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The Dos and Don'ts of Contraception

If you don't know the importance of having protected sex by now, you have probably been living under a rock.

Society has repeatedly driven home the magnitude of safe sex. The message is simple -- if you don't want to end up pregnant or with a sexually transmitted disease, cover up during your intimate encounters. The most effective way to prevent pregnancy or an infection from an STD is abstinence. While refusing sexual contact does eliminate the risks of pregnancy and potential illness, it can also limit the development of a loving relationship.

If you choose to add a sexual component to your life, make sure to examine the wide selection of birth control methods at your disposal. Just as having sexual intercourse involves personal preference, so does picking a contraceptive. Not all types of birth control fit every person's needs. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives out there.

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Contraception for Women

To avoid pregnancy, some women find the birth control pill to be best. There are 2 different types: combined oral contraceptive pills and progestin-only pills.

Each kind of pill operates differently, so it's important to understand how they work. Then you can decide which one suits your lifestyle.


The combined oral contraceptive pill includes two hormones -- estrogen and progestin. These hormones work together to stop ovulation, or the release of an egg, and limit the sperm's movement. Although this pill is a good way to prevent pregnancy, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV. It is recommended that condoms be used in conjunction with these pills.

When prescribed and taken properly, this kind of birth control pill has many benefits; among them are decreasing a woman's risk for ovarian cancer and reducing the chance of benign breast masses. The pill can clear acne and make premenstrual cramps more bearable.

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But with these attractive features come some issues as well. One of the biggest problems with the pill is remembering to take it at the same time each day. If you ingest it a few hours later than your normal schedule, you could be unprotected. This means you run the risk of ovulating and potentially becoming pregnant.

Additionally, the combined birth control pill can cause:

  • nausea;
  • spotting;
  • headaches; and
  • depression.

Blood clots are also a risk that can occur from taking this pill, though it is rare. Smokers are 1 risk group who should not take the pill.


The other type of birth control pill is the progestin-only variety. Its greatest advantage is that it does not contain estrogen, so women don't have to worry about suffering from the side effects associated with this hormone. Also, the amount of progestin is less than in the combined version. Therefore, the overall hormone intake is reduced in this form of contraception.

Like the combined pill, the progestin-only type of birth control reduces:

  • menstrual cramps;
  • headaches; and
  • mood swings.

However, an irregular menstrual cycle is a reported problem with this kind of pill. Women also have complained about weight gain or bloating because of regular use of this contraceptive. A healthy diet and exercise can make these side effects much more manageable.

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If possible side effects and the burden of remembering to take a pill every day don't sound very appealing, another option is the cervical cap. Spermicide is placed inside this latex device before it fits into a woman's vagina and onto her cervix. It's designed so that the suction prevents sperm from entering the uterus.

Women who choose this form of contraception should make sure to get a new cap on a yearly basis through a doctor or nurse. This is not an over-the-counter purchase. Besides this, it does offer a lot of flexibility to the user.


Not only is it small and easy to transport, but it also can be inserted up to one hour before sexual intercourse. Also, at the time of its placement, it works continuously for 48 hours straight.

A couple can have sex multiple times, and the cervical cap will still be effective as long as it's left in at least six to eight hours after the last interlude. Although it's constantly at work blocking sperm from entering the uterus, it does not interfere with the pleasure of having sex. In fact, a woman's partner won't know it's there unless he's told.

There are risks, however, to using this kind of contraception. The cap can cause inflammation on the surface of the cervix. If a woman is allergic to latex, irritation could result. But the greatest danger of all is a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome. This can happen if the cervical cap is kept on for more than 48 hours.

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So if you choose this birth control method, be very aware of how long the cap has been in place and make sure to remove it after a suitable amount of time has passed.

A diaphragm is another way a woman can block her cervix from any sperm. Like the cervical cap, it is fitted by a physician and can be inserted several hours in advance without causing any hormonal side effects.


However, this birth control tool does have several risks. Not only is toxic shock syndrome an issue if the diaphragm is left in for too long, but it's been known to cause urinary tract infections.

There is also the chance it could move around during sex, so women who use it should consider sexual positions carefully and check to make sure the diaphragm is still in place.

