Awesome female condom infographic by CHANGE
It’s… Super Female-condom Lady! (Kinda makes you want to learn more about the female condom, huh?)
Love it! And when you purchase female condoms at http://thecondomreview.com/products/buy-fc2-female-condom
we always add an extra free, so that sexy ladies can practice prior to going hot and heavy. ;)
That’s so super-cool. We’ve definitely heard that it can take a little getting used to at first…
Method Monday: IUDs!
Okay, we confess. We talk about this method a lot. But considering how many points the IUD has in its favor (Super-effective! Reversible! Long-lasting! Low-maintenance! …!!!!!), and how much misinformation is still out there about it, we just feel there’s still plenty to be said. Like what? So glad you asked…
- The IUD is the longest-lasting non-permanent birth control method available in the U.S.—and by long-lasting, we’re talking anywhere from 7 to 12* years, depending on which kind you get. That’s how long the IUD can protect you from pregnancy, but if you decide you want to get pregnant after 3 years (or 1 year, or two months…), you can have the IUD removed anytime and should return to your normal fertility level pretty much immediately.
- There are two kinds of IUD—one called Mirena, which works because of a low dose of the hormone progestin, and one called ParaGard that contains no hormones whatsoever and works thanks to a small amount of copper.
- The ParaGard IUD is the only super-effective non-hormonal birth control option—it lasts for up to 12 years and it’s eco-friendly!
- IUD insertion can hurt a little (or a lot, depending on the person), but most IUD users—even those on the “a lot” side of the spectrum—say it’s well worth the pain.
- The ParaGard IUD can be used for emergency contraception (EC) within 5 days of unprotected sex—in fact, it’s by far the most effective EC option available! Unfortunately, it seems like not a lot of people know that…
- Until recently, IUDs had a bad rap in the U.S., which is probably why they’re not as commonly used here as they are in other countries. Two groups in the U.S. who are more likely to use an IUD? Gynecologists (lady docs are 3 times more likely than the average U.S. woman to have an IUD) and participants in the Contraceptive CHOICE project in St. Louis, who were counseled on different birth control methods and then given their pick of the methods for free. Fortunately more and more U.S. women are getting the message that the new models are safe and super-effective and are deciding to give it a shot.
- There are lots of persistent rumors about who can use the IUD and who can’t—and most of them aren’t true. Even some health care providers aren’t up to date when it comes to IUDs, so if your provider discourages you from considering it, check out Nurse Lola’s great (read: hilarious) suggestions for how to deal.
- Another rumor about the IUD is that it’s super expensive—but it may be more affordable than you think. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many insured folks should now (or soon) be able to get any FDA-approved birth control method without co-pays or deductibles. If you don’t have insurance, there may be other programs in your state to help you get the birth control you want without breaking the bank. And even if you have to pay for the IUD, it might still be worth it cost-wise if you’re planning to have it for a while.
And now, your moment of awkward, IUD-related zen.
*NOTE: Mirena’s manufacturers say it lasts up to 5 years, but in Europe it’s approved for up to 7. ParaGard’s manufacturers claim it can be used for up to 10 years, but studies have shown it’s effective for up to 12. For more on why manufacturers’ labels might not always reflect the latest research, check out our article “What’s in a birth control label?”
Method Monday: Masturbation
Okay, we’re being a bit cheeky, but for many people masturbation is an important part of successfully pulling off the “Not right now” approach to sex and pregnancy prevention. And since May is National Masturbation Month, we thought it deserved some Method Monday love. So, what is there to say?
- It’s got perks. Charlie Glickman of Good Vibrations (the company that founded National Masturbation Month) listed some benefits for a Las Vegas Weekly article. “It’s fun. It feels good. It relieves stress. And it’s likely the safest sex you’ll ever have. Masturbation is also one of the best ways to learn about your body and discover what turns you on.” Need more evidence? Check out this article by Dr. Yvonne Fulbright on the health benefits of masturbation.
- Don’t believe everything you hear about it. There are many myths about masturbation, most of which were crafted in a world of pure imagination (and not the fun kind). Fortunately Planned Parenthood has a couple resources devoted to separating fact from fiction.
