Monday, January 12, 2009

Dual Protection

Hi Dr. Kate,

I am on the pill and my boyfriend and I are using condoms every time we have sex. We're saving the 'bareback' experience for later on, when we're married. My question is how protected are we from pregnancy? Does it give a smaller chance of falling pregnant using both, or is it basically the same thing?

Double Down

Dear Double,

I think you're making a wise choice by using two methods--using the pill perfectly--every day, no skipping, no missing--is almost superhuman, and very few of us never get it wrong. But even if you are one of those wonder women, the pill is 97% effective. That means that 3 out of 100 perfect users gets pregnant each year (shiver). One way to make this number even smaller is "dual method use," or using a second method (generally condoms or a diaphragm) with your first. There's no good data on how effective this is, but I've been a gyno for 10 years, and I've never had a patient get pregnant while consistently using pills and condoms. The other benefit, of course, is fantastic STD protection...lots of bang for your buck during your bang, so to speak.

Using two methods of birth control certainly isn't easy, especially in a committed relationship. You may feel that sticking to one method is tough enough. And if you're using your pill/ring/patch very consistently, you may not feel as motivated to slap a condom on him as well. But consider dual method use the "sexual self-protection" you deserve, both for your body and your peace of mind.

Do any of you use condoms with your pill/patch/ring all the time?

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