Be Careful—15 Surprising Birth Control Mistakes You Might Be Making

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Birth control is up to 99.9 percent effective, but it relies on you to make it work. Are you sure you’re not making any of these mistakes that could cause you to get pregnant?

1. YOU’RE NOT CONSISTENT.

You already know you have to take your pill at the same time every day (even though it’s a nuisance), but did you know this is even more important if you’re on a progestin-only pill? If it’s not taken within the same three-hour window every day, it ups your chances of getting pregnant.

2. YOU DON’T CONSULT WITH YOUR DOC. 

Your contraceptives can affect your health by putting you at risk of blood clots, especially if you have high blood pressure or suffer from migraines with aura. It’s a good idea to check in with your doc regularly to be sure you’re okay and get your blood pressure tested.

3. YOUR MEDS ARE CAUSING A PROBLEM.

There are quite a few meds that can prevent contraceptives from working properly, such as St. John’s wort, seizure meds, yeast infection medication, and antibiotics. The best thing is to check with your doctor whenever you’re prescribed something new, especially since meds not only affect the birth control pill but the patch and vaginal ring too.

4. YOU’RE NOT STORING IT PROPERLY.

How you store your birth control varies according to the type you’re using. Birth control pills should be stored wherever you’re most likely to remember to take them, such as in the bathroom. Vagina rings such as the NuvaRing should be stored in the fridge—yes, really. This is because the low temp will enable it to last until its expiration date. Condoms, on the other hand, should be stored in cool, dry places out of direct sunlight, so be careful if you have some in your purse.

5. YOU’RE WEARING LIPSTICK DURING SEX.

You probably know that you should use water-based lubes on condoms and avoid oil-based ones, but make sure your lipstick isn’t getting in the way of condom effectiveness. Yes, really! Since lipstick contains oils, if you’re wearing it while going down on a man who’s wearing a condom, you could be weakening the latex, making it more prone to breakage.

6. YOU REMOVE YOUR CONTRACEPTIVE SPONGE TOO EARLY.

Contraceptive sponges need to be left inside for at least six hours after you’ve had sex (but make sure you remove them within 30 hours). As for diaphragms, keep them inside for up to eight hours after sex but remove them within 24 hours.

7. YOU SMOKE. 

Smoking might not make your birth control less effective, but it can harm your health. If you smoke, you increase your risk of getting blood clots and strokes, so maybe it’s time to quit the nasty habit, huh?

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