Contraception: it’s not a sexy topic (…too many puns…eye roll…), but it’s important.
Information about contraception is usually a bit dry, and a lot of people seem to have obtained most of their sex education from Cosmopolitan magazine and whispered conversations with friends. So here is the first in a series of posts on all the things you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask, and also a few things you may not have even thought to ask.
Here’s a pretty standard conversation I have with patients on almost a daily basis…
Gynae Geek: ‘I need to ask you quite a personal question now; are you currently sexually active?’
Patient: ‘Yes, I am’
Gynae Geek: ‘And what contraception are you using?’
Patient: ‘I don’t use anything…’
Gynae Geek: ‘Are you trying to get pregnant at the moment?’
Patient: ‘No….but…erm…I think it's going to be fine’
There are no ‘buts’ FACT: If 100 women have unprotected sex for one year, 85 will get pregnant, even in the face of plummeting male sperm counts.
A lot of people think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but let me tell you: it does, it can, and it will.
The commonest form of contraception used in this country is the contraceptive pill, which has now been available to all women in the UK for 40 years. I do feel like the pill has gone out of fashion a bit over the last few years (more on that another day), but there is a surprising array of other methods, so there has to be something to suit everyone.
Last week I heard of a rather disturbing new addition to the long list; a penis sticker called 'JifTip the Diktip'. I kid you not, someone actually made what is essentially a piece of ergonomic duct tape for men to stick over the hole at the end of their penis to stop semen from coming out. According to their website the concept is “Feel Your Partner, Feel Freedom, Feel Smart”. Can someone point out what is ‘smart’ about using something that the manufacturers clearly state further down on their website is ‘not approved for anything anywhere’ and is ‘for novelty, pleasure, convenience, fun or entertainment’. They’re certainly not my first choice of adjectives.
Lets be clear, this willy sticker could well be as effective as a dried up roll of 1990’s sellotape when it comes to preventing pregnancy ie. It’s totally never been tested.
Secondly it will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which is often only seen by most people as a secondary indication for using contraception. With antibiotic resistant Gonorrhea currently doing the rounds, STIs are not something to be taken lightly.
If you currently fall into the category of ‘it won’t happen to me’, or are intrigued about other potential options available, keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks (again, no penis pun intended).