9 Surprising Things You Need to Know About Birth Control

From a new morning after option to the condom mistake that can get you knocked up to the soon-to-be tested birth control pill for guys, check out the latest info about keeping yourself baby-free.
By Yelena Shuster

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You're Now Protected for Up to 5 Days After Unsafe Sex The FDA approved a new emergency contraception pill last year, called ella, that offers five days of post-sex pregnancy prevention. Expect ella in drugstores already, 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).

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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.
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Not in the Mood? The Pill Might Be to Blame A recent study found that women on hormonal contraception, such as the Pill or Ring, reported lower levels of sexual desire and arousal compared with women not using any birth control or those using nonhormonal methods like condoms. One theory why: The pill reduces levels of testosterone, a hormone that may stimulate your sex drive. If you're on oral contraceptives and notice your sex drive has nosedived, tell your gyno; she may opt to switch you to a different Pill prescription.

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These Three Letters Can Revolutionize Your Sex Life Can't remember to pop a Pill or hate having to interrupt the heat of the moment while your guy puts on a condom? Then consider the IUD (intrauterine device), which has recently seen a spike in popularity among young women in monogamous relationships who know they don't want kids anytime soon. It provides contraception for 5 years with a superlow failure rate: 1 percent. How the IUD works: Your gyno inserts a T-shaped plastic device into your uterus which prevents fertilization.

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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 NewYork-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.
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If His Condom Doesn't Fit Right, You Could Get Knocked Up Does your average-size guy insist on XL condoms? He's not alone: 45 percent of men in a recent study copped to using a condom that was either too small or too loose, which researches say makes it significantly more likely that the condom will break or slip off during sex. Unfortunately, you can't always tell if his condom is the wrong size, but it's smart to stop the action if it looks baggy or appears to be so tight, there's no space left at the tip.

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Yes, You Can Get Pregnant on Your Period "You can conceive any time of the month, even when you're menstruating," says Dr. Westhoff. Here's how: Sperm can live inside you for 5-6 days. If you have unprotected sex at the tail end of your flow and then ovulate early days later, you might end up with a baby on board.

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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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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.

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