People have sex.
If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have this column, and you wouldn’t be sitting here reading it.
Lucky for us, the world is still getting down so I can take this opportunity to lay down the low down on how to protect yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancy, STDs, infections and other sexual mishaps.
There’s quite a list of preventative methods of birth control available.
The trick is deciding which one will work best with the least amount of negative side effects.
The most important attribute of a contraceptive is its effectiveness. Unfortunately, insuring effectiveness often means sacrificing comfort, safety or pleasure in other areas.
For example, the most preventative method of birth control is used by those who fall into the “people who don’t have sex” category, or the abstinent.
No threat of pregnancy, or of contracting most STDs and no medical or hormonal side effects. But there’s also no sex. You have to make sacrifices somewhere, right?
For people who have turned in their “V-card,” there are significantly more options, with the most primitive of them being withdrawal, a.k.a. the “Pull-and-pray” method where the man pulls out before coming inside the woman.
It can be 81 to 96 percent effective, but only if he has enough self-control and experience to actually pull it off . . . uh, out.
I don’t condone it.
Then, there are the less expensive choices.
Condoms are the cheapest and easiest to acquire, available at most Planned Parenthood locations as well as drug stores, pharmacies and your local convenience stores.
This has an effectiveness percentage about equal to withdrawal (surprisingly), but it will probably go over better with your partner.
They can also help relieve premature ejaculation, but could break, cause loss of sensation or an allergic reaction to the latex or spermicide.
For the ladies, there is also a female condom, which can be reused and costs about $2.50.
They can be used in combination with spermicide, and are both as effective as the male condom, but slightly more difficult to handle and will probably require
some getting used to.
Equally popular female contraceptives are the diaphragm and the cervical cap.
Both have a price range between $13 and $25, but must be fit to the woman’s body by a clinician.
(And you thought pap smears were a good time.)
Both are 80 to 95 percent effective, but the cervical cap is significantly less effective for women who have already given birth.
They don’t protect against STDs or infection and could actually increase the risk of bladder infection. However, each can last for several years and they are reusable.
Monthly methods include the pill, Depo-Provera and Lunelle, the latter two being periodic hormone shots.
All three share many of the same benefits, including regular, less intense periods and period symptoms, protection from ovarian cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease and osteoporosis.
The pill has to be taken at the same time daily, which is bothersome, while Lunelle is a monthly shot, and the Depo-Provera shot is every three months.
All three could cause irregular bleeding, headaches, depression and abdominal pain or weight gain.
The things we endure for peace of mind are mind-boggling.
Anyway, both the pill and the shots are over 99 percent effective, and you won’t face the stress of putting on/in contraceptives in the moment of truth.
Contraceptives might not seem very romantic.
It’s kind of like wearing a life jacket.
You never feel quite as cool with one on, but the benefits far outweigh the potential consequences.
Put it this way. Would you feel more comfortable asking someone if they’d mind wearing a condom or asking them if they’d mind risking a case of ghonorrea?
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.