SlutBox's Official Safer Sex Breakdown
These days, there are 101 contraceptive and STI-prevention methods out there. It's up to every Slut to find the best safer sex protection method that works for their body, their lifestyle, and their partner. Read on for SlutBox's breakdown of 13 barrier options, with effectiveness percentages courtesy of Planned Parenthood.
IUD stands for "intrauterine device." The device itself is small and made of flexible plastic. It gets inserted by your health-care professional. There are two options - copper (like ParaGard) or hormonal (like Mirena or Skyla), and they last for 12 years. IUDs are more than 99% effective against pregnancy, but they do not prevent STIs.
Condoms are a latex or plastic cover for a penis (or strap-on). They come in a million variations, from ribbed to flavored to glow-in-the-dark. Condoms are 82-98% effective when used properly, and they greatly reduce the risk of contracting STIs including herpes, HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Some of our faves are the Lelo Hex condoms (featured in our very first Box) or Rouse Condoms (featured in our June Box) which donates 75% of their profits to men's health initiatives! Making sure you have a good fit is key for safer sex - Sluts, have you used the Fit Kit from One Condoms included in your August Box yet?
Dental Dams are a rectangular piece of latex used to cover the genitals so there is no direct mouth-to-genital or mouth-to-anus contact during oral sex. While there are few concrete statistics on the effectiveness of dental dams, the consensus is that if used correctly, dental dams will protect you against the same STIs that condoms protect you from. That means infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, HPV, hepatitis A and B, syphilis and HIV. Not sure where to get dental dams? Our pick is the Satin Flavors Latex Dams from One Condoms included in our August Box. These babies come in pretty pastel colors and they're even lightly scented!
The Shot is a progestin-only injection you get every three months. (Progestin is a hormone that prevents eggs from leaving your ovaries, and it also thickens the cervical mucus which helps keep sperm away from your eggs.) Yuck. But hey, you asked. The Shot is 94-99% effective for folx with uteruses, but it offers zero STI protection.
Another contraceptive-only method. The Pill is a hormonal pill (containing progestin and estrogen) which is taken daily to prevent ovulation. Taken consistently (i.e., at the same time every day), The Pill is 91-99% effective. This method offers no STI protection.
Emergency contraceptive like Plan B is a highly concentrated dose of hormones taken ASAP after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Taken correctly within 5 days after sex, Plan B and other emergency contraceptives are up to 89% effective. Again, these guys offer no STI protection and these should not be used for regular contraception... hence the word 'emergency' right there in the title. Use emergency contraceptives like Plan B only in emergencies, when other methods of safer sex fail!
Hoe Tip: Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
Did y'all know that an emergency post-HIV-exposure medication exists? If you've had unprotected sex, were the victim of sexual assault, or you were exposed to blood or dirty needles and you're worried contracting HIV, you can take PEP within 72 hours after exposure to potentially prevent infection. Ask your health care provider or an emergency room doc about PEP right away!
The Implant (Nexplanon and Implanon) is a matchstick-sized plastic rod inserted by a health care technician into your arm. Implants like Nexplanon and Implanon inhibit ovulation, and are 99% effective for up to 3 years. They do not offer any STI protection.
Nuvaring is a ring that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks out of the month, and then replaced by a new ring after a weeklong break. The ring releases estrogen and progestin into the body, which keeps eggs from leaving the ovaries. NuvaRing is 91-99% effective but offers no STI protection.
Also knows as the "female condom," the internal condom is worn inside the vagina to keep sperm from reaching eggs. This method is 79-95% effective, but is rarely used in the US. Female condoms also greatly reduce the risk of contracting several STIs including herpes, HP, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV.
The Patch (Ortho Evra) is a small patch stuck to the skin that releases progestin and estrogen. It's about 91-99% effective, but offers no STI protection. Additionally, there are some concerns over cardiovascular and blood clotting risks.
The Pull-Out Method
One of the oldest birth control methods on earth, the Pull-Out Method involves the man pulling out before he ejaculates during sex. Effectiveness rates vary wildly, as this is one of the riskiest contraceptive methods. Of course, this method offers no protection against STIs.
The Rhythm Method
Another old-time method of contraception, the Rhythm Method involves tracking your menstrual cycle and only having sex when you're not ovulating. In this method, you abstain from sex (or use other barrier methods) on fertile days. Relying on this method is tricky, as many people ovulate at different time of the month or more than once a month. Planned Parenthood estimates that 24 out of every 100 couples who rely on the Rhythm Method will get pregnant every year. This method also does not protect against STIs.
This method has gone out of vogue with younger generation, and many don't know what a diaphragm is. In short, a diaphragm is a shallow silicone cup with a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina to cover the cervix. Diaphragms must be used with a spermicide cream, gel or jelly and they are intended to keep sperm from reaching the egg. If used correctly, only 6 out of every 100 people will become pregnant each year. Used incorrectly, however, 12 out of every 100 people will get knocked up. Diaphragms offer zero STI protection.
Remember that one Seinfeld episode? That was my first introduction to The Sponge. Sponges are a plastic foam disc about 2 inches in diameter that contains spermicide. Insert the sponge deep into the vagina before sex to cover the cervix and block sperm from entering the uterus. Don't worry, it has a loop attached to the bottom so you can take it out easily. For people who always use the sponge as directed, 9 in 100 of them get pregnant each year. For people who have been pregnant or given birth, that number shoots up to 20 out of 100. Again, this method offers zero STI protection.