recently the issue of stds have made a rather big splash in my life, causing me to be very aware of them and what to do to avoid them, and i'm very stubborn about the fact that i won't have oral sex/intercourse/any type of sex that could include exchange of body fluids other than saliva that isn't protected. however, i'm also concerned about getting pregnant. at this point in my life  i'm not ready to have kids. my boy is pro-life but i told him where i stand on the issue which is that i would have an abortion if i go pregnant, and he was supportive of my decision, but i still don't want to take that chance. condoms are fairly reliable, but i'm considering using oral contraceptives as well. i've read official information, but would like some personal experiences with oral contraceptives before i make an absolute decision. (i'm going into planned parenthood tomorrow anyway for tests and will ask them about it as well.)
Really, condoms *plus* the Pill are your best bet in terms of statistical effectiveness for protection from STDs and pregnancy both.
I've taken some form of the Pill for much of my post-puberty life and have had few significant side effects. I should note that I primarily take the Pill not for contraception, but to manage the symptoms of a chronic uterine/gynecological condition I have, so I will probably be taking it until I am post-menopausal. This adds up to an awful lot of years spent taking the Pill.
In general, my experience as a sex educator has shown me that if a woman is evaluated well and if the clinician takes care to work with the woman to find the right kind of pill for her, it usually works out very well indeed, with very few or no side effects. It's definitely worth looking into seriously.
Good for you for being proactive about your sexual health!
First of all ... I'm w/ Hanne on this one. Kudos A lot of people don't think they need to use both ... But it's good to have a backup, incase one fails.
I'm using both, as well. My bf and I have been sexually active for 5 months now, and I've been on the pill for 21monhts. I rarely forget to take a pill b/c i've been doing it for so long. But if i forget one, i usually forget a whole strew of them and end up starting a new pack anyway. This is where the condom comes in. Not only do the pills prevent pregnancy (can, not always will), they made my period liveable for me. I was always in lots of pain and bleeding really heavy ... so my experiences w/ the pill are all good!!
(Ohh yeah, I'm gonna send this over to Sex Basics and Health ... I think it fits better there. If there's a problem, let me know)
First of all: Good onya, girly, for being so serious about both your risk of pregnancy and STDs!
I've been on the pill for roughly 5 years now, just as Hanne, I take it for a chronic gynecological disorder and will pretty likely take the pill until after I menopause (or when I want to get pregnant, when I will pretty likey need other drugs to help me get pregnant). - SO I'm not standard in regard to pill use, I guess. I have experienced no major side effects whatsoever, in fact, the pill has - because of my disorder, improved my life immensly.
I agree with Hanne - most people that I know, when they've been carefully evaluated by their doc and get a pill that is right for them, experience little side effects, really. Plus as far as I know, the brand new pills that are around are specially formulated as to avoid big time side effects. Just make sure you give your clinician your full and correct medical history so that they'll know which pill migth be rigth for you.
It's always good to use both the pill and condoms - birth control methods can fail and if your condom breaks and you know you're on the pill, too, and have been negatively tested for STDs twice in the past year, you at least don't have to worry that much about it all.
update: i went into planned parenthood today and got oral contraceptives [orthocyclen - which is what they recommended for me at pp] and more condoms as well as my pap smear & sti test. i feel relieved and mature and comfortable with the situation.
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