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Ask the Experts

Q ~ Do medications interfere with my birth control pills? - Cautious Claire, Cannon Beach

A ~ The birth control pill might be made less effective by certain anti-viral medications, anti-seizure medications, Rifampin, and natural supplements. Talk with your health care provider to see if your medication will affect your birth control pill and use a back-up method, like condoms, if needed.

Q ~ I heard that emergency contraception does not work if you are overweight. Is this true? - Wondering Kelly, Tigard

A ~ Yes, recent studies show that for emergency contraception (EC) pills, Plan B® may not work if you weigh over 156 pounds or have a body mass index (BMI) over 25; and ella® may not work if you weigh over 193 pounds or have a BMI over 35. Keep in mind this research is still new and we are still reviewing the findings. However, there is another option, the ParaGard® IUD if placed up to 5 days after sex works regardless of your weight. Talk with your CCare provider to find the best EC method that will work for you, if you need one.

Q ~ Whenever I read about the effectiveness rates of birth control methods, I always see two numbers: the typical-use rate and the perfect-use rate. What does this mean? - Not Sure Carly, Fairview

A ~ The perfect-use rate is exactly as it sounds: it is how well the method works if you were to use it perfectly. However, we all know that life doesn't always work out as planned. We miss pills, we forget to replace our patches, and condoms break - thus we have the typical-use rate. This rate takes into account human errors and other factors that affect how well the method works. It is important to think about these rates and chose a method that you think would be easy to use perfectly!

Q ~ I don’t want to mess anything up jumping from one method to another, but I am not happy with my current method, can I switch methods? - Unhappy Holly, Sweet Home

A ~ The beauty of birth control is that there are lots of different methods and if you are unhappy with what you have, you can try out another one until you find the one that works right for you. Of course, you don’t want to stop your current method until you get the next one, so you’ll want to talk to your CCare provider first to narrow down the best one for you and give it a try.

Q ~ Is it true that you have to be sexually active to get a pelvic exam? What about if you are currently abstinent? - Holding Out Hannah, Hermiston

A ~ Recommendations have changed so most women don't need a pelvic exam until age 21, sooner if you have a history of medical problems or there are other concerns. All women should get checked, even if they have never had sex before. When you do get a pelvic exam, the provider will check that all your parts are working correctly and they may perform a Chlamydia test (for infections) and a Pap test (for cervical cancer). Remember, you'll still need to see the provider every year to get your prescription for birth control!

Q ~ My cousin said she went in for an IUD but they said she couldn't get one because she has never had a child before, is this right? - Ideally IUD, Central Point

A ~ This is a myth we hear a lot, but rest assured it is 100% false. The ParaGard IUD (intrauterine device) or the Mirena IUS (intrauterine system) can be used by any female, whether or not she has had a child. The only concern that might come up is how well the IUD fits inside her uterus if she has never given birth. Some women have a little discomfort, but there is no dangerous risk. Also, a new, smaller IUS called Skyla became available earlier this year and may fit better in younger women and women who have not had children. Talk to your local CCare provider to see if this is the best method for you.

Q ~ If I’m using birth control, the hormones will also prevent me from getting STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) right? -Hormone Harriet, Hermiston

A ~ Wrong. Hormonal birth control protects against pregnancy, but not STDs or HIV. In fact, the only method of birth control that provides protection from STDs and HIV is the condom (male or female). Even then, there is still a small risk if you don't use the condom correctly or in the rare event it tears or slips. That's why it's important for you to use a condom every time you are worried about STDs. Even better, talk with your partner and consider getting tested for STDs.

Q ~ I am a guy, and I like sex. What I don’t like is using a condom. Is there anything else for me out there? I don’t want kids. They would cramp my style.. ~ Free Dude, Happy Valley

A ~ Are you really sure you don’t like condoms? How about trying a different brand for a different fit? They come in all sizes, shapes, and degree of thinness. You might also want your partner to use the female condom, it could be more comfortable, and it’s just as effective. Vasectomy is another option - but that’s only if you don’t want kids, EVER. Withdrawal is an option that's better than nothing. It's not always reliable so we don’t' recommend it. Best to talk with your partner and CCare (even together!) to see what your full range of birth control options are.

