packets of individual condoms
Welcome to the second installment of “Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does.” In this series we will highlight Planned Parenthood’s diverse array of services — the ones Jon Kyl doesn’t know about.
It’s National Condom Week! So it’s only fitting that the second installment of our “Over 90 Percent” series honors the humble condom, that mainstay of anyone’s safer-sex arsenal. By providing a barrier between body parts and reducing skin-to-skin contact, condoms dramatically decrease risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI). On top of all of that, their use during heterosexual intercourse can keep sperm from entering the vagina, making them essential components in family planning. Condoms can be used in a wide variety of sexual activities — they can be worn on penises or put onto sex toys, and with a couple of scissor snips they can be converted into dental dams. They are inexpensive and widely available without the need for a prescription. If you need to replenish your condom supply, or if you’re using them for the first time, you can walk into any Planned Parenthood health center to pick them up.
Learning how to use condoms correctly will maximize their effectiveness. Are you aware of the finer points of condom use?
There are tons of contraceptive options for people with uteruses, from pills to IUDs, but condoms are one of the few options that people with penises have — although there is exciting research being done on expanding these options. If you are heterosexually active and capable of getting someone pregnant, using condoms consistently and correctly will allow you to take control of your reproductive future. In a given year, 2 out of 100 females whose male partners use condoms will become pregnant if they always use condoms correctly — with imperfect use, this number increases to 18 out of 100. Combining condom use with other birth control methods, like diaphragms, birth control pills, or IUDs, will dramatically boost the efficacy of your contraception. Continue reading
Posted in Birth Control
Tagged barrier method, barriers, birth control, condom, condoms, contraception, contraceptives, dildo, how to use a condom correctly, lube, lubricant, lubrication, Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does, pregnancy, safe sex, safer sex, sex toy, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, unintended pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, vibrator
Failure to take birth control pills properly can cause a lot of anxiety, and even lead to pregnancy. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Oral contraceptives (also known as birth control pills or BCPs) are used to prevent pregnancy. Taken properly, they are about 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. They are even more effective when used in combination with other birth-control methods, such as condoms.
There are many different brands of birth control pills. Most contain a combination of the two female hormones estrogen and progesterone, but there are some BCPs that only contain progesterone. These different brands may need to be taken in slightly different ways and may have different benefits and risks, but whichever type you use, it’s very important to take them properly to get the most benefit.
You cannot take a birth control pill only when you remember to or just after you’ve had a sexual encounter — they must be taken daily.
First of all, it’s important to know which oral contraceptive you are taking. These pills usually come in packs of 21, 28, or 91 tablets and need to be taken daily.
- Packs of 21: Take one pill each day until all 21 are gone, then don’t take a pill for seven days – this is when you should have your period. After seven days off, start a new pack of 21 pills.
- Packs of 28: Take one pill each day, and when you finish with the pack start a new pack the next day. Sometimes these packs have pills with different colors that contain different doses of the hormones or inactive ingredients, vitamins, or minerals. They must be taken in order.
- Packs of 91: The 91-tablet pack is larger and may contain three trays – take one pill each day until all 91 pills have been taken and then start the new pack of 91 pills the next day. Continue reading
Posted in Birth Control
Tagged antibiotics, birth control, condoms, contraception, contraceptives, drug interactions, estrogen, oral contraception, oral contraceptives, progesterone, side effects, smoking, the Pill
As tools to reduce risk for STI transmission, dental dams are not to be ignored.
Many consider oral sex to be a safer form of sexual activity compared to vaginal or anal intercourse. For this reason, they might put less emphasis on the use of latex barriers, such as dental dams and condoms, during oral sex. Unfortunately, this idea is misguided and can lead to the transmission of preventable infections.
It is generally true that oral sex presents less of a risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – but this risk is not trivial, especially when people are under the impression that they don’t need to use barrier methods during oral sex. Most sexually transmitted infections can be passed along by oral sex, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, herpes (which can be transmitted back and forth from the mouth, as cold sores, to the genital region, as genital herpes), human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV. Even pubic lice can be transferred from the genital region to eyelashes and eyebrows! Additionally, intestinal parasites are more likely to be transmitted via oral sex than through vaginal sex. A microscopic amount of fecal matter containing parasites can be infectious, and can be unknowingly ingested when present on genitals.
