Birth Control FAQs (cont.)
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
What birth control methods are available without seeing my doctor?
Condoms (also called rubbers) are available in most supermarkets, drug stores, and in vending machines in some public restrooms. They are available without a doctor's prescription.
Most condoms are made from latex rubber. A man puts the condom on his erect penis before having sex. A condom is used only once. Some men and women are allergic to the latex in condoms. If you aren't allergic, you should use condoms made from latex because they are best at preventing pregnancy and protect against transmitting sexual diseases such as AIDS and
genital herpes. Do not use condoms with lubricants such as Vaseline or other brands of petroleum jelly or oils. They make the latex less effective and may damage the condom. You may use a lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, which does not contain oil.
A form of female condom (brand name Reality) is also available at stores without a doctor's prescription. These are made of polyurethane. A woman inserts the condom into her vagina right before sex and uses it only once.
Do not use a male and female condom at the same time. The male condom is more effective at preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.
Spermicides are available in drugstores without a prescription. They can be a foam, cream, film, or jelly. Spermicides contain a chemical that kills a man's sperm. The woman should carefully follow the instructions on the package. Most spermicides must be inserted into the vagina 10-15 minutes before sexual intercourse. One dose usually works for an hour. Use another dose if you have sexual intercourse again, even if it has been less than an hour. Do not use douches or rinse your vagina for at least 6-8 hours after having sex. Spermicide alone is not completely effective at preventing pregnancy.
Behavioral methods such as pulling out before ejaculation are not very effective. Douching (rinsing out the vagina) after sex is not effective and not recommended. Breastfeeding a newborn can be protective against pregnancy for up to 6 months, but most women don't breastfeed often enough to keep hormone levels in check.
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