World Contraception Day: An Opportunity to Solidify Your Birth Control Knowledge

Today is the 11th anniversary of World Contraception Day, first celebrated in 2007 when it was introduced by the World Health Organization, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and a coalition of other international health care organizations as a way to “improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.”

To appeal to young people, the coalition behind World Contraception Day crafted a website called Your Life that addresses frequently asked questions about birth control. You can start increasing your awareness now.

What is the difference between the “male condom” and the “female condom”? *
Male condoms are intended to cover a penis or dildo. Female condoms (aka “internal condoms“) fit inside the vaginal canal. They can also be inserted into the rectum. Both types of condoms are used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (aka STDs). When used during vaginal intercourse, they are also used to prevent pregnancy.

How do I use a male condom?
Male condoms are used to cover the penis or a dildo. This video will show you how to apply the condom.

How do I use a female condom?
Female condoms (aka “internal condoms”) are inserted into the vagina or rectum. This video help you see how to insert the internal condom.

Female condoms can also be inserted into the rectum during anal sex, though the FDA hasn’t approved them for that purpose.

Is the female condom/internal condom the same as a dental dam?
No. Dental dams are flat sheets of plastic or latex that are used to prevent the spread of STDs, but they are not effective for preventing pregnancy.

Can I reuse a condom?
You can’t reuse condoms. Both male and female condoms should be removed and tossed into the trash after use. Roll on or insert a new condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You should also use a new condom if you switch from one kind of sex to another (like anal to vaginal).

Are condoms effective?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 out of 100 heterosexually active couples relying on condoms for pregnancy prevention become pregnant within a year. They are more effective than some other birth control methods, such as withdrawal (“pulling out”) and fertility awareness methods. You can increase a condom’s effectiveness by using it correctly, but if you want to reduce your pregnancy risk even further, keep reading to learn about more effective birth control methods.

What type of birth control should I use?
There are many different methods of birth control, including different types of birth control pills, the patch, diaphragms, and the sponge. Here’s list of different effective birth control options, ordered from most to least effective, with links to help you learn more about the pros and cons of each type.

Planned Parenthood is proud to stand with our cohorts in providing accurate information to help young people and adults make the best health care decisions they can. Birth control empowers its users to plan their families and space their pregnancies. Using reliable contraception can decrease unintended pregnancies that may result in abortions. Get educated about the methods available to you and how to use them properly to your best advantage. If you have questions, talk to a health care provider at Planned Parenthood today!

* Currently, Planned Parenthood uses the gendered terms “female condom” and “male condom” to differentiate between condoms worn inside of a person’s body (internally) and on the outside of the body (externally). These are the most widely used and understood names for these types of condoms, so we use them to avoid confusion. I have identified condoms based on a physical characteristic, like the vagina or the penis, because that is how these condoms are labeled at the drugstore. However, since someone doesn’t have to identify as female to use a female condom, or as male to use a male condom, we hope to see a move toward inclusive and gender-neutral terminology: internal and external condoms.

Planned Parenthood acknowledges that the terms “male” and “female” refer to a person’s physical sex. We also acknowledge that “sex” and “gender” are different identity categories. Gender refers the way someone displays “masculine” and “feminine” personal traits, including hairstyle, clothing, tone of voice, etc.