We're ready to have sex, and want the best protection!

Hello, I am 18 years old and I have been with my girlfriend for almost 2 years. We really want to have sex and we are both ready; HOWEVER she wants to get the best protection method, as do I. So our plan is to get condoms and then birth control. The thing is, we don't know how soon the pill works and how expensive it is to buy it. As well we wanted to know what days in her cycle is she at low risk of pregnancy (including the use of condom)? As well how would you talk about it with a parent? Thanks.
Lauren replies:

Good on you for being proactive! A huge marker of sexual readiness is sussing this stuff out before anything happens, so you two are definitely on your way there.

The absolute BEST way to avoid the unpleasant consequences of sexual activity is to use a condom, correctly, every time. Condoms are easy to use and remember; you put one on before you put it in. Two huge bonuses are that they protect from STI's, in case you both haven't been screened, and that they're a lot easier to use consistently and correctly with the right attitude. People who take the pill must take it every day around the same time every day, 365 days a year, no matter how frequently or infrequently they're having sex; if you've ever been on a longer course of antibiotics or struggled to remember your multivitamin every morning, you might understand a bit better why perfect usage is so rare! Condoms are handy in that you only have to make it a habit once things get heated, and there are relatively few people on this planet that get it on every day of the year.

That said, condoms and the pill are an ideal combination that afford virtually failproof protection when used together perfectly. If your girlfriend chooses to use the pill (among her many other options), she can talk to her doctor about this and obtain a prescription. She can also contact a local family planning clinic/health department for information on birth control pill prices through them, as well as information on any state family planning programs she may qualify for. Generally, though, an uninsured person is looking to pay anywhere from 40-100+ for a monthly supply of pills, depending on brand and type. This doesn't include the doctor's visit.

It's even better to hear that you're considering discussing your decision to become sexual active with a parent. This is another huge marker of sexual readiness, though it's one not many people feel they can fulfill (including yours truly for the longest time). Ideally, you're hoping to discuss this with your girlfriend's parent or guardian; they're the ones still responsible for her health and well-being, and when it comes to stuff going wrong as a result of sexual activity, women get more than their share. It would be better to tell them about it in the first place and ask for help than surprise them with a crisis pregnancy situation!

There really is no script; every situation is so much different. But generally, yourself or your girlfriend can approach the parent(s) at a low-strung, relaxed time and place, and say something like:

"Hey, Mom/Dad? You know I've been with ______ for awhile now, and we think we're finally ready to have sex. But I wanted to discuss it with you first, and ask if you'll help me take of myself, and be there for me if something happens. What you think is important to me."

Tailor as needed, and voila! Let the conversation flow naturally.

Birth Control Bingo

Condom Basics: A User's Manual

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