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What are good resources for anxiety over birth control and the concern of becoming pregnant?

By May 15, 2011 - 4:41pm
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I'm looking for a bit of advice when it comes to birth control and the risk of pregnancy.  I'm 25 and became sexually active for the first time in February of this year.  I decided to wait until I had a long-term partner, and because of that am feeling a bit naive as I enter what is becoming a loving and mature sexual relationship.

I've been on the combination pill since January, and have taken it within an hour of my scheduled time everyday to date. My boyfriend and I use condoms each time we have sex, although there have been brief instances of genital touching during foreplay.  He finishes inside of me, tending to linger a moment before pulling out. I haven't noticed a broken or leaking condom afterwards. I understand that my chances of pregnancy are quite small, especially using both methods, but nonetheless find myself worrying each month that I might have done something to get myself pregnant.  Any change or symptom that resembles an early pregnancy sign (like an ongoing upset stomach/nausea) is enough to have me concerned for the rest of my cycle. Yet I know these symptoms are also side effects to the pill I take. 

I'm a natural worrier, and don't want to jeopardize the relationship with my loving (and extremely patient!) boyfriend.  Nor do I want to keep myself awake at night, or distract myself at work worrying about the "what-ifs?".   Are there any good resources or tips to help calm this monthly anxiety I seem to have? And in your experience, do these feelings go away with time, maturity, and experience?  Perhaps it might be time to seek professional help, though when I really think about it, my concerns seem a bit naive and silly.  I know I'm not the first, and certainly won't be the last girl to worry, so I thank you for any advice you might be able to offer. This is one of the most helpful and comforting women's health sites around.

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You found a great starting place to talk about your anxieties, as many of us have "been there", and can offer helpful advice and information.

Many women are "natural worriers", and now is a great time to begin some better stress management and coping techniques in general, and I can provide some factual information for your specific question.

To lessen your worry (about anything in life, really), get to know the facts, and make a decision about what to do with this information. Give yourself permission to "worry" or "feel anxious", then make a conscious decision that you can feel confident about with your new wisdom: talk about your options with a trusted loved-one, discuss the information with experts, vent to a loved-one about your feelings... and then take action! You have choices to make in life, and worrying on a chronic basis will not provide you with the healthiest responses, and can actually lead to stress-related illnesses. So...just take action, know you might make mistakes, and feel confident in yourself!

That was the pep talk! Here is the information you are seeking.

The facts about birth control and pregnancy risk:
1. You are correct: time will eventually help you overcome your anxieties, as you begin to trust in the effectiveness of your birth control methods.
2. Do you know the effectiveness of each method you are using? Combination hormonal contraception pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used with perfect use (sounds like you are). Condoms are up to 98% effective when used alone. Since you are doubling-up on your birth control, you are highly protected from pregnancy.
3. Your partner can "linger" inside your vagina after intercourse as long as he withdraws his penis while it is still erect, and while he holds the base of the condom firmly against the base of his penis. When his penis begins to become soft...it is time to pull out (the semen can spill out of the condom if the penis is too soft).
4. If you are worried about condom breakage, be sure to learn how to use a condom properly. Use lubrication on the outside of the condom to help prevent breakage (condoms should not break...it is user-error when they do 99.9% of the time!)
5. Do you know it is actually difficult to become pregnant? I think we are all so scared into thinking there is a possibility of becoming pregnant, that we don't know the chances are highly unlikely we will (when using birth control properly). With each cycle, you have only a 20% chance of conceiving WITHOUT using birth control.
6. You can also learn about your body, and predict the day(s) when you are most fertile. On those days, you can decide to include the withdrawal method (pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation) in addition to your other methods.

Feel free to ask more questions, either about birth control specifically or how to cope with anxiety/stress/worry. It is an important skill to learn how to effectively worry less, and there are many techniques you can try!

May 15, 2011 - 8:34pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Hi Alison-
Thank you so much for your quick and thoughtful responses. While I'm fortunate to have many wonderful women as close confidants in my life, sometime it takes the empowering words of another gal to really make a difference. I'll take your suggestions to heart, and I appreciate all the concise information. I'll be sure to look into the other resources and groups empowher has to offer. Thanks again!
Cheers - Jaycee

May 16, 2011 - 6:37pm
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