Limiting the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) hinges on properly using male condoms. Across the board, latex condoms provide the widest levels of protection against the majority of STIs and STDs, including HIV or human papillomavirus (HPV). Plastic condoms work as effectively as latex, but condoms made from animal skin can put people at risk of contracting a sexual infection. An estimated 18% of women become pregnant using condoms each year, but the number lowers with proper usage. Like any form of birth control, condoms must be used as intended to effectively prevent pregnancy,
For patients in mutually monogamous relationships, long-acting reversible contraception options can be best for family planning. Inserted in a doctor’s office, an intrauterine device (IUD) lasts for up to 10 years, depending on the type. While neither IUDs nor implants protect against STDs such as HIV or HPV, both options are nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. A contraceptive implant or intrauterine device offers flexibility. Once removed, fertility returns almost immediately.
The importance of health history
Although some birth control options lower the risk of specific medical problems, patient history is the key to correct reproductive care. If a patient shows a proclivity to health concerns that increase the overall risk, the pill may not be a good fit. Doctors do not recommend the birth control pill if a patient has a family medical history including certain types of cancer and blood clots. However, the pill provides many health benefits as well, such as reduced acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menstrual headaches, as well as a lower risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. Ultimately, doctors must assess the family history and decide if the benefits of the pill outweigh any of the potential risks.
The right birth control for you
The best type of contraceptive is one that fits seamlessly into a patient’s everyday life. For many, a contraceptive implant or IUD provides nearly 100% effectiveness at pregnancy prevention with no daily effort needed. However, any hormonal birth control, including the pill or an IUD, must be used with a male condom to avoid contracting HIV or HPV. No matter the type of birth control, preventing pregnancy largely depends on the individual patient’s lifestyle and health history.