Everything You Need To Know About Birth Control Methods Most Used By College Women

Everything You Need To Know About Birth Control Methods Most Used By College Women

From the pill to IUDs, here's how college women are staying safe.

Finding the right birth control method for you is not as easy as it may seem. Judging from the numerous side effects, lack of accessibility and negative past experiences, only sixty percent of reproductive age women participate in safe sex.

Although not all birth control methods work the same for every woman, when used correctly, present-day contraceptives methods have proven to be very effective! Seventy-two percent of women who practice in safe sex report to using nonpermanent, hormonal, types of birth control.

The Pill is the most common type of birth control among never-married women in their teens and twenties10.7 million U.S., women used the oral contraceptive during 2006-2008.

Although the Pill has been the most commonly used birth control method since 1982, there are several hormonal (and non-hormonal) birth control methods that are available to you ladies! Options such as an IUD, a vaginal ring, the Patch, an implant, the Shot, good old condoms, and emergency contraceptives are among some of the most common birth control methods used by women ages 15-44.

Many hormonal birth control methods are often associated with side effects such as weight gain, changes in skin and ovulation cycles, as well as variations in mood swings and headaches. For example, the Pill might reduce acne in some women and worsen the skin quality in others. It takes time and effort to find the right match for you!

Women that report to using non-hormonal methods, such as the copper IUD, often complain of severe pain during insertion as well as continuous heavy bleeding and increased menstrual cramps during the first few months.

However, non-hormonal birth control methods are not all that bad! The copper IUD eliminates other side effects such as weight gain and blood clots, which are often associated with hormonal contraceptives. The copper IUD can also remain inside a woman for up to ten years and be used as an emergency contraceptive if inserted five days after unprotected sex.

Now that all the statistics have been laid out on the table, we talked to a few college women on their experience with various types of birth control methods!

1. The Pill

The Pill remains the most common method of birth control among women in their teens and twenties to this day. When going on the Pill, if you start the pack within the first five days of the start of your period, pregnancy protection begins right away. However, if you start at any other point in your menstrual cycle, pregnancy protection begins after seven days.

There are two types of birth control pills out there: combination pills and mini pills.

Combination pills contain two types of hormones, estrogen, and progestin. Whereas mini pills only contain the progestin hormone. The combination pill might not be the right fit for you if you are prone to headaches and nausea. The main difference between the two is that every pill within the mini pill pack is active — there are no placebo/ sugar pills.

"I've been on the Pill for about a year now and I've had no issues with it other than occasional breakouts here and there. It was really hard to get used to taking it at the same time every day, but once I got the hang of it it was relatively easy to keep track of. I set up daily alarms on my phone as reminders and have yet to miss a pill."

Although the Pill is the most common type of birth control, there are other options out there —NuvaRing being one of them!

2. NuvaRing

"My gynecologist suggested that I start using the NuvaRing the summer before my freshmen year of college. He explained that the ring is the size of a hair-tie and is not as weird or difficult to use as people often think. I was told to insert the ring vaginally and leave it in for three weeks. You take the ring out at the start of the fourth week, two days later you get your period. At the end of the fourth week, your period is done and you put in a new ring to start the process over. I haven't felt any negative side effects of using the ring and find it really easy to track. My periods are also so much lighter and I no longer get horrible stomach and back pains."

Many women, myself included, often fear the thought of using a vaginal contraceptive like the NuvaRing. Although it may work for some, being a college student that often forgets to sleep due to high stress and tightly packed schedule, changing out the Ring on time doesn't seem like a plausible idea.

This leaves many college women wondering what less time-consuming birth control options are available to them. The Shot is one of many.

3. The Shot

"After a couple years of being on the Pill, I realized it wasn't for me. I could never remember to take it at the same time each day and even when I set alarms as reminders, I would just instinctively turn them off and ignore them. When I told my doctor, she suggested I start getting the Depo Provera shot. Basically, its a shot of hormones that you get every three months. But alas, the Shot was not all glitz and glam. When I first got it, I legitimately had a thirty day period and even though it was light the entire time, it was still alarming. My gynecologist told me this was normal and that it will work itself out. When I got the second shot all was A-OK! I didn't get my period for the rest of the time I was on the Shot which was nice, however, it made me think I was pregnant all the time. I read articles online that said if you get too many of the Depo Provera shots it can affect your bone health so ultimately, I made the decision to stop. I'm back to using the Pill now. However, the scary thing is I have been off the shot for six months now and my period is yet to return to its normal cycle."

