Birth Control Methods Don’t Always Fight STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases are something that should be considered a major concern whenever sex education is the topic. These diseases can vary from the mild to the life-threatening, and while most people are aware of their existence, most are unaware of just how much risk they might be in. For the most part, unexpected and unwanted pregnancies are the foremost concern, such that birth control methods can sometimes be heavily emphasized. In the effort to prevent STDs from spreading, this does not always have to be a negative thing. Some birth control methods can help reduce the risk of STDs, though not all of them can do so. It is then important that people be made aware of which birth control methods reduce the risk of STDs and which ones don't, allowing them to make better informed decisions.

Birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and the so-called Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods all do not reduce the risks of STD transmission. In the first two cases, the distinction is absolute, as neither of them blocks the exchange of bodily fluids that may carry the diseases. In the case of NFP, the distinction is less all-encompassing, since these methods generally involve a complete lack of exchange of bodily fluids for certain intervals. However, NFP's main flaw is that it only provides protection while there is no direct sexual contact with an infected person?s genitals, blood, and bacteria or virus-carrying body fluids, but it leaves a person exposed to possible infection the moment any sexual contact is made. So while there may be a reduced risk of pregnancy, the risks of STD infection are no lower than if NFP had not been used.

Spermicides are generally effective at preventing conception, but not for removing the risk of STDs. Risk for STDs is still present since by the time the average spermicide has been used, STD infection may already have spread. According to some studies, there is actually an increased risk of STD infection from using spermicidal products in comparison to other known forms of birth control. These studies have not yet had their results confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. However, most doctors prefer to err on the side of caution.

Condoms, diaphragms, and other forms of contraception that involve blocking the release of bodily fluids and sexual secretions from one person to another are the methods that help prevent STD infection. Most STDs are transferred via bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and the like. Birth control methods that prevent the transfer of such substances during intercourse, or block the fluids from reaching the partner's body, can therefore reduce STD risk. Absolute abstinence also prevents STD infection, but only for as long as the abstinence is maintained. It should be noted that, aside from abstinence, most birth control methods that rely on blocking the exchange of fluids do not have the ability to prevent pregnancy completely at the same time. It is therefore advisable to use a more effective form of birth control as additional security.

Procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligations do not prevent STD infection, even if they do prevent the onset of pregnancy. This is because, while both procedures block the ability of sperm and egg cells from making contact with one another, they do not prevent the release of other fluids. Not all STDs are carried through body fluids, so preventing them from escaping the body alone is not enough to prevent an infection.

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