The Most Common Contraceptive Mistakes And How You Can Prevent Them

From puberty at the latest, topics such as love, relationships and not least sex become increasingly interesting for teenagers. This makes it all the more important to know about available contraceptive methods early enough. Only those who are well informed can live out their love physically without foregoing the appropriate protection. Not only unprotected sex, but also mistakes in contraception can lead to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That’s why today we’re telling you about the most common contraceptive mistakes and how to avoid them.

Oops! These Are The Most Common Contraceptive Mistakes

Mistakes can happen. But it’s better to avoid them as much as possible. Basically, you should know very well about the contraceptive of your choice if you want to rely on it. To do this, you can seek advice from your gynecologist or from the family and youth counseling center. A gynecologist, by the way, is a doctor who is very knowledgeable about gynecology and contraceptive methods. He or she guides women through pregnancy and advises teenagers on sex and contraception issues. Read the following section carefully to do the right thing when in doubt without having to think about it for a long time.

Problems With Hormonal Contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives are practical, safe and relatively easy to use. However, it can be problematic if you don’t know the do’s and don’ts with hormonal contraceptives, forget about them, or can’t stick to taking them regularly, for example.

Forgetting The Pill

The birth control pill should be taken at approximately the same time every day. This is the only way to guarantee its effectiveness without using an additional contraceptive. If you follow the instructions in the package insert and the recommendations of your gynecologist, the pill is an extremely safe contraceptive. However, if you forget to take the pill, it is ineffective. A few hours up or down are not so bad. However, the time of taking the pill must not be delayed by more than twelve hours. Otherwise, even one forgotten pill is enough to become pregnant unintentionally. You took the pill more than twelve hours too late or forgot to take it at all? Then please read the package insert to find out what to do. If in doubt, call your gynecologist for clarification. In any case, you should always use additional contraception (for example, a condom) if you are not sure whether you have taken the pill correctly.

Diarrhea Or Vomiting

The pill does not work immediately when you take it. First, the active ingredient must enter the bloodstream to take effect. Therefore, the pill has to stay in the body for a few hours to do what it is supposed to do. This applies to all hormonal contraceptives. Also, when you use the contraceptive patch, you should keep an eye on your general health. If you vomit or have diarrhea shortly after taking the pill, you may no longer be protected. It is then quite possible that an unwanted pregnancy could occur. This is especially true if the vomiting or diarrhea occurs within four hours of taking the pill. The following applies to most preparations: If the vomiting or diarrhea occurs after four hours but within twelve hours of taking the pill, then you should take an additional pill immediately. In any case, be sure to read the package insert or check with your gynecologist.

Alcohol, Drugs And Interactions

Alcohol and drugs do not normally interact with hormonal contraceptives. However, there is a risk that you may vomit or get diarrhea from them. In the worst case, you might be so out of it that you can’t remember it. Some ingredients of medicines also have a negative effect on the effect of hormonal contraceptives. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check with your pharmacist or gynecologist if you need to take a medication whose interactions you don’t yet know.

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The following medicines can affect the effect of hormonal contraceptives:

  • St. John’s wort
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Laxatives
  • Medicines for HIV, tuberculosis, or fungal infections
  • Antidiabetic medicines
  • Antiepileptic medicines

If you are not sure whether the pill, patch, or Nuvaring is still working, it is better to use additional contraception with a condom or diaphragm.

Time Difference

If you travel a long way, you may get confused. This is because the time difference affects your body. Check with your gynecologist before you travel to see if there is anything you need to watch out for with your hormonal contraception.

Past The Expiration Date

All medications have an expiration date. After this date, you should not use the medication under any circumstances, as its composition may have already changed by then. Then you do not know whether it works as it should. The same applies to hormonal contraceptives. Pills, patches and the like must not be used if they have exceeded their expiration date. Therefore, always check whether your preparation is still usable or not.

Application Period Disregarded

With the vaginal ring, the pill and the contraceptive patch, you must adhere exactly to the application period. This means that you have to take or change the contraceptive at a certain time. If you do not follow this schedule, the contraceptive will no longer be effective. The more the normal time of taking the contraceptive differs from the actual time, the more likely it is that the contraceptive has become ineffective. As always, if in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist and read the package insert of the preparation. If you repeatedly have problems sticking to the application period, you should probably consider using a different contraceptive. With the IUD, for example, you don’t have to worry about anything except making regular checkups with your gynecologist.

Loosened Patch

Although the contraceptive patch is a fairly safe means of preventing pregnancy, it can become ineffective. This can happen if it comes off while showering, for example. If it can be put back on without any problems and still adheres well, then everything is fine. Otherwise, you have to use a new patch. However, this is only possible if no more than 24 hours have passed since it came off. If you don’t remember exactly when the patch came off, or if it has been more than 24 hours, you will have to put on a new patch and start a new three-week application cycle. You should also use additional contraception (for example, a condom or diaphragm) for the next few days.

