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5 Ways You're Accidentally Messing Up Your Birth Control

As safe or as diligent as you try to be, there may come a time where you accidentally mess up your birth control. It happens to everyone, even the women who set a daily reminder in their phone. And sure, these small slip ups may amount to nothing more than an early period. But on some occasions, messing with your birth control could result in fertility issues in the future or, on the other end of the spectrum, an unplanned pregnancy. Obviously not all unplanned pregnancies are a bad thing — even my pregnancy was something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one — but most women want to be the ones to decide when and how they get pregnant.

Besides preventing unplanned pregnancies, using birth control has some pretty awesome benefits, too. For many women, taking birth control can help regulate their menstrual cycle, ease heavy cramps and bleeding, and clear up problem acne. It can also treat endometriosis, help Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and protect against pelvic inflammatory disease.  Some research even indicates that the use of birth control can play a protective role against certain cancer. With all the benefits it has to offer, it’s no wonder more than half of women use birth control. But in order to reap the rewards, you have to be using your birth control correctly. To make sure your birth control is as effective as possible, double check then you aren't making one of these five common birth control mistakes.

1. You're Not Careful With Medicine

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Pretty much everyone has heard that antibiotics can interfere with birth control, but did you know other medicines can, too? Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of medical affairs at Planned Parenthood, warns that some anti-seizure, anti-fungal, and anti-HIV medications may make your birth control less effective.Before going on any new medications (or if you're already on some), consult with your doctor on the effects it will have on your birth control and, if necessary, look for a new method.

2. You Forget To Take It

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You might think that missing the occasional pill here and there isn't too dangerous, but you might want to think again. Dr. Armstrong, a clinical professor at UNC Chapel Hill told Everyday Health that missing even one dose increases your pregnancy risk. Set a reminder in your phone at a time where you won't be distracted by other things (think in the morning or afternoon), and try to take it at the same time every day.

3. You Use Expired Condoms

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If your preferred method of birth control is having your partner use a condom, make sure to read the expiration date. Planned Parenthood notes that expired condoms are less effective (if effective at all.) So pay attention to the date on the wrapper and, if you have to, go out and get new ones — even if you're about to orgasm.

4. You Don't Check The Temperature

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You might think that using NuvaRing isn't rocket science, but you might be making a common storage mistake. Leaving it anywhere warmer than 77°F can compromise its integrity and effectiveness.

5. Not Exploring Your Options

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Dr. Alison Edelman, a clinical gynecologist, told Health that having the most effective birth control is all about picking the right option. If remembering to take the pill consistently is an issue, you don't like how a vaginal ring feels, or you forget to use condoms, then maybe you just haven't found the right choice.

Images: Courtesy of Sarah C/Flickr; Giphy (5)