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July 21, 2011

Your Best Birth Control

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Natural Family Planning
What it is: No hormones, no inserting. Track your monthly fertility cycle and abstain accordingly.
How it works: Chart your hormonal ebbs and flows using a basal body thermometer (more sensitive than the conventional kind), a calendar, and your own finger to test your cervical fluids. Slippery mucus indicates fertile days; the sticky kind probably means you're safe.
Caveats: This method requires obsessive record keeping, and if you can't tell sticky from slippery-or are too squeamish to try-forget it.
Failure rate: Between 2 and 9 percent with perfect use; more like 25 percent with typical use.
Cost: None.
How soon you can get pregnant: Immediately after stopping.

Condom
What it is: A sock-shaped dong-sheath that acts as a barrier against STDs and pregnancy. Latex or polyurethane are best-lambskin won't do a thing against HIV.
How it works: Unroll it over his erect penis, leave a little room at the tip, and let the condom catch his swimmers.
Caveats: You've got to get him to use one. Unless you're ready to go crib shopping, use a water-based lube; oil-based products break down latex fast.
Failure rate: 2 percent with perfect use; 15 percent with typical use. The biggest mistake couples make: not putting it on early enough.
Cost: About 50 cents each.
How soon you can get pregnant: Immediately after stopping.

Implant
What it is: FDA--approved last July, Implanon is a new, improved version of the old-school Norplant, which was yanked off the market several years ago, mainly because its six rods (yikes) were tough to insert and wear on a daily basis. Implanon consists of a single soft, flexible rod implanted under the skin of the upper arm, where it releases progestin.
How it works: The same way Depo-Provera does-though Implanon delivers a lower dose of progestin and can be left in place for three years. Insertion and removal are performed at a doctor's office under a local anesthetic.
Caveats: About 10 percent of women discontinued the rod because of irregular bleeding (the most common side effect). There's an increased risk of clots for smokers, and, as with the Pill, users might see acne, slight weight gain, and mood swings. If you're in that very small percentage, Implanon is a bit of a pain (literally) to remove. Yet doctors expect it to catch on-especially among those who can't use estrogen.
Failure rate: Reported at less than .1 percent; no long-term data yet available.
Cost: Device costs about $525. What you pay? No national average yet.
How soon you can get pregnant: Immediately after removal.


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