When it comes to family planning and birth control, a lot of people just want to set it and well—forget about it. As long as it’s there and it does its job, then nobody wants to worry about it anymore. But messing up birth control is also an all-too common scenario for tons of people. In fact, statistics have shown that almost half of the pregnancies in the United States are accidental. So make sure that you can count on your preferred mode of contraception, otherwise you’ll end up as part of that statistics. Your birth control method should work unless you are guilty of the following pitfalls:

1. You are not using it.

The subject of birth control is a particularly touchy one, especially in the US. Religious and political leaders fight about it non-stop and it’s all being tangled up in one’s personal choices about sex. But with everything that’s going on, the conclusion still is that if you are sexually active but you feel that now is not the best time to start a family, then you should make sure that you are on some kind of protection against accidental pregnancies. Luckily for you, there is an array of birth control methods that you can choose from.

2. You are taking Rifampin.

This particular antibitiotic can affect the performance of several hormonal contraception including skin patches, oral contraceptives (pills), and vaginal rings (NuvaRing). Other oral medications for treating yeast infections and HIV are also known to lower the effectivities of the said birth control methods. The herbal supplement St John’s wort is also a known culprit for causing contraceptive implants (Implanon) to not work. The bottom line? Consult with your physician first and inquire about which medications can possibly interact negatively with your preferred birth control method.

3. You are using the wrong lubricant.

This applies to users of condoms. Oils and other lubricants that are oil-based like Vaseline, oil-based lotions and baby oil tend to weaken latex condoms. Instead of using oil-based lubricants, choose those that are either water-based or silicone-based.

4. Your nails tore up (or possibly nicked) your sponge.

Contraceptive sponges can easily be nicked by long nails during its insertion which can lead to it failing in efficacy. Bear in mind that even the smallest nicks or tears can grow bigger during constant intercourse, so to keep this from happening, make sure that you clip your nails first before inserting your sponges, or better yet, use a lot of care when doing so.

5. You are failing in consistency.

If you’ve missed three or more birth control pills, then that means that you’re no longer protected until you have taken the same set of pills again for seven days straight—so make sure that you have your back-up birth control in handy, because you’ll never know when you just might need them. Missing even just a pill or two also lessens the effectivity of your birth control method, which means you’ll need a 7-day back-up too, like using a condom during intercourse perhaps.

6. You have not fully checked all your available options.

Birth controls pills are not for everyone simply because a lot of people can’t be trusted to take them each day without fail. If that sounds like you, then you should explore some other form of contraception that’s okay to “forget” after a while like an intrauterine device or an implant maybe. You may also want to try contraceptive injections (Depo Provera) – one shot at the arm and you’ll be protective and good to go for three months. Other alternatives include contraceptive sponges, rings, diaphragms, contraceptive patches and more.

7. You are picking the wrong condoms.

When using condoms make sure that you are choosing the correct ones; condoms that are too small tend to break easily and there are evidences that the ones made from polyurethane break more frequently than latex condoms. Lambskin, polyurethane and latex condoms can all guard against pregnancy; however, lambskin condoms will not protect you against HIV. So unless you are allergic to latex, then lambskin may not be your best condom bet.

8. You remove your contraceptive sponge ahead of time.

To maximize its effectivity, your sponges should be left where it was at least six hours post-intercourse (though make sure that they don’t stay inside you for more than 30 hours total). On the other hand, diaphragms need to stay put for at least six to 8 hours post-coitus and have to be removed every 24 hours for cleaning.

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