How many of you have thought about birth control? Do you think about all of the types or just focus on the ones most talked about?
Did you know that 48% of the pregnancies in the US are unplanned? 1 in 4 college females get an STI during their first year at school. Women made up 19% of of the 39,513 new HIV diagnoses in the USA in 2015 (86% in heterosexually relationships).
As a woman growing up in the US it was condoms or the pill, I had never heard of the other options until my early 20's. Men never wanted to wear condoms so it purely was up to the women to not get pregnant; however, they failed to see that pregnancy is only part of the issue. Many of my friends contracted STI's. Some chose never to talk about about it, while others used it against the guy who gave it to them. I watched as the heart ache and reality set in for them. Herpes is forever and it does affect your birth choices. Genital warts, again, has long term affects. AIDs was also a big topic for us kids in the 90's and it was thought to be just " A GAY DISEASE." Boy, was that bad thinking. Chlamydia was not unheard of, but at least was easier to deal with and you did not have to tell your future partners about it. Of course there are more but that was high school for me in a nut shell. We should also talk about the 15 unplanned pregnancies that my friends had to deal with. Needless to say being sexually active was not on my priority list!
Half of my friends had no idea when they could get pregnant in their cycles. They other half had bizarre thoughts on how to stop for getting pregnant like douching with Lysol!! Seriously! I have met women who think that anal sex is the safest form of sex, as you can't get an STI that way. With over 17 years in the women's health profession I have heard and corrected MANY strange ideas around sex, pregnancy & STIs.
So here is what we can do to change the conversation, TALK about it with younger women. Start earlier then you think you need to. 10-13 year old women need to know these things. Talk to your boys! Yes you as the mom should talk with them as well. Talk about condoms as a serious life saving tool. Don't let them into the world thinking that they are merely a choice! There is more than just pregnancy on the line. As parents it is OUR job to teach them how to live in the world we are in (not one we wish we lived in). Talk about touching and how that can make them feel, talk about looking before just having sex. Talk about Prep (this is a drug to prevent the hit infection)! We are missing prime conversations because we feel awkward. Seriously, imagine how the conversation will go if they get a life changing STI or a pregnancy. The guilt and the life choices then are forever present.
Talk to your friends! We should be talking about how these things really happen and how we can help prevent them. Sex is part of everyone's life; we should be able to talk about it without feeling weird about "oversharing". We should be talking with our partners about how different birth control affects us and which ones we would prefer using to mitigate the risk of pregnancy. Do you want a medical procedure? Do you want a hormonal form? Do you need a non-hormonal option? These are all things to talk through and get to a good agreement on. BUT it is your body and you are ultimately the one who has to deal with the pregnancy/STI's/hormonal birth control, so if you aren't happy with the choices then don't have sex!
Do you know when in your cycle you can get pregnant? Do you know how your cycle starts and finishes? Do you know how breastfeeding affects your cycle? Do you know how birth control affects your milk supply or even your mood? Do you know what birth control does to your system? What are other medications you should avoid while on hormonal birth control? How do you detect STIs? What do you do if you suspect STIs?
So if you have more questions or want answers to any of these I listed, you should come to my Non-Hormonal Birth Control (and so much more) Class January 14th 4:30 to 7pm at Renew Mama studio.