Birth Control and STDs
Birth Control and STDs
You probably already know that the way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is to use birth control. Some types of birth control only prevent against pregnancy, and others prevent against both a baby and STDs. It is important to pick a birth control that works for your needs and lifestyle.
Not having sex (abstinence) is truly the only way to 100% protect against pregnancy and STDs. However, if you are going to have sex, or engage in other types of sexual activity, it is important to protect yourself every time. Here is a guide to having safe sex with all types of sexual activity: Safe, Sound, & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To -Scarleteen
Picking Birth Control
Again the birth control you choose to use, or a combination of methods depends on what works for you. Do you have access to a clinic to get a prescription? Will you remember to take a pill every day? Use this tool to figure out which methods are most effective and a good fit for you. Click on the different methods and different categories to explore.
While we all know the main purpose of birth control is to prevent pregnancy and STDs there are many other proven benefits of long-term birth control methods.
You can use birth control to treat health conditions, lessen acne, or manage your periods if you get bad cramps or irregular bleeding.
There are also long-term benefits from being safe and using birth control. If you always use protection, there is little chance you will have a baby which might interfere that your long term goals. Using birth control allows you to stay on your life plan until you know you are ready for a baby.
More about each method and how to use them, from most effective to least:
Abstinence- 100% effective
You already know how to this- don’t have sex! This is the only guaranteed way to prevent STDs and pregnancy.
If you’re not having sex that’s great! However if you already are, or are planning to soon, it’s important to plan and choose another method of birth control. It's also important to know that you can still become abstinent even if you've had sex before by choosing not to have sex into the future.
Remember that abstinence means not engaging in any type of sexual activity, not just intercourse. If you are having oral sex or any type of activity that involves bodily fluids, there is a risk of STDs and maybe even pregnancy. It is important to then choose a barrier method, such as a condom.
The IUD- 99% effective
This method involves inserting a piece of plastic into a girl’s uterus in order to prevent fertilization of an egg. A visit to a doctor is required and the insertion is done by a doctor, midwife, or other healthcare provider.
An IUD is a form of LARC- Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. This is a long term solution and is effective for years in preventing against pregnancy until it has to be taken out. The length of time depends on the IUD you get.
- ParaGard- 12 years. The only IUD that is non-hormonal/
- Mirena- 5 years
- Skyla- 3 years
The great thing about an IUD is that you don’t have to think about taking it or managing it. It can also be taken out at any time by a doctor, midwife, or other healthcare provider if you do decide to get pregnant.
However, remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection, the IUD must be used with a condom during sex.
The Implant- 99% effective
This method involves insertion of a metal rod into a girl’s arm that releases hormones. A visit to a doctor, midwife, or other healthcare provider is required.
This is a long term solution and is effective for 3 years against pregnancy. You also don’t have to remember to do anything else once it’s inserted!
Remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the implant must be used with a condom during sex.
The Shot- 94% effective
The shot, also called Depo-Provera or Depo, is a shot a girl gets every three months from her healthcare provider that prevents against pregnancy by releasing hormones.
This method is effective for the three months after the shot, but you must remember to make another appointment with your healthcare provider for another shot when the three months are up!
Remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the shot must be used with a condom during sex.
The Ring- 91% effective
The ring, also called the Nuvaring, is a small ring a girl inserts into her vagina that releases hormones to prevent against pregnancy. It stays in place for three weeks and is to be taken out the fourth week.
This method is effective and easy to remember, as you only have to take it out every 3 weeks. While you’ll need to see a doctor in order to get a prescription, you insert and remove the ring on your own, which you must be comfortable doing.
Remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the ring must be used with a condom during sex.
The Patch- 91% effective
The patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that a girl puts on her skin. It looks like a Band-Aid and releases hormones in order to prevent pregnancy.
You must put on a new patch every week, and go patchless the fourth week. It is necessary for you to remember to change the patch every week.
You’ll need to see a doctor in order to get a prescription for the patch, but will remove and apply the patch on your own
Remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the patch must be used with a condom during sex.
The Pill- 91% effective
A pill with hormones that must be taken every day at about the same time.
There are many different options for amounts of hormones and pills available.
The pill is very effective when used correctly. However, it can be difficult to remember to take the pill every day at the same time. If even one pill is forgotten in the cycle, it may no longer be effective.
A doctor visit is needed to get a prescription.
Remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the pill must be used with a condom during sex.
Diaphragm- 88% effective
A small latex or silicone cup that a girl inserts into her vagina BEFORE having sex to prevent against pregnancy by blocking the cervix. It is used with spermicide, a substance that kills sperm.