- Did we mention that, when used correctly, it’s 100% effective at preventing pregnancy? And by correctly, we mean instead of intercourse—not just to switch things up.
- There are tools (many, many tools) to make it easier and more fun. It’s a great time to be a sex toy user since manufacturers are now creating toys that are eco-friendly, safe, discreet, and chic. You can always shop online, or if you’re feeling up for an outing, check out our Frisky Friday with some excellent tips on how to feel confident walking into a sex shop.
- You don’t have to be alone. Mutual masturbation (a form of outercourse) can be a great option for couples who want to be intimate but don’t want to “go all the way” for one reason or another. It can also be a great way to learn about your partner’s likes and dislikes without putting yourself at risk of unintended pregnancy or STIs. Outercourse can even be an option for committed couples who want to have kids at some point and in the meantime just really don’t want to take any chances. Don’t believe us? Check out Jason talking about using “Not right now” with his wife until they’re ready to start a family: Remember, though, that some STIs can spread via oral sex or skin to skin contact, so “everything but” isn’t necessarily completely risk-free. And if you’re using “Not right now” with a partner but find yourselves moving closer to the “right now” or “sort of right now” end of the spectrum, it couldn’t hurt to look into some “right now” methods. You know, just in case…
Whatever masturbation means to you—whether it’s “rehearsing alone” or with a partner—we just, well, we really hope you enjoy the rest of your May.
“I believe in furidous masturbation” image by Dani Lurie.
Method Monday: Emergency Contraception (EC)
In honor of the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action (coming up this very Wednesday), we’re featuring emergency contraception, a.k.a. EC, for our Method Monday this week! The Back Up Your Birth Control theme this year is EC=BC—an excellent choice given the amount of confusion and misinformation floating around online and in the media RE how EC works. You can learn more about the different EC options on our site, but in a nutshell, the reason you have to take it as soon after the (f)act as possible is because it doesn’t work if you’re pregnant. EC can only prevent a pregnancy from starting; it can’t stop one that already has. And if you accidentally take EC before you know you’re pregnant, it won’t hurt you or the pregnancy. A few more noteworthy tidbits about EC:
- Unlike jumping around, douching with strange substances, or praying he pulled out in time, EC works pretty darn well if taken asap after unprotected sex/condom breakage/etc. Though using an effective method before having sex is still better.
- Plan B One-Step, a popular form of EC, came close to being approved for over-the-counter status—which would’ve meant it would be available on drug store shelves just like Aspirin or condoms—back in December 2011. But the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overruled the FDA’s recommendation, so it’s still behind the counter and prescription-only for anyone under 17.
- Anyone 17 or older has the right to purchase certain forms of EC (namely Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and Levonorgestrel) without a prescription. This goes for dudes, too. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
- Some forms of EC don’t work as well for women with higher body mass index (BMI). For those women, the ParaGard IUD is probably the best emergency contraceptive option.
- The most effective form of EC (for anyone) is the ParaGard IUD. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of folks don’t know that, and the fact that many health care providers don’t talk about it doesn’t help.
- A higher dose of certain birth control pills after sex works as emergency contraception—though you should consult our article on the Yuzpe method, and/or talk to your health care provider to make sure you get the dosage right.
If your thirst for EC info isn’t quite sated, check out this montage of our Real Stories women talking about their experiences with EC.
And guys know what EC is too! At least our Real Stories guys do:
(Yes, we heard it too—he totally said “my swimmers got past her, her defenders.” Cute or weird? Kinda cute, right?)
Who Uses Birth Control, Anyway?
A lot of people do (no news to us). Some of them started using the hashtag #iusebirthcontrol on Friday as part of a response to news that religious groups are pushing for broader exemptions to the new health reform provision that would make birth control coverage without co-pays mandatory for most health insurance plans.
Being the birth control nerds we are, we’re excited at this unexpected glimpse of the contraceptive preferences of real women and wanted to highlight a few favorites we’ve seen over the past few days. Enjoy, and share your favorite #Iusebirthcontrol tweets in the comments!
