reviving Veralyn’s vlog from WAD 2012 for the occasion. Get informed, get tested, and get involved!
Method Monday: Birth Control for TV Characters—Round Two!
In Round Two of this Method Monday special (you can read the original here), join us in speculating about how the cast of Grey’s Anatomy gets down, whether New Girl’s Jess tells Nick to wrap it up, and just how pregnant the vampires of Bon Temps, Louisiana, can get.
Character 1: Jessica Day, New Girl
Here’s why: It’s Jess! She’s wacky, she’s spontaneous, and she’s so socially awkward that she’s never sure when she’s going to end up scoring. She needs a method that’s reliable and portable, and with her unstable employment (read: no health insurance), she probably wants one that doesn’t require repeat visits to a health care provider.
The copper IUD is the perfect method for Jess: low-cost, effective, and environment-friendly. And with the IUD, Jess can go where the moment takes her. Even when it’s an extremely awkward moment.
Jess is also responsible (and awkward) enough to carry around a box of 100 condoms with her on Valentine’s Day—just in case.
Character 2: Tara Thornton, True Blood
Her method: Male condom + Being a vampire (we don’t have that one in our method explorer)
Here’s why: Tara started out True Blood as a typical Southern girl—tough but sweet, with a big crush on her best friend’s brother. Then the show put her through the wringer: she got brainwashed, her boyfriend was murdered, she was kidnapped and tortured by a vampire, and she was ultimately turned into a vampire herself. Tara 2.0: not so nice.
Early Tara seems like a condom kind of girl—male condoms are easy to find, effective, and essential for STI protection (helpful when a girl’s trying to make it with Jason Stackhouse). Turning into a vampire eliminated Tara’s need for birth control: Vamps can’t get pregnant and seem immune to human diseases. Silver lining? (Ohhh, vampire pun!)
Character 3: Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey
Her method: Not right now (dear)
It’s the early twentieth century on Downton, and despite being sexually adventurous, Mary’s options for birth control are pretty limited. While early versions of condoms exist, most birth control is extremely primitive. (Lysol douching, anyone?) Good thing Mary really wanted a bun in the oven after marrying her cousin-love Matthew!
If she hadn’t wanted a pregnancy, Mary would probably have had to rely on some version of “I have a headache” for birth control. It’s usually a temporary method, but hey—when it works, it’s 100% effective.
Characters 4-57: The Cast of Grey’s Anatomy
Here’s why: Oh, you thought Grey’s Anatomy was about medicine? Actually, a much bigger focus in Grey’s storylines is who’s sleeping with whom. Or who isn’t sleeping with anybody at all.
Remember the time the whole hospital got syphilis? All kinds of birth control methods have shown up on Grey’s, from abstinence to sterilization, but the one we really hope that everyone at Seattle Grace is using effectively? Condoms. Any kind of condoms.
Who else should we be speculating about? Got theories of your own? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks, Birth Control!
Picture your life without birth control. Seriously. Imagine your sex life without it.
Pregnancy scares. The risk of STIs. Abstaining even when you really, really want to get it on. Having a baby before you’re ready to have one. (Or before you can afford one.)
Fortunately, you don’t have to go without it. In fact, we get to embrace it. And new laws have made birth control more affordable than ever.
That’s why we’re showing some gratitude for our favorite topic. It makes so much possible. No wonder 99% of US women have used it.
Please join Bedsider today in saying, “Thanks, Birth Control” and let’s see what happens when the world shows some love for all the methods out there. We hope you’ll share our postcards or use #thxbirthcontrol and give thanks in your own words.
Got any? Visit TeenSource.com.
First of all, don’t panic. Teen Source is a great resource for condoms (free ones!) if you’re in California and in your teens. In California but over 19? We’ve got some tips for finding free condoms in LA and San Francisco. Not in California at all? Here’s 5 ways to find condoms anywhere in the country.
The HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer and genital warts. The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all girls and boys ages 11 and 12 get all three doses of the vaccine. (Ladies and gents ages 13-26 who haven’t had all three doses yet can get catch-up shots.) Yet national studies tell us that only about one in three girls ages 13-17 have had all three doses of the HPV vaccine. About half have gotten at least one dose—which means half haven’t gotten a single dose. So why aren’t more girls getting the vaccine? And why don’t more of the girls who start it get all three doses?