Backup plans are almost always a good idea. And when it comes to a topic as serious as your sexual health and plans for pregnancy, it can’t hurt to be too cautious. There are almost too many reasons to use more than one birth control method at a time.
Using more than one contraceptive method most often means you’re using a hormonal form of birth control, such as the pill, the patch, or the Depo-Provera shot) in conjunction with a barrier method, like a condom. Chances are your doctor would not recommend using multiple forms of hormonal birth control. Doubling up on barrier methods is also not recommended. As Planned Parenthood noted on its site, "you shouldn't use a condom worn on the penis together with a female condom.” This causes more harm than good. But combining hormonal and barrier methods has great benefits for many women.
Whether you are transitioning to a new hormonal method of birth control, seeking additional protection against STIs, or just really keen on avoiding an unplanned pregnancy, doubling up is a smart solution. It’s an easy way to make your sex life as fulfilling and healthy as possible. Because when you’re feeling secure about your birth control, then your mind is free to focus on other things that are much more interesting.
1. It Protects Against Pregnancy And STIs
Sure, your hormonal IUD is super-effective against preventing pregnancy. But if you're with a new partner, or you have multiple partners, then an additional barrier method is still a great way to prevent against STIs. According to the Guttmacher Institute, "dual method use offers protection against both pregnancy and STIs. Some 8 percent of women of reproductive age use multiple contraceptive methods (most often the condom combined with another method." It's just a good idea.
2. It Compensates For Failure Rates
No single method of birth control is perfect. While birth control pills, for instance, are commonly touted as "99 percent effective," this only accounts for times when they are taken perfectly. As Options for Sexual Health states, the actual use effectiveness accounts for how well "a birth control method works in 'typical use', taking into consideration human error and other non ideal factors." Because people in the real world occasionally forget to take a pill or incorrectly use a condom, doubling up is a great way to put the odds in your favor.
3. It Serves As Protection Against Medication Interferences
Certain medications may interfere with hormonal birth control's effectiveness. According to Women's Health, anything from the antibiotics "ampicillin and amoxicillin" to medications for seizures, anxiety, or even diabetes may interfere with birth control's effectiveness. When you're taking these medications, using a barrier method as a backup is an exceptionally good call.
4. It Eases Transition To New BC Method
If you're switching to a new method of birth control, you may be vulnerable to an unintended pregnancy before the new form kicks in. According to content from the American Family Physician, "to switch safely from one contraceptive to another without overlap, women may go directly from the old method to the new method, abstaining from sexual intercourse or using a barrier method, such as condoms or spermicide, for the first seven days." If abstinence isn't your bag, then using some kind of barrier method at least until your new BC is effective is smart.
5. It Manages Other Health Problems
Even if you're very disciplined about using condoms every time, hormonal birth control could be an attractive addition because of the health benefits it may afford. As the Mayo Clinic states, "taking birth control pills with no pill-free interval or with a shortened pill-free interval may reduce PMS and PMDD symptoms for some women." Condoms are great, but they won't do anything to manage symptoms of PMS.
6. It Maintains Sexual Satisfaction
Condoms don't make sex terrible. No, seriously. A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that "sex was rated as highly arousing and pleasurable whether or not condoms and/or lubricants were used." You can experiment with different brands and varieties to find a type that works for you.
7. It Provides Greater Peace Of Mind
Overall, using two methods means you probably don't have much to worry about. Knowing that your chances of an unintended pregnancy or STI transmission are rare can ease your mind so you can just focus on enjoying yourself.