Condoms and the birth control pill
Dear Ate Anna,
I am afraid of getting a sexually transmitted infection, but I feel embarrassed to talk about condoms. I am using the birth control pill – does that mean I am protected from STIs as well as pregnancy?
I am very glad you asked this question. There is a lot of misunderstanding about birth control!
Birth control pills can protect you from pregnancy risk (if used correctly), but they do not protect from sexually transmitted infections.
There are supplies you can use with your birth control pills to protect yourself from STIs. Barriers, such as condoms, act as a wall to keep sperm away from entering the vaginal area. If used correctly, condoms strongly decrease the chances transmitting STIs.
There are two different types of condoms that you can use. One is an external condom. This is the condom most people are aware of, which fits over a penis. Internal condoms are also available – sometimes called female condoms. This condom fits inside the vagina and, when used correctly, provides a barrier between the body fluids of sexual partners. Both of these methods, if used correctly, protect against STIs and pregnancy.
It is helpful to know that you can use both a hormonal form of birth control, like a birth control pill, and also use a condom. If used correctly, then you are protected from both STIs and pregnancy. It is also important to know that you should not use two condoms at the same time - this increases the chances of condoms breaking.
If something happens and you think the condom may have failed or have been used incorrectly, emergency contraception is available. This is a pill that you can take as soon as possible – up to five days after the sex act – to prevent pregnancy from occurring. These can be bought from any pharmacy and costs vary, but are usually around $15 to $30 in Manitoba. If you cannot afford this, a community health centre may be able to provide this at a lower cost.
Ate Anna understands the subject of condom use may be uncomfortable to talk about, but your health is very important. I suggest talking about condom use beforehand, when things are calm and you have time to talk. Being clear to yourself and to your partner about what you need and why you need it is very helpful. You might want to start a conversation by saying something like, “It is important to me that we use condoms because I want to take care of my body.” This can be a good start to the conversation about what you both want and need from each other in your relationship.
All the best to you,
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200- 226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit us at www.serc.mb.ca. You will find reliable information and links for many resources on the subject of sexuality.