Seventy percent of adolescents who reported engaging in oral sex had never used a barrier to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.
Some bacterial STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, can do permanent damage if not treated in time. Furthermore, gonorrhea of the throat is much more difficult to treat than gonorrhea in the genital or rectal areas. And some viral STIs can’t be cured (such as herpes and HIV), while others can cause chronic infections that have been linked to cancer (such as hepatitis, which is associated with liver cancer, and HPV, which is associated with throat cancer as well as cervical cancer and anal cancer). Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged abstinence, abstinence only, AIDS, barrier methods, barriers, cancer, chlamydia, condom, condoms, dental dam, dental dams, gonnorhea, hepatitis, herpes, HIV, HIV/AIDS, HPV, human papillomavirus, intestinal parasites, latex, latex barriers, liver cancer, oral sex, parasites, pubic lice, safe sex, safer sex, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, syphilis, teenagers, throat cancer, vaginal intercourse, virginity, virginity pledge, virginity pledges
At Planned Parenthood, we’re passionate about women’s health, and indeed, our health care centers are well known for their top-notch services aimed at the female population. But not a lot of people associate Planned Parenthood with men’s health — despite the fact that we offer a wide range of services for men, ranging from those you expect (like condoms) to those you might not expect (like smoking cessation).
Planned Parenthood offers cancer screening and family-planning options for men, as well as an array of services that include cholesterol screening, diabetes screening, and even smoking cessation.
Sexually active people should be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — even if your partner has negative test results, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, so you can’t rely on your significant other to provide your STI screening “by proxy.” Especially because so many STIs are asymptomatic, it’s better to get yourself tested. We can screen and treat for STIs, as well as offer preventive vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Most people associate the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, with females, since HPV is behind 99 percent of cervical cancers. But males can benefit from Gardasil as well. Not only will they be protecting their partners, but they will also be protecting themselves from the viruses that can cause precancerous penile lesions as well as the majority of genital warts and anal cancers.
Men’s services also include life-saving cancer screening — we can check you out for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or testicular cancer. We can also evaluate penile lesions, which might lead to penile cancer if left untreated. These might not be the kind of check-ups anyone looks forward to, but they represent the kind of preventive health care that can save your life — or just your money — down the road. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged Arizona, birth control, cancer screening, Chandler, cholesterol, colorectal cancer, condoms, diabetes, family planning, Flagstaff, flu shots, Gardasil, genital warts, Glendale, Goodyear, HPV vaccine, men's health, men's reproductive health, men's services, Mesa, penile lesions, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, prostate cancer, quit smoking, Scottsdale, sexually transmitted infections, smoking cessation, STD, STD screening, STDs, STI, STI screening, STIs, Tempe, testicular cancer, thyroid, Tucson, urinary tract infection, UTI, vaccination, vaccines, Yuma
This colorized scanning electron micrograph shows Giardia lamblia reproducing asexually. Image: Stan Erlandsen, CDC’s Public Health Image Library.
Most sexually transmitted infections are caused by bacteria or viruses, but some are caused by organisms that are classified as completely different lifeforms. Trichomoniasis, for example, is caused by a protozoan organism; protozoa occupy their own kingdom, separate from plants, animals, and bacteria. Intestinal parasites are often protozoan organisms, but can also include parasitic worms (which are members of the animal kingdom). They are spread through contact with fecal matter – and as such, they can be transmitted sexually as well as nonsexually. Intestinal parasites are usually transmitted by fecal contamination of food or water, and are most common in areas with insufficient sewage treatment and untreated water in the wilderness. Some pathogens, however, have low infectious doses, making their sexual transmission more likely.
What has eight flagella and can live in your intestines?
