RE­AL­ITY CHECK

Think you know ev­ery­thing there is to know about birth con­trol? Think again.

Elle (Canada) - - Body -

We asked Dr. Peggy Klein­platz, a sex­ol­o­gist and pro­fes­sor of medicine at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, to re­view the data from our State of Sex sur­vey. The num­bers were in line with what she has seen in other re­search, but there were a few statis­tics in the con­tra­cep­tion sec­tion of the sur­vey that caught her eye—and raised her ire. We’ll get to that a bit later, but first, Klein­platz asked us to do Cana­dian women a ser­vice by in­sist­ing that ev­ery­one stop us­ing the phrase “on birth con­trol.” “We need to re­move that per­ma­nently from our vo­cab­u­lary,” she says. “The phrase ‘on birth con­trol’ is much more com­mon in Canada than in other places. It’s as if women in this coun­try, un­like most oth­ers, be­lieve that birth con­trol and hor­monal con­tra­cep­tives are the same thing. That means they don’t think of other meth­ods as birth con­trol.” Case in point...

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USE FE­MALE CON­DOMS “I’m not sur­prised at your find­ings, but I just think they’re dis­turb­ing. The fe­male con­dom, un­like the male con­dom, pro­tects the vagina and rec­tum of the per­son us­ing it as well as her part­ner’s ex­ter­nal or­gans. Fe­male and male con­doms are good at pro­tect­ing against flu­id­born STDs like HIV or gon­or­rhea, but only the fe­male con­dom will pro­tect you from skin-to-skin­con­tact STDs/STIs like HPV or her­pes. The first gen­er­a­tion of fe­male con­doms sounded crinkly, like tak­ing a sand­wich in and out of a Bag­gie, but the new gen­er­a­tion, called FC2, is su­per­si­lent, very thin and ex­tremely com­fort­able. Un­like the male con­dom, which you have to take out soon af­ter the man ejac­u­lates, the fe­male con­dom can be left in for hours be­fore and af­ter in­ter­course.”

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USE A DI­APHRAGM “We need to be en­cour­ag­ing women to take con­trol of their own vul­vas and vagi­nas. The di­aphragm is a su­perb con­tra­cep­tion method with no side ef­fects. It was taken off the mar­ket for a while but rein­tro­duced a few years ago. When I talk to med­i­cal res­i­dents about di­aphragms, they’re al­ways shocked to hear they’re avail­able. And the good news is that about six months ago, an OTC [over-the­counter] di­aphragm (Caya) was ap­proved in Canada. You can get it with­out be­ing fit­ted. It’s as easy as buy­ing lip­stick.”

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USE AN IUD “I have mixed feel­ings about IUDs. It re­ally de­pends upon the kind of IUD and the woman’s med­i­cal his­tory. There are cop­per IUDs, and there are ones that con­tain syn­thetic pro­ges­terones, like the Mirena. We don’t have good long-term data show­ing that the ones con­tain­ing hor­mones are a bet­ter choice. When a woman asks if she should get an IUD, I tell her to speak with a physician to re­view her par­tic­u­lar med­i­cal his­tory. There are three ques­tions to con­sider: 1. Is it an ef­fec­tive method of con­tra­cep­tion? Yes. 2. How safe is it? We don’t have re­ally good long-term data. 3. Do you want to be tak­ing ex­tra hor­mones for no good rea­son? The one with­out hor­mones is ef­fec­tive. But peo­ple for­get that even with an IUD, you still need to use a con­dom to pro­tect your­self from STDs/STIs.”

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