Back to School!
By Anna Sachse
Alright, all you coeds, it’s back to school time. This probably means you have your pencils and your notepads or your laptop or your BlackBerry or whatever it is that you new-fangled college students take notes with and on. You probably have a Facebook account, a case of Red Bull and you might even have a few textbooks—that’s all great, but do you also have a diaphragm?
I’m not talking about the kind your middle school choir teacher was always trying to get you to expand so that you could better sing “The Rose,” but rather the dome-shaped bowl made of thin, flexible rubber that a woman fills with spermicide and inserts into her vagina, blocking her cervix, to help avoid pregnancy. Oh wait—do you happen to be a boy? Well then, you should have a giant stack of condoms on hand (actually you women should have them as well, even if you have a diaphragm).
My point here is birth control and STD prevention. At the very least, STDs are uncomfortable (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes); at the very worst (Syphilis, AIDS), they are deadly. Babies probably won’t kill you, but they will absolutely make your life more complex—screaming, pooping babies that need constant attention aren’t exactly the best way to study for finals. Yes, you can get pregnant your first time, post-sex douching prevents exactly nothing and women have even been known to get pregnant while on their period—four out of four people I know have gotten accidentally pregnant using the rhythm method. Always, always, ALWAYS use birth control every f’n time you “F.”
Now don’t get me wrong—while I’m not in any way advocating going out and having sex willy-nilly, it’s certainly nice and college students like to have it. (Even if those numbers are down, as recent studies indicate.) Just to be clear, abstinence is the only way to 100-percent avoid STDs and pregnancy, but that aside, here’s the low-down on a few birth control methods you should have on hand (or in some cases, on your genitals).
These simple rubber sheaths are the only birth control method that can also prevent against STDs so I am going to tell you right now that they should always be used in addition to any other method. They are easy to use, cheap at drug stores or free at Planned Parenthood (PP) and are 88- to 98-percent effective in preventing pregnancy, according to PP. Try to get ones that also contain spermicide, for added protection. If you are allergic to latex, you can get the polyurethane variety. No excuses.
Hormones in pills stop eggs from leaving the ovaries as well as change the mucus at the cervix in order to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. They are usually taken at the same time daily on a 28-day cycle, but there are a variety of strengths and lengths so talk to your gynecologist about. The Pill must be prescribed, but it is 97- to 99-percent effective.
As mentioned above, a diaphragm keeps sperm from entering the uterus by blocking the cervix. It can be inserted up to two hours before having sex, and must be left in for at least six hours, but no longer than 24 hours. Obviously it necessitates a little planning ahead, but there are essentially no side effects, and, after a proper fitting, one diaphragm can last up to two years. The effectiveness is 82 to 94-percent.
Check out PP’s website at www.ppgg.org for information on sexual health and other birth control methods such as female condoms, IUDs, the sponge, the patch and Emergency Contraception.