You will need to see a doctor to get a prescription for a diaphragm and to determine what size diaphragm you will need.
You must be comfortable with inserting the diaphragm yourself and must also remember to do so before sex.
However, remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the diaphragm must be used with a condom during sex.
Sponge- 76-88% effective
A round piece of foam that a girl inserts into her vagina BEFORE having sex. The sponge blocks the cervix and releases spermicide, a substance that kills sperm.
There is no doctor’s visit or prescription required to use the sponge. It can be bought online or in some stores.
You must be comfortable with inserting the sponge yourself and must also remember to do so before sex.
However, remember that there is no protection against STDs with this method. For STD protection the sponge must be used with a condom during sex
Condom- 82% effective
A latex (or other material) tube that goes over a guy’s penis and catches the sperm.
A condom is a popular method because it is relatively easy to use and is effective if used correctly. It is important for both guys and girls to know the right way to put on a condom. Watch this video to learn how How to Use a Condom -Planned Parenthood
Think you got it down? Put the steps in the right order and see! Condom Game -Sex, Etc.
This method is inexpensive and does not require a doctor’s visit. Condoms are available for purchase in many places like drugstores and can often be found for free at health clinics.
A condom is effective at preventing against both STDs and pregnancy!
A risk with using a condom is the condom breaking. This can often be prevented by putting it on properly. If a condom does break, consider looking into emergency contraception.
Female Condom- 79% effective
This is a pouch that is inserted into the vagina that catches sperm to protect against both pregnancy and STDs.
A female condom is relatively easy to use. However, many women are uncomfortable inserting a female condom themselves. It’s important to use a female condom correctly. Here’s how: Female Condom -Palo Alto Medical Foundation
This method is inexpensive and does not require a doctor’s visit. Female condoms are available for purchase in many places like drugstores.
A female condom is effective at preventing against both STDs and pregnancy!
Withdrawal- 78% effective
Also called “pulling out”. With this method, the guy removes his penis from a girl’s vagina before he comes/ejaculates.
This method is much more difficult than it sounds. Often a guy doesn’t know he is about to ejaculate and for withdrawal to work it must be perfect every single time.
Withdrawal does not protect against STDs.
Emergency Contraception (Plan B)
Emergency contraception is not a means of regular birth control but is a backup plan in case your birth control fails. It is a pill that can stop a pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex.The closer the pill is taken to when you had unprotected sex, the more effective it will be.
Most commonly, Plan B is used which is available over-the-counter at pharmacies or at clinics like Planned Parenthood.
These methods can have intense side effects. Emergency contraception is not recommended to be used regularly- only when absolutely necessary.
Remember- while the most effective way to not get pregnant or STDs is to not have sex, if you are it is a good choice is to use a hormonal method (the pill, the patch, IUD) and a condom, which is a barrier method to prevent against the spread of STDs.
Do you really know about birth control? Read these common birth control myths to learn the truth. 7 Awesomely Ridiculous Birth Control Myths -StayTeen
Other websites with information about birth control, sex, and more:
Family Planning Benefit Program
Family Planning Benefit Program
Referred to as FPBP, this program can help you get family planning services, including birth control, if you can’t otherwise afford them. This includes birth control methods, emergency contraception/Plan B, and family planning counseling. Other services may also be covered.
- Male or female of childbearing age
- New York state resident
- United States citizen, Native American, or legal immigrant
- Meet income requirements
- Not enrolled in Medicaid
- All services are confidential!
For more information and to see further eligibility requirements, look here: Family Planning Benefit Program -New York State Department of Health
To get screened for eligibility and get an FPBP application, you can go to these locations in Rockland:
Hudson River Healthcare
- Haverstraw: 31-37 West Broad Street, 3rd Fl. Haverstraw, NY
- Spring Valley: 2 Perlman Drive, Spring Valley, NY
Planned Parenthood Hudson-Peconic
- 25 Perlman Drive, Spring Valley, NY
Rockland County Health Department
- Spring Valley: 14 S Main Street, Spring Valley, NY
- Pomona: 50 Sanatorium Road, Building D, Pomona, NY
Where to Get Birth Control in Rockland County
Where to get Birth Control in Rockland County
Some forms of birth control, mainly condoms and female condoms, can be purchased at everyday stores. This includes places like Walmart and Target, and drug stores like CVS, or Rite Aid. There are no age restrictions on purchasing condoms.
For other forms of birth control, you will need to see a doctor to get a prescription. If you have a private family doctor or gynecologist, this can be done through them. If not, go to one of these clinics for birth control counseling and prescriptions.