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Contraception for Men

Women are not the only ones who are responsible for making thoughtful contraception choices. Men also have a role in this process. The most common form of birth control for men is the condom. They're made of polyurethane and are designed to prevent bodily fluids from mixing during sexual intercourse.

In addition to protecting against most STDs and the transmission of HIV, they stop sperm from entering a woman's uterus to block pregnancy. This form of birth control is the best way to prevent any kind of sex-related infection, too.


However, not all STDs are preventable with the use of a condom. Genital herpes and syphilis, for example, are immune to condom use because they can be passed from one person to another through infected skin surfaces. Also, condoms can be ripped or torn by fingers, jewelry or anything sharp, so great care needs to be taken when putting on this product.

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No matter what form of contraception you choose, be sure to understand the risks and benefits before engaging in any sexual activity


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What You Should Know About Swingers' Clubs

Whether it's going to the same restaurant every week, doing laundry every Wednesday, or hitting the sack at exactly 11 p.m. every night, routines can get boring. Similarly, having sex with the same person - and only that person - for a long period of time can get boring, too.

But if you still want to be in a relationship with them, what do you do? You can't cheat, as that will destroy the trust and honesty in your relationship. So what other options are there? When that feeling of sexual routine begins to set in, many forward-thinking couples nowadays consider swinging as a solution.

Swinging began in the 1960s during the hippie era of sexual revolution. It involves bringing other sexual partners into the bedroom; often this is done as a couple with another couple or a partner, individually while the other partner watches, or just individually and one-on-one.

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All activities are done with the permission of the significant other, though, so there are no feelings of betrayal or hurt.

Swinging is usually not just a one-time thing. Most couples who consider themselves swingers treat it as a lifestyle, regularly attending swingers' parties, meeting other swingers, and going to swingers' events. The most popular place for swingers to go is swingers' clubs.


What is a swingers' club?

A swingers' club is just what it sounds like: a nightclub for swingers. Now, not only swinging couples are allowed into swingers' clubs. These clubs typically allow couples, single women and single men, though there is usually a limit on the number of single men allowed in the club at one time.

Whether part of a couple or not, most people who come to a swingers' club are interested in exploring new sexual partners or sexual fantasies. Swingers' clubs serve as a place for these people to meet others with these same interests. Many clubs even have backrooms or VIP areas in which visitors can partake in sexual activities with other patrons.

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Many swingers' clubs have a bar and serve alcohol to help keep the conversation flowing and visitors' inhibitions low, even featuring:

  • a DJ;
  • a dance floor; and
  • sometimes even stages or dance cages for entertainment.

What might I see at a swingers' club?

A swingers' club is not the place to go if you are conservative or modest. Though not all clubs offer a VIP or activity room, it is very likely you will see some nudity and possibly even illicit sexual activities.


At the very least, you will see many other couples and singles, dressed to impress and meet potential sexual partners. There is also likely to be a good number of intoxicated people and dancing. Depending on the location of the swingers' club and the time of night, you could really see any age, race or size at a swingers' club. From 21 to 80, members of the swinging lifestyle span all generations.

Be prepared to be approached or propositioned. Since the premise of a swingers' club is to connect people interested in exploring other sexual partners, most patrons will be very blunt and upfront about what they are looking for. They won't be shy about complimenting you, propositioning you, staring at you, or asking you sexually illicit questions.

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How do I get in?

Typically, swingers' clubs charge a high admission price at the door. This is to keep out anyone who is not truly serious about the swinging lifestyle. It also goes toward keeping the club clean and safe for all patrons.

When you get to a swingers' club, you will have to check in at a front desk area. You may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, stating that you will not share any details of what you see in the club during your visit. You may even need to turn in your cell phone; this helps guarantee privacy of the patrons, ensuring that no pictures of activities at the club are taken or transmitted.


If you want to visit a VIP or activity room, there may be additional charges, as well as precautions (such as wearing a condom), to which you will be required to submit. Each swingers' club is different, however, so these requirements will vary.

What else should I know?

Many swingers' clubs have a BYOB (bring your own beverage) policy. This is either because they don't have an alcohol license with which to sell alcohol to patrons, or they discourage the use of alcohol, because it impairs peoples' judgment and makes them less likely to act safely and use protection.

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If you plan to drink at a swingers' club, be sure to check the club's policy before going. You may need to bring your own beverages.

