Jennifer, age 25, and Ben, age 30: Ben and I are pretty involved, so we've been discussing which birth control method to use. He is more sexually experienced than I am. He understands that I'm nervous about getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). He isn't aware of ever having symptoms of an STI, but some people who don't have symptoms can still spread an STI. We're both going to be tested for STIs. But my doctor tells me that if you don't have symptoms, tests for genital herpes and human papillomavirus don't always find an infection. We don't mind taking the time to use a condom to reduce our risk, and we plan on also using birth control pills to reduce our risk of pregnancy.
Renee, age 34, and Martin, age 31: Since I've been so busy with work and school and Martin is living 2 hours away, we only see each other 2 weekends a month. I've been using a diaphragm for birth control since we've been together the past 2 years. We are monogamous, so I don't worry about a sexually transmitted infection. It's easy to plan when we'll be together, and I don't have to worry about the side effects of hormonal methods.
Matt, age 27: My dad told me when I was a teenager that birth control is a man's responsibility too. I've been using condoms since I became sexually active. I use them now even if my partner is using another birth control method. It just makes good sense to protect against STIs and pregnancy at the same time.
Lily, age 32, and Shaquille, age 34: Two years ago when Shaquille and I decided to wait and get married after I finished my schooling, we decided to use birth control pills. My schedule was so crazy that we didn't want to worry if we were spontaneous and didn't have any contraceptive supplies with us. It's always been easy for me to stick to a routine, so taking my pills every day was no problem. We may decide to switch to the vaginal ring that I only have to use once a month. I like the pill and the ring because they are short-term birth control, so when we decide we're ready to have a family, we'll be able to plan it.
Janice, age 18: When I was 14, my menstrual cycles were awful. I had so much pain that I couldn't go to school and I would feel sick to my stomach for the first few days. Mom took me to the women's clinic, and I started using birth control pills. It made all the difference in the world. Now I'm off to college and think I'll continue using the pill so that I'm responsible for my birth control and not dependent on a partner for reliability. I will also use condoms-you never know about an STI.