As we discussed earlier, no single method of birth control is best for everyone—the best one for you is one that you and your partner will use correctly every time you have sexual intercourse. Choosing a contraceptive method is an important decision and one that must be made with your lifestyle in mind. Important issues include your own personal health and health risks; the number of sexual partners you have; frequency of sexual intercourse; your risk of acquiring an STI; how responsible you are; the cost of the method; and the method’s advantages and disadvantages.
Female sterilization, oral contraceptives, and the condom are the most widely used methods among whites, African Americans, and Latinos in the United States (Mosher et al., 2004). However, white women are more likely to use birth control pills, whereas black and Hispanic women are more likely to rely on female sterilization (see Figure 13.2).
In the following sections, we’ll discuss barrier, hormonal, chemical, intrauterine, natural, permanent, ineffective, and emergency methods of contraception. For each of
Method of contraception by race/ethnicity
(Warner, Hatcher, & Steiner, 2004). A new line of sexual health products called Elexa was marketed by Trojan in late 2005. Elexa includes condoms, warming gels, and a vibrating ring. The ring is a one-time-use vibrator that can be used with or without a condom. The ring continues to vibrate for up to 20 minutes, increasing the pleasurable sensations during intercourse for the woman.
In 1994, the Reality Vaginal Pouch, a polyurethane female condom, became available. This condom is about 7 inches long and has two flexible polyurethane rings. The inner ring serves as an insertion device, and the outer ring lies on the outside of the vagina. In China, couples report a preference for the female condom over the male condom (Xu et al., 1998), possibly because feelings of sensitivity are higher than when using male condoms (because it is made of polyurethane).
Costs for latex male condoms range from $10 to $15 per dozen; polyurethane and lambskin condoms cost approximately $20 per dozen; all of these are usually less expensive at family planning clinics. Female condoms cost approximately $2 each, so they are fairly expensive to use. In some countries, such as Africa, where the cost is prohibitively high, women have been known to wash and reuse female condoms. There is some evidence that the female condom can be used more than once if it is properly disinfected, washed, dried, and relubricated (Potter et al., 2003), though they are made to be used only once.