Finding a Method for Your Madness

The importance of using more than one contraception method and choosing which ones work best for you

By Aascot Holt, Staff Writer



The effectiveness of your contraception could be affected by what you choose to drink with breakfast.

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Let’s be honest: In heterosexual relationships, women are consistently saddled with the choice, expense and proper use of contraception, not to mention the consequences of the use of contraception or lack thereof. However, all genders should know how to protect themselves and their partners regardless of their relationship status.

It can be really tough to bring up the topic of contraception and sexual history, especially for new couples and those who are sexually inexperienced.

“If you’re embarrassed to talk about something like contraception, maybe you’re not comfortable enough to have a sexual relationship with this person,” said Elizabeth Kissling, an EWU Women’s and Gender Studies professor.

“I think most men are more sensitive than we give them credit for. But they often don’t know how to express [sexual health concerns]. At the same time, they [may not] feel the need to express their concerns because they already have it settled it in their mind,” said Carol Gähl, student health coordinator at Cheney’s Rockwood Clinic for the last 15 years and certified physician’s assistant.

If your partner, regardless of gender, is not opening up to you, open up to them first. Sharing some of your innermost thoughts will help your partner feel more comfortable sharing their opinions.

“Sometimes you do just have to say, ‘If you’re not willing to talk to me about this then I’m not willing to go to that next level. This is important to me,’” said Gähl.

More Than One

Using more than one contraceptive method can significantly reduce the likelihood of pregnancy and spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Gähl said, “There is no contraceptive method that is 100 percent. Nothing is fail-safe.”

To bring effectiveness statistics closer to home, think of 100 women who don’t want to get pregnant standing in a room together. The estimated percentage of failure is the number of those 100 women who accidentally get pregnant.

Three types of contraceptive methods are recommended as most reliable: physical, spermicidal and hormonal. If you combine two of these methods, the likelihood of pregnancy drops dramatically. If one of the methods chosen is a physical one, the likelihood of getting a sexually transmitted infection or disease drops drastically as well. Explore the combination options in the columns below/to the left.

How to Choose the Methods for Your Madness

Planned Parenthood’s “My Method” contraceptives quiz helps suggest methods that are right for your lifestyle at Straight males should answer the questions from the perspective of their partner.

Keep potential side effects in mind. Gähl recommends getting all of your prescriptions, including birth control if applicable, from the exact same pharmacy to ensure that none of the chemicals interfere with one another. She also wants to remind students to tell your provider your complete medical family history, or as complete as you can, to minimize the likelihood of negative side effects of hormonal contraception.

How to Deal with Embarrassment

Purchasing contraceptives can be embarrassing — at least the first few times around. To keep things private, there are a few ways to purchase contraception incognito.

If you are on a prescription method of contraception and are nervous about picking it up in Cheney for fear of running into someone you know, you can either transfer your prescription to a pharmacy in Spokane or get your prescription mailed to you. Switching to a pharmacy in a bigger community means you’re less likely to be found by someone you know. Gähl said that birth control pills could be less expensive via a mail order program through your insurance company. She said it arrives in an inconspicuous brown box.

If you are nervous about buying condoms or any other non-prescription contraception, Amazon is your friend. If you are into supporting local businesses and immediate access, Lovers, a regional adult store in Spokane on Division Street, carries dozens of varieties of condoms, including nitrate condoms for those allergic to latex. Lovers is a particularly good place to go because their staff is extremely knowledgeable. They oftentimes run specials on single condoms for maximum experimentation. Keep an eye out for coupons in the Inlander, too.

Chicken or egg for breakfast?

 “Grapefruit juice [and grapefruits] can interfere with many medications [including birth control]. The chemicals in the grapefruit juice and the high acidic content can cause something to dissolve and metabolize so quickly that you’ll get this spike and it will drop off quickly, so you may not get that 24 hour coverage,” said Gähl.

Gähl said that soy has estrogen-like effects and could also interfere with hormonal birth control. Keep that in mind, health-food fans.

Gähl said that there are some medications that can inhibit the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives as well. Antibiotics in the penicillin family and migraine medicines are the most common inhibitors. St. John’s Wart, a natural supplement; Topamax, a migraine and anti-seizure medication; Nesazodone, an antidepressant; tuberculosis medications; meningitis medications; and diabetes medications in the glitazone family can also inhibit the effectiveness of hormonal birth control.

New to the Nest?

Gähl recommends these contraceptives for those who are new to sex in this order:

1.     Birth control pill

2.     Depo Provera shot

3.     “Extremely consistent use” of condoms and spermicide