Yikes, that doe not sound too appealing! What if you're scared of shots and don't want to make a trip to your local health clinic every three months? The Implant might be the right fit for you.

4. Nexaplonon

Nexaplonon, a thin implant that goes in your arm for up to three years, is one of the most effective birth controls available. The implant is often correlated with light breakouts and ultimately the stop of a monthly period.

"I've had the Implant for over two years now. I've had no issues with this birth control up until now. The process of getting it inserted was a little painful. My doctor first gave me the numbing shot, which was the most painful part of the procedure, followed by the insertion of the implant. The whole procedure took a little over ten minutes to complete. I had a light period for the first week and a half. However, it stopped for the next two years. I have to get the implant out in the next three months and I've noticed the light, continuous spotting from week to week. I've had no issues with Nexaplonon other than the light spotting and occasional breakouts, and would highly recommend it to other women!"

However, just because one woman had a positive experience with a certain type of birth control doesn't mean everyone else will too.

We've heard a lot of horror stories about the implant, from terrible scarring to painful migraines, make sure to talk to your gynecologist about Nexaplonon being the right fit for you!

5. IUD

There are two types of IUDs on the market — copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. The ParaGard IUD is non-hormonal, it's wrapped in a small amount of copper and protects you from pregnancy for up to twelve years. However, the hormonal IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent unwanted pregnancies and can last anywhere from three to seven years.

"I decided to get an IUD the summer after my gap year. I got the copper non-hormonal IUD, just because I didn't want to deal with breakouts or possible weight gain. During the insertion, it felt as if I got my life's worth period cramps all at once. The IUD actually ended up falling out a few days later and I had to go in and get a replacement. However, I've had no problems with it ever since."

If you're thinking about getting an IUD, make sure to take ibuprofen to decrease possible pain an hour or so before your scheduled procedure!

6. Condoms

Although the Pill is the most commonly used hormonal birth control method among college-aged women, a higher percentage of women report to using condoms throughout their college career. Fifty-five percent of women in their teens and early twenties report to using condoms where as only thirty-five percent report to using the Pill.

Condoms are the only type of birth control that can protect you from getting at STD/STI from your partner! Although we have yet to meet a woman who prefers to use female condoms over the traditional male condoms ourselves, there are women out there that enjoy the protection and control that the female condom offers to them.

"Condoms were my primary method of birth control before I got the implant. I now use condoms if my partner and I are not exclusively seeing each other."

There are various condoms available on the market; some condoms come in different flavors and colors, while others are ribbed and promise to add extra stimulation to the receiving partner.

So, what if the condom breaks and you're not using any backup methods?

7. Plan B

Plan B, often referred to as "the morning after pill", is a pressed pill containing the levonorgestrel hormone that is often used as an emergency contraception method. The common misconception about Plan B is that if you take it too many times it will have a negative effect on your fertility in the long run. There are no safety concerns about using emergency contraceptive pills more than once. Plan B should be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex and can reduce the risk of pregnancy up to eighty nine percent, however it is more effective the sooner you take it!

"I've used Plan B twice in my life and have had no issues with it aside from minor side effects. I obviously wouldn't recommend using Plan B regularly, but I still think it is a good contraceptive option for when other contraceptive methods fail. The pill is easily-accessible — you can get it at CVS or if you don't want to pay the big bucks, sometimes your school health center will offer it for less. Once you take it, you will get VERY nauseous but it is critical that you don't throw up for a couple of hours. Aside from that, the only other side effects I had were an irregular period and mood swings. I think plan B is a great second option and I will absolutely take the minor side effects over an accidental pregnancy. That being said, I do have friends that have had horrible experiences with plan B: one of my friends ended up in the hospital after having a bad reaction to the pill."

That being said, relying on emergency contraceptives as your primary method of birth control is not as effective as using a birth control before or while having sex.

So there you have it — here is everything you need to know about the most commonly used birth control methods by college women!

Literally, so hot RN

Literally, so hot RN

How to Explore Your Sexuality Safely and Without Strings Attached

Is it bi-curiousity or is it something more?


When you're young and in college, you're searching for ways to express and discover yourself—and often do so through other people. You might have even had some thoughts or fantasies that led you to believe that you might be LGBTQ+. While you're in the perfect setting for sexual exploration, you should take the opportunity to be curious and let yourself dabble in some same-sex shenanigans.

