Birth Control

Showing 177 posts tagged Birth Control

Can you use an IUD if you’ve never been pregnant?

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Someone asked us…

Can you explain more about IUD? I know they’re designed for women who already had children, which can make them hurt for women who use them but have no children. Is there some equivalent option, or IUD for childless women?

IUDs are actually safe for most, whether or not you’ve had children. When IUDs first hit the market, they were only recommended for people who’d already given birth.

But since then, it’s been shown that IUDs are completely safe regardless of whether or not someone has given birth, and they’re actually highly recommended for almost anyone who doesn’t want to get pregnant anytime soon since they can last for years, require very little effort, and are extremely effective.

When I was a full time college student working three jobs to support the glamorous lifestyle of myself and a very cute but very needy three-legged cat, I could barely remember to eat breakfast, much less take a pill every day. That’s why birth control methods like the IUD are so great.

Don’t forget that IUDs won’t protect against STDs, so always use a condom as well.

Since I know you’re curious, behold, my cat:

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-Kellie at Planned Parenthood

Can antibiotics affect my birth control?

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Someone asked us…

"Hi there! So I was recently prescribed amoxicillin (for post-wisdom teeth surgery) and I’ve heard that (some? all?) antibiotics can lower the effectiveness of birth control pills. Is this true? If so, how long should I be wary of these adverse effects? Thanks so much, you guys are always so helpful!"

SO many people have this question.

Fortunately, there’s only one type of antibiotic that can mess with your birth control: Rifampin (usually used to treat tuberculosis). So anyone taking Rifampin should ask their doctor and/or pharmacist if it will interact with their birth control method, and use condoms as a backup, just in case.

Amoxicillin doesn’t lower the effectiveness of birth control pills, so no worries there. There are a few other medications that can have an effect on the pill:

  • the antifungal griseofulvin (other antifungals do not make the pill less effective)
  • certain HIV medicines
  • certain anti-seizure medicines
  • St. John’s wort

If you’re taking medication and are worried it will interact with your birth control, you can always double check with your nurse or doctor and use condoms as back up until you have your answer. And remember: the pill doesn’t protect against STDs, so condoms are always a good idea.

-Kellie at Planned Parenthood

How does the birth control pill really work?

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Someone asked us:

I love that there’s a tumblr page and all the answers are really lovely and kind and never condescending or judgmental like they might be if answered else where. I was just wondering if you could explain to me how the birth control pill actually works. I use it to regulate my periods but I just don’t know how it all works? Help a sister out? Thanks a million

Oh, thanks friend! We love you all too:)

Lots of people take the pill without really knowing how it works. But a better understanding of the pill can help you remember why it’s so important to take it every day.

First, a quick primer on the parts that about half of y’all are working with. Those of us with a uterus tend to also have ovaries, and in most people they release an egg every month. If that egg comes in contact with sperm, you could become pregnant.  

Think of the pill as a guard that stops your ovaries from releasing an egg AND stops sperm from getting to an egg. The hormones prevent eggs from being released. No egg for sperm to fertilize means you can’t get pregnant. These hormones also thicken the cervical mucus (think: goo at the entrance to your uterus) making it harder for the sperm to swim to the egg, just in case that egg gets out.

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The pill: like having Gandalf in your ovaries and cervix.

The pill makes your period lighter because the hormones prevent the uterine lining from thickening as much. Since you have several weeks of taking hormones and a few days to a  week of placebo pills (when your period comes), the timing of your period is more likely to be predictable than if you weren’t on birth control or if you were on a type of birth control that had a steady stream of hormones (like the shot, implant, or IUD).

Thanks, pill!

-Kellie at Planned Parenthood

Does the morning-after pill affect fertility?

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Someone asked us:

can taking the morning after pill (“plan b”) too many times make you infertile, or less able to easily conceive? i had never heard this until some friends said so recently, and it is horrifying me!

No way — you have nothing to fear. Taking the morning after pill (aka emergency contraception) will not make you less fertile in the long run. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy after one act of unprotected sex. Period.

BUT, if you find yourself taking Plan B frequently, it might be time to get a new plan A. Save yourself some stress and talk to your doctor or nurse about hassle-free birth control methods that might work well for you like the IUD or implant. Using birth control is your best bet if you want to prevent pregnancy — it’s more effective, costs less over time than Plan B if you use insurance, and (just like emergency contraception) won’t make you infertile after you stop using it.

Again, if it’s an urgent situation you can totally rely on emergency contraception without worry. If you hear your friends spreading misinformation about emergency contraception, be a sexual health superstar and get them the facts.

-Chelsea @ Planned Parenthood

I love my Mirena IUD, but not getting my period makes me nervous. How can I make sure I’m not pregnant?

