It sounds antithetical, but there are a number of reasons why a person might start using a method of birth control that don’t necessarily have anything to do with preventing pregnancy. Some people go on the birth control pill to clear up their skin. Others do it to make their periods regular. Still others use IUDs to lessen the flow of their periods.
But if you are using a birth control method to prevent pregnancy–whether it’s the pill, an IUD, condoms, or something else entirely–chances are good that you, uh, want it to work. As in, not make you pregnant. If so, there are definitely some birth control techniques that you definitely don’t want to use. So, check out these popular methods of birth control that can actually cause pregnancy:
The Pull-Out MethodThe pull-out method is something that, to me, always felt super outdated--you know, like, something the scummy boyfriend of the heroine in an '80s movie might try to convince her to do in the back of his car. This is why I was shocked to learn that, according to new research from the National Center for Health Statistics, the use of the pull-out method has actually increased in popularity, doubling in usage among unmarried men between 2002-2015. But the pull-out method still carries a 22 percent risk of unintended pregnancy, which is better than nothing, sure, but still not great. Besides, the pull-out method doesn't protect against STDs. So, even if pregnancy wasn't a concern (which, you know, it very much is), you'd still have to worry about STDs. Basically? Don't rely on the pull-out method! Image source: Getty
The Rhythm MethodThe rhythm method (or "family planning") is a method of birth control that involves tracking one's period in order to figure out when you're fertile. This way, you forgo protection for most of your cycle and use it only on the days when you're fertile. If this already sounds too complicated for you, uh, that's a good sign that it is--according to the CDC, this method carries a 24 percent risk of unintended pregnancy. This is likely due to human error and slip-ups when tracking one's period, in addition to the fact that sperm can stay active for up to six days after sex. Plus, women can ovulate on a different day in each cycle, which can make all of the tracking useless. Image source: Getty
SpermicideIn theory, spermicide--which is a cream, gel, suppository, or foam that can supposedly kill sperm on contact--sounds great. You insert it in the vagina, have sex, and call it a day. But, in practice, it's not actually the best thing to use. Since it's a chemical that kills sperm, it can cause irritation on the skin for some people. Also, every brand varies, so some might need 10-15 minutes to fully absorb and become effective, while others might lose their efficacy more quickly. And, even if it's used perfectly--which usually isn't the case--it's only 71 percent effective, which isn't horrible, but probably isn't a number you want to be working with when it comes to the possibility of pregnancy. (Plus, it doesn't do anything to prevent against STDs.) This doesn't mean that you should write off spermicide entirely--it still could be a great method to use in conjunction with another type of birth control, like a condom--but you definitely shouldn't use it as your main method of birth control. Image source: Getty
The Pill (If You Don't Use It Correctly)When the pill is used perfectly, only 0.1 percent of women get pregnant, which means that it has a near-perfect rate of efficacy. The problem, however, is that most people don't take the pill perfectly. It can be easy to forget to take the pills on time (or at all), which means that the likelihood of getting pregnant can increase by 30 to 80 percent. Basically, if you're on the pill, make sure you're taking it at the same exact time every day. If you miss a day, use a condom, just to be safe. Image source: Getty
Contraceptive SpongesA contraceptive sponge is a small, round sponge that you insert in the vagina (similar to the way you might insert a tampon) right before sex. It covers the cervix and contains spermicide, which, in theory, helps prevent pregnancy. In practice? Not so much! Your nails can tear the sponge while it's being inserted, which means that if you use a contraceptive sponge on its own, it can carry up to a 34 percent risk of unintended pregnancy. Image source: Amazon
Female CondomsFemale condoms are an alternative to traditional male condoms. They're basically small nitrile pouches that go inside the vagina and creates a barrier that can prevent sperm from reaching an egg. If it's the only method of birth control you can manage to make happen--like, if your partner is refusing to wear protection--you should definitely use it, since it can help protect against STDs. (This, however, is as good a sign as ever that it might not be the best idea to have sex with them anyway.) But they can be complicated to use, which means that female condoms carry a 21 percent risk of unintended pregnancy. Also, for what it's worth, you definitely should not use female condoms at the same time as a male condom, since the friction can cause tears in the condoms, rendering them both useless. Image source: Getty
No Birth ControlTBH, the worst type of birth control is...no birth control. So, at the end of the day, you just need to make sure you're using something. Don't mess around. Or, rather, feel free to mess around. Just be safe when you do it. Image source: Getty
What do you think of these methods? Did any of them surprise you? Let us know in the comments!
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