Oral contact with the anus, also called anilingus or rimming, is the primary means of the sexual transmission of these pathogens. Putting fingers or hands in your mouth after they have had contact with the anus is also risky. Other modes of transmission include oral sex, as genitals can be contaminated with feces, as well as sharing sex toys and other equipment. For these reasons, it is very important to use dental dams or latex gloves during contact with the anus; to clean the anus before engaging in rimming; to clean or use condoms on shared sex toys; and to use condoms or dental dams during oral sex. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged amebiasis, amebic dysentery, amoebic dysentery, anilingus, beaver fever, binary fission, C. hominis, C. parvum, condom, condoms, cryptosporidiosis, Cryptosporidium, Cryptosporidium hominis, Cryptosporidium parvum, dental dam, dental dams, diarrhea, diloxanide furoate, dysentery, E. histolytica, Entamoeba histolytica, fecal matter, feces, flagella, flagellum, G. duodenalis, G. intestinalis, G. lamblia, Giardia duodenalis, Giardia intestinalis, Giardia lamblia, IBS, immune system, intestinal parasite, intestinal parasites, intestinal tract, intestine, irritable bowel syndrome, latex barriers, lesion, lesions, metronidazole, nitazoxanide, oocyst, oocysts, oral sex, oral-anal intercourse, oral-fecal route, parasite, parasites, protozoa, protozoans, rimming, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, string test, ulcer, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, worm, worms
Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by microorganisms – lifeforms that are too small to be seen without a microscope. Many STIs, however, are caused by viruses, which technically aren’t even alive. Rather, viruses are pieces of genetic information that are stored in protein capsules. When these capsules come into contact with a host cell, the genetic information is able to enter the cell and hijack its machinery so that the host cell manufactures copies of the virus, as well as potentially harmful viral proteins. Many well-known STIs, such as herpes and HIV/AIDS, are caused by viruses, but this month we will focus on two lesser-known viral STIs, cytomegalovirus and molluscum contagiosum. Your local Planned Parenthood health center, as well as other clinics, health departments, and private health-care providers, can help you get a diagnosis and treatment for these STIs.
Cytomegalovirus leaves granules inside its host cells called inclusion bodies, pictured here. Image: Public Health Image Library, CDC
The bad news is that most people are infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV) at some point in their lives. About 80 percent of the U.S. population is estimated to be carriers, about 4 in 10 Americans are infected with CMV before puberty (usually through contact with saliva), and adults can be reinfected through sexual activity. The good news is that among healthy adults, a CMV infection usually does not have any symptoms, though if they do they could seem like a mild case of mono. Being reinfected with the virus later in life also carries with it only a small risk for symptoms in healthy adults.
And back to the bad news: While an infection with cytomegalovirus usually does not have symptoms, if someone is infected while pregnant it can harm the fetus. About 1 in 100 U.S. babies is infected with CMV, but usually doesn’t show symptoms. Every year in the United States, around 5,500 babies are born with symptomatic cytomegalic inclusion disease (CID). Symptoms of CID vary, but the most severe include mental retardation and hearing loss. If the mother was already infected before conception, there is a 2 percent chance the virus will be transmitted to the fetus; however, if the infection occurs during pregnancy, this risk jumps into the 40 to 50 percent range. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged CID, CMV, condom, condoms, cytomegalic inclusion disease, cytomegalovirus, cytomegalovirus retinitis, dental dam, dental dams, fetus, HCMV, Herpesviridae, herpesvirus, herpesviruses, HHV-5, HIV/AIDS, human cytomegalovirus, human herpesvirus-5, immune system, inclusion bodies, latex barriers, lesion, lesions, molluscum contagiousum virus, Poxviridae, pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, virus, wart, warts
Condoms are the only contraceptive device that does double duty in preventing pregnancy and STI transmission. But will men’s birth-control options expand?
Many have wondered why there is not a male equivalent to the Pill. The short answer to this question is that the release of one egg is easier to prevent than the flow of millions of sperm. The longer answer to that question includes a litany of failures in the search for such technology. Currently, however, there are some interesting developments in male birth control.
The condom, of course, is the only birth-control method to do double duty in reducing risk for both pregnancy and STI transmission, but many heterosexually active males would like more options than the tried-and-true rubber, and their female partners, despite having expanded contraceptive options – including the Pill, the patch, and the IUD – might prefer for the men in their lives to help shoulder the birth-control burden.
One method under investigation is ultrasound, a technology that has been around for quite some time. Though scientists have been aware of its contraceptive potential since at least the 1970s, most studies have been conducted on nonhuman animals (though human trials could be on the horizon). Ultrasound involves the application of high-frequency sound waves to animal tissue, which can absorb the sound waves’ energy as heat. The possibility for ultrasound’s use for contraception operates on the idea that briefly heating the testes, which in mammals are normally kept a few degrees below core body temperature, can halt sperm production, leading to temporary infertility for about six months. Additionally, ultrasound could affect cells’ absorption rates of ions, which itself could create an environment unfavorable to spermatogenesis. Its extremely localized effects on animal tissues make ultrasound an attractive candidate for research.
