A lot of the time, it seems like the only two types of protection people think/know about are traditional condoms and “the pill”. Sometimes people insist that if a partner is on the pill (hormonal birth control), they shouldn’t even need condoms – or any barrier for that matter.
Oh, sweet, sweet world of ignorance.
There are a lot of different kinds of protection available to people, and it’s important to know your options! The “best” protection is one that suits your needs and the needs of your partner(s). So, traditional condoms may not be the best option in some cases, and latex allergies should be considered. Hormonal birth control may have unwanted side effects, or may not even be necessary for same-sex partners. It may also vary depending on the activities you’ll be engaging in – for instance, only barrier methods prevent STI transmission. The kinds of sensations you get with the use of certain methods may vary, and can be either more pleasant or even unpleasant. All of these things are important to consider!
Of course, traditional condoms can still be very effective for you and your partner(s), and come in different shapes, colors, flavors, and materials. They can go on a penis or other object of insertion to prevent skin to skin contact or fluid transmission. They can also be cut into a square from the condom’s material to be used as a dental dam (another type of barrier method). Dental dams can be used for mouth-to-vulva or mouth-to-anus sex, and come in a variety of flavors. The same concept applies – no skin contact or fluid transmission!
Insertive condoms give receivers of penetrational sex control over protection, and don’t require an erection for the person doing the penetrating. They can also let a receiver with a vagina wear two in order for the penetrator to go back and forth between vagina and anus (or have multiple objects penetrating – whatever you want to do!). The ring on the outside can stimulate the clitoris, too! Insertive condoms are usually made of nitrile or other non-latex materials, so they can be used by anyone.
Hormonal methods release – you guessed it – hormones into the body that trick the biosex female body into thinking it’s pregnant, disallowing pregnancy to occur. There are various hormonal methods out there: implants (a small bar inserted under the skin), IUDs (inserted into the uterus), the patch (like a hormone sticker that releases them through the skin), the shot (get one every 3 months), the pill (two kinds, many brands; taken everyday), and the NuvaRing (inserted into the vagina for 3 weeks at a time)! All of these essentially do the same thing, but it’s good to know what’s out there so you can choose your preferred method. 🙂
There are other methods like caps/diaphragms (like a little cup to block sperm), spermicide (creams, foams, gels, etc that kill sperm; inserted into the vagina), and sponges (soaked with spermicide and it blocks sperm). Behavioral methods include the rhythm method (tracking the menstrual cycle), withdrawal (“pulling out” before ejaculation), and abstinence (forgoing sex entirely).
With so many options, there shouldn’t be any reason not to use some sort of protection with your partner(s) – STIs are no fun, and an unwanted pregnancy is a serious consequence of unprotected sex. Know what activities and encounters you’ll be partaking in, communicate your needs/desires to your partner(s), and stay safe and sexy! 🙂