Birth Control Not Requiring a Prescription
The following types of birth control are available without an age limit, prescription, or doctor’s appointment. If you are thinking about having sex, you should have a full understanding of these birth control methods, and you should take into consideration their overall effectiveness. A good course of action would be to discuss your intended method of birth control with your partner.
Latex Condom: The most common form of non-prescription birth control, the latex condom is one of the only forms of contraception that also is effective in preventing Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Condom prices can range from thirty cents to a few dollars depending on the brand. They come in a variety of colors, textures, thicknesses, and flavors (even chocolate). The most effective condom is one that includes a Nonoxynol-9 spermicidal lubricant. Nonoxynol-9 is effective in both killing sperm and HIV. In the United States, condoms are electronically tested for holes. With perfect use (meaning it doesn’t break and you know how to put it on right), only two women out of 100 may get pregnant. You should never store a condom in a wallet, at least if you intend to use it. You should never use oil based lubricants such as baby-oil, hand moisturizer, or Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Oil based lubricants may feel good when you are on your own (you should always be your best lover, after all), but can create holes in the latex, which defeats the purpose of wearing one in the first place.
Condoms are only good for one use, and must be applied to the hard penis before intercourse. Condoms must then be removed immediately after ejaculation in order to be effective. Water based lubricants are recommended with condom use for additional fun. You can get condoms in most convenience stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. Animal skin condoms are available, but do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. There are few disadvantages to the condom, but some men claim it reduces sensation (which can be a good thing for women) and reduces spontaneity. The only side effect that can occur with a condom is an allergic reaction to latex (in the form of a slightly uncomfortable rash), in which case, latex-free condoms are available, and should be used.
Today’s Sponge: For a long time, the sponge was taken off the market, but girls who didn’t want to go through the pain in the butt procedure of getting a diaphragm from their doctors won a victory when it was returned to stores in June of 2005. The sponge is a palm sized piece of foam which contains nonoxynol-9, and needs to be thoroughly wet in order to activate the spermicide it contains. Although it is 81-91% effective as a means of contraception, it is not effective in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Once in place, the sponge is an effective method of contraception for up to twenty-four hours, but must remain in place six to eight hours after the last intercourse. Side effects to the sponge, not including an allergy to the spermicide, include Toxic Shock Syndrome, but the manufacturer stresses that this is not common.
Spermicidal Lubricants Foams and Creams: Have a typical failure rate of about 22% and should not be used by themselves as a contraceptive or preventative against STDs. However, when used in conjunction with another method of birth control (such as a condom or diaphragm), can help prevent pregnancy. Spermicides are available at most drug stores. The only side effect of spermicide is an uncommon irritation.
Abstinence: The only contraceptive method which is absolutely 100% effective against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Many religions also encourage abstinence for unmarried couples. There are two types of abstinence. The first type of abstinence means abstaining from everything sexual in nature, with the possible exception of kissing. The other form of abstinence is what I like to call “everything but,” which means a couple may engage in sexual play (kissing, touching, oral sex), but not sexual intercourse. Oral sex contains an exchange of bodily fluids, and increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Dental dams (for oral sex on women), or the use of a flavored condoms (on men), will reduce this risk. Both are available at most drug stores.
Withdrawal and the Rhythm Method: Are being mentioned in the same breath because they have the highest failure rates amongst teenagers and should never be used unless you want to be a parent or get a nasty sexually transmitted disease. The withdrawal method is ineffective for two reasons. The first reason is the occurrence of pre-ejaculatory fluid, which is released before ejaculation, generally goes unnoticed, and contains about 100,000 sperm. The other reason withdrawal is an ineffective method is because sometimes a man will forget, or not want to withdraw before ejaculation. You receive no protection from STD’s, in this case.
The Rhythm method should be an effective method of birth control in theory, but is not. The rhythm method involves a monogamous couple keeping track of the woman’s menstrual cycle, and then abstaining from sex during her fertile days. Since teenagers do not have regular cycles, sperm can survive up to three days after ejaculation, and the day of fertility can vary, this is also not a recommended way of preventing pregnancy and provides no protection against STDs.