Ineffective Contraceptive Stick

Just like all other hormonal contraceptives, the Implanon can react to numerous medications and become ineffective. It is also important to remember to have the implant replaced every three years at the latest. If you do not do this, you should not rely on its effectiveness, because you could possibly become pregnant.

Contraceptive Ring Slips

If the contraceptive ring has slipped or even been lost, you must insert a new one as soon as possible or put the existing ring back in the right position. If this happens within three hours of slipping or loss, then there is no problem. If you are not sure how long ago the incident occurred, or if the slipping or loss occurred more than three hours ago, then do the following:

During the first two weeks of use: Put the ring back in and use additional contraceptive. In week three, you can then insert a new vaginal ring (the interstitial bleeding will probably stop) or wait for the bleeding to stop and insert the new ring after seven days at the latest (since the slipping). However, the latter only makes sense if the ring has been in continuously for a week in the days before it slipped or fell out and has not slipped.

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To be sure, please read the package insert.

Failure To Notice: Breakdown With IUD

After the gynecologist has inserted the hormone or copper IUD, he or she uses ultrasound to check that it is in the correct position. Normally, the IUD fits well from the start and does not slip out of place. During the first period after insertion, it becomes clear whether the IUD will continue to fit well. This is the acid test for the IUD. If it still fits properly after this, then there should not be any problems later on. Unfortunately, it still happens from time to time that the IUD slips out of place unnoticed. In rare cases, it can even be lost completely. In this case, the woman is no longer protected against unwanted conception and can become pregnant at any time. With a little dexterity, you can feel whether the IUD is still where it should be. This is done by feeling the return thread. It should protrude as far as it did after insertion. If it does not, be sure to contact your gynecologist. Except for slipping, there are no application errors with the IUD. If it fits correctly, you only have to make sure to have it replaced or removed after three to five years, as recommended by your gynecologist. This is how long most hormone and copper IUDs remain effective.

Broken Rubber: Application Errors With Condoms

The condom is the only contraceptive that reliably protects against sexually transmitted diseases. That’s why it’s a must, even with hormonal contraception, if you haven’t known your partner for very long or have changing sexual partners. Because you can never know whether he or she is actually healthy. The condom is also quite safe and popular as the sole means of contraception. Especially in the case that you do not use any other contraceptive in addition, you should avoid application errors at all costs. Unfortunately, there are some sources of error in the use of the condom. Even experienced users can make mistakes in the heat of the moment.

Inappropriate Condom Size

It is important to use the right size condom. For girls, it is recommended to buy products of different manufacturers and different sizes in case they do not know the size of their partner. Anyway, it is important to pay attention to tested quality. Because unlike other things, brand quality has priority for condoms. Therefore, be sure to reach for established, well-known brands that bear a seal of approval. By the way, the condom size is written on the outside of the package. Guys can determine their size by using a condom gauge (search for it on the Internet!) or by measuring the circumference on themselves. But be careful There’s no point in buying bigger condoms on purpose! Extra large may sound great, but it doesn’t do any good if it’s actually too big. Because if the rubber is too big, it slips off very easily and is therefore no longer effective. If, on the other hand, it is too small, it can tear very quickly and also offers no protection against an unwanted pregnancy. If you are not sure or do not know a brand, then ask the drugstore staff or a pharmacist for advice.

Air In The Reservoir?

Normally, you will notice if there is air in the reservoir (small nub at the front of the condom) after you put it on. Then it is best to put it back down and use a new one. Because if you notice it too late, the semen can run back because it has no space at the front end. Then it is not impossible for sperm to get into the vagina and lead to an unwanted pregnancy. To prevent this from happening, it is best to squeeze the reservoir between your thumb and index finger while you unroll it. This helps to avoid air in the reservoir.

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Condom Opened Carelessly Or Stored Poorly

Always be careful not to damage the condom when opening it. Take it out carefully and never use pointed or sharp objects to open the package. The same applies to long fingernails, scratchy rings and piercings. This can cause a hole in the surface of the hard-wearing but thin latex, which is not visible to the naked eye and through which sperm can get “out”. You should also store the condoms safely. The purse is not a suitable place to store them. Especially if you carry them around in your pocket, the condom is exposed to enormous stress. As a result, it can get damage that you don’t see. Just as important as the right storage location is the expiration date of the rubber. Refrain from using expired rubbers. Condoms usually only last for a few years! After that, they become brittle and no longer offer sufficient protection.