One small study conducted on five dogs applied ultrasound to the canine testicles three times over a period of a few days. The researchers compared sperm count before the procedure to two weeks after the procedure. After the ultrasound treatments none of the canine sperm samples contained sperm. Side effects included tender testicles that had been reduced in volume. Continue reading
Posted in Birth Control
Tagged acrosome, baking soda, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, birth control, clinical trial, clinical trials, condoms, contraception, contraceptive devices, copolymer, dimethyl sulfoxide, DMSO, ductus deferens, Katharine McCormick, Margaret Sanger, ovum, Parsemus, polymer, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm under Guidance, RISUG, scrotum, SMA, sodium bicarbonate, sperm, sperm count, spermatogenesis, styrene maleic anhydride, Sujoy Guha, testes, testicles, the Pill, ultrasound, urethra, vas deferens, Vasalgel, vasectomy
Latex barriers, such as condoms and dental dams, offer fantastic protection against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are not 100 percent effective, however, and there are even some STIs for which latex poses no obstacle. Because barriers only cover a portion of the genital area, they do not offer sufficient protection against scabies or pubic lice, both of which are caused by infestations of tiny arthropods.
Both scabies and pubic lice are treated with topical medications. A Planned Parenthood health center, as well as other health care providers, clinics, and health departments, can provide testing and treatment. Follow treatment instructions to the letter to ensure success. During this time, you can take actions to prevent reinfection, including vacuuming floors and cleaning rooms, and thoroughly washing all clothing, towels, and bedding in hot water. Your sexual partner(s) might also need to receive treatment.
Now let’s learn more about both specific STIs.
Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite that causes scabies. Image from the Public Health Image Library.
Three-hundred million people carry the eight-legged mite that causes scabies, Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis. While it’s so small that you need a microscope to see it, it causes an itchy condition that you can definitely feel. The female mite burrows under the skin, usually starting between the fingers and then spreading to the rest of the body, digging until she dies and laying eggs along the way. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs travel to the surface of the skin, where they may transfer to another host or reinfect the original host. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged barrier methods, condoms, conscientious objectors, dental dams, evolution, head lice, itch mite, latex barriers, lice, louse, mite, mites, Phthirus pubis, Pthirus pubis, pubic lice, pubic louse, Sarcoptes scabiei, scabies, sexually transmitted infections, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, World War I, WWI
February is a time full of candy kisses, love, and romance. It’s a time for couples to express their love for each other with chocolate, flowers, diamonds, and yes . . . lots of sex. It’s no wonder then that February is also National Condom Month.
Barrier methods are great forms of birth control because they don’t have the same side effects as hormonal birth control. They function by keeping the sperm from ever coming in contact with the egg, preventing fertilization of the egg. Some also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).
Condoms are one of the most common and widely used of all the birth control methods and the only one that can protect against STI’s. They are generally made from latex or animal membranes, such as sheep skin. The material is shaped like a penis, with an opening on one end in which the penis can be inserted. This should be done prior to any intercourse, oral or anal sex, to prevent pregnancy. The condom will then collect any semen from the penis, thus avoiding pregnancy. Latex condoms also provide a barrier between body fluids to prevent contact with STIs.
Aside from a lack of side effects, condoms are a great form of birth control for several reasons. They are cheap and easily accessible, come in a variety of options to enhance pleasure (flavored, shaped, texture, etc.), may delay premature ejaculation, and can be used with virtually any other birth control to enhance the effectiveness of pregnancy prevention. Condoms are available at almost any pharmacy, most grocery stores, and at Planned Parenthood and other health/family clinics. Planned Parenthood also services condom vending machines in the Tucson area, which has condoms available for $0.50 at various locations. The cost can vary, but generally runs about $1 per condom; at some clinics and educational programs, condoms may be available at little or no cost. Continue reading
Posted in Birth Control, Sexual Health
Tagged allergy, barrier methods, birth control, condoms, contraception, dental dams, diaphragms, female contraceptives, FemCaps, latex, nonoxynol 9, Planned Parenthood, polyurithane, prevention, spermicide, STI, women's health