Rockland Dept of Health Family Planning Services
- Call 845-364-2531 x2124 for appointments at either location
- 14 South Main Street Spring Valley, NY
- Building A, Sanatorium RoadPomona, NY
- Offers birth control and counseling, emergency contraception/Plan B
- 25 Perlman DriveSpring Valley, NY 10977
- (845) 426-7577
- Offers birth control and counseling, emergency contraception/Plan B
- 31 West Broad Street 3rd Floor Haverstraw, NY. (845) 429-4499
- 2 Perlman Drive, Suite 101 Spring Valley, NY. (845) 573-9860
- Offers birth control and counseling
Sexually Trasmitted Diseases
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
STDs, also called STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), are common- and scary. One in four teens contracts an STD every year. It can be tricky to even know if you have an STD because so many do not cause symptoms. This means that it is extremely important to get tested regularly if you are engaging in any type of sexual activity, even if everything seems fine. Luckily, most STDs are easily curable.
Here are some common myths about STDs: How to Know if You Have an STD –StayTeen
Protection from STDs
Read our birth control section to read about all the different types of contraception. However, the only ones that protect against STDs are barrier methods, meaning that they literally form a barrier between the penis and vagina. These methods are the condom and the female condom.
A form of protection from STDs that specifically is used for oral sex is called a dental dam. A dental dam is a thin place of latex that is placed over the vagina or anus during oral sex. Condoms are typically used if the guy is the one receiving oral sex. Here is more about dental dams: Dental Dams -Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Dental dams can be ordered online and can be found in clinics such as Planned Parenthood. They are unfortunately more difficult to find than other forms of protection. However, you can easily make an unlubed condom into a dental dam! Read here how: Dental Dams –Whitman College
You can get STDs from any type of sexual contact, not just intercourse. Here is a list of which STDs you can get from different kinds of sexual activities. Click on each one to learn more: STI Risk Assessment -Scarleteen
As seen on this list, most common STDs are curable. However, if you do not have symptoms and therefore do not seek treatment, long-term health problems can be serious. It is important to get tested regularly for STDs, even without symptoms, to be on the safe side if you are sexually active or have had any type of sexual contact. For most people, it is recommended to get tested once a year for all STDs, including HIV.
HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
While major improvements have been made over history in helping to manage HIV/AIDS, AIDs is incurable. It is no longer a death sentence, but must be maintained through many medications. AIDs is so deadly because the disease attacks your immune system, the part of your body that fights off diseases and germs. When you get a cold, a normal immune system can fight it on its own and you’ll probably feel better in a week. When someone has AIDs, their body can no longer do that. Usually, people do not die from the HIV virus itself, but from a relatively “normal” condition that progresses to being deadly because you cannot fight it.
HIV/AIDs is an STD because it can be passed through bodily fluids, including semen (cum) and vaginal secretions. It is important to use a condom to protect yourself, especially because someone might not know that they have HIV before they start showing symptoms.
HIV can also be passed through blood and breastmilk.
Transmission through blood makes activities such as sharing needles for drugs or tattoos extremely risky.
It is important to regularly get tested for HIV/AIDS. 50% of infected youth do not know they have it. Read up more on HIV/AIDs. AIDs can certainly be managed nowadays, but is scary, incurable, and expensive.
- HIV and AIDS –Teens Health
- HIV/AIDS and Teens FAQ -Teen WebMD
- HIV Information for Young People -AVERT
- HIV, AIDS, and Drug Abuse -NIDA for Teens
- AIDS and the LGBT Community -HRC
HIV/AIDS was historically a disease that was seen as only affecting gay and bisexual men. While this was never true, and is even less true now, gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. It is essential to use a condom if you are a guy having sex with other guys in order to prevent against HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
Having an STD does not make you a bad person or “dirty”. It is more common than you might think and can usually be managed or cured. It is better to get tested and know you have an STD in order to get treatment, rather than find out later when there might be more serious consequences.
Here are some places to get tested in Rockland county:
Rockland County Department of Health- STI Clinic
- Building A, Sanatorium Road Pomona, NY.
- (845) 364-3771
- Confidential walk-in clinic for men and women
- Testing and treatment for many STDs
- Free HIV testing by appointment
- Free Hepatitis A,B, and Gardasil vaccines
Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
25 Perlman Drive Spring Valley, NY. 845-426-7577
- Diagnosis and treatment for: Bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, trichomoniasis
- HIV testing and diagnosis
- HPV vaccine (Gardisil) with parental permission
Do you have an STD, or want to know if your partner has an STD? This is something you should talk about before you have sex with him or her although the conversation might be difficult. Here are some tips on how to talk about it.