Condoms are the most common form of birth control used today. They are a great way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
What is a condom?
The male condom (external condom) is usually made of thin latex that can stretch over the penis. Condoms also come in non-latex versions in case you or your partner are allergic to latex. They can come in various flavors, colors and types of lubricant, but condoms that are flavored should only be used for oral sex. Condoms can be lubricated with a spermicide. Spermicide is a chemical that kills sperm (only for vaginal sex). It is suggested to use water-based lube when using condoms.
How do I use a condom?
Condoms are relatively straight-forward to use, but there are some important guidelines to follow to make sure they don’t break or lose effectiveness.
- Storage: Keep condoms in a cool and dark place, like a drawer. Don’t keep your condoms in your wallet or your car! If condoms get too hot, they might break or snap.
- Expiration Date: All condom packages have a date printed on them. Double-check the date before you use a condom, every time. If the expiration date has passed, don’t use it! The condom is no longer safe for protecting you from STDs or pregnancy.
- Opening: To open a condom package, gently tear the top open with your fingers. Don’t use scissors or any other sharp edge—that could puncture the condom.
- Technique: Pinch the tip of the condom before you put it on—this allows space for semen. Then, roll the condom down the penis.
What do condoms protect you from?
Condoms are a cheap and easy birth control that protects you from pregnancy and STDs. Condoms prevent body fluids from mixing. Semen and vaginal fluid are considered bodily fluids. Semen is a fluid that comes out of a penis after orgasm. Vaginal fluid is from the vagina to prepare for sex. Condoms are not 100% effective; there is the possibility of the condom breaking from using it wrong. Condoms also don’t protect against STDs (like herpes and HIV) that are spread from skin to skin contact.
Learn more about condoms:
May is Teen Pregnancy prevention month, and too many teens become unintentionally pregnant every year. Keep reading to learn how to prevent a surprise pregnancy, and what to do if you think you’re pregnant.
How Do I Prevent Pregnancy?
The only way to prevent pregnancy 100% is to abstain (not have sex at all). That doesn’t work for everyone so it’s important if you are having sex to think about using birth control. There are birth control methods that you use every time you have sex such as condoms, spermicides or diaphragms, or methods you use more often like the pill, birth control shot, ring or patch.
Long term reversible methods can be placed once by a healthcare professional, and will last for 3-10 years with no daily maintenance, pills or patches to remember. These are the most effective methods, and if you’re a teen, you can get yours at the Teen Health Center for free! Call us at (478) 238-4276 now or talk with a trained professional about which method or methods would be best for you and your situation.
I Think I Might Be Pregnant
A pregnancy test is the only way to know if you are pregnant. You can buy these at the drugstore or visit a local health department or doctor’s office for one. It’s important to keep track of your periods every month to know what is going on with your body. Writing it on the calendar can be useful, or you can use an app on your smartphone to track when you get your period, when you have sex and when you may ovulate. Clue, Spot on, and Period Tracker are a few you can download for free!
I’m Pregnant and I’m Scared
If you find out you’re pregnant, DON’T hide it! Tell someone you trust or visit a health care professional to discuss your options. Should you choose to carry the pregnancy, getting care early and often is important. Not ready to be a parent just yet? That’s ok! Adoption and abortion are options too; talk with a professional who can point you in the right direction.
You can always reach out to the Teen Health Center with questions about teen pregnancy. Call us at (478) 238-4276 or send an anonymous text message to (478) 796-5367.
Learn more about teen pregnancy and prevention at these sites:
You had sex and there’s a chance that you could become pregnant–if you’ve ever needed emergency contraceptive, it’s now! Good thing you have options!
The Morning After Pill
The morning after pill is a form of hormonal contraception that can be taken up to five days (!) after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. It’s not an abortion! This pill simply prevents or delays ovulation and/or interferes with sperm movement and implantation … meaning the sperm never gets the chance to fertilize your egg. *Whew!*
The morning after pill is taken as a one-time dose. You can get it at many health departments (including the Teen Health Center here in Macon) or over the counter at many drug stores. The sooner you take it after unprotected sex, the better the chances of preventing pregnancy.
Fun Fact: The Teen Health Center can provide the morning after pill to you for free!
The Abortion Pill
The abortion pill, on the other hand, is used to end a pregnancy, and it’s not available at the health department or the drug store. You can only get the abortion pill if you are confirmed pregnant, and can only be prescribed by a specially trained healthcare provider.
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Bet you didn’t realize–getting an IUD can actually work as emergency contraception, too! IUDs are temporary devices that are placed in your uterus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. If you have an IUD placed shortly after having unprotected sex, it can also help prevent pregnancy. IUDs must be placed by a trained healthcare provider, and are available here at the Teen Health Center.
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