Some things are worth fighting for. @salamandrina73: @IAmDrTiller I was on the Pill for 14 years, and I fought my insurance like hell to get my Paragard IUD this year. #iusebirthcontrol
Let’s hear it for doubling up! (And technology.) @MissTVotes: @IAmDrTiller #iusebirthcontrol Nuvaring+condoms! <3 I only have to remember it 2x/month & there’s even a desktop app for it!
Birth control can have perks besides pregnancy prevention. @elizabr0: @PPact #iusebirthcontrol because my periods are irregular, painful, and tend to last more than a week. Virgin or not, I NEEDED BC.
@crankenwedge: @PPact #iusebirthcontrol to reduce acne that causes scarring. #bcrefusal
@pdxfashionista: #iusebirthcontrol I use the pill continuously for severe dysmenorrhea. Been on it for 11 years. Otherwise I’d be anemic and debilitated.
@APBBlue: @IAmDrTiller I stopped the Pill because of migraines. ParaGard for 4 years now. I freaking LOVE IT. #iusebirthcontrol
Some people don’t want kids. Period. @alaskalainen: #iusebirthcontrol because my husband & I enjoy life as a family of 2 - and because 7 billion is a LOT of people
And some just want to be ready. @SquatLikeALady: #iusebirthcontrol because I am married, work FT, am a FT student & want to wait to have kids until I can stay home with them for a few yrs!
@pazenlavida: #iusebirthcontrol B/c overachievers like me want to make sure their pregnancies are better than yours. We gotta plan that ish & be ready.
Knowing yourself is a beautiful thing. @Girarf: @PPact #iusebirthcontrol b/c I’m emotionally and financially ready to have an IUD, not a baby!
@sondi_hardy: @PPact #iusebirthcontrol because i am a proactive, sexually active, responsible young woman. thank you for helping me stay healthy!
And did we mention that planning rocks? @marissaRgarcia: #iusebirthcontrol 42 reasons I love sex & I want control over the consequences of my decisions. I don’t leave anything 2 chance.
Look familiar? Jane Castro of “Real Stories” fame (yes, all our storytellers are stars to us) is also in the cast of Tough Love: Miami. Not only is she a rising reality TV star, but Jane also happens to have made one of the best comparisons ever (IOHO) when talking about how she remembers to take the pill:
A lot of people are like “How do you remember?!” and I’m like “I just remember.” You just wake up, and then like—some people…wake up and they just need their coffee. I just need to have my pill. Same thing. You don’t wake up and then be like “Oh, I forgot to drink my coffee.” No! How do you wake up and forget to drink your coffee? People just wake up and drink their coffee. I don’t drink coffee. I have to take my pill.
(And if taking the pill isn’t quite like drinking coffee for you, you can always set up a pill reminder to make it easier to remember.)
The IUD Love Goes On and On…
In an excellent piece for Slate, “Free to Be IUD,” (which you should totally read) Amanda Marcotte suggests that “…with cost no longer a barrier, the IUD may reach a tipping point at which most women find that they have at least one friend who is using it. When that finally happens, women will be far likelier to consider it for themselves.” Here’s hoping she’s right!
In the meantime, women can watch our “Real Stories” for first-hand accounts of several women’s experiences with the IUD.
The first time Theresa used the ring, she was a little unsure how to insert it. But now she’s a pro, with a twist method to get it in and a fishhook move to get it out. No sweat. She also uses the stickers that come with each ring to remind her when one went in (twist…) and when it needs to come out (hook…). We’ve got electronic reminders to help you with that, too.
The first time Theresa used the ring, she was a little unsure how to insert it. But now she’s a pro, with a twist method to get it in and a fishhook move to get it out. No sweat.
She also uses the stickers that come with each ring to remind her when one went in (twist…) and when it needs to come out (hook…). We’ve got electronic reminders to help you with that, too.
View from Abroad: Dating as an Independent Woman in Sierra Leone
Is a successful career at odds with a successful relationship?
Correspondent Veralyn Williams returns to her birthplace of Freetown, Sierra Leone, to see if educated African women face the same dating dilemmas as their American counterparts. [12 min 33 sec]
Originally published on SexReally.com on January 11, 2011.