Condoms: A little something for everybody

May 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm 4 comments

Condoms are one of the cheapest and most widely available methods of pregnancy prevention. They are a type of barrier protection. This means that they work by forming a physical barrier between sperm and egg. Most condoms are made of either latex or lamb skin and may be lubricated (or not) with spermicide (a chemical intended to kill sperm).

A condom is placed over the penis prior to intercourse. If the condom is put sometime in the middle of intercourse (ie prior to ejaculation), unintended pregnancy is still possible. This is because the penis does emit some pre-ejaculatory fluid which can (and often does) contain sperm.

Female condoms are also availabe. These are placed in the vagina and are held in place by a flexible plastic ring. They are a little more expensive than male condoms and a little trickier to put in place, but they work essentially the same way.

So if you choose to use condoms, the rules are

1. put one on before intercourse

2. leave it on until after intercourse is complete

3. use a new condom with each act of intercourse

4. never “double-wrap” with more than one condom at a time (this causes friction and can lead to breakage)

Condoms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have features like flavor (a plus if you are using one to protect your partner during fellatio [oral sex]), texture (ie “ribbed for her pleasure”), color (to match your partner’s dress and/or eyes?), or glow in the dark (for… I don’t know what– A sudden loss of electrical power?!).  In short, there’s something for everybody.

Condoms are cheap and, when used correctly, over 90% effective in preventing pregnancy.  They are also one of the only methods of birth control that can also help prevent the transmission of a number of sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, syphillis, HPV (human papilloma virus), herpes and other unpleasant nasties.

So what do you do if the condom breaks, falls off, or never made it out of your partner’s wallet? Plan B is a medication intended to prevent unintended pregnancy if used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. It’s more effective the sooner it is taken (ie 24 hourse is better than 48 hours is better than 72 hours). It contains progesterone, a hormone that is one of the 2 main components of conventional birth control pills.

Plan B is not the abortion pill and won’t bring an end to an already-established pregnancy. It is available over the counter at a number of major pharmacy chains nationwide. If you have questions about how to use it properly or how to make sure it was effective, or you need testing for sexually transmitted diseases, you should call your doctor.

Entry filed under: Gynecology. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bubbles  |  September 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I used the back up plan i.e emergency pill you have written about. I used i-pill. i had it after 8 hrs of the intercourse on 24th July.My menstrual flow date is generally 1st or 2nd of a month,and i had my periods on 1st august and they were regular. but now in September my periods have not started yet. I read it somewhere that these pills have this side effect of changing date of periods,but still m a bit worried. is everything fine.?? or should i go visit a gynecologist??

    • 2. drnicoll  |  September 7, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Bubbles,
      Yes, everything is probably fine. The morning-after pill can definitely alter your cycle. Especially since you already had one menstrual cycle after your use of the pill, it’s unlikely that this delayed period is due to an unintended pregnancy. Nevertheless, you should take a home pregnancy test. If it’s negative, you can be reassured and wait for your cycle to get back on track. If you’re still unsure, definitely schedule a visit with your gynecologist.
      -Dr. Nicoll

  • 3. bubbles  |  September 9, 2010 at 7:05 am

    hi Dr. Nicoll
    Thank u.Luckily my periods have started 😀 so my worries have kind of vanished, but can u please tell me why the periods got delayed and about the mechanism of pill and the cause of side effects.:)

  • 4. drnicoll  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Bubbles,
    A period may be delayed any time there is a disturbance in the ebb and flow in levels of estrogen and progesterone which normally occurs during a menstrual cycle. When a person takes the morning-after-pill, which contains progesterone, the uterus sometimes sheds its lining in response to the rapid rise and fall in progesterone which this medication produces. The resulting cycle can be lighter because the lining was shed (at least partially) at this earlier point in the cycle. The cycle may also be heavier because the uterine lining was destabilized by such a large swing in hormone levels at the time the medication was used. Either way, it can take a month or so for the body to hit a hormonal “reset” button and reestablish a normal cycle.

    Side effects of altering progesterone and estrogen levels with either the morning after pill or an oral contraceptive can include irregular bleeding, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, abdominal cramps, bloating etc. You should read the package insert on any medication you take and discuss it with your doctor.

    Hope that helps!
    -Dr. Nicoll


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Linda M. Nicoll, MD

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find information about minimally invasive gynecologic surgery as well as some more general information about common gynecologic disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infertility, and pelvic pain.

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