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Someone asked us:

I have the Mirena IUD and I absolutely love it. However, I am still super wary of the fact that I don’t get my period regularly, as awesome as it is, because I’m constantly anxious about being pregnant. What are the legitimate chances that I might get pregnant with the IUD correctly in place? What are the warning signs if the device isn’t correctly in place? I ask, because my Gyno actually just retired and I haven’t found a new one yet. Any IUD tips or facts would be greatly appreciated!

It’s pretty common for the Mirena IUD to shorten, lighten and even eliminate your period. The chances of getting pregnant with an IUD in place are super incredibly slim — IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. So you can relax. Odds are your IUD is doing a bang-up job of keeping buns out of your oven, regardless of menstruation (or lack thereof).

As you note, pregnancy is possible if your IUD moves out of place or gets expelled. If it helps you feel more relaxed, you can check the strings that hang out of your cervix every now and then. If they’re way longer or shorter than normal, or have disappeared altogether, see a nurse or doctor about it. Same if you can feel the plastic part of the IUD coming out of your cervix.

Remember, you can also use condoms if you want an extra dose of pregnancy prevention. And condoms are the ONLY method of birth control that also protect against STDs. 

It’s a bummer when our favorite doctors retire, but remember you can always visit a Planned Parenthood health center for all your gyno needs (and then some!). We happen to think our staff is pretty great.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

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Welcome to Advanced Sex Ed, Planned Parenthood’s newest Tumblr column. Put on your smarty pants because we’re kicking things up a notch with some higher-level sexual learnin’.

Birth Control Effectiveness Rates: Perfect-Use vs. Typical-Use.

“Why are there sometimes two different effectiveness rates for birth control? Which is correct?”

One of the questions we get all the time is, “How effective is birth control?” Usually people are looking for one, definitive percentage that tells them exactly how well a certain method prevents pregnancy. But reality is more complicated than that.

Birth control effectiveness is measured two ways: how well it prevents pregnancy when used PERFECTLY every single time, and how well it prevents pregnancy after factoring in human error. These are called “perfect-use rates” and “typical-use rates.”

Let’s look at the birth control pill, for example:

  • Perfect-use rate: Less than 1 out of 100 people will get pregnant each year if they ALWAYS take the pill every day as directed.

  • Typical-use rate: About 9 out of 100 people will get pregnant each year if they don’t always take the pill each day as directed.

So the pill is extremely effective if used perfectly, but that old saying, “nobody’s perfect,” also applies to birth control. We sometimes make mistakes or life circumstances foil our perfect-use plans: things like forgetting a pill, losing a pill, not being able to get the next pack on time, and barfing can all impact the pill’s effectiveness. Therefore, we have two different rates, and the “real-life” one applies to most of us.

But what’s up with birth control that has only one, very impressive effectiveness rate? (Lookin’ at you, IUDs and implants!) These LARCs — long-acting reversible contraceptives — are virtually impossible to screw up, so they get a perfect-use rate by default: more than 99%, the best there is. More and more people are using LARCs these days because they’re super convenient AND super effective — even the folks on our Planned Parenthood Tumblr Team are huge fans.

Stuff happens, so typical-use rates are the most true to life. The most common reason birth control fails is because we mess it up. So whatever method you choose, you’ve got to use it as perfectly as possible or it just won’t work as well as it should. Be honest with yourself: if your lifestyle doesn’t jive with having to think about birth control on a regular basis, consider getting yourself a LARC.

And remember: no method of birth control is 100% effective, even if used perfectly. But you can increase your pregnancy-preventing superpowers by using both birth control and condoms. There’s another really good reason to do this: condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects you from STDs.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood

I’m on the birth control shot (Depo Provera) and also use the pull-out method. Can I still get pregnant?

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Someone asked us:

I am on birth control (depo) and I always get my shots on time. If I don’t use condoms and use the pull out method am I still at too big of a risk to get pregnant?

The birth control shot (aka Depo Provera) is one of the most effective methods of birth control out there. If you always get your shot on time — every 12 weeks — Depo is more than 99% effective.

Doubling up on your pregnancy protection is a great idea just in case — which you’re already doing (good for you!). Using the Depo shot combined with the pull out  method (aka withdrawal) gives you excellent pregnancy prevention powers. If no sperm gets on your vulva or into your vagina, pregnancy can’t happen. But using the pull out method correctly is tricky, so the shot protects you from pregnancy in case there’s sperm in your partner’s pre-cum or they don’t pull out in time. 

It’s important to remember that neither the birth control shot nor the pull out method protects you from STDs. Condoms are the only method of birth control that also prevents the spread of STDs, and they’re more effective at preventing pregnancy than pulling out.

So while your Depo + withdrawal combo method is really, really good, you could up your protection game even more by throwing in some condoms. 

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood