Questions and Answers

Archive: Page 2

Questions about Depo-provera

Message No. 291, Carrie at sweetdreams0101@hotmail.com (April 14, 1999)


i was wondering a few things about depo-provera. first, is there any drug interactions that can make the shot less effective? i am into trying different herbal things for dieting and energy, etc., and i hoped there was nothing that could lessen the protection from depo-provera.
second, i wanted to know if you would happen to get pregnant while on depo-provera, would a home pregnancy test, like the kind you buy at walmart, show up positive, or would it be effected by the hormonal changes caused by depo-provera? i was wondering, because i think i may have gotten pregnant, but i don't know if a home pregnancy test would be accurate.....please respond ASAP...... thank you.

Reply by Monnica


Antibiotics can cause combined oral contraceptives to fail, but I don't see any information that this would be true with Depo-Provera.
It is documented that Cytadren (aminoglutethimide), an anticancer drug, may decrease the effectiveness of Depo-Provera if the
two drugs are given during the same time. However, the best person to talk to
about possible drug interactions would be your pharmacist or doctor.
Other than that, your chances of pregnancy on this drug are less than 2% per year. Please note however, that Depo-Provera had a long list of side-effects, including depression, acne, and bone density loss which can be very serious.

There's no reason you shouldn't be able to take a regular pregnancy test while
using Depo-Provera, however.


Oral contraceptives

Message No. 290, Jennifer at sunflowerkitty@hotmail.com (April 13, 1999)


Hello.. I am very sorry to bother you.. I read that you are no longer answering questions on the pill.. I read though the FAQ page and did not find my answer. I was wondering if you could help me..
I have been on the oral contraceptive pill (Levlen ED) now for two months and I
was wondering if it is safe to have a sexual intercourse while taking
the white sugar tablets. My menstural period does not start until
taking at least 4 of these sugar tablets. Is it safe during this
period?
Thank you greatly for your time.

Reply by Monnica


The "sugar pills" are considered place holders only. If you take your pills regularly, you should have the same protection against pregnancy throughout your whole cycle


The Pill

Message No. 289, Jen at gooner_num1@hotmail.com (April 12, 1999)


My question is regarding the birth control pill. I was wondering how long it takes for the pill to be effective. Meaning, does one have to wait a month or a week to have sex after starting the pill? Also, I have heard that the pill may only be started after you start your most recent period. Is this true, or can a person start the pill at any point in your cycle. I would appreciate any information regarding this question.

Thank you,
Jen

Reply by Karen


You should start taking the Pill on the first day of your period.
If you start at another time of your cycle, you will modify your cycle more drastically, and then you may not be
able to count on that 7 day business, mentioned above, either.

Sunday starters (starting the pack on the Sunday after their period begins) wind up modifying their cycles more, but they have an easier time
following the pack subsequently.

You can use other methods of B.C. in addition to (or preferably instead of) the pill.

Missed doses are a bigger problem than the package insert indicates, also. If you are sick or on antibiotics, this can result in effectively
missing doses, and will decrease the effectiveness of the pill.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.


RE: Loestrin and Desogen

Message No. 288, Erica at EBStella@aol.com (April 12, 1999)

I recently went back on the pill. I explained to my doctor that the last pill I was on , Desogen, caused me to gain some weight. He explained to me that most likely the pill was not the cause of my weight gain. But to ease me he gave me a prescription for Loestrin. I began taking the Losetrin and about 10 days after beginning it, I began spotting and had awful cramps. I called the doctor and he said to keep taking the pill and explained what break through bleeding was. I continued taking it but there was
no change with the spotting, so I thought I would go in and see the doctor in case there was an underlying problem that had nothing to do with the Loestrin. He examined me and assured me that I was ok. He them changed my prescription back to desogen. But I am afraid that the Desogen will make me gain weight, so when my pack of Loestrin was over I began taking it again. can you tell me if Desogen or Loestrin differ in anyway and can one effect me differently then the other? I would appreciate it.

Reply by Monnica


Each different formulation of the pill may have slightly different side effects.
Unfortunately the only way to know exactly how it will effect you is to try it.
If you use oral contraceptives expect some side-effects!


BADLY NEEDING ANSWER

Message No. 286, CHRISTINA at TEENEE97@AOL.COM (April 07, 1999)


I KNOW YOU ARE NOT TAKING ?'S ABOUT THE PILL BUT COULD YOU PLEASE ANSWER THIS ONE? I DID SKIM THROUGH SOME ANSWERS ALREADY REGARDING TH PILL BUT DIOD NOT FIND MY ANSWER. CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME IF THERE ARE ANY BC PILLS THAT DO NOT HAVE MOOD SWINGS OR DEPRESSION AS THEIR SIDE EFFECTS? OR THE ONES WITH THE SMALLEST RISK OF THESE. I AM CURRENTLY TAKING ORTHO-TRICYCLEN WITH NORGESTIMATE/ETHYNIL ESTRADIOL AND THINK IT MAY BE CAUSING ME THESE PROBLEMS. IF NOT ANOTHER PILL THEN ANOTHER METHOD AS EFFECTIVE,BESIDES
ABSTINENCE BECAUSE I'VE BEEN WITH MY FIANCE FOR 4 YRS AND GETTING MARRIED IN JULY.
THANK YOU

Reply by Monnica


All hormonal methods carry these undesirable side effects. Some brands of the pill have less hormone, which in theory should mean less side effects. Of
course this also means that pill would be less effective. Condoms plus spermicidal foam are
probabaly about as effective as the pill, but I don't have any sources to back that up.


confussed

Message No. 285, Amy at stargazn75@aol.com (April 05, 1999)


Concerning pre-ejaculation you say that it has no sperm in it,then why do you say that the pull out method dont work?? you also said in one response that you could still get pregnant from pre-ejaculation so what is true I would like to know?? Could you also list all the side-effects of the depro shot? This info would be greatly appreciated

Reply by Monnica


I wish people would read the material at this site before asking questions.
Please read the pages at this web site on Withdrawal and Depo-Provera, and
the page entitled Frequently Asked Questions about Hormonal Methods.


depro-provera side effects

Message No. 283, TERESA at Treese@aol.com (April 05, 1999)

I had the shot in January and have bled almost constantly since that time. I am due to have another shot this month. My question is will my second shot reduce this side effect? Or will the bleeding continue with every shot?

Reply by Monnica


Some women bleed continuously while using Depo-Provera. The best way to stop the
bleeding is to stop using this method of birth control.


yeast infections

Message No. 282, Melissa at mel21@hotmail.com (March 30, 1999)

Monnica,

I was wondering if there is any correlation between oral contraception and the frequency of getting yeast infections. I have gotten two yeast infections already since I started the Pill in December 1998. I also had one in July '98, but that was before I started the Pill. It seems like I'm more prone to getting them now and I don't know why - I take all the necessary precautions to prevent it from developing since I know that yeast thrive and multiply in moist conditions. Could my frequency in getting them
be related to the Pill? (I am taking Ortho-Tri-Cylen) Also, it seems as if I always get the yeast infections during or slightly before my period. What can I do to stop getting these infections? Please help. Thanks.

Reply by Monnica


Clearly you didn't read the page on Oral Contraceptives at this web site.
Yeast infections are a common side-effect of the pill.


limpness

Message No. 281, Lindsay at lindsay_116@hotmail,com (March 30, 1999)


My boyfriend and i were about to have sex, (my first time) and after he put the condom on he went limp due to the fact he was worried about his performance. We both really want to have sex and we have been together for close to six months, but how can I get him to relax and not worry about his performance, and be able to stay up long enough for us to be able to have sex?
And also the second time we triend, he was having trouble fitting, how can we fix that problem?

Reply by Monnica


They do make bigger condoms for larger men, but you have to really look. Many men don't perform well with a condom, but it might help to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He can probably get used to it. You might also speak to a couples counselor. Of course, condoms, like all methods, can fail. Talk first to your boyfriend about the possiblity of pregnancy.


side effects of Depo

Message No. 280, Amanda at Fromfltotn@earthlink.com (March 23, 1999)


I've been on the shot for about a year now and I've been reletivly happy with it
except for the wieght gain, depression, lack of sex drive(which I just realized was from the shot), and mood swings. I like not having my period, but that can't be good for me. I spot every once in a while. Anyways, I was talking to a girl I work with who used to be on it and she told me all kinds of concerning things. Like she couldn't stop bleeding for almost a year and had to have 2 ddc( i think that's what she said, they had to scrape her insides to clean her out). She also told me that they don't

regulate the dosages, so what they're giving to a 300lbs. woman they're also giving to me. And since it's stored in your body fat, it probably stays in my system a lot longer than the 12 week period so I'm basically overlapping dosages which doesn't sound too healthy. I'm pretty concerned and need some advice. I need to know all the side effects and if what my friend told me is true because if so, I need to start taking the pill. After all, I do want to have children in the future. Thanks, Amanda

Reply by Karen


So, what about this makes you happy? Most depressed people are sad!
And I should add that no sex drive is part of the mechanism of action of
hormonal B.C. methods. The need for D & C's is a possibility with both Depo-Provera and Norplant.

Glad you are starting to think about the health aspects. As a person becomes larger (a prominent side effect of the progestin), the contraceptive
effect decreases. You get lower plateau concentrations of available drug, but it is true that it takes longer for it to clear from the
fat tissues where it is entrained, (and not effectively controlling fertility). Breakthrough ovulation, pregnancy or failure to implant all become more common as you gain weight.

You may want to look into methods more effective than hormonal B.C. if you have no intention of ever having kids.
A large number of women have ethical problems with the mechanism of action of progestin only B.C. (such as the shot), since it does not
prevent fertilization about half the time, and then prevents implantation in these cases of failure. This is possible but less probable with
combination hormonal B.C.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.

kbrauer@one.net


Soreness

Message No. 279, Anne at mystic21@hotmail.com (March 21, 1999)

Hi Monnica,

I've noticed that oftentimes after I have intercourse with my boyfriend that I experience some soreness and rawness in the external area of my vagina as well as the internal region. Also, immediately after intercourse, if I urinate, it will sting a bit. We don't have intercourse that often but when we do, I don't think it is that rough that it would be the cause of this sort of burning sensation. The tenderness usually goes after after a day or so and I don't experience any other pain, but I was wondering
if this discomfort should be something I should worry about? Is this kind of reaction common among women? Please help.

Reply by Monnica


You can try using a lubricant like KY Jelly, but it could also be due to a yeast infection. I recommend you have it checked by your doctor.


Cervical Cancer

Message No. 278, Jon at joncarrier@aol.com (March 21, 1999)


I am researching the possiblilty that the copper IUD made by Dalkon Shield in the 1970-1980's is responsible for Cervical Cancer.

There have been numerous lawsuits in reference to Dalkon Shield, but are you aware of any specific connections between the use of the IUD during this period and the advent of cancer cells in the user.

Thank you.


NFP

Message No. 276, Adam at Ahefian@earthlink.net (March 19, 1999)


I plan to get married to my fiance(who is a virgin) on May 20.She has never used any form of birth control and i am advising her to remain that way.I have been keeping a track record over the past few months of her period.She gets her period every 26 days.If she gets her period on May 1st,will it be o.k. to have sex on May 20th without using any form of birth control?If i were to use the counting method is it best to have sex on the 5th,6th,7th,18th-25th day after her period begins?Thankyou.

Reply by Margaret


My first
suggestion would be for you *both* to take an NFP class as soon as possible.
You can check with the local Catholic hospital for class information or
visit the Couple to Couple League at www.ccli.org. If classes are not
available in your area, the CCL publishes an excellent book called
The
Art of Natural Family Planning

by John & Sheila Kippley. If you look for the book,
make sure you get the 4th edition-- it is much more up-to-date than the older
ones. Whether you take classes or read the book, make sure you learn about
the sympto-thermal method. This is the most complete and effective method of
NFP, which relies on a combinatin of mucous, cervix and temperature symptoms
to determine fertility.

As far as your timing questions go-- I would really have to advise against
relying on calendar rules. The "rhythm" (i.e. calendar) method got a really
bad rap for a really good reason-- it just doesn't work very well. Even
women with regular cycles have an occasional irregular cycle (and a wedding
strikes me as a pretty good way to throw a cycle off a bit) and that's all it
takes for the system to stop working. I can give you some basic rules to
follow, but I strongly encourage you and your fiance to learn about the
sympto-thermal method.

The general calendar rules are as follows: ovulation typically occus 12 -16
days prior to menstruation. (In your case, assume 16 days before
menstruation, or day 10 of the cycle.) It will always occur at the same
interval (i.e. 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 days prior) for any given woman, but it
varies from woman to woman. If your fiance takes her temperature at the same
time every morning, she will observe a temperature jump that would help her
pinpoint this a bit more precisely. But in the absence of more empirical
evidence, you have to take the most conservative estimate of cycle length -
16.

Sperm life can be five days, which now puts you conservatively at 10
(possible ovulation) - 5 (possible sperm life) = day 5 of the cycle.

At the other end of the cycle, assume an ovulation day of 26-12 (remember, we
don't know for sure and have to use the more conservative numbers at each
end) = day 14. Allow one extra day for a double ovulation (rare, but it
happens) which puts you at day 15. Allow one additional day for egg life
space, which puts you at day 16.

The short form of the calendar equation: Shortest recorded cycle - 19 = last
safe day prior to ovulation. Longest recorded cycle - 10 = first safe day
after ovulation.

I hope this helps. But again, I strongly encourage you to both get some
instruction in the sympto-thermal method, or else purchase the Kippley book.
NFP has improved a lot since the 1930's rhythm method.


odor

Message No. 275, Jenny at jenny20@goplay.com (March 10, 1999)

Hi Monnica,

I started taking oral contraceptives last December and since then I have noticed an unusual odor emanating from my urine. Its smell is similar to rotten eggs. I don't have any unusual discharge and do not think I have a bacterial infection, either. I've been noticing this smell more frequently lately and have no idea what may be causing it. I am relatively healthy and am not exibiting any other unusual symptoms. Could this be due to the pills or is this something that is minor and totally unrelated? What i
s causing this smell?

Reply by Guest


Could be a result of what you are eating.
Some cephalosporins or penicillin analogs make the urine smell bad.
Could be you have a bacterial infection even if you have no discomfort.
You better get it checked!!!
I have not heard of this as a direct result of the pill...

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.

kbrauer@one.net

Reply by Monnica


Antibiotics can cause oral contraceptives to fail, but I don't see any information that this would be true with Depo-Provera.
It is documented that Cytadren (aminoglutethimide), an anticancer drug, may decrease the effectiveness of Depo-Provera if the
two drugs are given during the same time. But the best person to talk to about this is your pharmacist. Other than that, your chances of pregnancy on this drug are less than 2% per year.
Please note however, that Depo-Provera had a long list of side-effects, including depression, acne, and bone density loss which can be very serious.

A pregnancy test should be valid whether or not you are taking Depo-Provera. Please fill out this form for a referal to you nearest Crisis Preganancy Center,
which can give you a free test and answer all your questions.


Depo-Provera

Message No. 273, T at bilton@nwol.net (March 09, 1999)


I just wanted to take a minute and voice my own experience with the depo shot. My only and best advise to anyone considering this shot is DON'T TAKE IT.

I started taking the shot in June of 1996. My last injection was January of 1999. Since the shot I have gained aprx. 30 pounds. I have no desire for sex, and I have only been married for 2 1/2 years. I thought something was really wrong with my sex drive. But after reading all the comments about others and depo, I realized my problem. I am very moody, even now. I wake in the morning angry at the world, my husband, etc. for no apparent reason. The side effects are unimaginable. I only can say, THIN
K LONG AND HARD BEFORE ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE INJECTED!!!!! I am still experiencing the sides effects, and probably will be for months to come.


Withdrawal Method

Message No. 271, Laurie at laurie_cerle@ama-assn.org (March 08, 1999)


Is there really a withdrawal method of birth control? My husband and I did this and I became pregnant. Plus, I know others that the same happened to. Eventhough we did this, I don't recall ever learning this is a real method of birth control and always advice others against. Luckily, for us everything turned out great but I wouldn't be advising this to teenagers.

Reply by Monnica


Yes, withdrawal is a real method of birth control. In some countries it is the ONLY method of birth control. Although it is heavily criticized by many medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies (let's face it, they don't make any money on this method) it is really about as effective as the diaphragm. Of course, just like withdrawal, many women get pregnant while using the diaphagm, condom, pill, and everything else. Withdrawal is an especially bad method for teens and those with little sexual expe

rience because it takes practice to get right. Of course, the only method I really recommend for teens is abstinence.


generic vs. name brand B.C.

Message No. 270, Daisy at weise.3@osu.edu (March 07, 1999)


Hi, my name is Daisy, and I am a pre-pharmacy major at Ohio State University. I'm currently writing a speech about generic drug equivalency and wondered if you knew of any stats on people getting pregnant WHILE taking name brand or generic birth control?? (i.e. Zovia 1/35 vs. Ortho-Novum 1/35) Basically I'm looking to make a comparison in percent error rate. Thank you very much for your time.

Reply by Monnica


Many, MANY women I speak to get pregnant while taking both name brand and generic contraceptive pills. I don't keep any statistics on this kind of thing, however.


what does the pill do?

Message No. 269, Eyal at meirlv@actcom.co.il (March 07, 1999)


How does the pill (which kind? any kind, the comman kind, which ever you know about) work? I understood that some stop the egg from being ready, ohers stop the spream from getting "there", and theres (I think) make it impossable for the fertilaized egg to "settle". How do they work, and if some pills work differantly then others, what should I look for to know?

Please don't confusse we with too many long hormanal names, keep it simple; thanks.

Reply by Monnica


Read the page about Hormonal Contraceptives, especially the shaded box.


after norplant

Message No. 267, allie at pettinat@bignet.net (March 07, 1999)


I HAD MY NORPLANT REMOVED ON JULY 3, 1998. I WANTED TO BECOME PREGNAT BUT DID NOT SUCCEED UNTIL MID DECEMBER 1998. ON MARCH 5, 1999 I HAD A MISSED MISCARRAGE AND HAD TO HAVE A D & C. THE DOCTOR TOLD ME I HAD DEVELOPED MY PLACENTA AND SAC BUT THE BABY HAD NEVER DEVELOPED BUT THE PLACENTA & SAC CONTINUED TO DEVELOPE UNTIL MY BODY FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT AND STARTED TO REJECT IT... COULD THIS BE LINKED TO NORPLANT???

Reply by Guest


The fact that the baby never developed may be due to defective egg (or
sperm). This is probably not due to Norplant. The fact that
miscarraige occurred late, may be due to presence of extra progestin
still still in your system, as it could cause uterine relaxation and delay an
inevitable miscarraige.

Since pregnancy occurred about a half year after you removed the
Norplant, most of the progestin (levonorgestrel) was probably cleared.

Progestin type drugs will be stored a longer time in overweight women,
since it is retained in fat tissue. Weight gain is well correlated
with Norplant use, but I can't say anything about your case without that info.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.


It never stops!

Message No. 266, Kelly at Kellyne@kwc.edu (March 04, 1999)


For about 2 weeks now, I have had to wear a pad non stop. Everyday, I have a significant amount of leakage. When I went to the doctor's office, they gave a a pap smear (yuck), and I came out positive. I took the medicine, but it didn't stop. Now, two weeks later, I am still wearing a pad. Every now and then Iit hurts to use the restroom, but not all the time. I am tired of always wearing something? What do I do now?

Reply by Monnica


I'm sorry Kelly, but this is a question you will have to take up with your doctor.


Pregnant?

Message No. 265, warren at madeline@mweb.co.za (March 03, 1999)


If my boyfriend inserts his penis into my vagina (about 6 days before I start menstruating), we dont move or anything and he pulls out after a few minutes without ejaculating, will i be pregnant?

Reply by Monnica


Probably not, but if you keep taking chances like this, you probably will eventually end up with an unplanned pregnancy. You may also get some nice STD's to boot.


I'M SHOCKED

Message No. 264, MISS at Missy2166@aol (February 25, 1999)

Dear Monica;

At first I didn't think anything about the posts I read regarding you advising abstinence to teens. Hey, I agree.
However, as I read further, I realized you are clearly DISCRIMINATING against teeanaged People. For instance, You often refer that teenagers should not rely on particular birth contol methods, like withdrawal, but older married people can. You should consider using language such as less experienced, more responsible, etc.- Instead of automatically just putting people in age groups. I am 17 and way more responsible about sex than even my mom is(I am sexually active though- just safe & VERY cautios). I think

it would be wonderful if everyone in the world did not engage in premarital or unprotected sex, but that will Never happen. The best we have to offer is UNBIASED education.
Surely younger girls are not going to the internte for contraceptive advice to be preached at. Trust me, teenagers are bombarded by abstinence campaigns in all directions, from school to the radio to parents. I sincerly doubt your added, Unnecesary CHASTISING will benefit them any more than a straight answer.

Reply by Monnica


Hi Missy! Thanks for your comments. Of course I disagree, and let me explain why. First of all, I'm not discriminating against teens. Scientific research confirms what common sense should tell us anyway -- that teens are not as
responsible at using birth control as adults are. And methods like withdrawal,
which require practice and a lot of self control, are disasterous when employed
by teens. Sure there a few teens who are very resposnsible (maybe like you), but
even if you do everything 100% correctly you can still get pregnant.

Pregnancy creates a situation that no teen is ready to deal with. Let me give
some examples. If you get pregnant, can you
on your own afford maternity care, a baby or abortion, medical complications
from a baby or abortion, and/or a long, slow death from AIDS? Or will
mom and dad have to foot the bills? If you can't afford to pay for
the fallout of your sexual behavior, you owe it to your parents to
wait until you can. And even if you can afford it (which would be rare), do you feel ready to deal with any or all of these not-so-unlikely possilblities?

I get email every day from teens who are suffering because they thought they were ready for sex. Now they have a baby to take care of, an ex-boyfriend stalking them, a marriage they don't want,
and/or an abortion that leaves a permanent bleeding wound on their psyches. This is not preaching, it's reality. Abstinence is the best choice for single teens.
Whether anyone takes it to heart or not is their own choice, but I'm going to keep telling the truth even if people don't like it.
The truth can be shocking (sorry) and undesirable, but let's deal with it. Abstinence is hard but not impossible. I think teens can do it.


A little professional advice, Please?

Message No. 263, Melissa at Missy@aol (February 25, 1999)


If you would be so kind to E-mail me a response, If you wish, I would really appreciate it!
Well, I was just wondering--
I have been on birth control pills for over a year,And me and my boyfriend are VERY firm believers in safe sex- We ALWAYS use a condom.
But this gets old when we are both 100% faithful and even talking about marriage. We mutually agree we would love to have sex without a condom, but it is so Risky. If there was a slight chance of anything happening-it would not be worth it. But we are seriously considering not using condoms anymore.
I am on the pill and we are looking at other contraceptive methods-what are your suggestions for the most effective--And more importantly: Are there ANY other methods besides the condom that would protect against (a very slight chance of) STD's, even HIV???

Reply by Sharon


The ONLY 100% way to prevent pregnancy and STD's is abstinence. While
using a condom and BCPs is "better than nothing" - there's even a chance
with both that you could become pregnant (less likely) or get an STD (more
likely). The Pill won't protect you AT ALL from STDs. So - if you're
looking for ways to continue having sex with precaution - you'll have to
continue what you're doing. Sorry! Once you're married, and there's a
longterm commitment to fidelity, you'd be safe to do away with both!

As for condoms providing "safe sex" - this is something to think about:
Healthcare providers working with AIDS/HIV patients wear 3 pairs of
gloves. Latex gloves are about 8 times the thickness of a condom - so
to get the same protection from AIDS/HIV, you'd have to wear 24
condoms! Not very romantic, huh?

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to write again -
I'd LOVE to hear from you! Sharon Pearce/svoices@pacbell.net


What should I do?

Message No. 262, Grace at lilbug@hotmail.com (February 24, 1999)


Hello. I am A 16 year old female with a few questions. I am sexually active but I only have sex maybe 4-5 times a month. I don't want to quit because I feel it is part of having a relationship. I fear though that I will get pregnant. If my period is just 1 day late I worry myself sick. We only use male condoms and I feel that it is not enough for me to feel safe and not worry about getting pregnant. I would like to get on the pill but my boyfriend thinks that it will mess me up to where I can't have

kids. I don't know much about it but I feel like it would make me feel better if I were on the pill. Also, what all do they have to do to you in order for them to put you on the pill.(tests and stuff)
I am 1 day late on my period now and I am worried. What would be the best thing for me to do.... just keep useing condoms or use both birth control and condoms......?

Reply by Sharon


You asked me what I thought would "be the best" - and I believe that the
BEST thing would be for you to not have sex at all. Sex doesn't have to
be a part of having a relationship. I've been in several relationships
over the last 18 years, and I haven't had sex with anyone during that
time - and I'm still alive to talk about it! Everything "still works" -
it's not that I don't feel anything - it's that I value myself enough to
believe that I'm worth waiting for, and my husband is the person I want
to give myself to. I also don't have to worry about pregnancy - or STDs
- or using birth control.

You could combine the Pill and condoms, but still not be protected from
STDs - you can get herpes, HPV (genital warts) and lice even if you use
condoms, and herpes and HPV NEVER go away. I've done some research on
STDs recently, and it's SCARY!

If you go on the Pill you will have to have a pap smear and pelvic exam
first - but you should have one anyway because you're sexually active.
A pap smear isn't painful - just uncomfortable and embarrassing. You
will get on an exam table, and scoot your bottom to the end of the table
(they won't let you fall off!). Then you'll place your feet in the
stirrups, which will force your knees apart. The doctor will do a
vaginal/pelvic exam with his hand first, then will insert a speculum (an
instrument that allows the doctor to see your cervix - they're either
metal or plastic), and will scrape some cells from your cervix. It
usually takes about 4-5 minutes for the whole thing, and the doctor
understands that you're embarrassed and uncomfortable and won't leave
you in that position for longer than necessary. A pap smear is VERY
important!!! Cervical cancer will kill you just like any other cancer,
and a pap smear is the only way to know if you have it. The doctor will
probably also do a breast exam.


difference between pills

Message No. 261, stacy at stacy.ferraro@pepsico.com (February 22, 1999)

Monica,

I have a question regarding the pill. I was taking Alesse-28 for approx. 1 yr.
until it didn't regulate my cycle any longer. My Dr. changed my Rx to Triphasil-28 and for the past year it has been working well.
Okay, here is my question, I had a few months supply left of the Alesse-28 and I decided to finish them up before continuing to purchase the Triphasil-28. I have noticed that I have been very moody & irritable during this transition month. I have also been having some headaches and am very tired. I didn't notice any of this while originally taking the Alesse-28, and I am not sure if these symptoms are caused by the Alesse-28 or if I am run down. Could you let me know what the difference is between the t
wo pills? I still have 3 more month supply of the Alesse-28 and would like to know if they have caused these side effects in other women because I would rather loose the money I spent on the pills than have them cause me to have these side effects.
Thank you for your help.

Please e-mail me with your advice at your earliest convenience.

stacy

Reply by Guest


Each Triphasil cycle of 21 tablets consists of three differen drug phases as
follows: Phase 1
comprised of 6 brown tablets, each containing 0.050 mg of levonorgestrel, a
totally synethic
progestogen, and 0.030 mg of ethinyl estradiol; phase 2 comprised of 5 white
tablets, each containing
0.075 mg levongestrel and 0.040 mg ethinyl estradiol; phase 3 comprised of 10
light-yellow tablets,
each containing 0.125 mg levongestrel and 0.030 mg ethinyl estradiol.

Alesse contains 0.1 mg levonorgestrel and 0.02 mg ethinyl estradiol. It is
monophasic.

It's not a good idea to switch back and forth between B.C. pills if you are
going to take them at all. (It could mess up your cycle and get you pregnant if
you are relying on them for B.C.) With Alesse, you are getting a lower
proportion of estrogen to progestin generally. Could be that is causing the
headaches and rundown feeling. This is a common side effect of B.C. pills
anyway. It could also be due to other problems.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.


Male pill

Message No. 259, Jose at jpncanovas@hotmail.com (February 21, 1999)


I'm searching about the anticonceptive male pill.
When will it done?

What laboratories will distribute it?

Thanks!

Reply by Monnica


Not any time soon, so don't hold your breath!


Pregnancy without sex

Message No. 257, Millie at mills34@aol.com (February 18, 1999)


My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years, and we have never had sex. We do engage in oral sex occasionally, though, and he often masturbates and ejaculates onto my chest. Some of this ejaculatory fluid often drips down and into my pubic hair, but it never goes anywhere near my vagina. Now, it has been almost two months since my last period, and I am wondering about the possibility of pregnancy...can you help me?

Reply by Monnica


Read 247.


The Pill

Message No. 256, katy at kmr7964@students.ssu.edu (February 16, 1999)


I began taking ortho-tricyclen 28 on the first day of my period about a month ago. Since then I have continued to bleed, more than just spotting. I have been told by my doctor to just keep taking the pills, but to skip the placebo pills, which I have done. It has not worked. Should I be concerned or is this just my body's way of getting used to the hormones?

Reply by Monnica


Ongoing bleeding is neither good nor normal. Tell your doctor you want to try sonmething elese.


depo

Message No. 255, Diana at Burgi@mailexcite.com (February 16, 1999)


I have been on depo for 6 months and have loved it. i have gotten lazy and didn't (haven't) gotten the 3rd shot. now i am in the fourth month and my doctor said to come in every 3 months. how effective is it in the fourth month?
while i was on depo my period was very regularly i was suppose to start and was alway right. my cramps didn't exsist and it was light lasted about 3-5 days. i should have started my period on the 14th and i am curious if i'm late because i haven't gotten a booster shot?

thanks for your time

Diana

p.s. i am sexually active and have a little cause to worry:-)

Reply by Monnica


Most women remain infertile for about 10 months after stopping Depo-Provera.
However, some become fertile after only two weeks after they miss their scheduled
dose. It's a gamble either way. If you have been having regular periods
even while on Depo-Provera, I'd say you were more likely to have a quick return
to fertility. Get a pregnancy test quick.


birth control shot

Message No. 254, Daniel, Cynthia at bettybop@knology.net (February 10, 1999)


Hello! my name is Cynthia,but everyone calls me cindy.Anyway,I have a question about the birth control shot Pope (I think is the name),and I missed last months and this months period and I think and my boyfriend and my mom think I am pregent.But when I went to the doctor to get the shot again my mom told them to take a test first it came out (-), but she wants the blood work done to be sure.
The question is can I be pregent?Can I get pregent will I'm on the shot?I really need to know so I can go have the blood work done before I do something to hurt the baby if I am pregent. PLEASE E_MAIL ME BACK AT bettybop@knology.net or you can try bettybop1517@yahoo.com!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU Cindy Daniel I'm 17, I'll be 18 in July the 27.

Reply by Sharon


If you're talking about DepoProvera - a shot you get every 3 months -
yes, you can get pregnant while on it, but it doesn't happen that
often. One of the side effects of Depo is irregular menstrual cycles
or even no cycles at all. It is not uncommon for a woman on Depo to stop
menstruating altogether while on the medication, and for several months
or more after she stops. I've had several clients who had been using
Depo who haven't had a period after being off it for an entire year!
This is a very powerful drug!

If you want to be 100% sure that you're not pregnant a blood test will
tell you. Don't be surprised if you continue to miss your period while
on Depo.


side effects of smoking and taking the pill

Message No. 252, Rikki at rikki17@hotmail.com (February 07, 1999)


I have been on birth control ortho tri-cyclene for a long time. I smoke cigaretts every once in a while. is there any side effects to smoking and taking the pill? I have heard it can be bad for your heart.

sincerely,

Rikki

Reply by Monnica


There are many studies going back decades that document that smoking alone increases the risk of stroke and heart disease, (in addition to various
forms of cancer and lung disease) and that it multiplies the
effects of the oral contraceptives risk on heart disease. The effect of smoking and OCs also is more pronouned with increasing age. Women who smoke are discouraged from using oral contraceptives after age 35 and definitely after age 40.


message 63 dated 10/1/98

Message No. 251, Wendy at walta@hotkey.net.au (January 28, 1999)


Hi Monnica,

It's been a long time and my e-mail address has also changed. I have just visited you site and found additional information which I did not know you
had entered.Thank you. Well it has been a long hard battle and after thinking there was only one way to end the pain and guilt of the past two years, I
had some psych help and am feeling much better.However, since then there has also been another minor dilemma, six months ago I failed a pap test and was found to have CIN III severe dysplasia and had to have a burn out of the cervix. My first pap since then has also been abnormal and am waiting on results of yet another pap.

My question to you is, is there any evidence at all that would connect the
previous "proceedures" with the problems I am now suffering, or is it just
coincedence and I am just having a bad couple of years.
Again thank you for all your help in the past and I hope to stay in contact
with you now that I am back in action.

Wendy


pill

Message No. 250, Dana at Puffalove@aol.com (January 27, 1999)


I have about a 40 cycle sometimes and sometimes I get my period twice in a row. It used to be normal for two years and it just started getting weird. It used to be very light and only for 4 days. Now I miss school, don't sleep, can't go to practices, and I am in extreme pain for however many days it decides to last (changes every time). I was wondering if the pill helps make a period normal. If so is it available without parent consent because my mother doesn't consent, she thinks then I will have a e
xcuse to have sex. Anyway what do they do at the exams? Do you have to have a pap smear and a full physical? Do you have to have insurance? Please write back, I can't stand the effects of my period any longer. I'm only 16.

Reply by Sharon


Birth control pills can help control the symptoms you've described, but
they don't really "regulate" your periods. You will have periods at the
same time of the month every month while you're taking the Pill, but
once you go off of them your body will go back to what it's doing right
now.

I understand your concerns about your mom, but I'd encourage you to talk
to her again about how painful your periods are, and ask to be seen by a
gynecologist. You should not be taking the Pill - even if it's not for
birthcontrol - unless you're under the care of a doctor, and have had a
pelvic exam and pap smear. A pelvic exam and pap smear are
uncomfortable and embarrassing - but they shouldn't be painful. NO ONE
likes having them done - and it's not something you'll ever get used to
- but it's an important part of taking care of your body! Doctors
understand your fears and embarrasment, and do everything professionally
and quickly.

When you have a pelvic exam and pap smear you will undress, cover
yourself with a sheet, and lay on an exam table with your feet in
stirrups. You will have to scoot down so your bottom is at the very
edge of the table, and your legs will be spread open. The doctor
usually begins the exam by putting his hand inside your vagina and
feeling your uterus. He/she will then place a speculum in your vagina
and open it up - this can be uncomfortable. Once the speculum is open,
the doctor will scrape your cervix with a wooden spatula and possible a
small brush - this will remove some cells to be placed on a slide to be
examined later. That's it! Once the speculum is removed you'll be able
to scoot back and sit up. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes for all of
it.

I hope that once your mom understands that you have a MEDICAL need for
the Pill that she'll agree to them. I was 16 years old when I was
diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that causes VERY painful
periods. I was losing days from school, too, and the pain was
unbearable. The doctor recommended the Pill, and I've taken it ever
since to control the endometriosis. My mom understood why I needed
them, and it never became an excuse to have sex. In fact, I never told
any of my boyfriends I was on the Pill because I didn't want to give
them a reason to think I was "easy." And, I was a virgin when I got
married at 21!

There are some women who cannot take the Pill because of other medical
conditions, which is one of the reasons I think it's wise to include
your mom in this. She knows more about you physically than you do - I
know that's hard to swallow, but it's true! Can you try to talk to her?

If she still says "NO" and won't take you to a doctor, you can get the
Pill without her knowledge or consent. You'll still need to have the
exam - anyone who offers the Pill without it are NOT the people you want
to be seeing 'cause they're not doing their job.

I hope that helped! Please feel free to email again if you have any
other questions or just need to talk. Sharon Pearce/Silent
Voices CPC


Pregnancy and Pills

Message No. 249, heather at heather.jones@washcoll.edu. (January 24, 1999)


I went on the pill in October of 98. There was some concern that I was pregnant
in the earlier part of August 98. I took a pregnancy test and it came back
negative. So I thought it was safe to go on the pill. I have gotten my period
each month on the pill and it is regular, but I am feeling that I may be
pregnant. My nipples have gotten bigger and they hurt and I go to the bathroom
constatntly. This would also mean that I was six months pregnant beacuse the
last time I had sex was in August of 98. Is it impossible to be six months
pregannt and not show and still get your period. Am I just being nar

Reply by Monnica


Dear Heather, sometimes the pill can cause pregnancy symptoms, even though you are not pregnant. If you were 6 months pregnant, you would probably know it, but sometimes people don't find out until late.
I think the safest thing would be to have a pregnancy test
to be sure. Call Birthright at toll-free at 1-800-550-4900 for a referral to
the closest crisis pregnancy center. They will give you a free, private pregnancy test.


Pregnancy without intercourse?

Message No. 247, Chad at yourduckie@quackquack.com (January 19, 1999)


I have a question about the chances of becoming pregnant if there is no intercourse. My gf and I were being sexually active, and careful. We've always used condoms and the time of question there was no intercourse. Although though there was some touching of the genitals when I ejaculated. This happened before we realized at some point had the condom broken and thus the sperm was spilled. As I mentioned, there was no intercourse so the sperm was not inside of her but it did get on and around the vaginal are

a. What is the chances if any of her becoming pregnant from this incident? We are both very worried, and she thought she had her period a few days ago but it was only minor spotting of blood and she said later it wasn't her period which it normally is around this time of the month. Please shed some light on if conception is even possible in this incident or not and/or any advice. Thanks in advance..

Reply by Sharon


Any time sperm are in the vacinity of the vagina, there's a potential for
pregnancy. The further in the vagina the greater the risk of
pregnancy. I had a client a few years back that insisted she was a
virgin - but had a 3 year old child. Her story was similar to what
you've described - the guy didn't penetrate her, so she couldn't
understand how she had gotten pregnant.

If your girlfriend still hasn't had a normal period, she should have a
pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy. She can get one for free at a local
pregnancy support center - you can either get back to me with the city
and state you're in, or call this number, and they'll help you find a
center that's close to you: 1-800-550-4900.

Sharon Pearce
Silent Voices Crisis Pregnancy Center


pregnancy while on the pill

Message No. 246, Holly at hkp@pacbell.net (January 18, 1999)


Please re read message #239. Another woman asked about becoming pregnant while taking the pill. She also asked about fertility 2 days before your period starts while taking the pill. I have the exact same question and there was no response from you to her question. I'm experiencing symptoms very similar to my first pregnancy but it's too soon to take a test. I'm concerned about taking my pills as well as other medications that would be harmful to a baby. Could I be pregnant? I haven't missed a pill b
ut did have intercourse 2 days before my last period.

Reply by Guest


Yes, you could be because the pill is not 100 % effective.
Most people are not fertile two days before their period, but some people
ovulate at strange times, and the pill can contribute to this, so it is
humanly possible to be fertile at that time.
If you strongly suspect you are pregnant, discontinue the pill.
(Abstain from sex in case
you are not pregnant and don't want to get that way.) Take a pregnancy test
on the first day of the missed period. If it is negative, resume a new pack
of pills on a schedule that your doc advises, or at the time that you would
regularly start a new pack. Remember that if you have missed a bunch of
hormone containing pills you are at risk of pregnancy for awhile when
you first resume taking the pill again.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.


To break the hymen..

Message No. 245, Mona at mona233@hotmail.com (January 18, 1999)


Hi There,

I had been facing this problem for the past 1 week. I may be little shy and
i would like to know this ASAP. My hymen is in tact and when i tried to have
sex with my husbend, i feel pain in the outer layer of my vagina. I suggested
my husbend that i'll take some sleeping pills so that he can work and
break the hymen without much of pain to me. But my husbend doesn't agree.
So i'm currently searching for the names of the medicines which can give me painless intercourse. Could please suggest me what kind of things should i do?
what pain killer's should i take? what local anesthesia should i have ?

Thanx

Mona

Reply by Monnica


There's a product called Maintian that you can buy at the drug store. Generally
it's to help prevent men form having a premature ejaculation, but it works
by numbing the skin. It also has the same effect on the woman and is safe to
apply to the genitals. You might try this cream on yourself and see if that works. Otherwise I would speak to your doctor.


Deprovera

Message No. 244, Lisa at oro@shadowlink.net (January 17, 1999)


I was getting the shot for about 2 1/2 years and when I went off the shots, I started getting cysts. are these normal in most women? I have been off the shot now for about 3 years and I am still getting cysts and haven't been able to get pregnant. Is this normal? I am 24 years old and When I was married to my ex-husband I was getting the shots at his military hospital. Could that be the problem, that they didn't know what they were doing???

Please respond. Thank You !!!

Reply by Monnica


Ovarian cysts are not normal, but they are a common side effect from using
Depo-Provera, also known as the shot.


Re: Abortion and breast cancer

Message No. 242, Carlene at scubachick@cheerful.com (January 04, 1999)


I had posted a message earlier that I am not sure got through....or was not
posted. I am the nurse/midwife that had some concern over some of
the information you were providing about abortion. While I feel it is a good
thing that you try to provide people with information, some of your information
is inaccurate. There is still controversy surrounding the issue of whether
abortion is a breast cancer risk. There have been several studies that have
shown that abortion is not a cancer risk. See ...JAMA...(TNEJM) in particular
the study that was was done with a control group of Danish women......the
conclusion was that in their case no breast CA risk was associated with their
abortions. It is good to provide information, but make sure it is not entirely
biased, and does not try to scare or intimidate people. Being a health care
professional this is of upmost concern to me that individuals be given the correct
information, so that they may make the best decison possible. I am sure to give my patients
the same information I am giving you....regardless of my personal views on
abortion it would not be right or fair to do otherwise.

Reply by Monnica


Hi Carlene! I too was skeptical when I first heard about the abortion-breast
cancer connection. The first thing I did to learn more about this was a scientific literature search. I recovered
a dozen articles on the topic that has appeared in scientific journals. Interestingly, nine showed a clear connection between
aborting in the first trimester, while only two showed no risk.
Dr. Joel Brind, in collaberation with a pro-choice co-author,
wrote an article as a literature review which confirmed the connection. The Danish study you mention came out sometime later. There are serious flaws in
the Danish study -- some data was incomplete -- which you can read more about by visiting this page.
In fact, in that very study, among the women who had abortions as teenagers, they actually found essentially the same increased risk (29%) as had been reported
by Brind. The best summary I have seen describing the link between abortion and
breast cancer is done by Scott Sommerville, which you can read by visiting this page.


Regarding Abortion

Message No. 241, Carlene at scubachick@cheerful.com (January 04, 1999)


I have been looking over your site, and while I certainly agree with your efforts
to provide information regarding responsible sex and the consequences of
unprotected sex, I do not agree with some of your views on abortion. Being a
Nurse/Midwife myself I have known many women that have made the painful
decision to have abortions and have gone on (later) to have healthy children...
and they have not developed breath cancer either. There have been many
medical journals that have published updates to their originally published articles
concerning abortion and breast cancer, and they now say that there is no clear
link. I do not think that you should try to convince young women that awful
things will happen to them if they have an abortion. Having an abortion does
involve certain risks, but so does having a baby, and so does using birth control.
We are not living in a perfect world, and not everyone is going to practice safe
sex, so we can expect unplanned pregnancies. Not everyone is cut out to
be a mother ......(think crack mothers, abusive mothers, and so on). If adoption
were the cure all to this problem our foster homes would not be running over,
and every child would feel loved and wanted. True....abstinence is the best
answer, but not very realistic in our society. Abortion may be unsavory to
some, but it is still a reality, and I would hate to think about what would happen
if it were made illegal.....talk about suffering. (Think back-alley abortions) In
case you are wondering....I happen to be pro-life, but I am also realistic, and I
want women to have and want their children for the right reasons.....not because
they are afraid something bad will happen to them if they do not.

Reply by Monnica


Hi again, Carline! The purpose of this site is not to scare women away from
abortion, but rather to give accurate information so that people can make
their own informed decisions. I need to issue a rebuke to you for repeating
some oft-heard distortions about the abortion issue, however. Legal abortion has
killed more women than illegal abortion ever has.
(Some women have been killed in clinics right where I live -- Los Angeles.)
Many people don't know about
the women who die on the abortionists' table because of a punctured uterus or an
infection that occured later on. It's true that many women will have uneventful
abortion experiences. However, I have spoken with probably hundreds of women
who have had abortions. Several told me that they almost bled to death and had
to be rushed to the hospital. Others developed emotional problems and became
suicidal. Almost every women I have spoken to has exhibited some symptoms of
on-going distress, such as depression, nightmares, avoidance of babies, etc.
There is something to be afraid of, and we do women a disservice by covering
it up. A few of the women who have written me have given permission for me to post their stories on the web. Read them.


pregnancy after the pill

Message No. 240, Tammy at tammyulrich@hotmail.com (January 02, 1999)


My question is how soon after one gets off the pill is it possible to become pregnant.
My husband and I are going to start trying to have another baby and not sure approximately
how long it will take to get everything on track. Is it possible right away or does it
take approximately a month to get my cycle back on track?

Reply by Monnica


Please see Frequently Asked Questions about the Pill at this site.


pregnancy

Message No. 239, Monica at Feather169@aol.com (January 02, 1999)


Can you get pregnant while on your period? Is a woman who is on the pill still
fertile two days before her period? Is it normal for a period to last only one
and a half days while on the pill, if she started her pack a day late? Thanks.

Reply by Guest


Yes, there are a few women who ovulate during their period. It's not common
but it is possible.
Whether or not you're fertile two days before your period depends on if you are one of those women with an odd cycle, or if the pill
altered your cycle and made you ovulate late instead of not at all. If you
are talking about the time when you are taking placebo instead of hormones,
supposedly this is little problem because fertility is still low when
cycling the hormones in this manner. BUT, no birth control method is 100% effective.

Sometimes the pill makes the period light, and starting late may not be the
main factor. Missing doses reduces the effectiveness of the pill a great
deal. Doubling up to make up for a missed dose is no kind of failsafe to
prevent pregnancy.

Karen L. Brauer M.S., R.Ph.


confused

Message No. 237, jill at jill@aol.com (December 30, 1998)


what is the birth control with the least side effects?

Reply by Monnica


That's easy, Natural Family Planning for sure.


is breakthrough bleeding possible after withdrawal of birth control pills?

Message No. 236, sam at samjaved@aol.com (December 30, 1998)


i just recently went off the pill approximately 3 1/2 months ago, because i wanted to get pregnant. i finished with my period about a week ago, and yesterday i noticed bleeding like i was getting my period all over again (medium-heavy flow)! i just used the ovulation predictor kit yesterday (since my previous month's cycle was sort of irregular) to determine the best time to get pregnant and it came out positive (which is on schedule), thus i am ovulating around this time according to the test.
the bleeding started yesterday after intercourse. do you think this is breakthrough bleeding and
is it possible to get breakthrough bleeding after withdrawing from the pill.
if not, what are some other reasons do you think?

Reply by Monnica


The bleeding is probably spotting caused by the egg leaving the ovary. When
the egg leaves the ovary, it actually bursts out, leaving a rupure that can bleed. If the ovulation-predictor says you are fertile now, you and your
husband better get busy!


a scientific/biological question

Message No. 235, cammy at filakia@earthlink.net (December 28, 1998)


hi! you have a wonderfully informative site about contraception. however, i have a question of a more scientific/biological nature that i have been unable to find an answer to on your site or on any other site about this subject.

a woman is born with a specific amount of eggs that lasts her from puberty through menopause. each time she ovulates, an egg is released from the fallopian tubes. the pill essentially prevents an egg from being released each month. so.... my question is this:

if the pill stops the release of an egg each month, and a woman is on the pill for an extended period of time, what happens to the eggs that are not released and remain in her fallopian tubes? does this delay the time when she will reach menopause (do all the eggs have to be "used up" once she stops taking the pill before they run out and she reaches menopause), or do they "expire" and deteriorate over time?

thanks in advance!


hotsable

Message No. 233, nicole at hotsable@aol.com (December 08, 1998)


what are the types of birthcontrol?
how does birthcontroll work?
how effective is birthcontrol?
what are the side effects you get?
what are forms of masturbation?

and you dident answer the last question i had bye

Reply by Monnica


Hi Nicole! All the answers you are looking for are right at this web site.
Go to the home page and look around. Read about the different types of birth control. Masturbation techniques, however, are not within the scope of this guide.


An unusual, but legitimate question!

Message No. 231, sasha at blackspring91@hotmail.com (December 04, 1998)


Hello... I am going to Europe in a week. I have been told all my life that
X-rays, although they generally do not harm you, do kill a few cells with
radiation when you are being examined by an X-ray machine.
My concern is based on the fact that I will be taking condoms with me
on my trip to Europe (along with spermicide in applicators for extra
protection... I've never had sex before... I don't exactly plan on it
there, but like putting on a seat belt in a car, nobody PLANS to get in
a life-threatening situation *LOL*) However, I am going to see somebody
that I care for greatly, and it's a possibility.
In airports, the standard procedure to ensure the safety of the public,
is to X-ray luggage etc, etc... my concern is, if I keep my condoms in
my baggage, will the X-ray machines burn holes in them? Should I wear
them on my person? What can I do to ensure that the condoms are not damaged,
besides the basic advice of 'not letting them be exposed to high levels
of heat'? I hope you are not annoyed by this question.
Thankyou very much! :-)

Reply by Monnica


Hi Sasha! I don't think you need to worry about your condoms. The x-ray
machine will not damage them.


thrush

Message No. 230, Amelia at heatwave@hotmail.com (December 03, 1998)


hi monica,

i suffer from thrush constantly. it is quite distressing and frustrating as well. Can you please tell me how i can stop my constant visitation of thrush. I have tried almost everything but it still comes back. I am 26 years old.

please help

Amelia

Reply by Monnica


Thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth. Yeast can be a stubborn problem
for women, but it usually strikes the vaginal tract. Babies and people with
compromised immune systems frequently get thrush, and a nursing mother who
has a baby with thrush can get the infection in her breasts.

Thrush is often caused by antibiotics. You can ask your doctor for some
anti-fungal pills to suck on, which will kill the yeast. Diflucan may also be prescribed.
You might also try
acidophillus (did I spell that right?) pills, which you can buy from a health food store.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about the problem.


birth control pills

Message No. 229, Jenny at tcc#1@goplay.com (December 03, 1998)


Hi Monnica,

I am a 19 year female and will start the Pill this Sunday. I just got my period today and I am wondering if it is necessary to take the Pill at exactly the same time every day. What if I remember to take the Pill every day but do not remember to take it at the same hour? Would this be less effective if it exceeds the 24-hour period by just a few hours or so? Also, I was wondering if it is necessary to use a back-up form of contraception such as condoms at any time while using the Pill, considering that I t
ake them at around the same time every day? Can you respond to my questions as soon as you can? BTW, I love your web site. I think it is extremely informative and useful. Thanks.

Reply by Monnica


Hi Jenny! The answer to your question depends on what type of pill you are on.
I'm not taking any questions about the pill right now, but you
can find the answers to all of your questions on the page
Frequently Asked Questions about the Pill and Other
Hormonal Drugs
.
I put that page together because I'm tired of answering the same questions
over and over. If you still don't find the answers you need, feel free to
contact us.


Virgin Guy needs advice real bad.!

Message No. 226, virgin guy at navio@geocities.com (November 26, 1998)


Hello Monica,

I have a question. Im a 26 yr old male virgin, & so is my 22yr old fiance.
We will be getting married soon & likes to ask you a question. Now i may sound like a 2yr old kid or perhaps a complete idiot so please bear with me. I dont know where to go or who to ask. I feel like your site could be lifesaver.
Here we go,

Is it true that when the first time girl have sex, they brake their hymen
and actually bleed. Let me ask you this, are they suppose to bleed.? WHat if she
doesnt.? Is the blood going to be on my thingy?, if so what am i suppose to do.?

Lastly, whenever i talk to my fiance on the phone i get really wet, i dont know why? i mean we could be just talking about the weather or some other smalltalk
and i start to ejaculate small amount of seman. Is it normal.?
Thank You so much in advance.
Please feel free to share any other words of wisdom if you like.

Virgin Guy.

Reply by Monnica


Dear friend, first let me congradulate you for remaining a virgin until marriage.
This can be really tough at times, but it is always well worth it.

Most women do have a hymen -- a thin membrane that partially covers the vaginal openning.
The first time you have sex it may break causing a little bit of bleeding.
Then again, some women who are virgins don't even have a hymen or it
could have been broken already from an accident or something, so don't be
suspicious if you don't see blood. (In the 'old days' if you didn't bleed like a
stuck pig on your wedding night you were in big trouble!!!) Now, if you do
see some blood, there is no need to get bent out of shape. Think ahead -- put one or two
small hand towels next to the bed before you get started. When you pull out,
deftly wipe away any residue. Your bride will be really impressed if you
offer her a small towel too (sex can be really messy and most women like to stay clean!)

As far as wetness goes, you are probably secreting pre-ejaculatory fluid while
talking on the phone to your fiancee. It means you are feeling aroused at some
level, and your body is ready for sex. This secretion is a natrual lubrication
for sexual activity. Don't worry about for now -- it will come in handy later.


research

Message No. 223, cinderella at zylac@wheat.mnsfld.edu (November 21, 1998)


i am a nursing student and has observed midwives this past week. There are so many teenagers on Depo-provera it is unbelievable. By the year 2005, there is going to be an increase in AIDS because no one is protecting theirselves. Has there been research on teenagers being on Depo-provera with an increase in sex partners or an increase in STDs in teenagers using Depo? It seems like no one nowadays are using condoms!!!!!!!!!!


what to do if the morning after pill doesn't work?

Message No. 222, Hope at FLIPAZ@AOL.COM (November 17, 1998)


Dear Monica,

While scanning for information on the sponge I came across this Q&A page and I just have a few questions for you. I am 29 and a single parent of one child with no desire to have any further children and currently I cannot afford to have my tubes tied so I have stood in the drug store aisle for hours looking for effeicent bitrth control.

My first question is:

While having sex with a new partner the condom slipped off I'm slightly concerned because my period had just gone off what are the chances that I could get pregnant from that act.

2nd question :

What birth control suggestions do you have for me my Norplant efficacy ran out in December of 97 and I had been abstinent from Nov 97 until now(Nov 98)

I really don't like the idea of going back on the pill and the sponge is not available in the US, and while we have been using contraceptive gel it just gets in the way when we want to continue and I have to get up to reinsert another dose of contraceptive.

Question 3

Last night I notice that the expiration date on the box of conceptive gels I was using ran out last month should I toss the remaining few and buy a new box or are they still effective after the expiration date?

Thanks for you time,

FLIPAZ

Reply by Monnica


Dear Hope,

You can still buy the sponge by ordering it internationally. I have a link to a

company which can legally mail this product to you from Canada. So you don't want any more kids? 29 is pretty young to make the decision to have your tubes tied, so I wouldn't recommend it at this point unless you had a medical condition which would make pregnancy dangerous for you. Many young people get
sterilized and really regret it later for a number of reasons (i.e. they marry someone new, a child dies, etc.) Contraceptive gel is not a really great method
to use on its own because it can be really ineffective (up to 50%!). It's probably still good if it recently expired, but you should get a new tube just
to be safe. If you are going to have sex without the benefit of a long-term committment, I think a condom is your best bet because of the risk of STD, along
with spermicide as a back up. But keep in mind that no matter what method you use, unless you completely refrain from sex you can still get pregnant. Talk it
over with your boyfriend, come up with a "worst case" plan, then decide if you
think it's worth it.


CONFUSED

Message No. 221, VICKIE at dvgunnels@hotmail.com (November 15, 1998)

I've been using deprovera for over a year now and my husband and I have decided to have another baby. I was told by my doctor's nurse to wait atleast six months before trying to get pregnant. I have also read that you can't get pregnant for 6-12 months after getting off the shot. Should I be using another method of birth control for the next six months? If I don't could it affect the baby if I were to become pregnant?

Reply by Monnica


Dear Vickie,

Use another non-hormonal method of birth control while you're waiting for the Depo-Provera to work its way out of your system.
If you do get pregnant while you're waiting, don't worry about it. Doctors just like to be on the safe side because in animal studies similar drugs (at much larger doses) were found to cause birth defects. There is no evidence that a brief exposure to birth control chemicals will cause any sort of birth defect in humans.


Just curious

Message No. 220, Jean at chilli06@hotmail.com (November 10, 1998)


Chilli, the sender of the message before this, is my friend. But I'm older than she is... I'm 20.
Anyway, I have my own question. Why is it that I attain orgasm easier the first few times my boyfriend and I did mutual masturbation, than now, when we do actual sexual intercourse? Is it becasue I am less sensitive now? How abput when I get more experience? Will I be less sensitive still?
How come my bf reaches orgasm with the same ease as before? He masturbates alone while I don't. Does that have any effect on us?
Also, can you give us some advice on how to achieve orgasm more easily? If that is too much, can you recommend a site that will?
Thank you for your time. Please send your reply thru e-mail at chilli06@hotmail.com. Thanks!

Reply by Monnica


Hi Chilli!

Your question is a bit beyond the scope of our service. However I can tell you not to worry. How good sex is for an individual is largely due to practice.
If you had more practice doing it a certain way or with a certain person, don't expect that it's going to be the same in a new situation. And, in general, men have an easier time reaching orgasm. For women to feel like having sex, they usually have to be in the right mood and feel loved. Most men just need to see something without clothes on.


HELP!!!!!

Message No. 219, Chilli at chilli06@hotmail.com (November 10, 1998)


Hi! I'm 18 and belongs to a very devout Catholic family so sex (and sex talk) is taboo for "youngsters" like me. However,I attended a VERY liberal highschool and an EVEN MORE liberal university. This makes me more open minded about sex (but my parents don't know that). I noticed that you very often advise abstinence for teens. I also favor total abstinence and would very much like to practice it. Unfortunately, you are right about it being VERY hard. My boyfriend and I promised to abtain so ma

ny times before already, only to find our promises broken. Anyhow, right now, we're on our latest, most deeply rooted vow to abstain from any form of sex and any intimate acts.

Reply by Monnica


Dear friend, you are taking a very responsible attidude toward your well-being to choose abstinence. Yes, it can be very HARD. Don't give up just because
you make a mistake, or even several mistakes.
Learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Once you find
that special person, you will be really glad that you waited for him!
You will also have "missed out" on all the unplanned pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases that your peers will have had to deal with!
Best of luck!


'Making love makes baby'

Message No. 217, Diana at meingast99@hotmail.com (November 06, 1998)


You wrote 'making love makes baby'. This is not true. Homosexual love does not make baby. Oral sex and sodomy do not make babies. Making love after menopausa does not make baby. And making love using proper contraceptives do not, as a rule, make baby.

Diana.

Reply by Monnica


Hi Diana,

This site is dedicated to birth control information. As such, we assume that that people reading the information are participating in behaviors that put them at risk for pregnancy.
If this is not the case, then there's really not much point to reading a web page about Birth Control Efficacy. If you want to have oral sex or gay sex please see my STD page instead. I don't talk about about pregnancy risks there. Anal sex between a man and a woman can still result in pregnancy.

The whole point of saying that "making love makes babies" is that without sex (or some pretty fancy reproductive technologies) you can't get pregnant. It happened once, about 2000 years ago, but that was the last virgin birth we know about. A person with normal fertility who uses birth control over several years is probably going to have a birth control failure, even if they do everything right. This is not my opinion, but a scientific fact. And a birth control failure means (what else?) a baby.


high blood pressure

Message No. 215, sara at Sara@ab.ca (November 05, 1998)

I cannot take the pill due to high blood pressure. I was wondering what the next best alternative would be. Does depro-provera affect blood pressure? I have a steady boyfriend

Reply by Monnica


It is believed that progestin-only birth control drugs, like depo-provera and the mini-pill will be safer for women in terms of dangers to the circulatory system. However, you will have to talk to your doctor about this. In general, I don't recommend any hormonal methods.


This is awful!

Message No. 213, Elizabeth at witte@umich.edu (October 20, 1998)


I find this page really unfortunate and sad. Some of the information here is incorrect and VERY opinionated(especially about IUDs), and I really wonder if you're a doctor. Please do your best to give out unbiased information that is concerned primarily with the patient's questions and not with your own personal motivations.

Reply by Monnica


Sorry if you don't like it, Elizabeth, but I can't please everyone. The information about the IUD is from scientific journals and medical text books. The IUD has some serious and well-documented health hazards. For example, so serious is the risk of PID and infertility that the FDA requires that physicians warn their patients of this before inserting the IUD.
For women who get pregnant while on the IUD 50% miscarry if the IUD remains in the uterus; 25% miscarry if the device is immediately removed. These miscarriages also pose a major health risk to the woman.
And if you need more information about how the IUD works, see
JA Spinnato II. "Mechanism of action of intrauterine contraceptive devices and its relation to informed consent." American J Ob/Gyn, 1997; 176 (3), p. 503-6.


Doctor visit

Message No. 211, Shara at cheersjp@aol.com (October 19, 1998)


I am going to be having my first Pap Smear done in a couple of weeks. Could you please tell me what I am to expect this frist visit. Thank you so much for your time.

Reply by Monnica


See number 262.


Stupid Question?

Message No. 209, Brooke at SurfBabe28@aol.com (October 18, 1998)


This may seem like an obvious question, but we are unsure of the answer. If you are on the Birth Control Pill (Ortho Tri-Cyclen) can your partner ejaculate inside of you without a condom? I am aware of the pregnancy risk involved with that. I have just recently gotten married and we are not planning to have a child at this time. We would just like to know the method most people use while on the pill.

This is a very informative site, yet these young girls are coming to you for advice and in most cases you are just shooting them down by telling them to abstain from having sex. Most of the questions are from teens who have already had sex and are scared or curious about the effect it will have on them. Maybe you should concentrate more on helping these girls even though you do not condone what they are doing. And just out of curiousity, are you a doctor?

Reply by Monnica


If you are on the pill, you are not supposed to need a condom for birth control.
Of course a back up method is always a good idea if a surprise pregnancy would be
a big problem. Doctors often recommend women use condoms even if they are on the
pill to prevent STDs. However, since you are married you shouldn't need to worry
about that problem. See the section in this guide on
the pill for more info.

Also note that even though I recommend abstinence for teens, I always try to
answer their questions too. I think this is a responsible approach.
I am not a doctor and the information provided on this site should not be
considered medical advice. You can find more information about me from the
About this Site page, linked from the home page.


the new "shot"?

Message No. 207, Holly at Holly_dawn@hotmail.com (October 14, 1998)


I am married and have been having not so great side effects with my oral contraceptive (Desogen). I'm extreamly moody and "touchy", and have gained a lot of weight, and am very tired! (I am just as active as before and my eating habbits have not changed)
Recently I heard that there is a new "shot" on the market. It is supposed to be better than the Depo-Provera. Better by-- increasing sex drive, there is weight loss not gain, more energy, no mood swings. This sounds great! If there is such a "shot" what is it's name? If not would Depo-Prevera be a good choice for me? (my husband and I do not want children any time soon)

Thanks for any help! Please E-mail me with your answer.

Reply by Monnica


If such a shot existed it would replace both Viagra and Fen-Phen.
I think we would see some pretty amazing lines in front of the doctors' offices
around the country, as well newsworthy nationwide shortages of this product.
So, don't hold your breath. This miracle birth control/weight loss/libido enhancing product is yet to be invented.

If you've had bad luck with oral contraceptives, I'd be really cautious about Depo-Provera. Once they inject you, you are stuck with the side-effects for months. And it still affects your system for up to a year.


Prengnacy on the pill

Message No. 206, Alison at ajohnston@adelphia,net (October 14, 1998)


I was just wondering two things: 1: how long is it recommended you be off the Pill before you attempt to get pregnant? 2: If you get pregnant during the time you are suppose to wait, after getting off the pill, what will happen to your baby?

Reply by Monnica


It is recommended that you wait until you have had 2-3 normal menstrual cycles before trying to get pregnant. This is because it
may take several months before your cycles return to normal after discontinuing a homonal method. Doctors use the first day of
your last menstrual period to determine your due date; if your periods are irregular this may result in an inaccurate date.

Also, there is some evidence that birth control drugs may exert a prolonged effect on the uterus, making it more difficult to
become pregnant. However if you do manage to get pregnant during this time and not miscarry, your baby should be fine.


thanks

Message No. 205, shannon at guru@saber.net (October 14, 1998)


Thank you so much for your response. It helped me a great deal . I often feel like the doctors i see dont take my symptoms or complaints as reality. I think this is a common problem for women as i have read and myself can confirm. Anyway thanks for taking the time. Shannon :)

Reply by Monnica


You're very welcome! It's true that doctors don't seeom to take women's complaints seriously enough when it comes to birth control.
Hormonal methods cause so many side-effects, the doctors probably just start to tune them out after a while.
Any doctors out there? What have you guys got to say for yourselves? Are we all just a bunch of whiners when we take these pills and start to get depressed, fat, and our skin changes color?


birth control

Message No. 204, shannon at guru@saber.net (October 13, 1998)


I started taking birth control last month ,for four days i disliked the side affects. Now i have been bleeding a semi light flow if that makes any sense,for almost 6 days . i talked to my doctor who showed little concern but i remain concerned! Is this normal?? I only took it for 4 days?? Please respond as quick as possible . My mind will hopefully resume to normal just to know. Thanks

Reply by Monnica


"Spotting" usually clears up within a few months of starting the pill.
However, your doctor should do an exam to make sure that nothing serious is causing the bleeding.
In geneneral I do not recommend hormonal methods of birth control. See the page at this site on Hormonal Methods for more information.


pregnancy after the pill

Message No. 200, Betsey at betseyq@bscg.com (October 13, 1998)


I started taking the pill 6 years ago I am now 23. I recently got married.
I was supposed to start my new pack on July 8th. I decided to stop taking
the pill. I started taking the pill because every month I would get
breaktrough bleeding. My question is what are the chances that I will get pregnant if I have been engaging and continue to engage in intercourse
without any form of contraception? Thank You! P. S. This is a great web
site.

Reply by Monnica


If you have been taking oral contraceptives for several years, you may be infertile for several months while your body figures out what's going on.
On the other hand, your fertility may return immediately -- many women get pregnant from just having missed a single pill.

The odds of getting pregnant from a single incident of unprotected intercourse are shown below. For this table, ovulation occurs on day "zero." Most women ovulate on the 14th day of their cycles, where day 1 is the first day of menstruation.




























Chances of Pregnancy by Day of Intercourse
day zero is ovulation
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
0% 11% 15% 20% 26% 15% 9% 5% 0%

This chart is based on a sample with normal fertility, so if you are temporarily infertile from being on the pill it may not apply to you.


pill

Message No. 199, jenny at saddler@friend.ly.net (October 08, 1998)


I am an 18 yr. old college freshman. I have been on the pill for 2 years.
I am and athlete and work out 5 days a week. I have missed my last 2 periods.
I took 2 pregnancy tests and both were negative. Could this be related
to the stress of college and the fact that I work out? Do you think I should be
concerned about being pregnant?

Reply by Monnica


Absolutely! Intensive exercise can cause menstruation to stop completely. Also a woman needs a certain amount of body fat for regular periods; you need to make sure that you are not underweight. In any case, you should probably report these symptoms to your doctor.


Pregnancy

Message No. 198, Katie at n.shilcock@virgin.net (September 23, 1998)


I was taking the Pill for about 10 months. I stopped taking it 2 months ago without finishing the cycle. For my next period i only bled for one day. I am now about 5 days late and was wondering what the hell was going on with my body?
Could I be pregnant. I have not any type of sex since I stopped taking the Pill (Cilest) so abruptly.

Reply by Monnica


Please read Frequently Asked Questions About the Pill. Irregular cycles after the pill are a common temporary side-effect.


the pill and training

Message No. 197, Megan at mei8c@virginia.edu (September 22, 1998)


Hi,

I have been on the pill for about 6 months. I began with ortho-tricyclen, but because of side effects i switched to loestrin. my question is does the pill have effect on athletic training? I am a Division I college swimmer and i train about 5 hours a day. I just have not performed the same in training, as well as competetion and I think this may be due to the pill. Also, my attitude has changed, I almost feel depressed. Could this also be an effect of the pill?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Megan

Reply by Monnica


All hormonal methods of birth control, including the pill, can cause depression. Depression causes lack of motivation, which could be the source of your troubles.


Is it safe to have sex in water?

Message No. 196, Naeem at naeem@global.co.za (September 22, 1998)


There is a rumour that sperm die in water. Would it be safe to have sex in water without condom without falling pregnant. And if not, is it safe to use
a condom in water without damaging it or effecting it purpose.

Reply by Monnica


If there's penetration going on, don't count on the water preventing pregnancy. Sperm are pretty good swimmers!


Withdrawal Symptoms

Message No. 195, Candace at yimada@home.com (September 21, 1998)


I have recently decided to go off the pill, but I've been having mood swings. I was wondering if it is possible to have withdrawal symptoms like depression after discontinuance. I've looked on several sites but nonne talk about the after effects of taking birth control.


electronic fertility testing

Message No. 192, sol at sland01@ msn .com (September 14, 1998)


I've heard of a electronic tester which has electrodes and uses skin resistance where can i get one?

Reply by Monnica


I've never heard of that, but do check out the Persona Fertility Indicator under Natural Methods.


Pregnant?

Message No. 191, Amanda at atyler@edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu (September 12, 1998)


Dear Monica,

I was going to start the pill to regulate my body. I was suppose to start the pill on the Sunday after my period was scheduled to start. My period started on a Monday and so I thought that it was close enough to Sunday to start the pill. However, I forgot to take the pill one day and so I took two the next day. I was starting to feel very emotional after a taking the pill for a few days, so I decided to stop taking it and that being irregular I could live with. Then, I went to see my long distance boy

friend. We had intercourse the first afternoon that I was there. That night we had sex again, however, this time our condom broke, but we did not realize it until he had already ejaculated inside of me. The next day I could tell that I was ovulating. I took one of my pills that next day and the day after that, as well. Three days later I started spotting and having a breakthrough very very lite period. What are the chances that I could be pregnant? Please e-mail me and let me know. My address is aty
ler@edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu

Reply by Monnica


When it gets that complicated I can't even guess what could happen. Talk to your pharmacist. If you don't get your period when you expect to, you should visit your local crisis pregnancy center for a pregnancy test. It sounds like the pill is not a good method for you because you keep forgetting to take it.


could i be pregnant?

Message No. 190, Beth at honeypie16@hotmail.com (September 05, 1998)


I am 17 and have been having sex w/my boyfriend for about 4 months now. He is also 17. We used a condom the 1st time we had sex. The 1st time we had sex was both of our 1st times ever. Occasionally, when we have sex now we just us the withdraw method..i know that it is not completely safe but i have been getting my period on time every month. I heard that u could be pregnant and still get your period. My period is normal..not light it's usually pretty heavy at the beginning.
And also my cramps aren't as bad since we have been having sex, does that have anything to do with having sex? Could i be pregnant and not know it?

Reply by Monnica


An abnormally short or light period can occur even if you are pregnant.
A few rare women continue to have full periods throughout their pregnancies.
If you are having regular periods I doubt you have anything to worry about, but if you suspect that you might be pregnant (ie, have additional pregnancy symptoms), the best thing you can do is to get a pregnancy test right away.
Your local crisis pregnancy center can offer you one for free.
Of course, any time you experience bleeding during a confirmed pregnancy you should see your doctor immediately. It could be an early warning sign of a miscarriage.


Pregnancy Symptoms

Message No. 188, Jill at melmac78@gurlmail.com (September 04, 1998)


Me and my boyfriend messed around once, we didn't even have sex. Well, we got kinda close and I'm worried that I might be pregnant. Its awhile 'till I get my period, still about 2 weeks until I'm expecting it. I won't have sex right now, I have to get on birth control before I do. I'm only 16, and I don't want to be pregnant, I'm not ready for that responsibility. I'm worried because my stomach muscles have been hurting, and I'm afraid that's a symptom.
Could you fill me in on the symptoms, besides not getting your period? I'm really worried.

Reply by Monnica


Pregnancy from a single incident like the one you described is unlikely, but
you can get pregnant without having sex. I've seen it happen before to girls
who thought they were practicing abstinence, who were stunned to learn that they
were pregnant though they considered themselves virgins. Sperm are determined
little guys, and only a few drops of semen need to come in contact with the
vaginal opening for pregnancy to result, even if you are "medically" a virgin
(i.e. unbroken hymen). The sperm will swim up into the uterus and fertilize a
waiting egg. If the egg has not yet been released they will wait around for up
to 5 days for the egg to be released.

The best way to make sure you don't get pregnant is to avoid such risky
activities in the first place. One thing I can almost guarantee is that if you keep taking
chances you will eventually end up pregnant, if you're not already.

Common pregnancy symptoms include nausea, sore/tender breasts, feeling bloated, changes in appetite, weight gain, fatigue/extra sleep, frequent urination, and of course, lack of periods.
Although there are many other things that can cause these symptoms, if you suspect that you might be pregnant, the best thing you can do is to visit your local crisis pregnancy center for a free pregnancy test right away. You can get a test as soon as your period is one day late.


I am ready.....

Message No. 187, Sunny at rizzo91@hotmail.com (September 02, 1998)


I have been dating my boyfriend for 8 months and he's great and everything that you want a guy to be....We have fooled around but, nothing to serious...well I think that we are getting closer then ever...I turn 18 this month and I want to know if you have to get a parnets consent to get "the shoot"....or can I do it my self after I turn 18....we have had a talk and my boyfriend said that he would even go with me to the doctor to get it. I told him that that was a bog step and that I was glad that he said t

hat he would go with me. What would be the advice that you would give to me?!? I knew my boyfriend 4 yrs before we started dating! I would love any advice that you could give to me! Thank,

Reply by Monnica


Hi Sunny! That's great that you have remained a virgin.
It's really teriffic to save it for that special person.
At 18 you should have no trouble getting whatever birth control you like.
My only advice to you is to read Responsible Sexual Choices and You.


On the shot since Feb - and still have not stopped bleeding - VERY CONCERNED

Message No. 186, Chrissy M. at crachockic@inca-net.com (September 02, 1998)


Back in Feb. I had an abortion and then in Mar. I went on the shot. It is now Sept. and I am still bleeding. I don't think there has been a week or even a day since Feb. that I have not been on my period. I have told my doctor and all he says it that it will stop- all the questions that I read from other women on the shot complain of not having there period. I am concerned and would like to know if maybe there was something done wrong during my abortion to cause this masive bleeding -
or if it is a common side effect that many women experience along w/ me. And if so, I do not by all means do not want to stop taking the shot - I have had alot of friends tell me that they stopped taking it and weeks - or a few months later they become pregnant. I really like the convinence of the shot - not having to worry about it everyday - what other options could I try??

Reply by Monnica


Hi Chrissy! You should have stopped bleeding months ago from your abortion. I'd say this is really bad news. Call another ob/gyn for a second opinion right away. You need to get checked out. If they determine, for sure, that the only reason for the bleeding is the shot, I'd quit the shot.
If you keep losing blood you could become iron anemic. There are many other birth control methods which won't compromise your health.


WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MY MOOD??

Message No. 185, GT at BADDSD@AOL.COM (August 30, 1998)


I AM 25 YEARS OLD AND MARRIED WITH 2 CHILDREN. I AM CURRENTLY TAKING THE 777 PILL AND I AM IN A BAD MOOD ALL OF THE TIME, IT ALWAYS HAPPENS WHEN I AM ON THE PILL. I AM IN NO MOOD FOR SEX, I DONT CARE ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT I ALSO AM DONE HAVING CHILDREN. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!1

Reply by Monnica


All hormonal methods of birth control can cause depression, reduce sex drive and/or cause mood swings. Check out the other methods in this guide for some new ideas.


the pill verses a condom with spermicide

Message No. 184, amanda at lsbremner@sk.sympatico.com (August 30, 1998)


First of all, I'd like to thank you for establishing such an informative site. I am 15 years old, female, not sexually active my question is: How does spermacide used with a condom rate against the Pill in terms of effectiveness, side effects, and cost?

Reply by Monnica


All the studies I've seen have been for just condoms, not the two methods -- condoms and spermicides -- together. It is postulated that using the two methods together would be highly effective, but without real life studies of couples who have done this there's no way to know for sure. So, it's hard to compare, but I would guess condoms/spermicides vs. the pill would be about equal. In fact, I would actually put more stock in the condoms/spermicide combo
when used consitently by adults in a long-term relationship.

However, I must point out that all methods of reversible birth control are relatively ineffective when used by teens.


The Pill

Message No. 181, Maria at FoxValley@aol.com (August 23, 1998)


I recently began to have sex with my boyfriend, and although I am not on the pill, I would like to be. I was wondering, do I have to have parental consent to get a perscription for the pill?

Reply by Monnica


You'll have to talk to your doctor for this kind of information, as laws can vary. If you are a teen, living under your parent's roof, you owe it to your parents to discuss your decision to be sexually active with them too.
Sexually active women need to see a gynecologist regularly, and your parents will be the ones to pay for it (and drive you there if you can't drive yet). If you get pregnant or an STD it will their problem too, not just yours.


Birth control pill& missed period

Message No. 180, mercedes at mercedes@storksite.com (August 18, 1998)


I have a question. I was on the birth control pill Ortho Novum/777 and I stopped taking it because of side effects. I stopped taking it on July 29 and normally I would have gotten my period August 8. I know Im not pregnant because I had a test and it was negative. My question is how long is it going to take my period to come back? I am waiting to start my new birth control pills. Thank-you! :-)

Reply by Monnica


For users of combined oral-contraceptives, missing a period is not uncommon.
If you have not missed a pill you are probably not pregnant, but a pregnancy test
may not be a bad idea. If you miss two periods in a row OR if you miss your
period and you did miss one of your pills, you could be pregnant. Contact your
local crisis pregnancy center immediately for a pregnancy test.

Even though you have stopped taking the pill, because of the
prolonged effect of the birth control drugs on your body, you may not have a period for several months.


Help

Message No. 179, Jan at terito@usa.net (August 18, 1998)


Dear Monica:

Thats a great site. I have a question for you - I am going out with this girl
since last 3 months and I made love with her many times with condom. (Her background - She is very nice hearted chiniese student age 37 years and she is divorced and had a baby which she left in china with x-husband) she came to US two yeras back and I am the third person she met as relationship. She has not secure job and is totally un focused girl(woman). Lately she keep asking me to have sex without condum and after my rejection she gets very upsets and yells at me like crazy and makes me feel very guil

ty. She keeps saying that she is clean
no desises and she rells me that today is safe and she just had her periods...she explains all that biology to me....

My question is why she wants to have sex with condom and making it like a big deal...usually it is men who want with condom...I have stoped talking to her as a result....PLease tell me if I am wrong...

Reply by Monnica


Dear Jan, you are smart to want to protect yourself from any STDs and your girlfriend from pregnancy. Chances are she's upset about something else that really has nothing to do with you. I'm not a therapist, so I can't evern guess what that might be. I suggest you get some couples counseling if you want to
save this relationship.

I also should warn you that all methods of birth control fail, and even with a condom you put your girlfriend at risk of pregnancy. I think you two should get to know each other better (3 months is not all that long) before complicating your relationship with a turbulent sexual element.


your site

Message No. 178, Carrie at cmyers@mail.ewu.edu (August 18, 1998)


I really like your site. Its very informational. However I have a comment that you may not like. I think you should be more realistic when you are dealing with teenagers and their questions. you arent doing them any good when they ask a question and you just tell them not to have sex. Im 18 and I know teenagers dont listen to anyone. Its perfectly ok to tell them to wait but i think it would be better if you also answered their questions at the same time.

Reply by Monnica


Hi Carrie! I do answer questions from teens whenever possible. I'm glad to answer technical questions about reproduction, birth control, pregnancy, pregnancy symptoms, abortion, etc. However, if a teen asks me wht kind of birth control they should use, my first suggestion is always abstinence.


Question

Message No. 177, jake at Jel@was.edu (August 15, 1998)


What are the odds of a particular sperm of reaching an egg? In other words how many sperm inevitably die for each single sperm that get to an egg? If there is a small amount of sperm, will there me a small amount of conception?

Reply by Monnica


Hi Jake! I'm not a biologist, but I can tell you that a higher sperm count is associated with an increased chance of pregnancy. Technically speaking, one sperm wouldn't be enough to cause pregnancy.
Many sperm are needed to break down the protective membrane around the egg, but of course, the first one that gets in "wins."
There are millions of sperm in just a few drops of semen, so it doesn't take much!


Birth Control Pill (Orthocylcen)

Message No. 176, Kristi at puhkuh@aol.com (August 12, 1998)


I have searched your FAQ page and found no answer to my question about birth control pills. I am trying to find out how long you must take the pill before it is in your system enough to provide contraception. I apologize if this question has already been answered. I appreciate your site and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Kristi

Reply by Monnica


If you start taking the pill during your period, according to your doctor's directions, you should be protected from pregnancy right from the start.
Many doctors recommend that you use a backup method when you are just starting
to make sure you are protected from pregnancy, in case you forget to take your
pills or take them properly.


Age

Message No. 175, Arty at mrk@apex.com (August 10, 1998)


Why are you so against teenage sex. I'm an 11 year old girl and my 19 year old boyfriend is very careful when we have sex. He pulls out every time just before he comes inside me. I haven't gotten pregnant since we started making love last summer. See, young people can be responsible.

Reply by Monnica


One reason I'm so against teenage and pre-teen sex is that people your age
aren't old enough to have good judgement about a situation which can result
in some very adult consequenses. At 11 years old you are not able to deal with
a pregnancy or an STD on your own. You're not even old enough to drive to
your pediatrician's office for a Pap smear (an exam all sexually active women
should have regularly). If you got pregnant you could not even drive to your
prenatal exams, arrange for an adoption, or pay for an abortion.

More seriously, you don't have the life experience and insight to see that your boyfriend does not, and cannot love you. He is a taking advantage of you for
sex. His behavior is illegal and immoral -- it is illegal for someone his age to have sex with someone your age. If he loved you he would stop putting you in danger of pregnancy (withdrawal is a very ineffective method of birth control).
He would stop having sex with you immediately.

I encourage you to tell your parents or school counselor about what is going on. Even if you don't agree with me it would be smart to get advice from someone a little older and wiser.


Could I be pregnant?

Message No. 172, Chrissy at gillifish@pei.sympatico.ca (August 06, 1998)


Dear Monica,

Earlier today my boyfriend and I were sort of fooling around and we were coming pretty close to actually having sex for the first time but he didn't have a condom and I'm not on the pill. We had intended to use the "withdral method". Anyhow, he ejaculated before we actually had sex so there was no real penetration but he did ejaculate on my vaginal area. Now, my last period began around the 22nd of July and ended on the 25th or 26th of July so (correct me if I'm wrong) I'm ovulating around this time.
Now,
the two of us are just scared to death that I may become pregnant and to be totally honest with you I have no idea if it's even possible but I would REALLY appreciate a response to this. What are the chances that I may become pregnant even though no real penetration occured (to my knowledge). Should I take a pregnancy test? If so how long should I wait? I read on your page about the "morning after pill" and I was thinking about calling my doctor tomorrow morning and inquiring about
attaining it... do you think this would be wise or unnecessary? I'm just sick with worry about this whole thing. Thanks very much in advance for whatever help you might be able to give me--

Sincerely,

Chrissy

PS-- Could you please e-mail me your response personally even if you do include this on your website?

Reply by Monnica


I really don't recommend the withdrawal method, especially for young,
single people. It's really difficult to use properly for people who are
new to sexual activty. Your boyfriend has to pull-out in time enough to
keep from ejaculating anywhere near the vagina. This takes practice to
get good at. Even a few drops of semen on the outside of your vagina
can make you pregnant if it's your fertile time of the month.

A pregnancy test would be a smart idea. Even smarter would be waiting
on sex until you are ready to deal with the consequenses (pregnancy,
STDs, etc.) Fill out the on-line form at the
Int'l Pregnancy Help Center to find out where you
can get a free pregnancy test in your area.


soap

Message No. 171, Johnny at blarlde@hotmail.com (August 06, 1998)


I need information about soap and sperm. Does the alkalinity of soap kill sperm if i gets on your hands? Also, does soap effectively wash away sperm, or can it "cling" to you on a microscopic level?

Reply by Monnica


I asked my sister this questions for you.
She is a biochemist at New York University and says, quite confidently, that
soap will make holes in the plasma memberanes of the sperm,
causing cell death.
Any sperm that may remain after washing your hands thoroughly would not be enough to cause pregnancy under normal circumstances.


Nuristrate

Message No. 170, Rakgadi at mmmotseto@sghq.pwv.gov.za (August 05, 1998)


Hi,

I have recently heard about this new type of injection (contraceptive) which is less complicated than Depo-Provera, what I need to know is after how much period should one go for re-injection. The last time I heard was that you only go for your shots after every two months, now they say it is two months at first then later its after three months.

Please help I can't decide on the next step. I used it for the first two months and was expecting my third shot after two months, but couldn't get one since the doctors' point of view are different.

Rakgadi


Pregnancy during period??

Message No. 168, Jennifer at thegreat@aol.com (August 03, 1998)


My husband and I had sex on day 3 of my 7 day period cycle. He used the withdrawal method, however, he thinks some sperm may have been released prior to "pulling out." What are the chances of getting pregnant at this time of the menstrual cycle...??

Reply by Monnica


Practically nil. The first 5-6 days of your period are infertile.


Virgin???

Message No. 165, Stace at blondie1@stny.lrun.com (July 25, 1998)


I was talking to my friend today and we were both wondering, what exactly makes you not to be a virgin anymore? Does only vaginal sex make you not a virgin or does any type of sex make you not a virgin? I love your site. Thank for your time.

Reply by Monnica


I spoke to one of my professors about this recently, and the opinion seems to
be that you are a virgin until vaginal penetration. If you just have oral sex or any other type of similar behavior,
you could still be considered a virgin, but you would also have to consider
yourself sexually active. There are many other behaviors besides genital sex that can cause pregnancy or STD.
But, even if the guy goes in for 'just a few seconds'
you can't call yourself a virgin anymore!


Wondering

Message No. 164, Kara at k_myslivec@hotmail.com (July 25, 1998)


My b/f and I have had sex twice and it hurt more the second time. Is there something wrong w/ me or is this normal? Another question is: When a male ejactulates does that mean he's had an orgasm? And Whats more effective "The Pill" or Depro-Provera? Sorry I asked so much! Thanks for all of your time and effort w/ this site! It's great!!

W/B ASAP!! -Kara

Reply by Monnica


The reason it was more painful the second time is probably becuase your sensitive vaginal tissues became irritated from all the friction from the first time.
When people have sex their "threshhold of pain" decreases, which can mean,
practically, that you were hurt a little bit but didn't feel it at the time.
Later you were sore, so when you started to have sex again -- ouch! This is probably nothing to worry about, but you should speak to a doctor to be sure.

To answer your other questions: When a man ejaculates he has an orgasm; almost always they occur at the same time. Depro-Provera is more effective than the pill but I don't recommend either. Read about both in this guide for more info.


Stupidity

Message No. 163, Veronica at Ginger323@aol.com (July 24, 1998)


Dear Monnica,

Recently me and my boyfriend have had sex twice without a condom, once we did it for a while, about 10 minutes and the second only about a minute, a minute and a half. My question may be silly but first of all, can a man control his pre-ejaculation? and second if he doesnt ejaculate inside of you can you get pregnant?. I know people who have done it as much as 4 years straight without any contriceptive and they insist you cant get pregnant if your boyfriend pulls out.
Your answer would help me a lot, and since i have no plans what so ever to ever ever commit this moronic act again, hopefully i wont be asking such silly questions again....
Thank you;)

Reply by Monnica


This method of birth control, also known as withdrawal, has been used for thousands of years.
It can be moderatly effective, if the man can consitently withdraws before ejaculating.
This method has a failure rate of 19%, which means that every year 1 in 5 couples using only this method can expect to get pregnant.
Those are odds are okay if a surprise pregnancy wouldn't mean the end of the world for you, and, like any method, it will work better for some couples than others. (All methods tend to be less effective for teens than for married couples or coulples who have been using a method for a long time.)
However, if you want to be sure you won't get pregnant, you should use something more effective.
The most effective method is abstinence, which means waiting on sex. Please read Responsible Sexual Choices and You for more info.


Curious

Message No. 162, Monica at frogy022@AOL.com (July 20, 1998)


Dear Monnica;

Hello I jsut first want to tell you that i am thrilled to have found your web site. It's so great!! Anyways me and my boyfriend have been together for a little over 3 months and we are really in love with eachother. We have sex all the time, atleast 3 of 4 times a week. I am on the combination pill and he uses condoms and pulls out. I am a little confused though because is it OK that he doesn't use a condom and pull out? I am 15 and he is 17 and I love making love to him
but if it is really safe to not have to do those two methods too then I would like to know. Also I am confused when I read one of your emails because it said something about how a girl had sex and then missed her pill the next morning and she risked her chances of getting pregnant.
I take my pill at 10:00pm every night and I was wondering that if I took my last pill before the "Reminder" pills and we ahd sex that night before that last pill's 24 hours were up, was it still safe? Write back to me soon at Frogy022@AOL.com
thanks!

'M'

Reply by Monnica


I think it's great that you are trying so hard to be responsible and not get
pregnant. Three birth control methods -- pills, condoms, and withdrawal --
that's really a lot! If you keep having sex using all three methods it would really be unlikley that you will get pregnant. However, as a 15 year old, I think you should wait on sex until you can handle a worst-case-scenario. You still risk STD infection, especially if you stop using a condom. If you forget a pill you would increase your risk of pregnancy,
and if you keep using them you have to deal with side-effects and possible health risks. And, even with all those precautions, you can still get pregnant because no method is 100% effective. Please read Responsible Sexual Choices and You for more info. Good luck!


Condoms slipping

Message No. 161, Alex at alexlivingstone@hotmail.com (July 19, 1998)


My girlfriend and I recently started having sex. We are using condoms, as she does not want (and I do not want to put her through) the pain of heavy periods which she experiences on the pill. However, when we use condoms they tend to slip, and one came off completely once (luckily this was realised before climax) - This to me seems VERY dangerous is there any way that I can prevent this from happening?

Reply by Monnica


Hi Alex! While you're having sex the condom should fit snuggly enough so that it stays on completely while you are erect.
When you take off the condom you need to be sure that you are holding it firmly by the base.
As soon as you ejeculate you need to stop having sex and remove your condom before you become flaccid. You can't have sex again until your next erection, at which point a new condom must be used. You can read more about proper condom use by clicking here.

It can be dangerous if a condom slips off -- or breaks or leaks. Condoms are not 100% fool-proof, even if you do everything right. They break all the time. Sex is pretty risky!


Masturbationg and HeadAches

Message No. 159, Anonymous at Anonymous@Anonymous.com (July 10, 1998)


I know this may have nothing to do with what your message board is about, but other than going to my doctor i know of no other way to find answers,

I am a young teen. (Male) and when ever i masturbate i get terrible headaches.

Can you tell me why, and how to solve them?

Thanx..

Reply by Monnica


There's two seperate issues here I need to address. The first is the issue of marturbation in general, which is considered by most a normal activity for teenage boys. However, as a Christian, I can't recommend this behavior (see What God Showed Me About Sex for more info). Masturbation can persist as a habit which is hard to break, usually accompanies the use of pornography which can also be addictive, and can isolate you from relationships with real women.

That said, I move on to the second issue which is orgasm-induced headache, a problem which is not uncommon. Scientists haven't discovered the exact cause of orgasmic headaches, but it's thought that the symptom is the
result of normal changes in the blood vessels and muscles
with sexual activity. During intercourse, blood
pressure and heart rate rise significantly, causing the vessels in the
brain to widen. This physiologic process is
similar to the one that produces migraine, and some reports suggest
that migraine sufferers may be more prone
to orgasmic headaches than the general population. Contraction of the neck and
shoulder muscles may also contribute to orgasmic headaches.

Very rarely, orgasmic headache signals an aneurysm, or bleeding blood vessels
in the brain. If your headache changes in intensity or duration,
or if you have any neurological symptoms, such as loss
of vision or weakness, you should discuss them with your doctor right away.

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent orgasmic headaches, although some people have reported that taking anti-inflammatory medication prior to sexual activity is effective.


Going off birth control

Message No. 155, Jackie at mrsjstone@aol.com (May 29, 1998)


I recently went off birth control pills in March '98. I had my period exactly 28 days later. The following month I was 2 days late but I had a normal period. That same month (19 days later) I noticed some brown discharge for a couple days. Lately my nipples are tender and I'm a little more tired than usual. I took an ept test and it came up positive. What are the chances that I am pregnant?

Thanks for your response!

Jackie

Reply by Monnica


I'd put my money on the EPT pregnancy test! Although false negaitves are somewhat common -- especially when the test is taken too early -- false
positives are very rare. Visit your doctor or local crisis pregnancy center
for another test to confirm the results.
The first day of your last period is used to determine your due date.
You may need an ultrsound to pin
down the baby's true due date, because oral contraceptives can throw off your
periods.


contraception

Message No. 153, Elizabeth at ksalter@shelford.vic.edu.au (May 27, 1998)


I need a definition of contraception please.

Reply by Monnica


Conception is the joining of a man's sperm and a woman's egg to form a new life.
So, contraception is anything which prevents the sperm and egg from joining.
This could be condoms, spermicides, natural family planning, or abstinence.
Some birth control methods, such as oral contraceptives and the IUD, are not always contraceptive. They sometimes "prevent" pregnancy by causing the expulsion of the already fertilized egg.

The FDA and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have attempted to redefine conception to mean implantation instead of fertilization. This semantic distortion has not been universally accepted and has only confused the issue.
However, under this definition all birth control methods, including known abortifacients such as the Morning After Pill, would be considered contraceptive.


getting pregnant

Message No. 152, Piera at wildflower@angelic.com (May 26, 1998)


I have a question, and I know that this sounds like a dumb question, but it cannnot be that stupid since no one I ask knows the answer: Is it possible to get pregnant without having sex??? Please let me know...

Reply by Monnica


You bet! See BUT IT WASN'T REALLY SEX, WAS IT? to find out how!


Norplant

Message No. 151, Kris at krisb@mosquitonet.com (May 25, 1998)


I currently have a norplant implant and am coming up on the end of five years. I am not in a position to have it removed/changed and don't expect to be for about four months. Does it still retain its effectiveness or do my husband and I need to supplement our birth control? Thanks

Reply by Monnica


You implant is now less effective than when it was put in. The longer you wait, the less effective it will be. A back up method would be smart unless you would not be totally horrifed by a surprise pregnancy!


Pill

Message No. 149, Jay at sherman.128@osu.edu (May 21, 1998)


I'm writing to find out an answer so that my girlfriend doens't get worried. She seems to think, even after I researched it and told her what I found, that taking the pill late by a matter of 1-3 hours will reduce the effectiveness. Nothing I have found indicates that this is a problem (only missing it by one or two days seems to matter). Have you heard anything about this?

Thanks,


Jay.

Reply by Monnica


It depends on the type of pill. A few hours will not likely make a difference for a standard combination estrogen/progestin pill. A mini-pill (progestin only) will lose effectiveness.


Pregnancy possibility on the pill

Message No. 148, tammy at tammynorris@hotmail.com (May 21, 1998)


I have just started using the pill. I have been on it about 1 1/2wks now and have had intercourse only a couple of times after the first 1 1/2 weeks with no other protection. What are the chances of pregnancy so soon on the pill? I have no desire to have anymore children at this time and I am concerned.

Reply by Monnica


There's no precise anser to this question. Some doctors recommend that you use a backup method for the first month, but many medical authorities find this unnecessary. You should do whatever your doctor recommended. If your doctor has suggested that you use a backup method, you should comply with his instructions. Failure to use birth control methods correctly is one of the main reasons they fail. Of course, all methods can fail even if you use them perfectly.

If you are taking your pills according to directions, there's no reason to think that your odds of pregnancy are any greater than for all other women on the pill.
For more information about the odds of pregnancy and oral contraceptives, see Hormonal Methods in this guide.


Pill and Pregnancy

Message No. 147, Pam at polheiser@mkp.com (May 18, 1998)


Hi,

If you are taking the pill regularly what are the chances of getting pregnant while having intercourse during your period? Should I use a back-up method when I have sex while I am on my period (just in terms of pregnancy)? What are the chances of becoming pregnant if I have unprotected sex during my period and I regularly take the pill?

Reply by Monnica


If you are taking your pill regularly, there's no reason why you would be any more likely to get pregnant during your period. For women who aren't on the pill, the first 5-6 days of menstruation are infertile anyway.


depo or pill?

Message No. 146, bethany at rsupton@u.arizona.edu (May 16, 1998)


I am getting married in three weeks and have been delayed in starting birth
control due to untimely scheduling of my pap smears. I have taken several birth
control assesment quizes to see which forms were best for me. The one that
every quiz said i should take is Depo-Provera; however after reading several
of the entries on this web page I have become leary of this method and thought about reconsidering the pill.
I have suffered from migraines for the last eight years and have been told that because of this the pill would not be a good choice for me. What would you suggest other than talking with by gyn., she has told me that either will work for me.

Also will my husband and I need to use extra protection during our honeymoon.
We are both college students and DO NOT want to get pregnant yet!

thank you for this informative page; it is the best i have found concerning bc.

Reply by Monnica


I think you should read the post directly below! I would avoid Depo-Provera --
especially if you are prone to migraines. Once you have the injection, you are
stuck with the side-effects for up to a year!


depo-provera

Message No. 145, Deanna at deadejohn@DAS.INVEST1.com (May 12, 1998)


I was on depo-provera for only 6 months and for that I have been suffering from migraine headaches for two years. I can't eat certain foods because of the chemical imbalance, they give me a migraine. It is hell and I am tired of seeing ads in magazines for something that is so damaging to your body. I don't have a question, I just hope this message goes out to anyone contemplating taking depo-provera!! Don't do it!!


BIRTH CONTROL

Message No. 144, TERRI at TCRANE98@HOTMAIL.COM (May 12, 1998)


i have had my tubes tied 11 years ago and i am going on vaction this month and i will be on my period during this time. if i start taking birthcontrol this week and i start taking my vaction on may 26th can i avoid my period during this time?

Reply by Monnica


You can change the date your period arrives through using the pill. I have never done this myself, so I can't really give you any specific guidelines. I suggest you ask your pharmacist or ob/gyn for details about rescheduling your pills.


the guide

Message No. 143, Amanda at mandy@compuserve.com (May 12, 1998)


I would like to know who/which interest is responsible for this Guide

Reply by Monnica


I'm completely personally responsible for this guide. I maintain it on a volunteer (unpaid) basis as an educational resource for people who (like myself) have been frustrated looking for accurate and conscientous information about
birth control. I have been disturbed by doctors trying to push hormones on me without any explaination of possible risks or mechanisms, and I have unwittingly subjected myself to these chemicals only latter to be puzzled by harmful side-effects. I've been disappointed by products on drug store shelves making remarkable claims that don't pan out. I've been shocked by well-menaing doctors offering to tie my tubes during the delivery of my daughter.

I have also been dismayed by a value-free approach to safe sex and contraception being forced on me at every turn. I've been saddened by the fall-out -- daily I hear stories from pregnant teens who thought that a boyfriend, condom, or pill was going to protect them.

The cost of the web site hosting and domain name is partially paid by donations. For more about me and my philosophy, please see my About this Site page.


female contraception - new advances

Message No. 142, grant at kidUFO@aol.com (May 11, 1998)


I recently read (I believe in the Miami Herald) about a new, non-surgical method of contraception. It is done by the ob/gyn on an out-patient basis. Briefly, it is a procedure whereby the ob/gyn inserts two stainless steel balls into "somewhere"...which prevents "something" from happening...

Believe me, I wish I knew what it was...but it's quite new and supposed to be quite amazing...and completely reversable...and it's not an IUD.

Please help.

Thank you.

Grant


signs fo pregnancy

Message No. 141, deb at olblueeyes@hotmail.com (May 07, 1998)


I have felt very, very tired with limited energy for the past few week. I don't feel ill and I did begin my period five days ago. However, I am a little concerned that I could be pregnant anyway. Is it possible to be pregnant and be on my period anyway?

Reply by Monnica


Yes, an abnormally short or light period can occur even if you are pregnant. A
few rare women continue to have periods throughout their pregnancies. If you
suspect that you might be pregnant, the most important thing you can do is to
get a pregnancy test right away. Your local crisis pregnancy center can offer
you one for free. Of course, any time you experience bleeding during pregnancy
you should see your doctor right away. It could be an early warning sign of a miscarriage.


Tubal Ligation failure rates

Message No. 139, Guy at gvb@dialix.com.au (May 05, 1998)


Would anyone know the failure rate for Tubal Ligations performed during ceasarian section deliveries?

Reply by Monnica


After childbirth the Fallopian Tubes are thicker than usual.
This can cause a higher failure rate than women who have this done at other times. One manufacturer of tubal clips quoted me a failure rate of around 5-6 per 1000 women, while their normal failure rate is approximately 2-3 per 1000. Of course, any figures provided by such a source may be more optimistic than the actual numbers.

Here's another related bit of information that just came across my desk from the May 1998 issue of Bay Area Parent (p.73)
"Women who have undergone sterilization may be four to five times as likely to
undergo a hysterectomy than women who were not sterilized, according to a
study in the February 1998 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. This probability
was greater regardless of the age at time of sterilization or the type of
sterilization procedure performed. The researchers could not find a
definitive reason for these observations."


Pregnancies/Pet Owners

Message No. 138, Lucy at dshawver@highland.k12.in.us (May 04, 1998)


Is there any information on pets such as ferrets and cats presenting a danger to the baby during a pregnancy?

Reply by Monnica


Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be transmitted from cats to humans
(although other infection routes such as undercooked meat are much more
frequent). If a pregnant woman is infected with this parasite for the first
time during a pregnancy the effect on the baby can be severe. You
should not handle a cat's litter box during pregnancy and should wash your
hands after handling a cat. Toxoplasmosis is much more likely to occur
in outdoor cats as it is transmitted to the cat through hunting of small
animals. I'm sure about ferrets, but it seems to me that they could pose a danger as well.

There are other conditions cats can have which are transmissible to infants or
even older humans under some circumstances. Ringworm, a fungal infection,
is transmissible to people as is roundworm infection.
More information.


Scared to death

Message No. 137, Munchkin at penks000@uwp.edu (May 01, 1998)


I have resently been diagnosed with having gential herpes. I went on the depo shot. I got my period in feberary and that is when I got the shot. Ididn't get anything in March no period no spotting no nothing. In April when I was assumming when I was going to get my period I started spotting. I am not srue if I should be worried about cerivical cancer or not what should I do?

Scared to death

Reply by Monnica


Irregular bleeding is a common side effect of Depo-Provera, and the number one
reason for discontinuation. I think its a bit early to be worried about cancer.
Many women will have no periods at all while on Depo-Provera, even up to a
year after the last injection. If you are concerned you should talk to your
doctor about this problem.


Headaches and the Pill

Message No. 136, anna at ahogsden@tmaventures.co.uk (April 29, 1998)


I have been on the Pill - Cilest for a month and a half now and i have been suffering from constant headaches for the past few days. Is this likely to clear up or should i go and see the doctor.

Reply by Monnica


Headaches, even migraines, are not an uncommon side effect for users of the oral contraceptives. Because this can be an early warning sign of stroke, your doctor needs to carefully evaluate the situation. Tell your doctor if you are also having dizziness, weakness, or numbness at all. This could be a major warning sign -- definitely consider quitting the pill if you headaches become worse. Call your doctor about this problem immediately!


Irregular menstrual cycles

Message No. 133, Janeen at Neeners12@aol.com (April 28, 1998)


At the age of 13, I began experiencing irregularities accompanying my period. On day one of my menstrual flow, I would sit with my head over the toilet for hours at a time. I would vomit 3-5 times in one hour for 2-4 hours, though I had eaten nothing. I had extreme cramps, heavy blood flow, dizziness, pale skin, hot and cold flashes, and seizure-like fits. I would finally sleep it off, due to the weakness of my body, and wake up feeling refreshed.
The rest of the day went smoothly, with some cramps, and the remainder of my menstrual perios was no big deal, but still painful. My doctor prescribed 600mg Ibuprofren tablets, but they weren't enough. I would sometimes take 3 at a time, up to 3 times a day, and still experience pain. This went on for 5 years, with my mother fighting the doctor about birth control -- my mom DID NOT want me on it.

A few months after my eighteenth birthday, I started on the combination pill. My blood flow went down, the cramps lessened, but I had two periods instead of one. I had stages of depression, extreme PMS, and just wasn't happy - ever. I swithched from Ortho-Novum 7/7/7-28 after 5 months to Ortho-Novum 1/50, the highest dose.
After five months of still having 2 periods, this time accompanied by a yeast infection mid-month, I switched to Ortho-Novum 1/35. I am now in my second month of pills, and experienced my period at a really irregular time, even for my irregular periods. Not one of my doctors has ever seemed to really listen, and has never done any tests. I don't know where to turn. My current doctor keeps ordering pregnancy tests, which turn out negative.

My PMS symptoms are abnormal compared to other female relatives. My mother's sister had a hysterectomy at the age of 28 for complications with her monthly cycle, but my problems aren't near as tricky as hers. She believes that I may have early signs of endometriosis. I've read up on the "disease", and asked my former doctor if it is a possiblity, but she said no. I don't want to freak out over nothing, but this is definitely something.

If you or anyone else has any advice, I would love to hear it. Please feel free to email me at < Neeners12@aol.com > Thank you


Please answer this question regarding

Message No. 130, Zep at Zeps@hotmail.com (April 23, 1998)


Dear Monnica,

I have been desperately searching the web for the past few days searching for answers to my concerns, and I stumbled into your site. This is really a great and very useful site that have already answered most of my questions.

Coincidentally, the major questions bothering me (whose answers I could not get anywehere else) was posted in Message no. 127! I have these exact same questions and worries. You did not reply to that question, and I read all the previous postings and it did touch on those subjects (particularly Message no. 51)

My boyfriend and I have engaged in some "petting" in the past months. (We are both in our late 20's) The only reason that we did not go "all the way" was we wanted our honeymoon to be very special - we plan to get married next year.

I was shocked when I found out from someone that even without penetration or my hymen breaking, some pre-cum can enter my vagina and it is possible for me to get pregnant! How often does this happen? If the withdrwal method has 11% failure rate, I'm sure my chances would be really low.

We have decided to have abstinence and just wait till we get married next year, but I'm just anxious about it. Our last "outercourse" and petting was 2 weeks ago. I've been getting my periods before that,and if I get my next period, does that mean I'm safe?

How often does it happen that you get your period but is still pregnant? What stage in a pregnancy do you expect your period to stop? I have a girlfriend who was getting her periods regularly for 5 months before she discovered she was pregnant! She's diabetic so does thsi make her case unique?

I hope you can give us further enlightenment on these matters (as well as addressing No. 127's questions) Thanks in advance and more power!

Reply by Monnica


127 is answered now! I hope that answers all your questions. I commend you on your choice to wait until marriage before having sex! Nowadays, this is a very sane and smart alternative to risking STDs and unplanned pregnancy.


Natural Herbal Birth Control

Message No. 129, Jacqi at stobbs@ohiolinks.com (April 23, 1998)


A friend of mine asked me to look up and see if there was any information on an herbal birth control. Do you have any information on this and if so, how reliable would this be?????

Reply by Monnica


I don't have any info on this, although several people have been asking about
wild yams as birth control. But remember, herbs are drugs too and can be deadly if you don't know what you're doing. I think your best bet is with methods
which have been scientifically tested and whose side-effects are well-known.


Pregnancy

Message No. 127, Heather at Feather169@aol.com (April 18, 1998)


I was wondering what are the chances of becoming pregnant if you hadn't had sex but have engaged in "petting" ?
So, if the guy never ejaculates in you or on you, but maybe a little was on his hand....what are the chances of becoming pregnant? How soon will you know you are pregnant? How can you tell? Also, how common is it to have regular periods while pregnant? If you have regular periods that last 4 days with the first two days being really heavy, can you be rest assured you aren't pregnant? Thanks
!!!

