Here are some updates in the sexual realm for younger women in general, and older women in the dating scene. There is a very different focus on sexual activities when there is a high chance of many potential partners. Pregnancy is still possible up until a year after the last ever period. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) are very common. Some are a nuisance like Trichomonas, Warts or HPV. Some infect forever like Herpes, AIDs, or Hepatitis. And some are able to cause infertility like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.
Condoms are an excellent (but not perfect) form of preventing STI’s. I highly recommend using condoms along with another birth control method. They are also a good back up choice when waiting for a pill to become effective, missing a pill, and during times of taking medications such as antibiotics. However, they have a 15% failure rate with typical use. They have only a 2% failure rate when used perfectly and in conjunction with a spermicide (foam, suppository, gel, cream or sponge).
Briefly, the ‘best’ choice of contraception depends on allergies, intolerances, lifestyle and personal needs. The many different types of pills, the 4 types of IUD’s, the diaphragm, the ring, the shot, the implant, and the patch are all good choices of reversible contraception. There are pros and cons to each choice, depending on levels of hormones, effects on the menstrual cycle and their effectiveness. Most pills help with PMS, heavy bleeding, pain, acne and do not cause weight gain for most women, but each person may have her own particular reaction to any of the brands or doses.
The long acting methods such as the IUD and the Implant are the most effective options, but both require to be ordered ahead of time and placed in the office at the start of a period. They are the first line method recommended for younger women by medical authorities because they work so well and do not rely on personal memory, will power, or timing issues. Yet there is the drawback of brief pain at placement for the IUD, and irregular, random bleeding for the implant.
I do not usually recommend the patch, due to its very high dose, nor the shot, due to its major side effects of weight gain, mood, and bone loss. Also, Natural Family Planning Methods (‘Rhythm’) and ‘Withdrawal’ both have high failure rates. Surprisingly, the Diaphragm has a failure rate slightly higher than condoms, likely because it takes strong will power to remember and good skills to place it properly.
So please do use a highly reliable form of contraception that fits your needs, and use condoms all the time for STI prevention. As I still say to my own kids, “Have Fun And Stay Safe!’