Q ~ My friends told me that if I ever have unplanned sex and don’t have the emergency contraception pill, I can just take a whole month’s worth of birth control pills at one time and it will work this same. ~ Spontaneous Sue, Ontario

A ~ Yes, you can indeed take birth control pills as emergency contraception. ec.princeton.edu has a complete list of the pills that can be used and how to use them; however, you may have more side effects than with Plan B One-Step®. We suggest that you have a supply of Plan B One-Step® since it is easier to take. The other advantage of having it on hand is that it works better the sooner you take it. You can get Plan B for immediate or future use with your CCare provider!

Q ~ My friends are raving about the NuvaRing® but I am afraid my boyfriend will feel it when we are having sex and not want to have sex with me anymore. What should I do? ~ Apprehensive Ann, Scappose

A ~ The best thing to do is just ask. Try the NuvaRing® and see if he can feel it. Sometimes guys can just barely feel it’s there. Most say they don’t notice it at all. If it’s causing some discomfort and you find the NuvaRing® isn’t for you, talk to your CCare provider about another method that may suit your body better. After that, if he’s still complaining – maybe it’s time to find a new boyfriend.

Q ~ I am thinking about getting the implant because I heard it is super effective. However, I am nervous about it being bothersome and noticeable. ~ Open Arms, Dayton

A ~ The implant is one of the easiest birth control methods to use. Once it is put in place, it is good for 3 years, so you can forget about it. If you press on your inner arm, you can feel it below the skin, but it’s really small, it doesn’t hurt, and no one can see. Carrying around a baby for 9 months, however, is a whole different story.

Q ~ My friend and I are having an argument about condoms that I hope you can clear up. I think that it’s a great idea to carry condoms around in my wallet, but he says that it isn’t. Who is right? ~ Always Prepared, Corvallis

A ~ If you are sexually active, the more prepared you are the better. However, your friend is right; it isn’t a good idea to store condoms in your wallet. When you put your wallet in your back pocket, you end up sitting on it for long periods of time. The heat and pressure can damage the latex, creating small holes that make the condom ineffective. Consider keeping them somewhere else, like your backpack. The best places for condoms are well ventilated, away from light and not too hot or too cold. Your friend is looking out for you, so give him some condoms and say thanks!

Q ~ Do I really have to take the pill at the same time every single day? I forget a lot but I’m not pregnant yet so I must be doing something right. ~ Forgetful Fran, Tillamook

A ~ Yes, you should take the pill at the same time every day to keep the hormone level needed to prevent pregnancy. If you don’t, you have a greater chance of getting pregnant. If you are having a hard time remembering to take the pill, call or drop-in to the clinic to talk with a nurse about other methods that are easier to remember and easier to use like the IUD or NuvaRing.®

Q ~ Is it okay to use two condoms at once? Double the glove means double the love, right? ~ More the Merrier, Medford

A ~ There are many things in life that are better when doubled: money, cars, ice cream…but condoms are not one of them. In fact, using two condoms at one time increases the chance of them ripping due to friction. The same goes for using the male and female condom at the same time. If you continue to double glove it, be prepared to double your love: one for your partner AND your new baby!

Q ~ It’s my first year in college and I am meeting a bunch of girls who I want to go out with. My older brother said that you can tell by how they look whether they’re ovulating or not. What are the signs? I have a date coming up soon and would like to know what to look for. ~ Ready to Mingle, Eugene

A ~ No, you can’t tell if a woman is ovulating just by the way she looks. Even if you could, it wouldn’t be a completely reliable method of birth control. Women are most fertile while ovulating; however, they are also fertile several days of the month outside of ovulation. Additionally, sperm can live in the body for up to five days, so if you have sex within five days prior to ovulation, you still risk a pregnancy. We’re so glad that you are concerned with pregnancy prevention, but remember that you still need to worry about sexually transmitted infections, so remember to use a condom to prevent them.

Q ~ I know a girl who’s been douching with soda pop every time she has sex to prevent pregnancy, and she swears by it. (She’s been doing it since high school and hasn’t gotten pregnant yet!) I think it’s gross, but it seems to be working. And it is way less expensive than an IUD. Should I start using this method? ~ Curiously Cola, Bend

A ~ In a nutshell: no, please don’t. Douching with soda or any other carbonated beverage after sex will not prevent pregnancy. In fact, the water pushes those sperm right up to the egg. Constant douching also increases the chance of getting an infection. Yes, the IUD is expensive, but with CCare you can get it for FREE! Look up your nearest clinic and see what other methods are out there for you. Use the money you save to buy soda, to drink.