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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » Barrier methods

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Author Topic: Barrier methods
Member # 55254

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This is the second time I've gone to the gynecologist. Both times, I've had a specific type of birth control in mind that I wanted to try, and both times, they have tried to dissuade me from them. I really didn't like the one I saw last year, because I felt like she didn't take me seriously, so I picked a different one still covered by insurance and felt the same thing.

Last year, I was interested in FAM, which she didn't really know anything about, so printed off some sheets (with information I had already read about) and advised me to try a different method. This never ended up being an issue, but I think it's still a method worth looking into.

Now, with intercourse seeming a definite possibility in the near future, I talked with my bf and we decided that condoms and a diaphragm would be our methods of choice (with both of us sort of interested in FAM but not comfortable making that our only method). So the gyno I talked to said that condoms were only okay as were diaphragms, and didn't seem to know much about the two of them in conjunction with each other. She kept saying that the hormonal methods were a lot more effective (which they are, but I'm not comfortable with changing my body like that plus I tried the Nuvaring for a month and just felt all out of sorts and exhausted the entire month). She also mentioned that a lot of people experience a burning sensation from the spermicide (something-9) and that's kind of the point of a diaphragm.

Both of these experiences left me feeling really frustrated with the quality of my health care and feeling like I wasn't being taken seriously, especially as a 23 year old. (Not that younger people shouldn't be treated as seriously, but I personally feel like I am in a much more responsible place than I was at, say, 16, and that something like FAM is something I could reliably commit to doing.)

So I guess I have at least two questions:

1) What is the effectiveness of a diaphragm without spermicide (alone, as well as in conjunction with condoms)? (I tend to be really sensitive to a lot of stuff, so I'm sort of anticipating I'll be sensitive to that as well, and don't really want to be out $50 for something that I won't be able to use.) Is there any effective spermicide that does not tend to cause allergies/sensitivities?

2) If we decide FAM is an okay thing for the two of us to do, does the following sound okay? During infertile times, we would use condoms or diaphragm, and during fertile ones, using both? (STIs are not in the picture as neither of us has had any sort of sex at all with other people.)

3) The copper IUD is something I have been considering in case diaphragms don't seem feasible, but I haven't found much information on how it actually works. Are there any studies on its long-term use and possible side effects? My gyno thought it was a good choice and that people only feel cramping for a few hours afterwards, which seemed to contradict some of the information I found here.

Posts: 48 | From: Northern Hemisphere | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
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I'm so sorry this has been your experience. Things have really changed in terms of both access to cervical barriers and a lot of practitioner's attitudes about them, and personally, I think that blows, since there's no one method of contraception or class of method that's right for everyone. And we also know that how effective a method is in practical use has a lot to do with how much a user likes it and wants to use it. [Frown]

We don't really have stats on diaphragms without spermicide we can count on, though, and they are designed to be used with a spermicide. We do know that without them, they're likely not very useful or effective. So, if spermicide isn't something that works for you, by that merit alone a diaphragm doesn't make a lot of sense to use.

Not everyone is sensitive to spermicides, and those with nonoxynol-9 tend to be the big offenders with spermicides. Have you ever tried any spermicides to know how *you* react to them? You could find out just by using a spermicidally-lubed condom, which would be a minimal expense.

Per a way to use FAM with condoms: if you want that combo to be as effective as it can be, the best route would be to use condoms during infertile times (or condoms and a diaphragm), then to abstain from intercourse, specifically, during your most-fertile window.

A copper IUD works just like any IUD. The IUDs with the hormones only have the hormones to help balance out some side effects of the IUD: the hormone has nothing to do with how the IUD works to prevent pregnancy. Long story super-short? IUDs work because they are in your uterus, and when something is already in your uterus, a pregnancy can't occur there. In other words, sperm cells get the message that there's no vacancy. Secondarily, IUDs change discharges a bit which decreases sperm motility.

Those were a lot of questions, so if I missed anything in bouncing through them, just let me know! same goes with if you want to talk more about any of this.

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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