SEX AND CONTRACEPTION: DIAPHRAGMS OR ‘PANIC PILL’

There are other situations that you think are safe until you have the whole story. Like the fact that diaphragms don’t work in the bathroom drawer. Actually, diaphragms raise an interesting point. There are a lot of women who feel very uncomfortable about touching themselves in the genital area and many who are not familiar with their normal anatomy. Every so often someone asks me to check out a lump they discovered in their vagina, usually when a tampon has been inserted, and the concern” is that it might be something nasty like a cancer. What these women have discovered is their cervix, the bottom end of the uterus, which you can usually feel about a finger-length inside the vagina. Anyone wanting to use a diaphragm needs to know where the cervix is and what it feels like because you have to check that the diaphragm is covering the cervix for it to be effective. It takes a certain degree of familiarity with your body, and even then it can take a bit of practice to get it right.

Family planning experts say that more women need to know about the ‘morning after pill’, more accurately named the ‘panic pill’ because it can be taken up to three days after unprotected intercourse. There are objections in some quarters to this form of contraception, usually from people with a very punitive and judgmental approach to life. Their argument is that if you are not responsible enough to arrange your contraception before you have sex then you should have to suffer the consequences. Although it is not recommended as a routine form of contraception, if intercourse does happen without any contraceptive protection, or if a condom breaks, it is worth knowing about this method because it does reduce the risk of pregnancy. There is nothing exceptional about the ‘pill’ at all. It is simply a regular contraceptive pill which is normally taken once a day as a routine. In the case of a ‘panic’ or ‘morning after’ situation, you take several pills a day for a few days. Your doctor can tell you exactly what to do. It is a high dose, but only over a short time. Some women get nauseated though, so they may need to take something to help. A scare like that is usually enough to make you think about your contraception and adapt it to your needs.

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