Put On The Wrong Way Round

Well, how then? What does it look like when the rubber is on backwards? Actually, it is quite clear. If the roll is on the outside and you can easily roll it off, then you’ve done it right. If it’s not, then you have to immediately take a new one and try again. Over time, you’ll get the hang of how to strip the rubber over correctly the first time. Manufacturers like Durex package their condoms in such a way that you can orient yourself by the packaging in which direction it is slipped over.

Reaction With Lubricants

Latex cannot withstand everything. It can be subjected to mechanical stress for quite a long time without tearing. But if creams containing grease or oil come into play, the latex loses its resistant properties. This is because the material is attacked and is therefore worthless in terms of its protective effect. Please use only water-based lubricants. They are best suited for use together with condoms.

Slipped Or Torn

As you’ve already read, rubbers can slip or tear if you don’t choose the right size. It is also quite possible for a rubber to break after heavy use. To avoid this, you should also pull the rubber out immediately after sex while holding it with your hand so it doesn’t slip off. If you keep cuddling for a while without pulling it out, semen can get into your vagina.

If you do not use additional contraception, then there is a risk of unwanted pregnancy after it tears or slips off. A visit to the gynecologist or taking the morning-after pill immediately are the next measures you should take. Remember that you can get the morning-after pill over-the-counter at the pharmacy. You have to take it as soon as possible. If you wait too long, it won’t help against unwanted pregnancy

Ineffective Emergency Contraception

The morning-after pill is the last resort for many young couples who have had a contraceptive breakdown. If you have forgotten to use contraception or have done something wrong, this medication is used. It is usually very reliable if taken relatively soon after sex.

Taken Too Late

It depends on the drug itself whether it retains its effectiveness up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse or even up to 120 hours afterwards. It’s best to ask your pharmacist and read the package insert . The later you take the morning-after pill, the more likely you are to become pregnant. If you take it too late, it will no longer be effective

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Diarrhea Or Vomiting

If you suffer from diarrhea or vomiting shortly after taking the pill, the effectiveness of the morning-after pill may be impaired or it may not work at all. If this happens within the first three hours of taking the morning-after pill, you must get a new pack and take the morning-after pill again.


Like most hormonal contraceptives, the morning-after pill can be weakened in its effectiveness if you take it together with other medicines. The same advice applies to the morning-after pill as to other hormonal contraceptives (see above). In any case, you should be careful if you need to take antibiotics or sedatives.

Diaphragm, Lea And FemCap: What Can Go Wrong?

With these two mechanical contraceptives, it’s important that you use the right size. Because similar to the condom, the contraceptive effect is otherwise not guaranteed. The following mistakes can occur when using diaphragm and FemCap.

Wrong Size

Your contraceptive device must be fitted to your body by a doctor. This is to make sure that it fits properly so that sperm cannot enter the uterus. If you have had a baby, the contraceptive needs to be resized because a lot of your body has changed during pregnancy and childbirth. The same applies if you have undergone a major weight change (more than five kilos).

Does Not Fit Properly

Inserting the diaphragm and contraceptive cap is not easy at the beginning. Have your gynecologist explain it to you in detail and ask if you are still not sure. Your contraceptive can only protect you if it fits properly. The diaphragm and contraceptive cap must be inserted so that they cover the cervix (the lower end of the uterus). You can usually feel it through the material when you palpate it after insertion.

Torn Or Holey

Always make sure to take proper care of your mechanical contraceptive device. Do not touch it with long fingernails and check its condition regularly. If you notice any damage, you should definitely stop using the diaphragm, Lea or FemCap and talk to your gynecologist about it. Therefore, it is not a mistake to always have at least two to three condoms at home for emergencies. That way you won’t be tempted to use a broken contraceptive.

Application Period Not Observed

The diaphragm must be used at exactly the right time, otherwise it loses its effectiveness. Insert it no more than two hours before sexual intercourse. After lovemaking, it must stay in for at least eight hours before you can remove it again. This way, there is less risk of intact sperm getting into the uterus, which could lead to pregnancy.

Forgetting Spermicide

Your contraceptive is only safe if you use it with spermicide. This is a spermicidal gel that is used together with the diaphragm or FemCap. Note that with the FemCap, you must apply spermicide inside AND outside. Are you ready for a “second round”? Then you should definitely insert another portion of the gel.Please talk to your gynecologist if you suspect that you are not tolerating the spermicide well. If you do not feel well after using it, then you might have an allergy. Under no circumstances should you ignore this.

Worksheet For The Text

1) Explain the difficult words from the text.

What does…

  • Gynecologist
  • Cervix
  • Spermicide

2) Do you know which contraceptive protects against sexually transmitted diseases like HIV? Write your answer here and explain why only that contraceptive can provide protection.

3) What should you do if you used a condom the wrong way?

4a) The condom has broken or burst. What do you do in this situation?

4b) How can you avoid this happening next time?

Photo: AntonioDiaz /

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