Reply by Monnica


I can't even guess what the odds of pregnancy would be from the activity you described. It depends on if enough semen came in contact with your genitals to cause preganncy AND if it was during your fertile time of the month.
Theoretically, this kind of activity could make you pregnant; it would be unlikely by not impossible. If you keep taking chances, the odds are that you will eventually become pregnant.
Please visit the Medical Inst. of Sexual Health site for more info!

You can have a period if you are pregnant, and a few rare women have preiods throughout their pregnancy. Most women, however, can rest assured that they are not pregnanct if they have had several heavy periods like you described. However, if you are having pregnancy symptoms you should have a pregnancy test right away.


MAP, and menstrual effects

Message No. 126, Theo at supra@smartt.com (April 17, 1998)


Hi, I am a 17 year old male dating a 16 year old female. About a month and a half ago we had to use the MAP as a condoom broke on us. 5 days later she menstruated, and then about a week and a half later Mar. 17 she had her period again. We did not have sex again until April 09/10 when we had it three times over a day and a half. Twice we used no conception but I withdrawled with plenty of time[ I did not ejaculate until a good 5 seconds after I pulled out],
another time we used a condom pre-lubricated with non-oxynol 9 spermicide, in adittion with K-Y Jelly Plus which contained a spermicide.
The condom broke again and I ejaculated inside of her not knowing the condom had broken.
She normally had a fairly regular 26 day cycle before the MAP.
It has now been 30 days since her last period. When we had sex it was 23 days into her cycle, so I doubt she ovulating, though she did complain of tender breasts, horniness, and chocolate cravings at the time. What are the chances she is pregnant? I am fully confident that I withdrawled well in time. Is her lateness possibly due to her use of the morning after pill a month and a half earlier? When will she have regular periods again?
When I should I start to worry? Am I panicking?

Thanks, Theo


p.s. This is the third time we've had a condom break on us. I have a large erect penis [7.5 inches]. Could this be the problem? Are condoms uniformed size or can I get larger ones?

Reply by Monnica


Hi Theo!

Because the the effects of the Morning After Pill, irregular bleeding is to be expected. A broken condom is a serious matter, even if it was lubricated with spermicide. You can get larger condoms, and these can even be ordered over the web.
However, my advice to you is to wait on sex until you are old enough to deal witht he natural consequences of sexual activity -- unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Both are very serious and could have life-changing implications. Please see
Responsible Sexual Choices and You for more info.


The Pill And Long Term Affects

Message No. 125, Mark at mark.fowkes@virgin.net (April 16, 1998)


Hi!

What are the long term affects of the pill? I know that there are some, but i want to know How/Why, i have heard something about the copper build up, but what chemicals react with what, and how etc.!!

Thanks

Mark

Reply by Monnica


As far as I know, there is no copper in the Pill. Long term effects depend on if you are taking the regular combined pill or the mini-pill. Most effects disappear once the pill is discontinued. These unpleasant effects may include:
Weight gain, Acne or dark-colored areas on face,
Nausea/Vomitting (especially at the beginning),
Dizziness,
Headache,
Depression,
Acne and/or oily skin,
Vaginal infections, or
High blood pressure.
Progestin-Only Methods, like the mini-pill, may cause:
Untimely bleeding or spotting between periods,
Prolonged menstrual bleeding (8 days or more),
No bleeding at all (amenorrhea) for several months or over a year,
Headache (very common),
Nervousness/anxiety,
Lower abdominal pain,
Dizziness,
Loss of sex drive (libido),
Depression,
Acne and/or oily skin,
Change of appetite,
Weight gain,
Breast tenderness (mastalgia),
Increased facial or body hair growth (hirsutism) or hair loss,
Whitish vaginal discharge (leukorrhea),
Excessive growth of body/facial hair or hair loss,
Enlarged ovarian follicles, and
Bone density loss.
Less common, but more serious health hazards include:
Blood clots in lung or brain, Stroke,
Liver tumors,
Heart attack,
Gallbladder disease, and possibly
Cancer.


Hymen and Pregnancy

Message No. 123, Tatum at sorceress@lconn.com (April 13, 1998)


Thank you for this extremely informative site. My question is a bit random, ut I am curious and have not been able to find an answer. If a penis inserts into the vagina, however, it does not insert far enough to break into the hymen and pre-ejaculation occurs, what are the chances of a person getting pregnant? Can sperm bypass the hymen even though it is still intact? Thank you.

Reply by Monnica


You can still get pregnant if you are "medically" a virgin, i.e. your hymen is still intact. If menstrual fluid can pass the hymen, rest assured that sperm can travel the same route in reverse to impregnate you.

Since your boyfriend did not ejaculate, the activity you described sounds unlikely to result in pregnancy. But if you keep taking chances it is very likely that will eventually become pregnant. Talk to your boyfriend ahead of time about what sort of activity is okay for you. If you decide to continue with sexual activity, pregnancy could result and you should both prepare for this possibility.


Different brands of "the pill"

Message No. 122, Sharon McDonald at Sharon-McDonald@fwsd.wednet.edu (April 13, 1998)


I would be very interested to have a list of different types or brands of "the pill" and their different strengths/weaknesses. Where would I go to find such a list.

Reply by Monnica


The textbook "Contraceptive Technology", by Hatcher et al contains exactly the information you are looking for (Figure 10-1 in the 16th ed.).
I don't know if the info is available on-line, but you can find more information about this book in the Resources section.


micronor birth control pill

Message No. 121, Angel at linc@digitalexp.com (April 11, 1998)


I understand this is a "24 hour" pill, and are not to be taken even 15 minutes late. If it was forgotton one day and was 45 minutes late,How many days should "back-up " be used?Again this is for the Micronor pill.
Thank-you ,Angel

Reply by Monnica


Micronor is a "Progestin-Only" pill. Please see my web page on Frequently Asked Questions
about Hormonal Methods of Birth Control
for the answer to that.


depo provera

Message No. 120, dina at herrington@auhs.edu (April 11, 1998)


I am trying to find out information about depo prvera. I had no idea that when I began investigating this form of birth control that it would be so complicated. I have been using depo for about four yeaars. Since then, I have gained twenty pounds and have had migraines for the last year. When I speak to the people where I go to get my shots, they say "it's nothing". It can't be nothing, I have spoken to too many women with the same problems. But, this is not real evidence.
Can you direct me to someone with real and honest answers?


Ignorance vs. Education

Message No. 119, Tracey at Crystl@iname.com (April 10, 1998)


Dear Monica,

After reviewing a few of your messages, I've got some questions and opinions I'd like to share with you.
I notice you are refusing to help teenagers with choosing the right birth control, and are recommending abstinence. While this is an undeniably good theory for anyone- of any age- who is not emotionally ready, or who is unsure of their partner (for committment AND health reasons) I don't believe keeping teenagers in ignorance will boost the ratio of responsible, well adjusted young women who only get
pregnant when they're "ready" for it. Education is the key to this problem- education and open-mindedness, which may mean swallowing your puritanical speeches and giving teenagers the information that they are brave enough to request. I don't know about you, but I'd rather my daughter be safe, informed, and confident of the fact that she can go to someone for help when she needs it than having sex on the sly, or having sex uninformed. If a teenage girl is not willing to wait to have sex,
despite the fact that you cautioned her against it, wouldn't you rather she be aware of her safety and birth control options?

Think about it.. if a young girl is surfing the internet looking for information on birth control that probably means she does not feel comfortable going to her parents. You might be a way of gaining information -- a way that's a bit more personalized than reading through a web page or looking through a library. Your words mean something.
People make mistakes. Teenagers take risks. Impressionable young people are influenced by such things as peer pressure and do things that perhaps they're not ready for, despite all good intentions. In short everyone's HUMAN. I'm sure you'd prefer these teenage girls asking for your advice not to have to pay for a mistake of that nature for the rest of their lives, or even forfeit their lives, due to the fact that you refused to educate them.

Sincerely,

Tracey

Reply by Guest


(I thought I'd let an expert
answer your questions aboout this important issue. -Monnica)

Abstinence is a very controversial subject. Many ask the question why
should we promote abstinence, and in doing so arenít we being naÔve and
puritanical. The answer to this is "NO!" Society has changed from
generation to generation resulting in many things being more acceptable.
One change that has resulted in an increasing acceptability is sex
amongst teenagers. Todayís adolescents are reproductively mature
before they are socially mature. They have difficulty relating their
sexual decisions to lifelong consequences. As a result, teenage sexual
behavior is a problem in the United States.

On average young people typically begin sexual intercourse approximately
eight years before marriage. Research shows that the earlier sexual
activity is begun, the greater the risks. This is for a variety of
reasons, including a higher number of sexual partners which results in
an increase in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Sexually active teenage girls have an increased tendency to develop
cervical cancer because of their bodiesí development and maturation
process. Cervical cancer is strongly associated with several strains of
the Human Papilloma Virus (genital warts), a common incurable STD.

The use of contraceptives among teenage males and females is very
unpredictable. It is difficult for adolescents that cannot conceptually
link their current behavior to a future consequence to be reliable
contraceptive users. Of the teens that do utilize birth control,
contraceptives are used consistently only 50% of the time. There are
several reasons for this including coerced sexual intercourse and
oftentimes the adolescent is not planning to have sexual intercourse.
Most teens wait at least nine months to after the first sex experience
to start using contraceptives. Even if birth control is used correctly
and faithfully by a teenage woman, the chance of her becoming pregnant
is likelier. This is due to the active physiological growth process of
the young woman's body.

Abstinence education is not ignorance education. It is factual
sexuality instruction placed within a moral context. It covers many of
the same topics found in other sex education courses but it differs in
the direction the teacher leads students and the perspective it offers
on the issue. Why does it seem so unrealistic to expect teens to wait?
Two generations ago abstinence was the expected norm. Now it is
considered "impossible" and "unreasonable." Society has equated the
youth of today with animals that have no control over their bodies.
Isn't that what we are basically saying, that today's youth cannot
control themselves sexually so our best solution is to put a band-aid
(or condom) on the problem.

Isn't it absurd to say that abstinence is unrealistic when having sex
can be fatal? Premarital abstinence is the only term that should be
linked with "safe sex." It is the only 100% effective means of
preventing pregnancy and the spread of STDs. Teaching this is neither
moralistic or repressive, it is a proven medical fact. The role of the
school is to teach young people about the healthiest choices in life.
Why should we let them compromise in this area?

Christie Blom, M.P.H., Director

Westside Crisis Pregnancy Center & Medical Laboratory

Los Angeles


The Pill

Message No. 118, Stacey at dementia@crazedanddazed.com (April 03, 1998)


Me and my bf are planning to have sex two weeks from now. If I start taking the pill this week, would I be safe when we do it? I heard that the pill takes a month before it takes effect. Is this true? How long does it really take? We both don't want to use condoms. I need to know this ASAP.

Reply by Monnica


Oral contraceptives are generally considered effective right after you begin them. The doctor has a women start taking them during her period to be sure that she is not already pregnant. A back up method is usually recommended to ensure that the woman gets used to taking them daily. Also it probably takes a few days for the hormones to get into the system and start working. Nonetheless, you should follow your doctor's instructions.
Keep in mind that birth control pills can and do fail, even if you use them perfectly.


Ignorance

Message No. 117, Sacha at 488731356@student.vtc.com (March 31, 1998)


Monnica,

This note is in reply to your answer to my previous question: I am absolutely horrified that you refuse to answer teenager's questions. That's a classic example of discrimination. I don't believe it is up to you to judge my actions. Secondly, wake up! Teenagers have sex, and it's due to the ignorance of people like you, that many teenagers remain uninformed about important information. Why is it that we are considered old enough to pay taxes, vote, purchase alcohol
(in my country we can do this at 18), and
LEGALLY have sex at 16, yet so many people treat us like children when it comes to this matter?
I am old enough, and smart enough to make my own decisions.
The question is, are you old enough and smart enough to deal with this?
Obviously this website is not fulfilling its role as a source of information, due to your inability to overcome a social taboo.
Perhaps you need to do some more training, as your professionalism is lacking greatly.

Reply by Monnica


Dear Sacha, I'm very sorry if you were upset by my response. However, I am not recommending abstinence because of any supposed 'social taboos' (in Los Angeles, California they don't exist). The simple fact is that it would be irresponsible for me to tell a teen the best method of birth control, knowing that she will probably evenually get pregnant anyway. I have seen too many stunned teens have to face an unplanned pregnancy with no resources, support,
or committment from a boyfriend to ever believe that unmarried teen sex is a good idea. If you wait on sex until you have the emotional, social, and finanacial resources to deal with an unplanned pregnancy (or worse yet -- AIDS), you would be doing yourself and your boyfreind both a big favor.

Furthermore, if you are so mature and ready for sex (and quite possibly pregnancy), you can do your own research to find the answers you are looking for (here at this very web site, might I add).

This goes for all you teens out there too. *Please* stop asking me for help choosing a birth control method. If you want to play Russian Roulette, that's your choice, but don't ask me for the bullets. My first recommendation is abstinence for you.


Virginity

Message No. 116, Nadia Vasic at nadia011@yahoo.com (March 29, 1998)


My name is Nadia and I am 23 year old girl who never experienced any sexual contact. I have a boyfriend,we've been together for a month,he is my ex best friend (I say ex,but he is still my best friend and now, boyfriend too).He is 25 years old and also virgin.The reason I am writing to you is that we wish to have sex,but would like to take care to avoid pregnancy.Now,I consulted my gynecologist and she suggested that
I take care about my cycle and use of condom and cream.But we would like that our mutual first time be without condom,and I can not use the cream for the first time.Also I would not like to take pill .So we are hoping that you will have some suggestion we can use.I thank you in advance for your answer

Reply by Monnica


If you want to avoid condoms, spermicides, and artifical hormones, the only method left for you is natural family planning. You and your boyfriend will need to take a class to learn to use it properly. You could also try Persona, an electronic fertility indicator.

However, most women who begin sexual activity for the first time become pregnancy within 6 months (even using birth control). I hope you and your boyfriend have talked about this possiblity. I generally recommend waiting until marriage before having sex. If you've only been dating for 1 month, that's hardly a committment. You are worth waiting for! See Responsible Sexual Choices and You for more info about this challenging possibility.


side effect of the pill

Message No. 115, sarah at skan@engr.csulb.edu (March 27, 1998)

Hi,

I searched the existing message for my problem, but found nothing similar. So I am not sure if this is the appropriate forum for my question. I have been on the pill for 6 months. The first 3 months, I had the typical side effect (nausea), but it went away. Then I started noticing that my vagina is really dry. The only time it was not dry is the 3rd & 4th week of each pill package, during which the external vagina is very irritated.
Intercouse is painful and sometimes I bleed since the external vagina is so dry, it cracks (similar to chapped lips). I thought I had yeast infection, so I went to see my doctor. The lab result showed no infection, so my doctor switched my pill brand (from triphasil-28 to norethin). Now, during the first package of the new brand, the irritation is much worse and so is the dryness. If I so much as sit with my leg far apart, the chapped external vagina cracks and stings during urination.


I am wondering if the yeast infection test was negative because it was during the 2nd week of my cycle when there was no irritation. If I use over the counter medication for yeast infection, could it have adverse effect if I don't have yeast infection? Is there other vaginal infections that could be the cause of this problem? And are there OTC medication I can use?
My doctor said to wait 3 months after taking the new pills before seeing her again if the symptoms don't go away. It is very difficult to suffer with this problem for 2 more months.

Reply by Monnica


Tell your doctor that you situation is unbearable. I don't think an over-the-counter medication for yeast infection would hurt you, but in the meantime you might try an over-the-counter vaginal lubricant instead.


pregnacy

Message No. 114, Don at dmorriso@ucla.edu (March 26, 1998)


Hi, I have a question. My girlfriend and I engage in sex with condoms and without condoms sometimes. I know she does not have a disase and she's the only girl I've had sex with but my quesiton is regarding pregnancy. Sometimes my penis leaks slightly before we have sex and when I'm erect. My guess is that it's seaman but it's really thin like water. Does it have sperm in it? Is it some kind of self-lubricant?
I've never ejaculated inside her but I think that stuff that leaks out my get inside her vagina. The amount of liquid that leaks is minimal but what are the chances of her getting pregnant by that? How risky is it? She said her ex-boyfriend and her had sex a lot of times without condoms and nothing has happened becaue he always pulled out. She said she's not worried about it but I'm just curious.

Reply by Monnica


The pre-ejaculate fluid is for the purpose of lubrication and generally contains no sperm. However, some sperm could be left in the penis if the man has recently experienced a previous ejaculation, which could enter the lubricating fluid and theoretically cause a pregnancy. Probably urination prior to intercourse could force out these renagade sperm, but no research has been done on this matter. However, the pre-ejaculate fluid could contain the AIDS virus if the man is HIV-positive.

The withdrawal method of birth control has a 19% annual average failure rate. That means 1 in 5 users of this method get pregnant every year. This failure rate will be higher for teens and unmarried persons. It seems like a pretty big risk to me, unless you are okay with an unplanned pregnancy and/or possibly a fatal STD.


forced celebacy

Message No. 113, steve` at swhite@carol.net (March 26, 1998)


I don't really expect an answer to my problem.
I just needed to talk about it and wondered if there were any others out there that are having the same problem. When my wife became pregnate with our second child she informed me that she did'nt want to have sex anymore. I thought that she did'nt really mean it and that she would change her mind later. I was wrong, that was back when I was 34, I am now turning 52 and have not had sex since then.I went to my pastor and talked to him about it and he informed me

that if I could not have sex with her that I was not permitted to masturbate either. I had no choice, but to completly abstain from sex of anykind. After about a couple of years it became alright and I became used to not having sex. Time passed and I was doing alright that is until a little over a year ago when I started having awful pains in my lower abdomen and would walk the floor at night. Then one morning when I went to urinate instead of urine a great amount of what appeared to be semen came out.
There was no feeling other than what I would normally feel when I urinated, but it scared me. I went to a doctor. When he found out how many years it had been since I had ejaculated he said that I had to masturbate. He said my prostate was greatly enlarged and infected. He said I had developed something called (not sure of the spelling) prosticitious. He gave me medicine for the infection and told me to masturbate.

After a few days I finally relented and decided to try it. It felt awkward, but I finally ejaculated which was alright, but a minute later it turned to agony. The pain was awful. I walked in circles around the room in such pain that I could'nt stand it. I called the doctor and he told me that I needed to do it again. When I hung up the phone I thought he must be crazy. How could anyone think of masturbating or sex in such awful pain. That was about a year ago
and I have not tried to masturbate again nor have I went back to the doctor. I still have some problems, but I deal with it day to day. Who
would have thought that trying to be faithful and do the right thing could maybe kill you. Just wondered if there is any other men that have been forced into celebacy and having these problems.......thankyou for listening

Reply by Monnica


Dear Steve,

I'm very sorry to hear about the problem you described. It certainly seems that you are suffering from a terrible situation -- you want to follow your beliefs as a Christian and yet you are having some health problems from a lack of sexual activity. As far as I understand, most men have nocturnal emissions when they are not having ejaculations from other means. Apparently this didn't happen for you and now you are in a painful situation!

The first problem that jumps out at me is that your wife has not wanted to have sex with you for 18 years! Married couples should be having regular sex. You need to get some couples therapy to figure out why your sex life has evaporated. Working things out with your wife is a better solution than taking up a habit of masturbation which will only further isolate you and can be hard to break.
Couples therapy for sexual problems is usually very successful, and is not generally long-term.
If your wife won't go with you for counseling, go alone. It will help you to develop some better communcation skills that will enable you explain to your wife why you are dissatisfied with your sex life in a manner that will be non-threatening to her.


birth control devices

Message No. 112, melissa at mchapin1@ic3.ithaca.edu (March 23, 1998)


i need to find info. on birth control through the times. the times i am looking for are from the 50's to the 90's. do you have any suggestions on where i can ifnd this information.

Reply by Monnica


You might try Ortho's Hall of Contraception, or visit the Prentif web site for the history of the cervical cap.


Pregnacy Problems?

Message No. 111, Jonathan at GoodLkn16@aol.com (March 23, 1998)


My girlfriend has been feeling pain in her stomach for about two weeks? We think that it may play a role in pregnacy? We have unprotected sex and we are both under 18 years of age? She has been on birth control for two years, and she has been with two previous men. Do I wear a condom, or do we keep having sex with that 97.7% rate in which her birth control says she's okay? My other question is? Can you get pregnant while on your period?

Reply by Monnica


Visit your local crisis pregnancy center for a pregnancy test right away. It's unlikely, but you can get pregnant while on your period if your periods run long and your cycles are short. The pill does not have a 0.3% failure rate for teens. Your actual annual risk may be more like 11%.
That means one in ten teens will get pregnant using the pill in their first year of use. Is that a risk you and your girlfriend are willing to take? Talk it over and get back to me.


male pill

Message No. 110, Douglas Weiss at bigdoug@warwick.net (March 19, 1998)


Please give me some info on the male birth control pill and when it will be ava
available in this country.

Reply by Monnica


There is no male birth control pill. It's all still in the research stages and if it were proven safe, would still take years to get through the FDA. See the CNN article for more info.


condom/rhythm method

Message No. 109, Sacha at soniclife@rocketmail.com (March 19, 1998)


Hi... I am really in need of some advice! My boyfriend and I (I'm 17) are planning to sleep together (we are both virgins), and I really don't want to leave things to chance. Naturally, we are planning to use a condom, but I have heard a few horror stories about condoms breaking/falling off etc... So, just as an added precaution, I am thinking about planning sex in coordination with my menstrual cycle.
When is the 'safest' time in the cycle to have sex? is it the five days AFTER menstruation (the 'dry days')? I have read your info on the rhythm method, but I'm still a bit confused!
I have considered other methods of contraception such as the pill, but all seem pretty unsuitable. I definitely want to avoid the pill, due to some of the side effects. Please help!

Reply by Monnica


If you are an unmarried teen, please don't ask me when the safest time to have sex is. You are endangering your future by putting yourself at risk for pregnancy at this time. All birth control methods can fail, and tend to do so more often with teens. The best method for you right now is abstinence. Please also see Responsible Sexual Choices and You for more information.


Depo-Provera Delimas

Message No. 108, Laura at cass@traveller.com (March 17, 1998)


I started having Depo-Provera shots in October of 97. I love the fact that I don't have periods anymore but at the same time wonder if this is harmful to my body. I also have gained 50 pounds since that injection (1 year, 5 months), but I gained most of it (40lbs.) in the first six months. I've also experienced a great deal of depression.
The good part about the shot is since I've been taking it I have not experienced any knots on the outside labia. I went to several doctors and none could help me get
rid of them, but when I was pregnant and now that I'm on the shot I don't experience these knots. The only time I do experience them is the week before I get me shot. Is there another type of birth control that you think might help me or should I stick withthis one? I'm really worried about my weight and health. Please write me soon.

Thank You,

Laura

Reply by Monnica


Fifty pounds and severe depression!!! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the Depo-Provera is doing you more harm than good. Find an expert to help you deal with the problem of the genital knots -- it could be a symptom of an STD that should be treated. Stop taking Depo-Provera. You'll lose weight and feel better.

There are no other contraceptive shots available in the US other than Depo-Provera. And even if there were, they would probably have the same side-effects. Read through this web site for discussions of your other birth contol options.


Getting off the pill

Message No. 107, Jill at charden71@aol.com (March 17, 1998)


Dear Monica,

With the help of this informative website and after consulting with my doctor,
I have decided my days on the pill are over.
I began taking them at age 14. They were prescribed to me when I went through a episode where I bled for 3 weeks straight accompanied by serious pain. Since then I have had no problems. I am now 20. I do not want to induce the chemicals into my body anymore. The question I have for you is one that I am most certain you will respond to
as "ask your physician."
I fully understand this is the right thing to do.
However, I have made an appointment that is not till the end of the week.
I just hoped maybe you could shed a little light on the question so that I do not go to the doctor "blind." Question: About 3 days after my discontinuation ( I discontinued during the 1st week of a new pack), I began to bleed rather heavily. It was accompanied by clots. No pain or cramps. Is this normal?
I knew I would probably bleed a little but not this much.
Also, what is the source of the
is bleeding? Is it the same bleeding that occurs during your period?
I appreciate any information you may be able to give me.

Thanks in advance.

Reply by Monnica


If you've been on the pill ever since you were a teen, you probably think that the bleeding you experience at the end of your pill pack is a period. Actually, it's not really a period at all, but is only withdrawal bleeding from the absence of the synthetic hormones. Your real periods are probably somewhat heavier than the ones you are used to. Congradulations -- your body is returning to normal! (Obligatory discalimer: If you think you are having a serious problem,
please contact your doctor immediately!)


breastfeeding and oral contraception

Message No. 105, Karl at karl_wright@au.coopers.com (March 15, 1998)


My wife has to take a thyroid hormone supplement (thyroxine) as she was born without a thyroid gland and is currently breastfeeding our 3 month old son. She has found that increasing the dose of thyroxine during this time has taken away her tiredness and given her a new lease of life.

The time honoured question of contraception has arisen and she does not tolerate oral contraception very well. The only one that has not killed off her enthusiasm and energy reserves is a progesterone only pill. This does, however, cause very irregular menstrual bleeding which is very inconvenient to say the least. Bleeding may occur for 2 or 3 days at a time at intervals of between 2 and 10 days.

We have decided to have a second child in approximately 2 years time.

Questions:

Will the increase in intake of thyroxine from 150ug per day to 200ug per day have any effects upon our son?

Do you have any suggestions for an oral contraceptive that would not be so disruptive or any alternative ?

Reply by Monnica


Dear Karl,

I spoke to a pharmacist friend of mine, and according to her, your wife
should absolutely be making no changes to her dosage without a doctor's
approval BASED ON HER
T3 AND TSH BLOOD LEVELS. She should be taking only enough to make
herself euthyroid and NO MORE! People can rev themselves up on thyroid
and suffer from hypertension, stroke, heart attack, etc.
Feelings of tiredness can be due to a number of factors, not only
thyroid and female hormone levels. A woman is supposed to have the
slows when she is nursing so that she can sit still and let the baby
nurse.

As far as birth control goes, the combination pill will result in more
regular periods but cause breast milk to dry up. Most breastfeeding
woem have irregular periods anyway. I suggest you try a
natural method (like LAM) or a barrier method instead.


conception during period 1-3 days

Message No. 104, Nicole at jwolfc@yahoo.com (March 12, 1998)


Hello,

First of all I want to tell you how informative and helpful this pages is! My question may be a taboo with some, but I was wondering if you can get pregnant if you have sex while menstrating? i.e. 1st or 2nd day of your period? Please let me know asap.

Reply by Monnica


Nope, the first five days of a woman's period are infertile.


missing the pill

Message No. 103, kyndra at block2223@aol.com (March 11, 1998)


At the beginning of this month I accidentally started my new pill pack on a Friday, I was out of town and didn't know what to do and could not call my doctor. So I didn't take the pill Saturday or Sunday and took the next one on Monday. Then later in the month I got an ear infection and strep throat and had to take antibiotics. We didn't use any protection during that time, because we usually don't. I was just wondering what my chances might be that I could be pregnant.
Especially with taking the antibiotics since I have heard they can lessen the effectiveness of the pill. According to my pill pack I am supposed to start my period next Tuesday, but I was just curious. Thank you!

Reply by Monnica


Sounds like a risky mix! You will have to talk to your own doctor or pharmacist about changing days on the pill, but taking antibiotics could have made the pill ineffective for you and put you at risk of pregnancy. If you miss your next period get a pregnancy test right away.


When did I get pregnant? Please help!

Message No. 102, Treina at treina@iname.com (March 07, 1998)


My partner and I had sex on the 10th of February (approx. 2 weeks before my next period would have started). On the 26th of February - about the time I would have normally started my period, there was some "petting" and my partner touched my genitals after touching his penis. Is it possible for a woman to become pregnant this way? I'm not sure how long sperm can live outside the body, so I don't know if this is possible.
Also, since I normally start my period on the 25th or 26th, am I fertile at this time?
On the 2nd of March, 2 home pregnancy tests (First Response) were positive. Did I definitely get pregnant on the 10th of Feburary or is it even remotely possible that I became pregnant on the 26th during the "petting"? I know these are strange questions, but it's very important that I know on which of these dates I conceived. Since there were only 28 days in this February, the home pregnancy tests were positive only 4 days after the "petting" happened. Assuming I did get pregnant on the
26th and not on the 10th, would it show up on a pregnancy test after only 4 days? Thank you in advance for these much-needed answers!

Reply by Monnica


If it's one or the other, you got pregnant on the 10th of February. It's much too soon for a pregnancy test to give you a positive result after only four days!
The soonest a pregnancy test could read positive would be 14 days after conception for a home test and 10 days for an extra sensitive test like the ones in doctors offices or clinics.

However, all of you out there who think you can't get pregnant from petting, think again! All it takes is a little semen on the outside of the vagina for pregnancy to result if it's during the woman's fertile window. I've counseled teens who were shocked to find themselves pregnant when they were still technically virgins.


pill+condom

Message No. 101, frikkie at frikkie@paradigm-sa.com (March 07, 1998)


what is the chances of getting pregnant by using the pill and a condom and the "pull out" method

thanks

Reply by Monnica


All at once? Pretty darn slim. But it sure doesn't sound like much fun!

Reply by Monnica


Okay folks, I've had a few complaints regarding how this question was (or wasn't) answered, so I'm going to take a moment to elaborate further.
It would be impossible to give an accurate estimate of the odds of pregnancy for this combination of methods becuase (as far as I know) no scientific studies have been done examining the failure rate of this specific combination.
I don't think any one would ever do a study like this because of the the practical problems, which include difficulty in getting consistent compliance from research subjects as most couples will not want to use so many methods at one time. (This is why I said it probably wouldn't be much fun.) Also many scientific studies are done to try to prove that one particular method is better than another, and so few studies are done on methods (like withdrawal) that don't turn a profit for somebody.

I could calculate the odds numerically, based on the failure rate of each method, but it wouldn't necessarily correspond to reality. It would not be responsible
to give a false estimate which could mislead you into thinking that that your
sexual behavior is 100% safe.


condoms, allergy to birth control pill

Message No. 100, melissa at rjelliot@retirees.uwaterloo.ca (March 06, 1998)


What about a birth control method for those of us who can't use the birth control bill and are allergic to latex? What are the options here besides natural membrane condoms which don't protect against STD's? And if you're a single young woman who doesn't want to risk the chance of an unplanned pregnancy, methods like the diaphragm aren't exactly fail-safe... What other products are available then? Are they coming out with anything else?

Reply by Monnica


The good news is that there are still options for people who are both allergic to latex and who want to avoid the synthetic hormones found in the pill and similar methods.
Both the female condom (Reality) and a special brand of male condoms made by Durex (Avanti) are comprised of silicone. I have used the Avanti condom for some time and have found them non-irritating and almost as durable as latex.
You might also consider Natural Methods, as these require no drugs or devices whatsoever and can be highly effective provided one is properly trained in their use.

Since you mention you are single, condoms would be a safer bet for you in terms of avoiding STDs. However, the best way to make sure to avoid STDs is to wait until marriage to become sexually active, and then remain mutually faithful to an uninfected partner. Even if you are a perfect user, condoms break, on average at the rate of once per year for a sexually active person. If your partner has AIDS, you could get it too. No terrific sexual experience is worth your life.


Birth Control Pills and periods

Message No. 98, Kelley at kelleyharris@vaxd.sxu.edu (March 05, 1998)


I have been taking the combined pill for almost six years, since I was fifteen. Usually, when I finish I pack, my period comes. This time, I have been extremely stressed out. I have had some side affects from the stress: diarrhea, my hair is falling out, my moods change constantly, and I am having lower abdominal and back pain. My period has not come yet. Should I go on and continue taking pills? When I do have sex, I make sure to use condoms? Should I be worried about pregancy,
or does stress really affect your mestrual cycle. Please reply as soon as possible!!

Reply by Monnica


Dear Kelley,

Stress could definately cause you to skip a period -- but so could pregnancy. The smart
thing to do would be to get a pregnancy test right away. If you are not pregnant (and certainly if you are)
I strongly suggest at least a trial holiday from your birth
control pills. Hormonal contraceptives can cause both anxiety and depression. This
could be contributing to or even causing your chronic stress.


birth control pills

Message No. 97, Tammy at tammy.sinclair@sympatico,com (March 05, 1998)


I have been on the birth control pill Triqular 28 for approx. 1 year.
I have never had any problems with it and have always had my period during the 7 days of sugar pills. I am on the last week of "real" pills right now. My question is-- I am going on vacation next week and would really like to not be having my period at that time. I have heard that if I start my new pack immediately after the last week of real pills and don't take the sugar pills from the old pack that my period will not start. Is th
is true and how will it effect my system? Will I have a regular period at the end of next month?

Thank-you

Reply by Monnica


There is a way to change the schedule of your pills to manipulate the day your period arrives, but I don't remember the exact sequence. You should really talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.


Pre-Ejaculation

Message No. 96, Barbara at ravenc@shore.intercom.net (March 02, 1998)


I was wondering if pre ejaculation had sperm in it that could impregnate you?? Please respond soon!!!

Thanks!!!

Reply by Monnica


The pre-ejaculate fluid is for the purpose of lubrication and generally contains no sperm.
However, some sperm could be left in the penis if the man has recently experienced a previous ejaculation, which could enter the lubricating fluid and theoretically cause a pregnancy.
Probably urination prior to intercourse could force out these renagade sperm, but no research has been done on this matter.
However, the pre-ejaculate fluid could contain the AIDS virus if the man is HIV-positive.


Quitting the Mini-Pill

Message No. 95, Camille at camille@tig.com.au (March 02, 1998)


Dear Monica, Thank you for producing an infomative web page about
contraception. In my years of taking the "mini-pill" no doctor or
health professional has ever told me about the abortive aspect of the
drug - this makes me angry. I think women are still only told about the
"benefits" of the contraception and not the side effects. With lack of
available and objective information it is no wonder that we put our
faith in them. I won't be any longer. I have two friends who recently
had the 3 month Depo-Provera injection done. When I asked them how it
works neither could tell me. They could only say it is popular in
Europe and women don't really need to menstruate! I will tell them to
look up your web page in the interests of their own self education and
self preservation. I am not on any contraceptive at the moment and am
considering the cervical cap as my next option - I hope it is available
in Australia. Thanks again for providing an objective
alternative.


Mini-Pill

Message No. 94, Michelle at chanda@starmail.com (March 01, 1998)


Hello,

My boyfriend and I had sex about three days ago without a condom
or any birth control method and now I'm kind of worried about
a pregnancy. I don't have any signs or anything but I conceived
a child that way before without my boyfriend even ejaculating.
Anyway, my period isn't due until March 20th and I don't want to
wait that long to find out. I have the mini-pill at home which
only contains progestin. If I started taking them now would they
start my period? I took one last night at 11:00p.m. and one this
morning at 11:00a.m. I will take the 3rd one tomorrow morning at
11:00a.m. as well. Will this bring on my period by tomorrow? Or
is the mini-pill not strong enough to do that? Please get back to
me soon. Thank you very much!
MICHELLE

Reply by Monnica


I think it's probably too late to expect your pills to help.
Get a pregnancy test if your period does not show up.


Japanese birth control

Message No. 93, jessica at tornek@sanynet.ne.jp (March 01, 1998)


I have a friend who recently went on a pill in Japan called Sophia A. She is worried that the pill will have adverse reactions with her medication( she suffers from depression and is on prozac) She was on a pill in the states, and she had to go off of it because it made her "crazy". The doctor she went too was not too much help in explaining what level of hormone was in the particular oral contraceptive..do you know? are there potential side affects?

Reply by Monnica


I spoke to a pharmacist friend of mine, and I think "Sophia" is really "Zovia."
Zovia is an alternative brand to Demulen. Depression is a potential side effect of birth control drugs in general. If she had problems with the US brand, she should expect the same side-effects.


Human Sexuality Education Courses

Message No. 92, Jane at rathershy@hotmail.com (February 28, 1998)


HI,

Recently I heard of an organization http://howtohavegoodsex.com which offers Free sexual pleasuring courses and offers free daily sex tips. I was wondering if you knew if the organization was legitimate. I believe classes are taught by a woman enrolled in the PhD program at U. of Pennsylvania (an ivy league school?).... Please help. I really want to take a class or two, but I want to make sure the class is for real. Thanks.

Reply by Monnica


I took a look a look at the site, and it seems like you have to give your email
address and credit card number before you get any information. There was no info on the site
about the qualifications of the program administrators (or even their names), which makes me a bit
suspicious. The information provided by the site may or may not be any good.
Most of these types of sites are just excuses to email out pornographic material.
Once they get your email address you may be bombarded with unwanted, sexually-explicit junk mail. If I were you, I would do a little more digging before
deciding to sign up. It probably is no better than any of the books about sex you can get from Amazon.com.


why?

Message No. 91, Chrissie at chrissie.hyu@asnet.com (February 27, 1998)


have you set up this site to frighten women?
the pill is one of the most effective forms of birth control. whilst it may stop the inplantation of an egg which has recently been fertilised I would consider this preferable by far to an abortion at a later stage.
please stop using the internet to bully people into your beliefs

Reply by Monnica


Chrissie, this site has been set up to educate women about their birth control choices. Some aspects of these choices are unpleasant. It does not serve women to hide the truth just because a particular method may work well or be safe.
In fact, the pill is neither completely safe nor effective, and for proof of this you need only to read the postings below. But in any case, I think it's condescending to withhold facts from women because we think we know what's best.

And just because a woman chooses not to use the pill for ethical reasons does not mean she will have abortions -- she can still use many other methods of birth control. And, if she respects life enough to quit the pill it seems unlikely that she would resort to surgical abortion to 'fix' an unplanned pregnancy.


day before period

Message No. 90, yee at keeng@acsu.buffalo.edu (February 26, 1998)


what is the possibility of getting pregnant having sex without using any method right before / after the period?

Reply by Monnica


Please see the chart on the Ineffective Contraception page for information about probabilities for pregnancy.


A effective contraception

Message No. 88, Yongyi at happyvalley@mailexcite.com (February 25, 1998)


Dear Monnica,

I want to buy a kind of effective contraceptive suppository.
I had heard of a message from my friend that there is a kind of suppository for femail, it's made from quite soft material and could be inserted in the vagina of the girl, so it's no harm to the body health for affect her menstrual cycle as she got the pill.
It is based on the theory that if there is something whatever it is in your uterus, the pregnant will be interrupted.

Does something like this existed around the world?
Could you tell me some information about this?
Looking forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Reply by Monnica


I've never heard of this, but I can't imagine that anything you insert
into your uterus could be safe or sanitary. The mechanism you describe is the same prinicple as the IUD, which is hardly free from health risks. If it exists it would be an abortifacient.


smoking/birth contro

Message No. 87, ann at jhammer@ptd.net (February 24, 1998)


Are their major side effects for women who smoke while being on the pill

Reply by Monnica


Yes, there are many studies going back decades that
document that smoking alone increases the risk of stroke and heart
disease, (in addition to various forms of cancer and lung disease)
and that it works synergistically with (ie, multiplies the effects
of) the oral contraceptives (OC) risk on heart disease. The effect of
smoking or OCs also is more pronouned with increasing age. Women who smoke should not use oral contraceptives after age 35 and definitely after age 40.

Smoking increases the stickiness of blood cells which contributes to
the increase in risk of stroke and heart disease. I should also
mention though that many of the studies showing this multiplicative
effect were conducted over 20 years ago when the doses of OCs were
much higher than they are now. Nonetheless, there have been recent
studies that still show an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and
other vascular effects associated with lower dose OCs, and the
smoking effects are, of course, unchanged from decades ago, and there
are recent studies showing smoking's effect on increasing stroke
risk.


birth control methods

Message No. 86, frik at frikkie@paradigm-sa.com (February 24, 1998)


I have been reading through your site about natural birth control methods. my question is, why is the failure rate with the withdrawal method just 19%? What causes the conception?

Reply by Monnica


Average failure rates occur because we are human and it's almost impossible to be always perfect users of a birth control method. A method like withdrawal requires a high degree of user competency and skill. If a man does not "pull out" in time, or if another round of sex happens in the same night, some semen could make its way into the uterus and cause conception.


Norplant

Message No. 85, Heather at DKGOLD.@gte.net (February 20, 1998)


Has there been cases where the norplant has sterlized women or have women had problems getting pregnant after the norplant is removed.

Reply by Monnica


I have never heard of a case of permanent sterilization, although an extended period of infertility would not be surprising.


birthcontrol side effects

Message No. 84, Jennifer at jcyphers@widomaker.com (February 20, 1998)


I am in a exclusive relationship and want to be on birthcontrol.
I am 23 years old and out of five or more different "pills" I have tried, they all give me adverse reactions including, severe dryness (vaginal), complete loss of sex drive, and moodiness. I wander why they react with my body this way, and what other options I have? I have been looking into Depro-provera as an option. What do you think, and what do you think causes my body to react so badly with "the pill"?
Any comments or words of advise would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

Thank You,

Jennifer

Reply by Monnica


Jennifer -- all hormonal method of birth conrtol have side-effects. If you experienced unpleasant side-effects from many different pills, it is unlikely that Depo-Provera will solve your problem.
In fact, with Depo-Provera you would be "locked in" to the side-effects for 3 months or more. I suggest you try a non-chemical method.


the pill

Message No. 83, mindy at pieratmk@flyernet.udayton.edu (February 19, 1998)


I will be getting married at the end of May. I was wondering when I should start on the pill. I have heard that a month before the wedding is needed in order for the pill will begin to work. I am not able to get an appointment with a doctor until april. Is this to late to start?

Reply by Monnica


Actually, you can start taking the pill at any time you are certain you are not pregnant. Starting during ones period is recommended because during your period you are infertile (and most probably not pregnant!) However, please read the section on Hormonal Methods before deciding to use this drug. There are many side-effects you should know about, and the pill can be an abortifacient.


Birth Control Pills

Message No. 82, Elaine at wschlage@comsource.net (February 19, 1998)


I have been on the Combo Pill for 4 years. This last month I started my
pill pack a day late. What are the chances I am pregant?

Reply by Monnica


Pretty slim, but if you are worried, I suggest you take a pregnancy test if you miss your period.


Missed Pills

Message No. 79, Jill at charden71@aol.com (February 16, 1998)


I have been on the pill for over 4 years now. Last month I took my first two pills of my pack but missed the next 3. The package stated that I should throw out the pack and start another one on Sunday. Instead, I just took two when I realized I had missed the three and preceded to continue with the present pack. I had my period right on schedule. My question is, should there be any alarm for pill ineffectiveness in this new month since I did not follow with what the pack said?

Thank you for your reply.

Reply by Monnica


Please consult your doctor or pharmacist about this situation.


Birth Control Question

Message No. 78, Sean at hrdroc83@aol.com (February 16, 1998)


First of all, I would just like to comment on the site. It is very informative. Next, I have a couple of questions. My girlfriend is on the birth control pill Allesse. She always has her period at the same time every month. In additon to her use of the pill, we also use condoms as well. I was wondering if there were any statistics on the failure rate of the pill and condom used together. Second, We read that vomiting can decrease the effects of the pill.
However, we have only seen the term used vaguely. Would this include one isolated incidence of nausea?

Thanks in advance

Reply by Monnica


Many women have nausea the first month that they use the pill, but it usually goes away. Don't worry about the pill's effectiveness unless she actually vomits up the medication.
If you use condoms with the pill that will decrease the failure rate, but I don't know of any studies for couples using both. If you find any hard numbers, let me know!


Birth Control

Message No. 77, Habib at rashid71@yahoo.com (February 15, 1998)


I have a question. I am gettin married in one month time. We plan to birth control for a year or so. Please suggest the best method which has least side effects or future medical problems.

we have only condoms avaliable here with us. I have heard that using pills or condoms complicates one year intentional delayed pregnancy .

Please comment

Thanks

Reply by Monnica


If you use the pill, it could take up to a year for fertility to return (average is 2-3 months). If you use a condom, you can quit at anytime to attempt conception; the same is true with any barrier or natural method.


Diaphragm

Message No. 76, Amber at tlabandt@lamar.colosate.edu (February 14, 1998)


I have recently started to using the diaphragm. I am staying on the pill for the rest of the month to make sure that I am using it properly. I noticed that when I take out my diaphragm that I bleed alot. This worries me. Can you please tell me what this could mean. Also, I was wondering what the failure rate would be if my husband used a condom while I used the diaphragm.

Thank You,

Amber

Reply by Monnica


You should not be having bleeding when removing your diaphragm! Please stop using this device at once and call your doctor immediately. Your doctor should have showed you how to use it during your visit and verified that you were able to insert and remove it properly.

Theoretically, the odds of pregnancy when using both the diaphragm and condom together each and every time over one year, assuming 18% and 12% failure rates respectively, would be 2%. However, this is just the mathematcial result and not the results of published studies, which is the only way to get accurate numbers for something like this.


Getting off the pill

Message No. 74, Fred at berningf@ucs.orst.edu (February 12, 1998)


My girlfriend and I have been using the pill for over a year and a half and have never been pregnant. Recently, she had her period (when she was supposed to) while she was on the "green" pills. She started her period on a Monday and we had intercourse (ejaculation did occur) on Thursday of the same week. She then noticed that she did not have another pack of birth control to take after her "green" pills. We have not had sex since then. She has now been off the pill for approx.
a week. My question is: should we be worried about pregnancy since she was still technically on the pill (although I have heard the "green" pills are merely sugar)? Also, would it better for her to start taking the pill as soon as possible or wait? Thanks for your help.

Fred

Reply by Monnica


If a woman starts her pill pack late, she should use another method of birth control until she starts her pills again and then also for the next seven days.
It would be unlikley that your girlfriend would get pregnant from the situation you described, but a pregnancy test might not be a bad idea.


Birth Control, pill + NFP + barrier...

Message No. 72, Oswald at bolesjb@archone.tamu.edu (February 06, 1998)


Currently, my fiancee and myself are about to get married.
She is on the pill for cycle regulation (she tends to very very irregular). We do not want to run the risks associated with conception issues and the pill, preferring not to risk conceiving at all. So we will probably use barrier methods most of the time, in addition to the pill. My question is, is it possible to use Natural Family Planning methods (cerivix changes, mucus changes, temperature) in combination with the pill, so that we can allow
for a little spontaneity while she is on the pill and still not risk the possibility of conception. Thanks for any information you have on the subject, and I would especially appreciate references to other documents and publications. Thanks.

Reply by Margaret


Hi there.

In response to your query about making fertility observations while taking the
Pill-- this is taken from the 4th Edition (1996) of the Art of Natural Family
Planning by John and Sheila Kippley:

"If you are currently taking the Pill (or any other estrogen or progesterone
merication), you have to stop taking it to obtain true sympto-thermal
observations. If you are on the Pill, your mucus, cervix and temperature
signs will reflect the artificial hormones, not your naturally produced
fertility and infertility hormones. That is, you can expect the synthetic
estrogen in the combination Pill to produce a mucus discharge, and you can
expect the synthetic progesterone to produce a relatively high and flat
temperature pattern.

The artificial hormones from the Pill may remain in your system for several
months, and this hormonal residue may affect your mucus signs for the first
one to three cycles."

So the short answer is, no-- NFP does not work in combination with chemical
contraceptives.

I also had a brief comment of my own to make. Your fiancee is on the Pill
because of cycle irregularities. Quite frankly, it makes me crazy when
doctors put women on the pill to "straighten out their cycle." It doesn't
straighten out their cycle, it imposes an artificial cycle over the
pre-existing one. There can be a number of reasons for cycle irregularity. Some
of the biggest ones can be a thyroid problem (even just being at the low end
of the "normal" range can have an impact), being underweight (less than 20%
body fat) or obese, or having a dietary deficiency. I would strongly
encourage your fiance to get off the Pill (since it is not the healthiest
thing to put into the body, and and abortifacient) and find another doctor who
is willing to try and identify the underlying cause for the cycle
irregularity. It may well be "correctable" in the true sense of the word.

Unfortunately, most doctors aren't interested, I think largely because the
pharmaceutical companies have sold them an easy "cure". Whether or not you
find a sympathetic doctor, I strongly recommend you read the book I cited
above -- it's readily available through Amazon books. It outlines a number of
easy steps your fiancee can try to improve cycle regularity. It also provides
a very clear, detailed explanation of how to use NFP, which can be used
regardless of cycle irregularity.

I'll be happy to correspond with you further on this matter if you are
interested. Also, one last note-- for more detailed information on the pill,
how it works and the health risks, send an SASE to the Couple to Couple
League
, P. O. Box 111184, Cincinnati, OH 45211-1184.

Hope this helps!

Margaret Kalb


Your web site is great!

Message No. 70, Cyndie at lcsp@shentel.net (February 04, 1998)


I was searching for some public view on my already pro-life view, for a school research paper.
Your web site was a breath of fresh air! Instead of the hopefully, unintentional, radical pro-life info. I found, you had real everyday advice and workable info. As a married woman and mother to a beautiful little boy, I unfortunately have come across our society's gender biases and am trying to do what I can to make my one voice heard. I would love to know more info. about
"the breastfeeding issue" which I believe to be more adverse than most would care to think. You will now be on my "favorites list" and look forward to more good stuff!

Reply by Monnica


Thanks for the feedback! This site was developed with women like you in mind.
One site about breastfeeding I strongly recommend is the Kids are People Too site.


Depo-Provera

Message No. 69, Charity at jgerner@hotmail.com (February 04, 1998)


I started taking the shot about 1 year ago and I have been in a state of depression ever since. So my husband and I decided that I would go back to The Pill. My last injection was 10/8/97. I thought that when I stopped the shot that my periods would return, but I have not started yet, and I was wondering if this is normal?

Reply by Monnica


It is not uncommon for your periods to disappear for sometime when using Depo-Provera, although some women have continuous bleeding (see question 44). It could take a year for your cycles to return to normal. The Pill also has many of the same side-effects of Depo-Provera, including depression. I would avoid hormonal methods if depression is an issue for you.


clinics

Message No. 68, annie at pink1508@badger.snow.edu (January 21, 1998)


I was wondering about clinics that have special programs for sexually active people such as planned parenthood. What do these clinics have to offer and how do I find them in my area. (Utah)

Reply by Monnica


Mainly organizations like Planned Parenthood, high schools, crisis pregnancy centers, and some churches educate on sexual issues. Some organizations will focus more on abstinence and how to say 'no' (ie, Sex Respect) while others will emphasize condom use. These places are listed in the phone book.


BIRTH CONTROL

Message No. 67, ELLEN at CINNAMON29@YAHOO.COM (January 20, 1998)


I AM IN A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP FOR ALMOST SIX MONTHS NOW. I AM IN MY LATE TWENTIES AND MY BOYFRIEND IS A FEW YEARS OLDER. WHILE WE ARE BOTH VERY OPEN AND COMMUNICATIVE ABOUT SEX AND PROTECTION, WE STILL HAVE A PROBLEM. I CANNOT GO ON THE PILL AND WHILE WE TRY TO USE A CONDOM, IT CONTRIBUTES TO MY PARTNERS LOSS OF ERECTION. AS SOON AS WE PUT ON THE CONDOM, HIS PENIS BECOMES PLACID.

WE HAVE DECIDED TO USE THE WITHDRAWAL METHOD IN COMBINATION WITH THE RHYTHM METHOD. DURING THE TIME WE FEEL IS MY FERTILE TIME, HE ALWAYS PULLS OUT AND EJACULATES OUTSIDE. SINCE I AM REGULAR AND HAVE NO HEALTH PROBLEMS, AND I AM AWARE OF HOW MY BODY FEELS AT VARIOUS TIMES OF THE MONTH, I WAS WONDERING IF THIS CAN BE AN EFFECTIVE METHOD OF BIRTH CONTROL. DAYS THAT ARE PRIOR TO OR FOLLOWING THE TIME OF MY CYCLE WHERE I AM MOST LIKELY TO OVULATE, WE USE WITHDRAWAL.
CLOSE TO MY PERIOD AND FOR A FEW DAYS FOLLOWING, WE USE NO METHOD.

CAN ANY TELL ME IF THIS IS A SUITABLE FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL? IT SEEMS LIKE OTHER OPTIONS ARE OUT, SO I NEED ADVICE.

THANKS

"E"

Reply by Monnica


Hi Ellen!

The rhythm method is not very effective unless your menstrual cycles are exactly the same number of days every month. This means that you get your period every 28 days, all the time. If your cycles are sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, the rhythm method will not be effective for you.
A better natural method would be a sympto-thermal method which can be highly effective. Also an electronic fertility indicator can very accurately tell you when you are fertile versus infertile.

As for using withdrawal during fertile times, for natural methods to be most effective you should abstain during the fertile time. If you use an artifical method at that time, it should be something highly effective (i.e. condoms plus spermicide).

However, no matter what method you choose, you can still get pregnant. If you are not prepared for this possiblity you should not have sex.


Male birth control

Message No. 66, Sean Kelley at spk@js-net.com (January 19, 1998)


I was just wondering if there's any type of birth control pill or shot for men yet, and if not is there one in the near future? My girlfriend and I are very much in love and have plans to get married, but neither of us are ready for a child just yet. We've tried many options from Depo-Provera (NIGHTMARE!!!) to condoms(reduced the plesure factor for both of us too much). Presently she is on a very low dosage of Estrogen pill, but even that is causing problems for her(depression and masive headaches).
If there is any thing more I could do I'd really like to know, Thank you.

Reply by Monnica


It's sad there there are so few methods for men who want to participate in the contraceptive process. Research is being dome on several male methods, such as an injection or pill, but these are all a long way from becoming available in the US any time soon. Once manufacturers can prove the method is safe and effective, it's a long process before it can be approved by the FDA. Additionally,
many companies are reluctant to research new birth control methods because of fear of liablity should somone have an adverse reation.
(The Dalkon Shield IUD cost the company because it injured thousands of women who used it.) For more information about male methods being tested, see this 1996 article in CNN.