Most swingers' clubs have an abundance of condoms available for patrons. In order to ensure your health and safety, though, bring your own condoms if you plan to participate in any sexual activities during your visit.

For couples in a committed relationship who are interested in exploring other sexual activities and partners, swingers' clubs may be an option. Before visiting a swingers' club, however, ensure both you and your partner are in agreement as to what's allowed and what is off limits.


This will ensure neither of you is hurt in the event one of you participates in sexual activities with another patron while at a swingers' club or event.

Swingers' clubs can also be good options for single people who are not looking for a monogamous relationship and are interested in experiencing a free sexual lifestyle. As mentioned previously, though, many swingers' clubs will limit the number of singles allowed in on a nightly basis.

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Remember, swingers' clubs typically do not advertise or make themselves very well known. It may take some research through online swinging groups to find a swingers' club near you.

Also, it is important to note that the legalities of swingers' clubs and their activities vary from state to state. Before you make plans to attend a swingers' club, make sure to investigate your state's laws first. Otherwise, your first foray into swinging could very well be your last.


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How to Bypass the Road to Divorce

Are you and your partner worried about money in these uncertain times? During any economic crisis, couples have to face tough financial decisions. This can lead to an increase in stress and aggravate problems that already exist in your marriage.

As you look back to when you first met, what attracted you to your partner - fierce independence, strong character, a decisive nature? Now, these very same qualities may be getting in the way of getting along. If you want to come to terms with your negative feelings, notice what has changed in your marriage.

And try to see your own part in what's going on. If there's a glimmer of hope and you want to stay together, accept the challenge of turning it around. Some of these ideas can help you get started: {relatedarticles}

1. Identify your emotions. As a first step, write down the feelings that now regularly surface. And record what's happening between you and your partner when you are sad, scared, overwhelmed, embarrassed or frustrated.

Chances are you have emotions ranging from disappointment to anger, and these may be constantly changing. Don't worry - this is normal. Understanding what you feel, and why, can be the first step toward improving your situation.


2. Stop focusing on the past. Identify the hot button issues that are standing in your way and make efforts to resolve them. If you initiate changes, that can be an encouraging sign to your partner. And the sooner you let go of the past, the quicker you can move forward to improve the goodwill in your relationship. It may not be easy to forgive, but it is a gift you can give to your partner and yourself.

3. Limit your arguments. If the situation between the two of you is tense, small annoyances can seem worse than before. When you argue, allowing bad feelings to fester only makes it harder. Don't turn your quarrel into something more or attach your reactions to another issue.

Agree that you will together explore the problems. And spend time learning about conflict resolution, direct communication and active listening skills. There's information available through relationship workshops, the Internet and the self help section in bookstores.{relatedarticles}

4. Begin a process of serious talking. Can't do it alone? If you really want to work out your differences, consider consulting with a marital therapist or joining a couples' support group. When you understand more about the other's needs and capabilities, you'll be clearer about compromises you have to make.

Then it will be up to both of you to decide whether you're willing to do the hard work. That may include efforts to change your current expectations, redefine what marriage means to you and create new goals for the relationship.


5. Support each other. Instead of focusing on the negatives or going your separate ways, spend time discussing what you want from one other. Think about what would demonstrate true emotional commitment to you. Prove that you are on each other's side by deciding to change your attitude and behavior.

in your marriage's emotional bank account. Create excitement, pleasure and fun together - then take advantage of the dividends.{relatedarticles}

You and your partner are individuals who each have a mind of your own. What you want may have changed since you first tied the knot. And the present economic meltdown probably adds to the pressures in your relationship. But that doesn't mean you can't make shifts that will relieve some of the stress. And you don't have to accept the possibility of divorce. By taking the first steps, you can help strengthen your partner's trust in you - and the future of your marriage.

Her Mentor Center, 2011
About The Author

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. is a family relationship expert. Whether you're coping with stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, I have solutions. Visit our website, http://www.HerMentorCenter.com to discover practical tips for dealing with parents growing older & children growing up and to learn about our ebook, "Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm." Log on to our blog, http://www.NourishingRelationships.blogspot.com and sign up for our free newsletter, Stepping Stones, and complimentary ebook, "Courage and Lessons Learned."


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