APRIL 19, 2007
 (STAR) When it comes to sex and contraception, there is still a lot of learning and un-learning that Filipinos have to do.

Dr. Sylvia de las Alas-Carnero, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Medical Center, believes that women, regardless of age, should equip themselves with the proper information on sex and how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

But because most women and men today are embarrassed to ask for advice from health professionals about these things, more often than not, they end up getting the wrong information and passing it on to others.

One of the most commonly used contraceptive methods out there is Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) or what is commonly referred to as the injectable.

The injectable stops ovulation, thins the lining of the uterus, and thickens the cervical mucus, thus making it difficult for sperm to pass through.

Itís an effective method, administered by a health provider every three months, but some women are apprehensive to use it because they fear they would develop ovarian and breast cancer. Carnero, however, is quick to say that such fear is unfounded.

"Based on the findings of the Philippine Evidence-Based Reproductive Medicine Network, which reviews different studies conducted on contraceptives, there is no increased risk in developing breast cancer or the adenomatous type of cervical cancer," Carnero stresses.

"And those who intend to get pregnant need not worry getting infertile, as the effect of injectables is reversible. They only have to wait for a short period of time for fertility to resume. For lactating mothers, the injectable is a good option because it does not affect the quantity and quality of breastmilk," she adds.

In using pills, women have to take a tablet for a month to be protected from unplanned pregnancy. It is the most popular contraceptive method in the world.

Carnero says there is no reason for pill users to worry about the effects of long-term use if she satisfies the medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use.

Carnero adds: "Pills actually protect women from developing ovarian and endometrial cancer. In fact, women are protected from ovarian cancer for 10 to 15 years after they stop taking the pills. No study has proven that there is an increased risk in developing breast cancer or liver cancer."

Aside from the contraceptive benefits, low dose oral contraceptive pills with iron have the added benefit of supplementing their iron needs. Some types of low dose oral contraceptive pills provide an added benefit of preventing adult acne, giving you a clearer, smooth skin.

Moreover, blaming the pill as the cause for weight gain is not necessarily accurate. Most often, increasing age and other factors may cause weight gain.

To this day, condoms are the most convenient and widely available contraceptive. So long as the male partners use them correctly and consistently, the chances of getting pregnant or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially HIV virus, are next to nil.

"You should check the expiration of condoms. The old ones are more prone to breakage," Carnero says matter of factly.

A thin latex or rubber sheath, condoms prevent the exchange of sperm and body fluids between partners. Although condoms are the only advertised contraceptive device here, they are not very popular this side of the world, especially among men.

Filipino men think that condoms lessen the sensation and pleasure of sexual intercourse. But now that there are thinner condoms available like the Premiere Ultra Thin condom and condoms with added sensation like the Premiere Dotted condoms, this kind of misconception might have to change.

While it is good to soak up as much information about contraceptives, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases as you can, nothing beats getting education from the right sources.

"Every time a woman thinks of using a contraceptive, especially injectables and oral pills, she has to consult her health provider first. She has to be counseled on the contraceptive method that is best suited for her," Carnero explains. "It is only when women fully understand her reproductive health that the incidence of unplanned pregnancy or STDs will decrease."

The Trust Family Program makes safe, effective, and affordable contraceptive products such as injectables, pills, and condoms. Consult your health provider before using any family planning method.

Look for the TRUST Family Program logo for high quality yet affordable contraceptive products. TRUST Family Program products are available in leading drugstores, POPSHOP outlets, and health clinics nationwide. For more information, call (02) 6333-TFP or (02) 6333-837, text (0917) 823-1111, or log on to www.tfp.com.ph.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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