Other Safer Sex Methods
and Preventing Pregnancy
Health Tip #19, 5 February 1997
Okay, so last weekís Health Tips was on condoms. Well, this weekís will be about all those other methods for safer sex. The first two items listed below will give you protection against AIDS and other STDs, but the rest of them are for preventing pregnancies and will usually provide no protection from any sexually transmitted diseases.
Reality (Female Condom): This kinda looks like an inverted condom, with two rings on either end, one which goes inside the vagina and the other which anchors on the outside. Women, you might want to consider this if you have a male lover who, for some reason, refuses to use a condom. They are, though, much more expensive than male condoms.
Dental Dams: Besides being good for opening stuck jars, these thin sheets of plastic can also prevent transmission of STDs during cunnilingus or rimming. A trick to remember which is the tongue-side of the plastic is to write a non-reversible letter (like J or G) on one side. Donít reverse it! There are flavored varieties available, such as the Lollyes, or you can make your own with a cut-up condom, latex glove, or a piece of Saran Wrap. Cindy and I have these (and female condoms) if youíd like to see what theyíre like.
Birth Control Pill: Women, if you use the pill correctly, at the same time every day, they can be 100% effective in not getting pregnant (though not in preventing STDs, of course). There may be side effects (such headaches, nausea, depression, etc.) but there are also bonuses (less cramps during PMS and less blood in menstruation). A few insurance companies will cover part of the cost, but this depends on the carrier and on your type of coverage, so find out first so that you will be prepared in case it is not covered.
Norplant: If youíve ever want to become assimilated into a Borg, hereís your chance, by getting implants put into your arm! Actually, itís not quite like that! What they do is put six thin capsules under your skin which release progestin for five years. Itís sorta like the Pill, except you wonít ever forget to take the hormones. Itís not perfect, of course; there may be side effects or reasons why it might not work for you. Another option is Depo-Provera, an injection of progestin that lasts for about three months.
Diaphragm: This is a saucer-like cup which goes into the vagina and contains spermicide. It is 94% effective, but it takes practice to put it in, and it has to be done within six hours before sex. It can also get messy, so some women prefer the Cervical Cap which is smaller, fitting just over the tip of the cervix.
Spermicides: Whenever possible, use a spermicidal cream / lubricant such as Nonoxynol-9 with condoms, female condoms, diaphragm, etc. If youíre in a monogamous relationship, the cream can be used alone too. Besides helping to prevent pregnancy, they provide some protection against gonorrhea and chlamydia. Most of them donít taste too good, so donít use it until after oral sex.
Methods That Donít Work: Guys, donít be fooled into thinking that you can keep your girlfriend from getting pregnant by Pulling Out before ejaculation. It can be difficult to do when you are so passionate, and, even if you succeed, the girl can still get pregnant because of pre-cum, the drops of fluid that escape before the semen. Women, the Rhythm Method can work if you have a very regular menstrual cycle and you practice this technique perfectly, but mostly this method is too dangerous to rely on. Douching will usually just push the little spermies further towards their goal. And Hot Baths and Jumping Up & Down are but folklore.
Sources of Information:
"The Safer Sex Page", http://www.safersex.org/.
Safer Sex, ACHA, 1990.