Pregnancy shouldn’t be a gamble

Sarika Jagtiani's view

Certified Nurse Practitioner Lori Christopher displays various forms of contraception including Depo-Provera, Seasonale, and Plan B at the DeWeese Health Center.

Credit: Andrew popik

Guys often say they like girls who have fun in bed, who are uninhibited.

I say it’s hard to be uninhibited if getting pregnant or infected with a sexually transmitted infection has you too worried to enjoy yourself. And who wants to have sex with a worrywart? Scarier yet, who wants to get warts while having sex?

For all the above reasons and ponderings, here’s the second installment of Safe Sex 101 (see last week’s condom column for part one).

And there are a lot of other birth control options.

The ones most asked about, according to Jennelle O’Malley of Planned Parenthood in Akron, are the pill and the patch.

The pill, the patch and the ring are considered to be hormonal contraception by Planned Parenthood.

Unfortunately, some still don’t understand the uses of the pill, even though some form of it has been around for decades now.

The good people in the Adult, Counseling, Health and Vocational Education program shared this story with me as an illustration of how misinformed some students were.

Two girls waiting in the health center were talking about different types of birth control pills. One of them was talking about how her high school health teacher told students low dose birth control pills were only good for regulating periods, not preventing pregnancy. An ACHVE doctoral candidate quickly stepped in and straightened the student out.

According to the Planned Parenthood pamphlet on birth control, the pill is made of synthetic hormones and prevents the ovary from releasing an egg, giving the sperm nothing to fertilize.

If taken correctly, the pill has about a 99 percent efficiency rate*, which is pretty reassuring.

The ring, a newer form of birth control, is over 99 percent reliable*, which sounds pretty good to me.

The ring, unlike the pill, is placed in the vagina, just below the cervix, and provides birth control by releasing progesterone and estrogen.

Finally there’s the skin patch, which is applied to the butt, abdomen, upper arm or upper torso and works by releasing contraceptives into the blood stream. So if you’re not great at remembering the pill, this is just as effective, but with fewer days to remember to take it or change it.

Speaking as someone who’s had negative and positive reactions to different types of pills, I can’t recommend one of the above over the other, but I can recommend you talk to a doctor and find the best one for you.

One thing I can recommend, to both guys and girls, is that you get involved in the birth control you’re using and not leave it up to your partner.

According to Wagner, who as a part-time instructor comes into regular contact with students, guys are just as concerned about not getting their partners pregnant as girls.

“Men are usually glad to know more about it, so they feel more involved,” she said.

One thing both guys and girls should know about is emergency contraception.

And no, it’s not the abortion pill. That’s a common misconception.

Emergency contraception pills prevent pregnancy after sex by preventing implantation of the egg and have to be taken in a matter of days after sex.

Condom broke? Unexpected sex? Misjudged the power of pre-come? Reading this column are scared of your activities last night? The emergency contraception kit might be something to consider.

I don’t recommend it as a form of birth control because a) it doesn’t prevent against STIs, b) it’s about 75 percent effective and c) why wait until after the fact when you can protect yourself during it? But if you made a bad decision, which we all do from time to time, myself included, this might ease your mind a little.

The thing to take away from all of this is, of course, that contraception is necessary, not a nuisance.

“There is nothing sexy about playing Russian roulette with your genital health,” Wagner said. “You never know what you might contract from someone, who lies to you about it or doesn’t even know they have it. And the repercussions can last a lifetime.”

*Effectiveness rates are based on perfect use information from

Sarika Jagtiani is a graduate student in journalism and is the sex columnist. Contact her at [email protected].