It's easier said than done, though, because not everyone is quite so sure where they should start. If you find yourself unsure of how to experiment with your sexuality in college, try to keep these in mind:

1. Stock up on necessary protection

No matter who you're hooking up with, protection will never be any less important. Consider using a female condom or a dental dam if you're hooking up with a girl. If you're getting with a guy, always use a condom and even think about bringing lubricant with you in case you have penetrative anal sex.

On that note, it's a common misconception that men who have sex with men are inherently dirty and diseased. Their sexual practices can be really risky, though (like anyone's), if they don't use condoms or aren't careful about how they have anal sex. You're also mistaken if you think that sex between two women doesn't carry any STD risks. While you are less likely to contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV through lesbian sex, women are still capable of transmitting nasty infections like HPV, herpes, and pubic lice. So regardless of what's in your partner's pants, it's critical that you're guarding yourself against STDs and other unwanted surprises.

SEE ALSO: 8 Excuses To Use To Get Out Of Wearing A Condom

2. Educate yourself on same-sex relationships and sexuality in general

How can you expect to explore your sexuality if you hardly have a grasp on how same-sex relationships work? Like with any other unfamiliar topics, do some research before you dive into a world you barely know. You can even ask your LGBTQ+ friends for some information and they'll happily give you some pointers about same-sex love and even the sex itself. If you'd rather keep your questions to yourself, simple Google searches like "what is it like to kiss a girl/boy" and "how do gay men/lesbians have sex" will suffice.

3. Be honest with yourself about what YOU want

What are you looking to take away from your same-sex experience? Are you looking for a little bit of drunken fun with one of your gal pals? Are you genuinely questioning your sexual orientation and want to put your feelings to the test? Whatever your reason is for sexual exploration, remember that you are always in control of how you act upon the thoughts you've been having. Whether or not you choose to experiment is solely your decision and no one has the authority to pressure you one way or the other. You need to be honest with yourself about your intentions before you can even consider moving forward.

4. Visit your campus's LGBTQ+ center for some advice

Almost every college and university has an on-campus LGBTQ+ center that's fully equipped to answer any questions you may have on the subjects of gender and sexuality. The staff members are likely LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, so they can offer you personal words of wisdom on how to gently go about questioning and experimenting. And who knows, you might even meet someone there who's willing to help you along, if you catch my drift…

5. Be picky about who you choose to experiment with

Life isn't exactly like a John Green novel. You probably won't find the perfect hookup as soon as you go looking for them. Go with your gut and don't be afraid to hold your potential hookup to your dating standards. You might not want to go out with them, per se, but if you're planning on being physically intimate with them, it's in your best interest to find someone you can trust to be kind and understanding of your situation. Whether your ideal partner is someone you bumped into at a party or your best friend, ensure that they respect your boundaries and are open to being your "guinea pig."

6. Tread carefully if you're thinking about hooking up with a friend

A friend might seem like the best option for a no-strings-attached hookup, but complicating the emotional relationship you already have with physical intimacy might spell out disaster in the future. Even though you know and trust this person with the connection you already have, you're moving on to completely unchartered territory when you decide to make out or have sex with them. Unrequited crushes and awkwardness may very well ensue when you least expected them to. There's no telling how either of you will react to the encounter after it's over, so you have to be prepared for the worst.

If you're that certain that your friendship will be unharmed, though, then by all means, go for it.

7. Always go into a hookup with a clear, (mostly) sober mind

It's okay and perfectly understandable if you need some liquid courage to jumpstart your self-exploration. At first glance, experimenting with your sexuality can seem like a daunting task, so approaching it in a buzzed state might be a good way to keep yourself moving. However, with drinking to calm your nerves, moderation is key. It's important that you're not so drunk that you become vulnerable to unwanted advances from the people around you. Being too drunk to control yourself is never the answer to any problem, no matter how intimidating it seems. If you plan on drinking to psych yourself up for a same-sex hookup, make sure you limit your intake and surround yourself with trusted friends who can keep an eye on you.

Also, it's best that you don't use same-sex exploration as a coping mechanism for a bad breakup. Don't save the decision to hook up with a random person for the heat of the moment. Make sure you've given the idea plenty of thought and that you don't use your emotions as an excuse to act out sexually.

8. Be honest with your partner about your intentions

Before you set someone up as your homosexual "test drive," make sure that they are fully aware of what's happening and why it's happening. Your partner deserves to know that your connection is strictly physical and that it was initiated in your quest to explore your sexuality. Clarifying the nature of your relationship from the start prevents either of you from reading too far into your interactions, sparing you both from hurt feelings later on.

