A new study released in the Journal of Adolescent Health by researchers at Stanford Medical School reveals just how irresponsible we females can be in the bedroom.
Apparently, we have a tendency to stop using condoms once we start hormonal contraceptives. While dumb, this does make a little sense: STIs and STDs are not the most obvious culprits of sex, at least until you get one. Pregnancy is a little harder to hide.
But oh, it gets worse: Of the females studied who started and then stopped using hormonal birth control during a one-year period, more than half failed to start using condoms again. That’s right, no protection.
But according to Rachel Goldstein, M.D., pediatric resident at Stanford Medical Center and lead author of the study, we're not to blame. Rather, life happens. "The results highlight the need for contingency planning during contraceptive counseling. We have to realize, though, life is fluid; contingency planning isn't easy. Women need birth control to be as simple as possible," she says.
But your guy also plays a factor—or at least his opinion does. When a woman either didn't know how her partner felt about condom use or knew he thought they were "very important," she was more likely to use condoms than when she knew her man didn’t think they were important at all.
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"We speculate that this may be a result of a power imbalance within the relationship, limiting the woman’s ability to negotiate condom use with her partner," Dr. Goldstein says. Come on ladies, put on the pants! (Or put his back on…)
When it comes to practicing safe sex, there can be a lot of outside issues that interfere with even the most well-intentioned partner. But unfortunately, the reality is that rationalizing, bargaining, and giving in to strong-minded partners could lead to unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and STDs.
There are a few things you can do to avoid these traps and become a dual-method user, someone who relies on both hormonal contraceptions and condoms, which is the optimal practice, Dr. Goldstein says. Use these tips to avoid becoming a statistic:
- Use LARCS (long acting reversible hormonal contraceptive methods): Options such as implants and IUDs are available if you're not planning on getting pregnant for a few years.
- Don't ask, tell: Don’t ask your partner if he wants to use a condom, tell him it's your way or the highway.
- Be prepared: Sex can sneak up on you. Don't let an STD, STI, or an unwanted pregnancy sneak up on you too.
- Get tested: If you're in a monogamous relationship, get tested to make sure slipping off the condom is acceptable. (But don't forget to use one until you get the results back!)