Roses are sold out, shelves are lined with boxes of chocolates and now all the plush teddy bears are suddenly wearing ties with hearts on them… it must be Valentine’s day. Why do we celebrate Valentine’s day? Valentine’s day is originally named after a Christian martyr named Valentine. Legend states that while awaiting his execution, Valentine cured a girl’s blindness and wrote her a love letter that was signed off “from your Valentine.”
Now, the holiday has been popularized by card companies that began popularizing valentine’s cards. But honestly, why do we need a reason to celebrate the people we love? It goes without saying that you are not required to have sex to successfully celebrate this holiday. IF you are celebrating with some sexy time with your partner…make sure you have all the tools you need for a safe, fun holiday!
Share love, not infection
When getting hot and heavy with your partner, the last thing you want to be thinking about is STIs! The only method of contraception that lowers your STI risk is condoms (male and female). Make sure you always use condoms to prevent the spread of STIs, our favorite line of condoms is ONE® condoms and their size inclusive line, myONE.
Additionally, to further prevent the spread of STIs, you should regularly get tested. The CDC recommends all sexually active women younger than 25 get screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually. You can do this discreetly and easily with an at home STI test, like the one we offer at Pandia Health. The Sexual Wellness Test kit offered at Pandia Health tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis all from the comfort of your own home.
Avoid pregnancy risk, use birth control
To avoid pregnancy, at least use one of the following BC methods. Pandia Health’s expert doctors recommend condoms plus hormonal birth control.
- Types: There are both male condoms and female condoms a.k.a ‘dental dams’. The main difference being that ‘male’ condom is externally applied to the penis, and the ‘female’ condom is internally applied in the vagina.
- Benefits: Both condoms prevent pregnancy by creating a physical barrier between the sperm and egg. Additionally condoms prevent the spread of STIs by creating a barrier between the skin and bodily fluids of each partner.
- How to get it: You can easily acquire condoms over the counter at convenience stores. You can also get (free) condoms from health centers such as college campus health offices, Planned Parenthood and many gynecologist offices.
- Price: They can be found at health offices for free and are usually sold for about $1 each in packs of 5-10.
Birth control pill
- Types: There are two main types of birth control pills: combined oral contraceptive pill and progestin only pills (POPs).
- Benefits: Birth control pills prevent pregnancy, helps regulate irregular and/or heavy periods, help balance hormones, improves acne, and can be used as a treatment for PCOS.
- How to get it: Birth control pills must be acquired via prescription. You can get a prescription to birth control pills from your in person doctor or try the online expert doctor’s at Pandia Health.
- Price: Prices vary on brand and type. Most pills are FREE with insurance or, at Pandia Health, can be as low as $7/pack without insurance.
Birth control patch
- Benefits: The birth control patch prevents pregnancy, regulates irregular and/or heavy periods, helps balance hormones, helps acne, and can be used as a treatment for PCOS.
- How to get it: the birth control patch must be acquired via prescription. You can get a prescription for a birth control patch, like Twirla, from our expert doctor’s at Pandia Health.
- Price: Prices vary depending on payment method. Most times the patch is as low as $25/month with insurance or $50/month without insurance.
Birth control ring
- Benefits: The birth control ring same as the other hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy, regulates irregular and/or heavy periods, helps balance hormones, helps acne, and can be used as a treatment for PCOS.
- How to get it: The birth control ring must be acquired via prescription. You can get a prescription for a birth control ring, like Annovera or Nuvaring, from our expert doctor’s at Pandia Health.
- Price: Prices vary depending on type and insurance coverage. It can range between expensive ($175/ring) to less expensive (sometimes $48/ring).
Long term birth control methods (IUD, implant, and the shot)
- Benefits: TLong term birth control methods are beneficial because they require low maintenance and longer term pregnancy prevention. Learn more about each individual method here.
- How to get it: In general, all birth control methods besides condoms require a prescription from a medical professional. For long term methods like the IUD, implant or shot –it is best to see a gynecologist.
- Price: Prices vary depending on type, brand and payment method. For a deeper look at pricing, read our post about how to get birth control without insurance.
Plan B and its generics
- What it is: Plan B is an over the counter emergency contraceptive pill that is used to prevent pregnancy after an instance of unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure. This pill must be taken as soon as possible for up to 5 days after the incident. After 5 days, the window of efficacy has closed and Plan B will be useless. NOTE: Plan B is less effective for BMIs >26 and not effective for BMIs >30.
- Benefits: Plan B is beneficial because it provides another method of pregnancy prevention once your first option (hormonal birth control, condoms) has failed.
- How to get it: You can get Plan B without a prescription at your local drug store.
- Price: Plan B cost $40-$50 pero pill. Its generics are $13-$45 .
- What it is: Ella is a prescription emergency contraceptive pill that is used to prevent pregnancy after an instance of unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure. These pills must be taken as soon as possible for up to 5 days after the incident. After 5 days, the window of efficacy has closed and Ella will be useless. NOTE: Ella is more effective than Plan B and can be used with BMIs up to 35.
- Benefits: Ella is beneficial because it provides another method of pregnancy prevention once your first option (hormonal birth control, condoms) has failed.
- How to get it: Ella requires a prescription. You can request a prescription for Ella from our expert doctors at Pandia Health from the comfort of your home!
- Price: EElla should be FREE with insurance, or $40-$50 without.
Plan your birth control ahead
Make sure you have your birth control methods planned out ahead of time, and when planning out your contraception routine ask yourself important questions like when to start your birth control to be effective, which method could you see yourself maintaining in your everyday schedule, and which method can you regularly access and afford. We always recommend pairing a hormonal birth control method with condoms because not only are condoms the only method that prevents STIs, but pairing a hormonal and barrier method will increase birth control effectiveness!
If you don’t know where to start with getting birth control, look no further, you can access prescription to birth control online through Pandia Health with the help of our expert doctors. Pandia Health offers many benefits including: expert prescribed birth control, free delivery and free goodies in each package! What’s not to love?
Use it the right way
Once you’ve chosen the birth control methods that you will use, make sure you use them right! There are a few rules to follow for each method.
Condoms have expiration dates, different sizes and storage requirements to follow in order to reduce ripping or discomfort. Birth control pills must be taken at the same time everyday, and started at a certain time in your cycle. The birth control patch needs to be changed weekly, can’t go on your breast or inner bicep and needs to be applied to dry skin without lotions. And the ring needs to be changed every 3 weeks and can be started at any time or your menstrual cycle. If you have any questions about how to use your birth control method, always ask your doctor.
Takeaways for your valentines day
So, you have your birth control methods in order and your STI status all figured out. All that’s left is a lovely date that includes honest verbal communication about consent and boundaries (ok maybe do that before the movie theater…). Once you’ve had those conversations then you are ready to put all of the information you’ve learned above to use. Have fun, use protection, communicate feelings and have a lovely Valentine’s day!
Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.