Curious ???

Message No. 65, Darren at delong@cyberway.com.sg (January 17, 1998)


Presently I have a girlfriend who I have regular sex with ( about once a week ).
She is my one and only sex partner and vice versa, so far. Is it still possible to contract STD ?

Reply by Monnica


If your girlfriend has ever been sexually intimate with anyone else besides you, you can get an STD. When you have sex with someone, in terms of germ transmission, you are having sex with everyone else your partner has had sex with. If your girlfriend is a virgin and has abstained from all sexual activity prior to your sexual relationship, then no, you cannot get an STD from her.

The best way to make sure that two people don't exchange diseases is for each person to:


  • Practice abstinence, OR
  • Marry as virgins (too late for you now) and then be faithful, OR
  • Be abstinent for six months and then be tested for every existing STD. If the lab works comes back giving each of you a clean bill of health, then you don't need to worry as long as you are both mutually faithful.

However, most dating relationships are not permanent, and you are still at risk for pregnancy using this scheme. So I generally recommend waiting until marriage to have sex. For more about this, please see
Responsible Sexual Choices and You.


natural contraception

Message No. 64, EVELYN at evelyn.mills@ces-cdr.be (January 13, 1998)


HELLO, I need to know on which day to start taking my temperature in order to know when to abstain or use condoms for contraception. Thank you.

Reply by Monnica


Start taking your temperature on the fifth day after your period starts. Record the values on an NFP Chart. After your temperature has been elevated for 3 days in a row, you can stop taking the temperature until your next cycle -- you are no longer fertile. For more info, please see A Primer on Natural Family Planning.


tubal ligation

Message No. 63, Wendy at drummer@hotkey.net.au (January 10, 1998)


I have just suffered my second FAILED tubal ligation with no medical reason
ie:no clip came undone - no reason my Dr. could give me for my second failure
while in hospital ALL staff were stunned at my return and I had the comments
that I was the first they had heard of who had a second failed tubal ligation
could someone please tell me the statistics of a second failure or am I just
one in a million. This has been a most disturbing emotional process and I
don't want to be alone here. I am to have a procedure in the near future to
find out if I might have a third tube or any explanation for a second failure.
I now have two clips on each tube, have been through an emotional nightmare
and still have no reason as to why this so called permanent form of contraception has failed again. Can someone please shed some light???

Reply by Monnica


From what I can determine, the clip method is the least effective of all methods female sterilization, the Tubal Rings having a failure rate of 0.5% after one year, the Spring Clip showing a failure rate of 2-4%, and the Tantalum Clip a whopping 8% failure rate. (The clip has a reversal rate of 88% and the ring of 75%.) This means that 3 out of 100 women who get a Spring Clip will get pregnant anyway.

Once an extra set of ovaries and Fallopian tubes is ruled out, I suggest you talk to your doctor about having a portion of your Fallopian tubes removed. Please see the Sterilization Techniques for a graphical listing of common methods. Of course, the only 100% method of birth control is to refrain from sex or have your uterus removed. This really underscores the fact that any method can fail.

Reply by Monnica


Addendum: Wendy later determined that she was using a Filschie Clip, most probably misapplied by her doctor. A representative from Femcarem, makers of the Filschie Clip contacted me recently. A portion of their note appears below:

  • I am writing to you from Femcare Ltd the manufacturers of the Filshie Clip system for female sterilisation. Thanks for putting a link on your page for our web site. We have just set up a mailing list (news group) for the Filshie Clip System and Female sterilisation if you would like to find out more please visit our web site www.femcare.co.uk
  • I also note for your diagrams that you have the Hulka clip displayed and not the Filshie Clip. If you visit our site and look under the product section Filshie Clip you will find some graphics that you a welcome to use.
  • For your information please note, The Filshie Clip is not a spring loaded clip. It is a clip made of Titanium and Silicone with a hinge mechanism. As far as I am aware the Hulka Clip is the only clip known as a spring loaded clip.

So, Wendy's clip was not a "spring clip." On the Femacre web site they cite an impressive failure rate of "under 3 per 1,000 and less when used by [an] experienced practitioner." However, I must point out that actual failure rates are rarely as low as those reported by the manufacturer of any method.


bith control side effects

Message No. 62, Suzie at sdalke@flyco.com (January 09, 1998)


I have a question and need a professional answer:
Is one of the side effects of birth control, spotting or intermediate bleeding?
If so, could this be a result of new intercourse areas?

Reply by Monnica


Dear Suzie,

midcycle spotting is a common side-effect for users of the Pill. This could be because the amount of hormome in the pill is too low for you. However, in many cases the spotting stops after 3 months or so. You should talk to your doctor about this problem.


Diaphragm

Message No. 61, Lona at robit@mho.net (January 07, 1998)


I'm a 24 year old married woman, with one child and a strong relationship with my husband. We want to try for another child in about a year. However my sex drive has dropped down severly and I am very leery about long term and short term side effects of the pill which I have been taking for 3 years. I am very interested in stopping the pill and trying something non-chemical... How safe and effective is the diaphragm for someone in my situation, and what about the cost and the upkeep?

Does insurance cover it etc?

Thanks for the potential info

Lona

Reply by Monnica


Dear Lona,

Decreased sex drive and reduced enjoyment of sex is a common side effect for hormonal methods of birth control, including the Pill, due to the progestin component of the drug. The diaphragm is a much safer alternative, provided that you are not allergic to spermicide. You will have to see your doctor to be fitted for the diaphragm. Some insurance companies cover the cost of the device, but many do not -- you will
have to call them to find out your specific coverage. Once you obtain the diaphragm, you will have to buy a tube of spermicide to use with it. The spermicide can be purchsed at any drug store and will usually last a long time.

Another good method for women with reduced sex drive is Natural Family Planning. Sometimes having a break from intercourse revives interest. Good luck!


expired condom

Message No. 60, christine at cgolat01@student.vill.edu (January 03, 1998)


A couple of weeks ago I had sex using an expired condom (Expired for a year). The condom didn't break, but I'm petrified about its effectiveness (or lack there of). I had sex on the 7th day of my period, but I'm wondering about the likelihood of pregnancy. Please tell me if the expiration date on condoms makes them completely ineffective.

Reply by Monnica


Condoms can last beyond their expiration dates, but it's much safer to replace
an old one. The older a condom, the more likely it will have microscopic
holes or tears, which sperm can pass through without even the condom breaking.
Some brand new condoms have these holes, which is one of the reasons condoms
can fail to protect against pregnancy and disease even when used properly.
But an old condom is a greater risk, especially if it has been exposed to
excessive heat. The odds are in your favor that you won't get pregnant,
but you should not take chances in the future!


when to do it

Message No. 59, jesseca at salgal_67@hotmail.com (January 03, 1998)


I have two questions actually.1)When is the best time to have sex if you don't want to get pregnant? Before or after your period(within a weeks time)? 2) The info at this site suggests that you don't promote the use of the pill. how much does it cost and do I need a check-up or parental consent to get it?

Reply by Monnica


The most infertile time of the female menstrual cycle would be the week before
menstruation. The week after a woman's period is probably the a more fertile period. For more information about this, please see the page on Natural Family Planning at this site.

As for the Pill, I certainly don't recommend it, but you would have to talk to
your own doctor about cost, and if he would be willing to prescribe it to a minor
without parental conselt.


Baby

Message No. 58, JJ at igolf@1under.com (December 30, 1997)


My wife and me are talking about having a baby. She has been taking birth control for about 14 months, and that has me wondering. Is there any time factor we should look at when she stops talk the pills to start trying. I know it takes some time to get out of her system. Like everyone in the world we would like a healthy baby!!

Reply by Monnica


There is some indication that there may be a prolonged effect of the oral
contraceptives on both the endometrium and the cervix after a woman has stopped
taking the pill, which could increase the chances of having miscarriage. Some
manufacturers of oral contraceptives caution that pregnancy should be avoided in the first three months after ceasing the combined oral contraceptive.

After your wife stops taking the Pill, there may also be a several month delay before her periods return to normal. If she gets pregnant before a normal menstrual cycle pattern is established, it may be more difficult for the doctor to determine the precise due date.
Women who have been on the Pill may be infertile for several months (average 2-3 months) until the body adjusts to the change. 1-2% of women who discontinue the Pill will not have periods for 6 months or more.


1)did I make the right desicion?, 2) I don't want a baby

Message No. 57, Tricia at tricia72981@yahoo.com (December 29, 1997)


I am 16 years old. I went out with a guy for almost a year and a half and towards the end I figured since I loved him and we were planning on marriage anyways, I was ready for sex. Soon after, he found someone else and broke up with me. Now I have been going out with someone for about 2 months. He says that he is a nympho-maniac, but he did not ask me for sex because he did not want to pressure me in any way. I asked him since he has had sex so much,
has he been tested since the last time he did and he said yes he was tested for everything and it came back negative. Well for the past few days I had been considering sex again. I am no longer a virgin anyways. I wasn't absolutely positive, since the consequences do scare me, but I was with him last night and I told him that I was ready. He asked me if I was sure and told me he wasn't sure he wanted to because he didn't want to hurt me. I told him he wouldn't hurt me, so we had sex. I did make him
put on a condom, and it did not break, so this time
I'm not pregnant, right? I don't regret the choice I made, but I am deathly scared of the consequences. I will not stop having sex, so will you please tell me the most effective way to have sex and not get pregnant? Please respond to tricia72981@yahoo.com

thankyou

Reply by Monnica


Dear Tricia,

As you are probably aware from reading the material on my site, I strongly discourage teen sexual activity. However, the fact that you are dating a self-professed nymphomaniac (sex addict) presents a set of problems that I wouldn't even wish on an adult.
Let me explain -- if your man is in fact a sex addict, he is having sex very often, perhaps several times a day, with other people and probably himself as well. You are going to be unable to satisfy his constant
appetite so he will need to be involved with others. This not only puts both of you at risk for AIDS, but is a recipe for a severe emotional distress. How are you going to feel when he tells you that he's had sex that very day with three other women? How are you going to feel when he rejects you for a fantasy woman in a magazine or a sleazy phone actress at the end of a 1-900 number?
I think this is the worst kind of pain imaginable, and I know because I've experienced it first-hand.
Your boyfriend needs some serious psychological help, and you need to think more of yourself than to be just another snack for a sexual black hole.

Although your condom will reduce the risk of intercourse with a sex addict, an unplanned pregnancy is a picnic compared to AIDS and other incurable STDs. Pregnancy "cures" itself in 9 short months; death by AIDS is slow, painful, and permanent. Even if he tested negative for HIV, he could get it at any time.
If your boyfriend loves you at all, he will not have sex with you but will get psychological help right away. Help link: Sexual Addition Recovery Resources.


during your period...

Message No. 56, franny at frances_rosanne@hotmail.com (December 26, 1997)


I really want to know if its possible to get pregnant if you have sex like on the
7th day of your period.

Reply by Monnica


This depends on how long your cycles are and when you ovulate. Most women ovulate on day 14 (counting from the first day of menstruation), so sex on day seven would be unlikely to result in pregnancy. However, some women with shorter cycles ovulate earlier, and since sperm can survive for several days inside a woman's reproductive tract, conception might be possible. The best way for you to determine when you are ovulating is by using a natural method of birth control.


question about sperm...

Message No. 55, cc at derechere@brinet.com (December 17, 1997)


My husband and I are trying to conceive. This is a wonderful site for us to learn about ovulation and the timing for conception... However, we were wondering how long (hours, days...) for his sperm count to rise after intercourse? Does making love every day lower the his sperm count drastically?

Reply by Monnica


Dear CC -- Thanks for your feedback! Having sex frequently should not lower his sperm count. If you are trying to conceive, I recommend that you surf The Parents Place Web Site. They have excellent information on fertility and how to conceive.


Depo-Provera

Message No. 54, Pamela at bartee@bigfoot.com (December 09, 1997)


I am wanting to get myself off of this shot. I do like it, but feel it is time for another form of birth control. I first Depo-Provera injection was 6 weeks post-partum in February 1994 and my last shot was July 1997.

My lastI am wondering if it is possible to be prescribed a mini-pill to use as birth control until I now that I have gone past the 12 week date for my next injection.
I do not want to risk pregnancy at this time and would like to take this risk away until I get my period again.

Reply by Monnica


You should talk to your doctor about this. However, the mini-pill works by the same mechanism as Depo-Provera and has most of the same health risks and side-effects. Users of the mini-pill also experience irregular periods or no periods at all.


question about ovulation method

Message No. 53, warren at ichijan@uclink3.berkeley.edu (December 07, 1997)


I have a question regarding the ovulation method, where one looks for the "wetness" from the mucus. Do the description of the mucus apply during sexual activity, pre and post intercourse? If a woman is going through her dry period, will she have less secretions pre intercourse? or during intercourse?
Please do not reply to the address from which this message is sending from.
Please reply to ichijan@uclink3.berkeley.edu

Reply by Monnica


Mucus resulting from sexual activity should not be used as a fertiltiy indicator. This mucus is always produced in response to sexual stimulation, so it may also occur during an infertile phase. During a dry period there will probably be less secretions before and during sex, but again, these are not to be used as indications of anything. If dryness during is a problem at certain times of the month, you might try a lubricant like K-Y Jelly.


No Respect for non-virgins? Get real!

Message No. 52, Katha Pollitt at kpollitt@thenation.com (December 06, 1997)


I was a little troubled by Monnica's response to Valerie, who was looking forward to beginning her sex life at 18 plus, but was worried about gaining weight if she took the pill. Monnica advised Valerie to wait until marriage fo to have sex, and said that unmarried sex might well leave her with a broken heart, and that people wouldn't respect her if she had sex. This is terrible advice! What century is this?

I had my heart broken many times by men I hadn't slept with! virginity is no protection from love trouble.

As for the suggestion that people don't respect sexually active women, this is preposterous. Most people understand that women, like men, have sexual lives. In fact, you could argue that after a certain age it's virgins that people think of as weird. But even if some people do look down on sexually active women, so what? I know this is an anti-abortion-rights site, but it does claim to be feminist.
So Monnica, please explain to me how kowtowing to the double standard and what people think advances the cause of women's equality.

Reply by Monnica


Dear Katha, I know that the idea of waiting until marriage before having sex might seem unusual in a time when casual sex is seen by many as the norm. But let's face it, someone who's having many sexual partners has a lot to lose, including respect from the opposite sex. Although men might "look-up" to other men who have had many "conquests," a person who's had many sex partners is seen as much less desirable by the opposite sex -- male or female.
This has nothing to do with "looking down" on a woman be
cause she is sexually active. I am sexually active myself and proud to have made a lifetime committment with my husband.

A woman (or a man) who has sex with many different people usually has a low opinion of herself and is looking for approval through the sexual relationship. Many sexual partners are just a symptom of the lack of respect she has for herself. Sadly, many men take advantage of this situation and the woman is left very hurt when she realizes that she was just used for sex.
Although it doesn't take sex to result in a broken heart, how many women are glad they had sex with men who later turned out to be jerks?
(This is not just my opinion, the US Department of Health and Human Services agrees with me. Please see the publication "You didn't get pregnant..." U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, Public Health Office, Office of Population Affairs.)

The best way to know that a man really loves you is to see if he's willing to make the ultimate committment -- marriage. If not, he's just using you for his own sexual gratification. It's very pro-woman to say, "No way, I won't be used. I'm going to hold out for real love." It's not a double-standard -- I recommend the same for men.

Unlike myself, however, sexually transmitted diseases do have a double-standard. Many will leave a woman sterile or dead while the man is simply a carrier. Sex within marriage only is the best way to have sex and preserve your life and health. For more about my position on these issues, please see Responsible Sexual Choices and You.


Periods during Pregnancy

Message No. 51, Jenna at n9446746@henson.cc.wwu.edu (December 06, 1997)


I was wondering about how common it is to have a period during pregnancy. It has always been taught that menstruation=Not pregnant, which I have always counted on. However, after becoming sexually active three years ago, I kept hearing that wasn't true. I was on the pill for two years ( I just finished my last pack last month after deciding I didn't want to be putting those extra hormones in my system) and I am semi-relieved to have found information
via your site regarding what occurs AFTER you cease the pill. I have been really afraid, praying I am not pregnant. I might be too much a worrier, though. I took my pill religiously, and even though we didn't use condoms EVERY time, we did about 50% of the time. I was afraid since I havent gotten my period yet (3 days ago I normally would have had I been on the pill still). Anyway, I am hoping to hear about how common it really is to get your period through pregnancy.
In a semi-related topic, I have also decided to become abstinant again. It took me a little while, but I realized what I was doing, essentially creating more problems than I need. The next person I sleep with will be my husband.

Thanks for your site,

Jenna

Reply by Monnica


Some women get a slight period during the first month of pregnancy, but it is pretty uncommon to have full periods throughout the whole pregnancy. Since you stopped taking the pill, you may not have periods for several months while your body is figuring out how to get back to normal.

I'm glad to hear you have decided to become abstinent again. Abstinence is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. No more monthly worries that you might be pregnant, no risk of STDs, and no more cringing at the thought of having had sex with someone you later hate. I think you and your future husband will be glad that you decided to wait. Hang in there!


abortion

Message No. 50, kala at cmt8044@unix.tamu.edu (December 04, 1997)


I was Just writing a speech on education for contraception. I need to know how many unwanted precnancies there are every year?

Reply by Monnica


I recommend that you visit Alan Guttmacher Institute. They have done a great deal of research into sexual issues and have a fairly exhaustive website.


Help with the answer!

Message No. 49, Janell at janfrancis@juno.com (December 02, 1997)


I have been on Depo-Provera since February of this year. I had a shot again in in May and was supposed to get my next shot in August, however i didnot go. Last week i took an EPT test and it came back positive. Is this right? i thought it took almost up to a year from your last shot to become pregnant. When i used it before it took over a year to get pregnant. please respond quickly. I am on pins and needles worried about this.

Reply by Monnica


Dear Janell -- yes indeed, you could very well be pregnant! You need to have a shot every 3 months in order to reliably prevent pregnancy. Although it may take some women a year before fertility returns, other women are fertile after only being a few weeks late for the next shot. Your body and the effect of Depo-Provera on your system changes over time. There's no way to predict how much of a "grace period" you have from one shot to the next since so many factors could be involved.


The pill

Message No. 48, Chris at cfalcon@emory.edu (November 19, 1997)


Why is a woman supposed to wait for a week after she starts taking the pill before she has unprotected sex? If a woman starts the pill a few days after her period and continues for the entire cycle shouldn't it be okay to have unprotected sex as soon as she starts taking it?

Reply by Monnica


Unless you start your package of pills on the first day of your period, you may not be fully protected from pregnancy right away. I'm not exactly sure why, but it's probably to ensure there is enough hormone in your system to supress ovulation and create an infertile uterus. You should ask your doctor or pharmacist for details about this process.


why no male sterilization info?

Message No. 47, Sarah Whitline at whitlineink@yadtel.net (November 18, 1997)


As you have a bit of information about male condoms ... and you've included female sterilization ... why don't you include at least a little general information about male sterilization? Just wondering!

Also, my husband and I are considering this form of permanent birth control. Does anyone have any direct or indirect experiences with female or male sterilization? Any feedback would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks!

Reply by Monnica


This guide was originally about reversible methods of birth control for women, so I didn't include any sterilization info at all. I later added female sterilization. Male sterilization is something I've been meaning to add for some time, but have not yet gotten around to it.
I manage this site in my spare time, so major additions updates have to take a back seat to Q&A and regular updates.
I will get around to adding a section on vasesctomy someday!


What should I take?????

Message No. 46, Valerie D. at vdomingu@urz-mail.urz.uni-heidelberg.de (November 18, 1997)


Dear Monnica;

I'm an 18 and a half year old girl.I'm on my year-off in Germany.
I really want to start having sex, but I've got a problem which is retarding everything and making me very nervous and desesperated.
I have gone over all methods, my doctor gave me the pill, but I don't want to take it because every single friend I know told me that she gained weight, which is something I can't risk (I have to feel thin and sexy to want sex at all).
I'm at the moment already nervous about my weight because I put on some kilos in summer (I weigh about 57 for 1.70 m, which is the heaviest I've ever been).
I don't mind the other side-effects because I really want to experience sex,only the weight issue.
Please answer me to my mailbox as soon as possible. I'm also visiting soon a new doctor in Germany (I come from paris)
If the Pill is really the best, please tell me from your experience, etc.., which is the one known for not making fat.
Thank you in advance for clearing me up.
Love, Valerie (vdomingu@urz-mail.urz.uni-heidelberg.de)

Reply by Monnica


Dear Valerie, as far as I know, all hormonal methods of birth control have the possiblity of weight gain as a side-effect. However, for unmarried persons, especially teens, I strongly recommend waiting until marriage to have sex.
Without the benefit of a mutual commitment you are putting yourself at risk of pregnancy (it can happen even to people using the Pill perfectly), sexually transmitted disease, and even death.
I can't tell you how many women I've spoken to who were left with broken hearts after their boyfriends took off after using them for sex. This situation is doubly painful when a boyfriend leaves as a result of a pregnancy he particpated in causing.
The more sex partners you have, the less you will be respected by others and the more likely it is that you will contract an incurable STD -- like the all-too-common human papillomavirus (HPV) which can make sex painful for the rest of your life or cause cervical cancer which can kill you. You have everything to lose and practically nothing to gain by looking for sex at this point in your life. Demand more than few minutes of pleasure and the illusion of love. You are worth it.


Birth Control

Message No. 44, L.M. at Seloimage@aol.com (November 13, 1997)


I need some help in the area of birth control. Let me give you some history - Two years ago I was using Depo Provera and eventually stopped because I was bleeding on a daily basis for over six months. At that point I switched to the pill for four months and experienced such bad cramps (for the first time in my life), that I missed at least two days of work each month because I could barely walk. I then went to a diaphragm and became pregnant within three months.
I had a lot of problems with the pregnancy and eventually miscarried after four months and ended up in the hospital and almost lost my uterus. At that point, my doctor said that I should go back to Depo Provera because it was the only really reliable form of bc. It has been almost a year and I don't bleed every day anymore but I have little or no sex drive. I recently read somewhere that Depo is also used as a form of chemical castration for sex offenders and
that progestin does suppress the sex drive.
I want to find another form of birth control but I am at a loss. I am 27, a newlywed with no desire to have children for the next 3 or 4 years, and I am afraid of going through what I experienced last year, so I want something reliable. Do you have any suggestions?

Reply by Monnica


Dear L.M. -- you are not the first person I have spoken to with such a worrisome report about Depo-Provera (DMPA). Changes in bleeding patterns (constant bleeding or none at all) are common for Depo-Provera users and are also the number one reason for discontinuation. Depo-Provera can cause hemorrhaging, and since you almost lost your uterus after a miscarriage, I would avoid any drug which might cause hemorrhaging.
I did come across a study about Depo-Provera being administered to sex offenders to reduce sex drive. Diminished libido (sex drive) is a common side effect for women using Depo-Provera, so if you are already having problems in this area I would think you would avoid using DMPA again. The effects of the drug can remain in your system for over a year.

In your case a Natural Method may be a good idea, especially if periods are regular. The most difficult part of using Fertility Awarness is actually abstaining during the fertile time. If you have a low sex drive, this would not be so difficult for you and perhaps it would even help to revive interest in sex.
To make NFP more effective you might use a condom as well, especially in the pre-ovulatory (but infertile) phase. Also condoms and spermicides together are an effective (though cumbersome) combination.


The Pill

Message No. 43, Jocelyn at strilchu@idirect.com (November 11, 1997)


I just started taking the pill one month ago. I was just wondering if you miss the pill taking time by 1 hour is it considered "missing" the pill, even if you took it an hour after? And are you at risk for pregnancy. Do you have an hour or two of lea-way or is it really a tight schedule. I am kind of paranoid about it and have been searching through all the sites for answers. One sight said that I had four hours. Is that correct.

Thanx for the awesome sight!!

Jocelyn

Reply by Monnica


How late you can be when taking the pill depends entirely on which type of pill
you are taking.

Combination Pill If it's a regular, combination (estrogen/progestin) pill, a few hours late does not matter. If you miss a pill, you take both the next day. You will probably not get pregnant, but it is recommended that you use a back-up method for seven days.

Mini-Pill If you're taking a progestin-only pill, aka the mini-pill, then you must take it at the same time every day. If you are more than 3 hours late or miss a pill, you should take the missed pill as soon as it's remembered. It is recommended that you use a backup method for the next two days.

You should understand, however, that both types of pill prevent the implantation of a pre-embryo as a major mechanism of action. Many women and even some medical professionals are uncomfortable with this. You need to determine if this sort of birth control is an acceptable choice for you.


Celibacy as Option

Message No. 39, carol Pfeifle at andorian@mailexcite.com (November 11, 1997)


I am adding a small page to my site concerning abortion, since it relates to
nonviolence issues I bring up and how this relates to power and sexuality.
I don't want to reinvent the wheel so i will have the most eye catching facts
that might appeal to someone searching. Mostly i don't want to scare away but play up the support and choice aspects.
My Celibacy Forum and More is http://www.geocities.com/wellesley/5953

Reply by Monnica


Thanks for the info, Carol! Celebacy can be a difficult option in our culture. People who choose this way of life need all the support they can get! Thanks for your hard work.


making love

Message No. 38, Jaime at jaime@wavecom.net (November 10, 1997)


I have been with my girlfriend for almost 3 years and she doesn't have orgasm while we are making love, only if I touch her but no with penetration. What can I do? Because I love her and I want that she could have an orgasm. Another question we are thinking in practicing anal sex. Do she will like it? Please answer me as soon as posible and thank you very much.

Reply by Monnica


Your girlfriend's failure to hav an orgasm could be from several reasons. You might see a couples therapist who specializes in sexual issues. I really doubt that anal intercourse would be more enjoyable. In fact, it would probably hurt.

Note: All you folks who are thinking about having anal intercourse -- don't. According to the Department of Health and Human Services:

The Surgeon General has said, "CONDOMS PROVIDE SOME PROTECTION, BUT ANAL INTERCOURSE IS SIMPLY TOO DANGEROUS A PRACTICE."

Condoms may be more likely to break during anal intercourse
than during other types of sex because of the greater amount of
friction and other stresses involved.

Even if the condom doesn't break, anal intercourse is
risky because it can cause tissue in the rectum to tear and bleed.
These tears allow disease germs to pass more easily from one partner
to the other.


am i pregnant?

Message No. 37, Jen at delmkm@aol.com (November 10, 1997)


Hello,

I am 20 yrs old, and I've been pregnant twice before. The past 2 months, I've gotten my period on the 7th. Last month, (October 23, 24 and 25) I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend several times. He did withdraw, but I'm still worried, especially since it is now the 10th and I haven't gotten my
period. Also, I've been sick with a cold the last few weeks, and I'm aware that being sick can delay your period. I understand there are no set statistics for my situation, but I was wondering if you could possibly tell me how worried I should be. Thank you so much for your prompt response.

