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Sexual Health 101 – Need-to-Know Facts about Protection and Birth Control

Many guys take a don’t ask don’t tell approach to contraception and birth control, and — apart from the good old condom — probably wouldn’t be able to identify other types of birth control if they were looking right at them.  Whether a guy is a novice in terms of sexual health or just needs a quick refresher on the different options, here is an overview of the most common types of contraception available.  Every guy needs to be educated so he knows best how to protect his sexual health and the health of his penis.

Barrier Methods:

This category of contraception does just what it says; creates a barrier to prevent sperm entering the uterus.  Unlike hormonal methods, these have no lasting effects and must be put in place every time.

– Condoms:  The most common barrier method, a condom fits snugly over the penis and collects sperm.  These are 99% effective in protecting against pregnancy and – equally importantly – any sexual infections when used properly.

– Female condoms: Similar to male condoms, female condoms are inserted into the vagina.  They are single use and should be disposed of after sex.  Male and female condoms should never be used together as they may slip, tear and render each other in effective.

– Diaphragms: A flexible latex or rubber cup that the woman inserts into the vagina before sex to block sperm from entering the uterus.  A woman must be fitted for a diaphragm by her doctor, and it must remain in place for several hours after sex.

– Cervical caps: A smaller and more rigid version of a diaphragm that is inserted into the vagina before sex; also remains in place for several hours post-action.

– Contraceptive sponges: A small, foam sponge that is spermicide-filled.  It is inserted into the vagina, and both blocks the sperm from entering the uterus and kills sperm cells on contact.

– Spermicides: Available in foam, jelly, cream or suppository forms; they are inserted into the vagina just prior to sex.  They are often used in conjunction with diaphragms, cervical caps and condoms, but can also be used alone.

Hormonal contraception:

Hormonal contraception methods stop or regulate female ovulation to prevent pregnancy.  They are administered to the body in multiple ways and must be prescribed by a physician.

– Oral contraceptives; AKA, the pill: Women taking oral contraceptives must take one pill every day at the same time in order to prevent pregnancy.

– Contraceptive patches: Hormones are administered via a plastic patch that is placed on the woman’s skin.  She replaces the patch each week for 3 weeks and goes patch free the 4th week.

– Contraceptive shots: An injection of hormones is given to the woman every three months to help control her fertility and prevent pregnancy.

– Implanted birth control:  A small, flexible plastic rod is surgically implanted into the arm of the woman by a doctor. The rod releases the perfect amount of hormones into the body; it can stay implanted for up to 5 years.

– Emergency Contraception – “The Morning-After Pill”: Taken the morning after sex when it is suspected that other birth control methods have failed – or were not used at all – it may be successful in preventing pregnancy, depending on where a woman is at in her fertility cycle.

– Vaginal Rings: A flexible ring is inserted into the woman’s vagina where it releases a constant of dose hormones for three weeks time before being removed and discarded.

Other Types:

– Intrauterine Devices: An IUD is a small device implanted in the uterus by a doctor.  It prevents the fertilization and implantation of an egg and can be left in place for years.

– Sterilization: The only surefire way to prevent pregnancy without consistent use of contraception is via sterilization.  This is accomplished either through a male vasectomy, in which the sperm are permanently prevented from leaving the body; a tubal ligation in females, in which the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked; or a sterilization implant which blocks the fallopian tubes.

Whatever method of contraception a couple decides to use, it is important for both parties to be aware of the risks, side effects and –most importantly – the effectiveness of the method.  Most contraceptives do not offer protection from both pregnancy and sexual infections.  To protect his own sexual health, a man should always wear a condom to prevent infection with additional birth control methods used as desired.  A daily penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) is another important way for a man to take charge of his sexual health regimen.  Selecting a cream full of vitamins and minerals can improve the health and appearance of the penis while improving blood flow and circulation to the area.

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