Birth Control and HIV
March 29, 2017
Table of Contents
- Women Living With HIV and Birth Control
- Methods That Prevent Pregnancy and Protect Against HIV
- Hormone-Based Methods That Prevent Pregnancy But Do Not Protect Against HIV
- Other Methods That Prevent Pregnancy But Do Not Protect Against HIV
- How to Choose
- The Future: Multipurpose Prevention Technologies
All women who have sex with men and have not yet completed menopause (have not yet had 12 months without any periods) or had surgery that prevents pregnancy need to make decisions about which birth control method is best for them. If you are a woman living with HIV (HIV+), it is also important to consider the possibility of passing your virus to a partner. This is true if your partner(s) is HIV+ or HIV-negative.
All women who have sex with men and have not yet completed menopause (have not yet had 12 months without any periods) or had surgery that prevents pregnancy need to make decisions about which birth control method is best for them. If you are a woman living with HIV (HIV+), it is also important to consider the possibility of passing HIV to a partner. This is true if your partner(s) is living with HIV or HIV-negative.
When both partners are living with HIV, you do not need to worry about one person getting infected with HIV. However, one partner could re-infect the other with a strain of HIV that is resistant to their prescribed HIV drugs (also called superinfection). Also, other sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs) could be passed from one partner to the other. The only existing forms of birth control that will provide protection against HIV and other STIs are abstinence (not having sex) or using condoms while having sex.
Not all women living with HIV will want to, or be able to have their partners use condoms, whether their partners are living with HIV or HIV-negative. If you would like to use condoms but are having trouble talking to your partner about using them, see our fact sheet on Talking with Your Partner about Condoms.
For women living with HIV who do not use condoms and do not want to get pregnant, there are a number of other choices available. These other methods of birth control offer protection against pregnancy, but do not protect against HIV or other STIs. Some health care providers suggest "dual (double) protection" -- condoms to prevent HIV transmission, and another method to prevent pregnancy.
Condoms (rubbers) are thin latex or plastic barriers. The male condom is worn on the penis. The female condom is put in the vagina or anus.
- Female and male condoms are the most effective ways to prevent many STIs (including HIV)
- If used correctly, male condoms are up to 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy; if not always used correctly, male condoms are only 85 percent effective. If used correctly, female condoms are up to 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy; if not always used correctly, female condoms are only 79 percent effective.
- The female condom is the only female-controlled method of birth control that also provides protection from STIs
- The female condom can be inserted several hours to immediately before sex
- Male condoms are inexpensive compared to other forms of birth control
- Condoms do not require a prescription
- Male condom requires cooperation of the male partner
- Male condoms may break if worn incorrectly or if used with oil-based lubricants like baby oil or Vaseline. Do not use condoms with these lubricants.
- Male condoms must be put on during sex while the male partner is erect
- Female condoms can be more expensive than male condoms and are not available everywhere
The male condom is available in lubricated and unlubricated (dry) forms. Unlubricated condoms are often the condoms of choice for oral sex. For vaginal sex, you can use either a lubricated or unlubricated condom. For anal sex, experts suggest using lubricated condoms. You can choose to add lubricant (lube) any time you use a condom. Remember, however, to use only water-based lubes (like Astroglide and KY Jelly) with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants like mineral oil, cold cream, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), and vegetable oils will damage latex and make the condom ineffective at preventing infections or pregnancy.
Condoms lubricated with the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) are no longer recommended. They have a shorter shelf life, do not decrease pregnancy more than other lubricated condoms, and may increase HIV risk by causing irritation of the vagina or rectum.
More From This Resource Center
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What Every HIV-Positive Woman Should Know About GYN Care and Prevention
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