Reply by Monnica


Dear Jen, withdrawal alone has a 19% failure rate when used properly as a method of birth control for a whole year. If your period starts on the 7th of the month and it is approx. 30 days from the start of one period to the start of the next, then you probably ovulate around the 22nd of the month, possibly later since many factors can delay ovulation. So, having sex on the 23, 24, and 25 could be risky business. Since your period is late, my advice is to get a pregnancy test right away. Go to
Crisis Pregnancy Centers On-Line to find a center near you that can provide an accurate pregnancy test for free.


Prices?

Message No. 36, Eunice at Sexxah@rocketmail.com (November 08, 1997)


Would you please send me the approximate price of the Depo-Provera shot and if there is a shot that is taken annually instead of quaterly? Thanks,
Eunice

Reply by Monnica


I called the local Planned Parenthood here in Los Angeles was quoted $29 for Depo-Provera per quarterly injection after an initial $130 consultation. Currently there is no annual shot for birth contol in the United States. Please see the section at this site about Depo-Provera for more information about this drug before deciding to use it.


I have a question .

Message No. 35, Marc at cyberH8@aol.com (November 07, 1997)

My girlfriend was on the pill for about 3 months . One monthshe
missed quiet a few times so she stopped taking them that month . She started
the pill after her period the next month . She has been on them for
approximatally a month and she is now on her non-hormon pills. The thing i
am wondering is one , is it normal that she be late on her period ? Two
,Does her taking the non-hormone pill when she not on her period effectthe
protectivability of the pill ? She is approxamatally 5 days late as ofnow ,
so that means she has taken 5 non-hormonal pills . What happens whenshe
starts her period and she runs out of non-hormonal pills and goes to hormonal
pills ? Bottom line I guess is this normal and is it safe to have sexat
this point ?

Thankfully yours ,

Marc

Reply by Monnica


I'm a little confused by the way you asked your question, but let me see if I can answer what I think you're saying. Oral contraceptives artifically "regulate" the menstrual patterns. Your girlfriend would not be considered "late" on her period unless she failed to start menstruating after completing her package of pills. The "non-hormonal" pills you refer to are simply placebos -- they do nothing. Hormones are not needed during this part of the cycle due to natural periodic infertility.
So, sex during
this time will not result in pregnancy if your girlfriend (1) started her pill pack on the first day of her last period, and (2) has taken her pill every single day since then. Of course, except for refaining from sex, every method of birth control can fail, even if used perfectly. If your girlfried does not start menstruating by the time she starts her next pill pack, get a pregnancy test right away.


Drinking and the pill

Message No. 34, Katie at Shyness26@aol.com (November 04, 1997)


I would like to know if u drink alcohol and are on the pill, does that affect how well the pill will work?

Reply by Monnica


As far as I can determine, alcohol will not make the pill less effective. However, the Pill can cause the alcohol to have an increased effect. Therefore, extra caution should be used when consuming alcoholic beverages. Impaired judgment can put you at risk of far more serious consequences than pregnancy.


Birth Control

Message No. 33, Tiffanie at tdunavan@jaguar.dacc.cc.il.us (November 03, 1997)


I would like to know if this is true. I have heard that doctors suggest that
women only take the pill for 5 years and after the five years that they should
go off of it for 3 years because of the effects it has on ones health.
Is this true?

Reply by Monnica


Although some doctors do recommend a "rest period" from oral contraceptives, most experts agree that there is no medical benefit from such a practice. Personally, however, I believe the less unnecessary exposure one has to synthetic hormones, the better.


The Pill

Message No. 32, Katie at norm@rapid.co.uk (November 01, 1997)


I started taking the Pill last month and whenever I have sex with my boyfriend now the condom splits. I was wondering if you could tell me whether taking the Pill has something to do with this.

Thank you.

Reply by Monnica


Oral contraceptives can cause vaginal dryness. You might consider a lubricant like K-Y Jelly or switching contraceptive methods. Your partner might also try a larger sized condom.


Monthly Cycle

Message No. 31, felicia at sut2345@stxmail.uvi.edu (October 25, 1997)


If i count backwards to determine my ovulation date to tell when i should avoid intercourse on that day, what if i had intercourse on that exact day on the following month but used a condom? what's the %age chance that i my not become pregnent?

Reply by Monnica


Before determining this, you need to have an accurate understanding of fertility cycles. Although the egg lives only for 24 hours, the sperm can live in the vagina for several days prior to ovulation. Thus, women are fertile for several days out of each cycle, and these days are not always the same every time. Some women's cycles vary widely from month to month. Factors like diet, stress, exercise and travel can delay ovulation.

The condom has an average failure rate of 12% over one year. The odds of getting pregnant from just one act of intercourse are 0-26%, depending on how close you are to ovulation. It's difficult to determine the odds of pregnancy for just one act of intercourse when using a contraceptive, because of all the variables involved, and I'm not an expert in statistics. But the most important factor in determining failure or success for condom use is that is used properly every time.


Birth Control for older women

Message No. 30, Gala at lindvall@aa.net (October 23, 1997)


I will be 47 in a month and do not want any more children (I have 3). How long do I need to be concerned about birth control (I read that it is extremely uncommon for women over 47 to get pregnant with their own eggs). Also, is the ParaGard (IUD) a safe and effective form of Birth Control. My health-minded doctor suggested that as a good alternative, since a vasectomy could increase risk of prostate cancer for men.

Thank you for any help you can give me. I loved having babies; had them all naturally at home, and breastfed them for several years! I just don't want to do it anymore!

Reply by Monnica


Menopause typically occurs between ages 45 and 55, with the median at age 51. Your doctor can determine if you have reached menopause with a blood test to measure certain hormone levels. If you have not yet reached menopause you still need to be concerned about pregnancy. Surgical sterilization is the most common method among women in you age range, but methods like the diaphagm and condom will also be very effective because fertility is decreased with advanced age.

I do not think that the IUD is a good method for anyone, because it can be dangerous and it is also an early abortifacient. It works by irritating the uterus and preventing the implantation of the embryo. It's no wonder that 2-10% of users expel the device in the first year. (Sometimes our bodies know better, even if we don't!) Health risks include pelvic-inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and even death.
You need to determine if a potentially hazardous method of birth control which destroys new
life is an acceptable choice for you.


Nonoxynol-9

Message No. 29, Brigid at bm001g@uhura.cc.rochester.edu (October 22, 1997)


I recently went to an info session on the transmission of HIV and was told that the CDC recently (this summer) decided that nonoxynol-9 was ineffective both as a spermicide and at preventing HIV. I was wondering if that was really true, and if there were other spermicides out there that did work. Thanks.

Reply by Monnica


Although nonoxynol-9 has been shown to kill the AIDS virus in a "test tube," actual studies with women using nonoxynol-9 for AIDS prevention have been worrisome. In one study of prostitutes using the spermicide, the rate of HIV transmission was even higher than a control group using placebo suppositories. This is because nonoxynol-9 is a detergent which causes irritation of the vaginal and cervical tissues. These irritations become conduits for HIV transmission.
For this reason spericides are no longer being recommended for AIDS prevention. Spermicides alone are also fairly ineffective for preventing pregnancy with failure rates as high as 50% over one year's time.


NFP

Message No. 28, Jennie at scott717@concentric.net (October 22, 1997)


I think you ought to mention other benefits of NFP/other natural methods. On a practical level, it provides a real understanding of the female body and promotes an awareness of changes in a woman. Many of my friends have varying ideas of when a woman is likely to get pregnant and have no idea of the signs the female body gives when it is going to/has ovulated. The greater the understanding of the female body, the greater the appreciation for what He has given us.
It is truly amazing to LEARN MORE about
the female cycle other than sperm plus egg equals pregnancy. Furthermore, NFP is EXTREMELY helpful for women when they actually do decide to conceive.

On a spiritual level, it brings a couple closer to each other and to God's will. My husband and I have been practicing NFP for a little over 2 years, after using the pill and condoms. I did not expect it to, but it has brought me closer to my husband on a very profound level and has made me serious about my religion again. I've heard of no artificial method that has done that! I will never go back.

I also want to mention that the rate of pregnancy in practice you show includes couples who use NFP but do not follow it all the time because they are open to God giving them a child. It is therefore not truly a 'failure' rate. Taking away artificial contraceptive barriers seems to often take away the barriers people have to doing what God would have them do.

Last, I don't think withdrawal is a 'natural' method. What could be more unnatural than withdrawing just prior to ejaculation?

You have a very informative and well-done web page. I am always glad to know there are other people out there who respect life.

Reply by Monnica


Thanks for your comments! NFP is a good method and it's unfortunate that it gets such a bad rap. I have heard of other marriages that have also been helped by NFP, but as far as I know, no scientific studies have documented this phenomenon so I can't really list "marriage improvement" as a benefit. You are right in that 'Withdrawal' is somewhat unnatural in that it seriously disturbs the natural sexual response cycle. It is included with Natural Methods because no drugs or devices are used on the body
but mainly for lack of a better category.


days you can get pregnant

Message No. 26, kate at katew@u.arizona.edu (October 19, 1997)


i was just curious as to how many days in each month are you fertile in which
you can get pregnant? which days are these, how many days after the last
day of your period?

Reply by Monnica


This depends on the length of your menstrual cycle. If you get your period every 28 days, this means that the first six days of your cycle (starting from the first day of your period) are infertile. Fertility will generally begin any time between day 6 and day 14, and day 16 on will begin infertility for the rest of the cycle. Of course, this is just an estimate and will vary from woman to woman.
For more information and to lean how to calculate your fertile and infertile times, please see the page on Natural Methods at this site and the related links.


diaphragm on teenager life

Message No. 25, gabriela at deos@opus.com.br (October 17, 1997)


Question: I would like to know if diaphragm isn't better than pill to teenagers girls? I know that pill can cause hormonal disturbs, so why pill is more comun than diaphragm for example?

Thank you for advance. I'm waiting a answer.

Reply by Monnica


The diaphragm requires detailed knowledge of the female anatomy to use properly, requires a doctor's visit to determine the correct size, and must be inserted prior to intercourse. Many teens are embarassed about their bodies and might perceive the diaphragm as too difficult to use. In contrast, the Pill is easy to use and does not require any special planning before having sex. This might be why clinicians are more likely to prescribe pills to teens rather than a diaphragm.
The current trend is for clinicians to recommend condoms for the dual purpose of STD prevention, as well as birth contol pills. However teens are much less likely than adults to use any method properly and/or consistently.


birth control

Message No. 24, Laura at Laura.Lovgren@mankato.msus.edu (October 17, 1997)


I've heard of something called a shot as a form a birth control. I was wondering if it is safe because you don't get your period at all. Is it unhealthy and exactly what is it?

Reply by Monnica


You are thinking about Depo-Provera (also called DMPA), a synthetic hormone for birth control which is administered by injection every 3 months. Common side effects include dizziness, allergy, depression, and
ovarian cysts. Adolescent users especially as well as adults have been found to experience a significant loss of bone density, so those concerned about osteoporosis should avoid DMPA. About 40% of women using Depo-Provera do not have periods at all. I think it's only common sense that if young woman is having no periods it's because these chemicals are interefering with her natual and delicate hormonal balance which is unlikley to be 100% healthful.

One major mechanism of Depo-Provera is to change the lining of the uterus so that if conception occurs, the embryo is prevented from implaning. Thus Depo-Provera is acting as an early abortifacient much like the IUD, which many women find morally objectionable. You need to evaluate whether or not you think that birth control which works by destroying new life is an acceptable choice for you.


Diaphragm use

Message No. 23, Shirley at weigl@sprintmail.com (October 15, 1997)


I know that you are not supposed to leave in a diaphragm for more than 24 hours, but I realized that I had forgotten to remove it for 3.5 days. Are there any effects that I should be worried about? Is the diaphragm still effective?

thanks,

Shirley

Reply by Monnica


Your biggest risk from wearing the diaphragm too long is toxic shock syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Your diaphragm is probably fine, but I would recommend that you have a visit with your ob/gyn right away!


Tubal Ligation Procedure

Message No. 22, Wanda at wfones@logicon.com (October 13, 1997)


Hello,

I am a 31 year old female with a 3 year old son.
Since his birth, I have had two surgeries on my leg due to benign tumors. I had to have 30 radiation treatments so my leg is full of scar tissue. I asked my OB/GYN about having more children and he recommended that I not try again because of the chance of blood clots in my leg with the scar tissue. He recommended that if I decided not to have any more children, I should consider tubal ligation. I have read up on this procedure and it scares me to death.
Could anyone who has had this procedure write to me and give me all the details - good and bad. My husband is also looking into a vasectomy but he isn't too thrilled about that.

Thanks for all your help and information.

Wanda

Reply by Monnica


Hi Wanda! I would recommend a vasectomy over a tubal ligation in most circumstances (if I had to choose), but remember that both should be considered permanent. Of women who've been sterilized, up to 40% have gynelogical problems later and some even require hysterectomies. First of all you should certainly get a second opinion about whether or not it's safe to have more children. If your doctor is wrong or being overly cautions you might really be sorry later.


perfect use of the pill

Message No. 20, angie at curneal@bgnet.bgsu.edu (October 13, 1997)


hi! Thanks for your page! I was just wondering how did the one woman out
of 100 get pregnant even though she was using the pill? If I use the pill
perfectly how worried should I be that I will get pregnant if my partner
ejaculates inside me?

Thanks for your help!

Angie

Reply by Monnica


Yes, you should be concerned about getting pregnant even though you use the Pill. Perfect users in research studies experience 1 pergnancy per 1000 women per year. This means that anyone in the study who messed up or forgot a pill and got pregnant was eliminated from the data. However, in real life almost no one can be a "perfect user." You might forget or take it late at some point. My sister had an expereince while she was traveling overseas where her luggage was delayed.
Her birth control pills were in the luggage. She and her husband had sex the night before, putting her at risk for pergnancy. Although she is very responsible, she was late taking her pill. It can happen to anyone. So, you need to discuss this possiblity with your partner before having sex. What will he do if you get pregnant? What will you do? Think about it. I've spoken with many women who got pregnant while using oral contraceptives. No method works 100% of the time for everyone.


Abstinence foolproof?

Message No. 19, Dan Rutt at danrutt@pop.primenet.com (October 07, 1997)


I found it interesting in that your chart on contraception that the ideal and "in practice" listed no difference between these two rates only for abstinence. I believe that this is a misleading comparison. It is my understanding that many persons intending to abstain from sex actually are not successful -- thus the reason for teaching abstinence skills!
If we simply define abstinence as a method only when it is used successfully, in essence defining the ideal and "in practice" as the same, why not do the same for other contraceptive measures?

Reply by Monnica


Thanks for your feedback! You are right in that many couples who plan
on using abstinence are unsuccessful. Conversely, if one is having sex
that person is not practicing abstinence, so it's a bit tricky to
define. It's not uncommon for couples decide to stop using abstinence after having sex for the first time. A true abstinence study would have to exclude couples who stop using the designated method, but would include couples who use the method 'improperly.' The definition of 'improperly' would have to be determined.

In this guide the numbers for abstinence are provided only for comparison and
are not from actual studies (this is pointed out in the footnotes of the
paper version of this guide). If you know of any studies which can
provide some hard numbers for 'actual use' of abstinence, I would
appreciate it if you would forward the information to me as I would be
happy to include it.

The 'perfect' versus 'actual' numbers given for other methods are from
scientific studies and textbooks. Providing both numbers seemed most
useful so that couples can better determine what their chances of
pregnancy are and what the risks can be if they are very careful in
using their method.


late period

Message No. 18, maureen at m.5@sprynet.com (October 06, 1997)


I have been on the pill for eight years. Recently I went off. I got my period five weeks after going off of the pill but it has been 7 weeks since that last period. I had protective sex (condoms) during this time. I also have taken two pregnancy tests which have both come back negative. Should I be worried? What should my next steps be?

Reply by Monnica


I think it's probably a bit early to be concerned.
For women who recently stop taking oral contraceptives, it may be several months before periods return to normal. Since you've been on the Pill for many years it may take even longer for your body to get used to the idea of not having synthetic hormones to tell it what to do. I'd say see a doctor if you don't get your period back after four months, maybe even six in your case. Of course, if you are having any pregnancy symptoms or pain, you should get
a pregnancy test from your doctor right away.


comment

Message No. 16, Michael Karcher at karch@surfshop.net (September 30, 1997)


A contraceptive approach to solving abortion problems is not consistant pro-life philosophy. See Catholic ethical teaching on the subject. It is commpnly available. Birth control comes from the humanist tradition embraced by Margaret Sanger. Artificial barriers to conception are not based in the Bible. The Onan incident is one of the most commonly cited references that does address the subject. God killed Onan. There is a good book written by a non-Catholic minister that argues the Biblical
tradition against artificial contaception. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has done the most work in this area. See Human Life International at hli.org for full arguements.

The sexual revolution started by Sanger and others drove the BC wedge in the family that resulted in the disasterous situation we have today. Pro-life organizations athat advocate the same ideals won't accomplish their goals and are actually advocating the root cause of the problem in our society.

Reply by Monnica


Thanks for your feedback, Michael! You are right in that the Bible does not discuss the barrier approach to contraception. I encourage all Christians to prayerfully consider the church's teachings, past and present, to the morality of birth control.
If you look on this site's page on Birth Control and the Christian, you will see that a number of links to Catholic opinions are included as well as link to the Evangelium Vitae, which is strongly anti-contraception. The reason I include this information is
so that Christian couples seeking information about birth control can access additional perspectives.

This guide does not present contraception as a solution to the abortion problem, nor does it advocate any particular method at all. In fact, if you take the time to read through this site, you'll find that Abstinence is listed as the best method of birth control. As you may know, half of all persons obtaining abortions were using birth control that failed, so obviously more birth control will not solve this problem. This guide strongly warns the user that
all reversible birth control methods fail, and couples need to consider this before deciding on having sex.

In my opinion, the solution for the abortion problem is not to decide that birth control is evil. Rather (1) our attitude as a society toward life needs to change -- every person is valuable period, and (2) people need to think carefully about their sexual choices. This guide addresses aspect #2.


Semen Again

Message No. 15, Pier-Paolo at mammi@www.tamnet.interbusiness.it (September 28, 1997)


Hi again. Following my last message, if any sperm has remained inside, how long they remain active? And how long do sperm remain active "outside" body (meaning not in penis nor uterus)? Thanks.

Reply by Monnica


I'm not sure how long sperm can live outside the body, but unless they are frozen, I suspect not very long. I do know that inside a woman's body sperm usually live anywhere from half-an-hour to 3 days, depending on the conditions of the woman's reproductive tract determined by the time of month. (Although there have been documented cases of sperm living 5 or even 7 days inside a woman, but this is very rare.)
During the "fertile phase," sperm live and thrive in a special mucus which acts as a conduit in
to the uterus. During the "infertile phase" they die quickly in vaginal acid.

If semen is deposited anywhere on a woman's genitals, even without penetration the sperm can live long enough to enter this fertile mucus and swim into the uterus resulting in pregnancy. At the crisis pregnancy center, I have seen women become pregnant from this type of activity, even though the penis never entered the vagina. You can imagine how shocked such a woman would be if she thought that she was having "safe" sex.
That's one reason that "outercourse" (mutual masturbation) is not recommended as birth
control here. You can still get pregnant, it easily leads to plain old "intercourse," and it is really very unsatisfying. (Why bother -- it's still sex.)


IUD History

Message No. 14, Tina Anderson at pentax@chesco.com (September 27, 1997)


Was the IUD used most commonly in the early 1950's -- or was the pill out and
in circulation by then? If the IUD was not used-what was the most common
contraceptive device for women in the early 50's.

Reply by Monnica


The pill was not approved by the FDA until 1960. Prior to that time condoms, diaphragms and withdrawal were very popular. The use of withdrawal was even described in the Bible. Ancient condoms were made of snakeskin, animal intestines, and linen. Methods women used included sea sponges dipped in lemon juice or vinegar and crude IUD's. Cervical caps have been in use since ancient times; Cassanova used a lemon half for this purpose. Also used were beeswax, paper, and even animal dung. Visit the
Prentif web site for the history of the cervical cap. Abortifacient herbs and chemicals as well as infanticide were also used for birth control, and sadly are still used today. Also see Ortho's Museum of Contraception for more information.


Semen

Message No. 13, Pier-Paolo at mammi@www.tamnet.interbusiness.it (September 27, 1997)


Are the spermatozoones contained also in the liquid (that transparent, dense liquid) produced normally before ejaculation, or not? Hope I was clear. Thanks in advance.

Reply by Monnica


The pre-ejaculate fluid is for the purpose of lubrication and contains no sperm. However, some sperm could be left in the penis if the man has recently experienced a previous ejaculation, which could enter the lubricating fluid and theoretically cause a pregnancy. Probably urination prior to intercourse could force out these renagade sperm, but no research has been done on this matter. However, the pre-ejaculate fluid could contain the AIDS virus if the man is HIV-positive.


Contraception

Message No. 12, Gerardo II, Noriega B. at pttafpmo@mnl.sequel.net (September 25, 1997)


My wife had just given birth and she is breast feeding out baby. Does breast feeding prevents pregnancy. I heard from my male friend that when you have sex with your wife she might not get pregnant. Is this true?

Reply by Monnica


Yes, breastfeeding can act as a safe, effective contraceptive, if your wife is not having periods and nurses frequently. This method of birth control is 94% effective, and nearly 100% effective if combined with another method, like condoms. For even greater efficacy, I recommend that your wife learn the LAM method from a trained counselor. See the previous message (below) for details. Breastfeeding for contraception should not be used for more than 1 year or if periods return.


Breastfeeding

Message No. 11, Julia at ashm9469@intouch.com (September 19, 1997)


I want to know how safe it is to use breastfeeding as a contraceptive method?

Reply by Monnica


Breastfeeding is a very safe, if not the safest method of birth control. No surgery or devices, no hormones for the baby to ingest. For breastfeeding to work as contraception, you should first speak with a trained counselor in LAM -- that stands for the Lactational Amenorrhea Method. The key to success for this method is to make sure that the baby nurses frequently and that you are having no period. LAM is discussed in this guide near the bottom of the page on
Natural Methods. Please also visit the Couple to Couple League's page on Ecological Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for birth control is not as popular in the US as it is in other countries, so you may have to do some searching before finding a qualified LAM counselor.


Failure Rates

Message No. 7, Michelle at bugs_bunny@hotmail.com (September 10, 1997)


I was wondering if the failure rates noted are the percentage of times pregnancy resulted, or just the percentage of times semen actually entered the vagina (especially with condoms and the withdrawal method of birth control).

Reply by Monnica


The failure rates here are based on the number of women, out of 100,

who got pregnant after using their method of birth control for one year. So,
in the case of condoms, if a condom broke for 67 out of 100 couples over one
year's time for a
particular study, but only 15 of those women got pregnant, the failure
rate would be 15% -- even though the condoms failed more frequently.
So, as you can see, the failure rate doesn't necessarily mean that the
contaceptive method was very effective. It also says nothing as to how well the
device or method prevented disease. Studies show that condoms break anywhere
from 1 per 16 to 1 per 161 acts of intercourse. For each birth control failure, the odds of actually getting pregnant are anywhere from 0% to 20%, depending on how close the failure occurs to ovulation. Semen can enter the vagina and pregnancy
will not result if it happens during an inferile time of the month.


Information on Diaphragm and Aspects of the Pill

Message No. 6, Unknown at unk@s-cwis.unomaha.edu (September 3, 1997)


I am interested in switching from the pill to the diaphragm.

Reply by Monnica


You should see your doctor immediately to get fitted for a diaphragm, because
as soon as you stop taking the Pill you can get pregnant. However, many women
have irregular cycles for several months as their bodies adjust to being off
the hormones. The diaphragm takes
a little practice to get used to, but it's a good method if you have sex infrequently.
If you are very sexually active you may want to consider a more effective
method.


Your Website

Message No. 5, M.J. Weaver at mj@isp.unt.edu (September, 1997)


I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed your website and the
information provided. It's nice to see others with the same respect for
unborn children that I have. I agree with your philosophy 100%.
Thanks.


Persona Device

Message No. 4, Someone at escott39@idt.net (September, 1997)


I remember hearing that UCLA was looking for couples to test the Persona
device and I was wondering if you knew who I could contact regarding
information and possibly becoming a test couple.

My doctor stated that I could not use anything hormonal and this device
would be perfect. Any information is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time, Monica :o)

Reply by Monnica


Call Unipath, the makers of the device, toll-free at 1-888-UNIPATH.
Unipath's research recruitment center
actually sent me a study information sheet -- they will be comparing
two groups of participants, one group using a condom and one group using
Persona, to determine how effective the device is and to obtain FDA approval
so that it can be marketed here in the US. You can actually order the device legally
through a Canadian comapany at birthcontrol.com. I've added the details to
this site at the bottom of the page on Natural Methods.


Reverse Tubal

Message No. 3, Michelle (September, 1997)


i was wondering if you could send me any e-mail information on a
reverse tubal. i had one when i gave birth to my daughter while i was still
open from the c-section. i seriously regret my decision to have this done and
i would like more kids if not now then in the future and i was wondering if
the time between the tubal and the reverse tubal played a factor in the
succes of pregnancy.

When the Dr. did my tubal she cut and cauterized.
do you think I would have any success with a reverse tubal????
I surely hope so!

thank you very much for the great web page

Reply by Monnica Terwilliger


There are several techniques used for sterilization. From what I've
read, the "Pomeroy" is the most common method of postpartum
sterilzation, but the "Pritchard" is favored after a c-section.
This method removes quite a bit of the tube. The amount
of Fallopian tube left is one of the main factors in determining if your
sterilization can be reversed. Your doctor would know if there's enough
left to attempt a reversal.

In response to your question, I have added information about
sterilization reversal to this web site at the bottom of the Female Sterilization page.

Good luck and God bless!


The Pill and Smoking

Message No. 2, Anonymous at anon@anon.com (September, 1997)


I am currently taking the pill and I was wondering why exactly does
smoking while taking the pill increase the chance of having blood clots,
etc. I don't smoke cigarettes but I do smoke marijuana and I wonder if
the risks are the same.
Thanks

Reply by Monnica


I had to contact a professor at UC Davis to help answer to this one.
No one's sure about whether marijuana has the same effects as cigarette
smoking. As far as I know, no studies have explored this issue. However,
there are many studies going back decades that document that smoking
alone increases the risk of stroke and heart disease, (in addition to
various forms of cancer and lung disease) and that it works
synergistically with (ie, multiplies the effects of) the oral
contraceptives (OC) risk on heart disease. The effect of smoking or OCs
also is more pronouned with increasing age, so you age should be
considered. Women who smoke are discouraged from using oral
contraceptives after age 35 and definitely after age 40.

Smoking increases the stickiness of blood cells which contributes to the
increase in risk of stroke and heart disease. I should also mention
though that many of the studies showing this multiplicative effect were
conducted over 20 years ago when the doses of OCs were much higher than
they are now. Nonetheless, there have been recent studies that still
show an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and other vascular
effects associated with lower dose OCs, and the smoking effects are, of
course, unchanged from decades ago, and there are recent studies showing
smoking's effect on increasing stroke risk.

In any case, I strongly discourage you from smoking, especially marajuana,
which is very unhealthful. If you are having difficulty stopping
marajuana use, I encourage you to seek counseling.


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