Also, keep in mind that not every LGBTQ+ individual is open to bi-curious hookups. Your desired partner might be looking for a relationship with somebody who is more sure of their identity, and that's okay! There will definitely be another person down the road who's willing to guide you through your experimenting. Finding the ideal partner may take some time, but the search will be well worth it when you finally meet someone who satisfies all of your expectations.

9. Pace yourself and only go further if you're 100% comfortable

Regardless of your and your partner's sexuality or gender, consent is ALWAYS mandatory. BOTH of you must be consenting to what's happening at all times with the utmost enthusiasm for it to be a consensual encounter. As you explore your sexuality, know that you can revoke your consent at ANY TIME without having to make any excuses. Should you lose interest or start to feel anxious, you have every right to stop and remove yourself from the situation. Just because your partner is also a girl or is also a guy doesn't mean they are entitled to your body any more than a partner of the opposite sex is.

Don't feel ashamed for giving up on a same-sex hookup because you got too self-conscious or even felt afraid. You can experiment in small doses and go as slowly as you need to so you can maximize your comfort.

10. Don't be afraid to admit that experimenting isn't for you

So you kissed a girl and you didn't like it. Or you got with another guy and didn't feel any sort of spark when he touched you. It's okay for you to acknowledge that your same-sex encounter didn't ignite a major transformation in how you see yourself. It could have been that you didn't vibe with your partner or that you just don't vibe with the same sex altogether. Only you can determine why it didn't work for you. Don't assume that you MUST be heterosexual if your hookup didn't leave you feeling any different. Likewise, don't assume you must be gay if your hookup DID affect you physically and emotionally.

11. Don't let anyone label you— not even yourself

Labels do not determine your self-worth, nor do they get to dictate how you "should" behave and feel. Just because you had a homosexual encounter doesn't mean you're automatically gay, lesbian, bisexual, or anything else. Sometimes, a kiss is just a kiss, sex is just sex, and a crush is just fleeting and not deserving of a full-on identity crisis. You can apply a label to yourself if you feel it fits, but don't force yourself into a rigid mindset that doesn't work for you. Only use a specific label if you are 100% comfortable with what it entails. And if you're still confused about who you are, give yourself time to sort it out. In terms of your sexual orientation (and gender identity, for that matter), when you know, you know.

12. Let your feelings go wherever they're meant to

So what you anticipated to be a one-night stand seems to evolved over time into a romantic crush that you can't stop thinking about. Your first instinct might be to panic because "this wasn't supposed to happen," but honestly, how can you be so sure of that? If you are meant to develop feelings for someone of the same sex, then so be it! Clearly you are attracted to this person in more ways than one and clearly they have the potential to make you happier, so why not go for it? You deserve endless love and adventures with your special person, whomever they turn out to be. Let your heart guide you in the right direction and it will all work out in the way it's destined to.

Whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or whatever else, you are every bit as valid as anyone else and you are entitled to love and happiness however you come by it. Experimenting may be a defining experience for you or it might not turn up any revelations at all, and it's okay either way. At least you know you put yourself out there and were brave enough to challenge conventional society and explore your sexuality.

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Take This Quiz To Discover What Your Sexual New Year's Resolutions Should Be Based On Your Personality

Let's actively nurture our sexuality in 2019

Dr King
Dr King

Everytime late December and early January approach us, it's inevitable that we'll hear some sort of discussion about resolutions in preparation for the new year. Often you'll hear people talk about how they want to start going to the gym again, developing better study skills, or quitting a bad habit. While all of these things are wonderful, I don't want us to forget about the importance of affirmations within our sex lives as well.

I know what you're thinking right now as you read this. You're probably thinking one of two things. Either (1) you don't care about making any sexual resolutions as long as you're not having bad sex or (2) your sexual resolutions may be too ambitious. Well due to the fact that only 8% of people successfully fulfill their New Year's resolutions, I don't blame you for thinking it's unobtainable. However, maybe you should try a different angle.

Make sure your sexual New Year's resolutions that are tailored toward your personality. Based on psychological research conducted by Paul Costa and Robert R. Mcrae, there are ultimately five primary personality traits that can be used in order to sum up people on a general basis. The five factors are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. If you're wondering which trait broadly describes your personality the most then take this quiz! The results will also show you what New Year's resolutions you should make for your sex life in 2019 based on your personality so that your sexual needs will match up with your personal needs as well.

Dr King
Dr King

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