5 Surprising Birth Control Truths

Do you know the truth about keeping yourself baby-free? Check out the latest info and don't miss the condom mistake that can get you knocked up and 3 more surprising facts.

You're Covered for Up to 5 Days After Unsafe Sex

The FDA just approved a new emergency contraception pill, called Ella, that offers five days of post-sex pregnancy prevention. Expect Ella in drugstores this fall, but here's the catch: It's prescription only. If you don't have health insurance or access to a doctor who can write you an Rx, hit a pharmacy for Plan B, the other morning-after option that is effective for three days after unsafe sex. Plan B is available without a prescription (though you have to ask for it at the counter).

Being Careless with Contraception Results in Close to Half of All Unplanned Pregnancies
Skipping a few Pills in a row. Not putting on the condom until your guy is close to climax. These and other little mistakes can set you up for motherhood: Almost half of all unplanned pregnancies among young, sexually active women are due to using birth control inconsistently or incorrectly, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health organization. Here's how to avoid putting yourself at risk.

Taking Plan B Repeatedly Won't Harm Your Body
Because emergency contraception can have uncomfortable side effects such as nausea and spotting, a lot of women think using it more than once in a while is potentially dangerous. But taking it repeatedly is safe, says Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, Medical Director of the Family Planning Clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. (The same goes for Ella, but since it's newer on the market, you shouldn't use it more than once within the same cycle because that hasn't been tested in clinical trials, says Dr. David Archer, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and an expert for Ella's manufacturer, HRA Pharma of Paris.) Still, like the name says, it's meant for emergencies. So if you find yourself relying on it more than once every few months, look into all of your birth control options and talk to your gyno about the best match for you.

The Pill for Dudes Is in Development
Israeli researchers are currently testing a four-times-a-year birth control pill for guys that kills sperm before one reaches an egg. Human trials of the dude pill are due to start next year, and while we're not expecting to see it in drugstores anytime soon, we are damn excited about guys finally pulling their weight when it comes to preventing pregnancy.

No, The Pill Won't Make You Fat
Years ago, when birth control pills packed higher amounts of bloat-inducing hormones, it was normal to gain 5 or 10 pounds soon after going on them. But you don't have to worry about not fitting into your skinny jeans with today's lower-dose pills. "Any weight you gain after starting the Pill is likely weight you would have gained anyway," says Dr. Westhoff. "In fact, women tend to feel less bloated on the Pill because their hormone levels become more stable."

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.