Using condoms is a really good way to prevent pregnancy and STDs — but using hormonal birth control with condoms makes pregnancy even less likely.
Perhaps you heard of “the pill.” or “the patch.” These are types of hormonal birth control. Unlike condoms, hormonal birth control works by releasing hormones into a woman’s bloodstream. These hormones help prevent her ovaries from releasing eggs and make it difficult for sperm to enter her uterus.
What does that mean for you? Well, if eggs and sperm never meet, there’s no pregnancy.
Types of Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control generally works all the same way, but there are quite a few methods women can choose from. Here’s a quick rundown:
- The IUD: A teeny-tiny, t-shaped piece of plastic that’s inserted into the uterus. It can remain effective for years and years and years! (Three to twelve to be exact!)
- The shot: Known to some as “Depo,” this is an injection of the hormone progestin that reduces the risk of pregnancy. When it comes to the shot, a three second ouch makes for three whole months of protection.
- The pill: To work, these must be taken at the same time. Every. Single. Day.
- The patch: Kind of like a Band-Aid, the patch is worn directly on the torso, abdomen, upper arm or buttocks for week long periods.
If birth control is so effective, why do I still need condoms?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating for years or if you just met, it’s always a good idea to talk about birth control before you have sex. Here are a few ways to ease into the conversation, without the awkwardness:
- Use TV, movies, and music. “I can’t believe so-and-so got pregnant this season. It got me thinking, if we ever have sex, how are we going to make sure that doesn’t happen to us?”
- Be real. “I feel sorta weird asking this, but I really feel I can trust you. If we ever have sex, how are we going make sure we don’t get pregnant?”
- Use an example. “I was talking to my older sister, and she said she got “the pill” from her doctor. She said there are lots of options available, some that last for years. Did you ever talk to your doctor about birth control?”
- Be straight-forward. “Hey, let’s talk about birth control. If we ever have sex, I’d like to use a condom, which is a really effective way to prevent pregnancy. But I hear it’s even more effective to use hormonal birth control with a condom… What do you think?”
- Online vs. in-person. You should be able to talk to your partner about anything, but sometimes its easier to start the convo online or through text. After you talk online, make sure you’re on the same page next time your together.
- Make a plan. If you decide (together) that hormonal birth control is right for you, teen-friendly reproductive health centers across Pennsylvania have it available for teens for free. Call a center near you and tell them you’re interested in getting birth control — they’ll set up an appointment. You can even go together!
- Have questions? Doctors and nurses and teen-friendly reproductive health centers are the pros. They can help you decide what method (if any) is right for you. Make an appointment, just to talk about your options. You don’t need to make a decision right away.