Birth Control & Safer Sex Superheroes
Originally Published: November 3, 2016
Revised: September 26, 2021
Some superheroes don’t wear capes; sometimes they wear plastic packaging. Their goal isn’t to save the world and destroy an entire city while doing so but to keep people safe, healthy and happy. From reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to pregnancy prevention, these safer sex and birth control crusaders are ready to step in and save the day whenever you need them. It’s like having the Avengers on speed dial—but even better.
The Hormonal League
Superpower: Members of the Hormonal League have one important superpower in common: preventing pregnancy. These superhero hormonal birth control methods all release hormones, which can prevent the release of an egg from the ovaries and thicken the cervical mucus so their archenemy, the Sperm, never meet up with an egg to cause a pregnancy. If a sperm and egg do still happen to meet up, these methods can lighten the lining of the uterus, making it less likely a fertilized egg can attach and cause a pregnancy.
Weakness: While members of the Hormonal League are very effective at preventing pregnancy, they have one significant weakness: they do not prevent the spread of STIs. Members of the Hormonal League are most powerful when they team up with one of the Incredible Condom Twins: Captain Condom or The Great Receptor (also known as the “female” or internal condom).
Secret Fortresses: You can’t yell for the Hormonal League or shine their logo in the sky to get their help. The key to accessing their secret lair is a prescription from a health care provider. Once you have a prescription, you can find The Powerful Pill, Phantom Patch and Agent Ring at your local pharmacy or health center. As for other members of the Hormonal League, like Super Shot, IUD and Invisible Implant? These methods require a health care provider to administer or insert them. Read on to learn more about the Hormonal League.
The Incredible Implant
The Incredible Implant is one of the most effective forms of birth control out there! Rain or shine, day or night, it prevents pregnancy 99.9 percent of the time!
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy for Up to Three Years
From its position in the upper arm, the Incredible Implant uses its special weapon, progestin, which can block eggs from leaving the ovaries. Progestin is also capable of thickening the cervical mucus, making it a lot harder for sperm to get to the eggs. Both of these powers team up to ward off pregnancy!
Weaknesses: Loses Its Power After Three Years and Does Not Protect You From STIs
The Implant is so strong that it has very few weaknesses. One of its weaknesses is that the greatness has an expiration date: it lasts for three years and has to be taken out after that. It also needs a sidekick to stop the spread of STIs. The Incredible Condom Twins are the Incredible Implant’s favorite sidekicks!
Secret Identities: Nexplanon
One of the most powerful teams of birth control, the IUD Defense Squad is comprised of hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs. An IUD is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted inside the uterus. It disrupts sperms’ movement, which prevents sperm from meeting up with an egg to cause a pregnancy. The Defense Squad, like most members of the Hormonal League, can’t fight STIs, which is why they make a great team with Captain Condom and The Great Receptor.
Superpowers: Prevents Pregnancy for 3 to 12 Years
Four of the five members of the IUD Defense Squad—Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena and Skyla—prevent pregnancy from three to six years, depending on which one you use. They get their powers from releasing small amounts of the hormone progestin. Progestin, a synthetic hormone, thickens the mucus inside the cervix; this prevents sperm from reaching the uterus and eventually meeting up with an egg. ParaGard is technically not a member of the Hormonal League, because it gets its power from a small amount of copper wrapped around its plastic t-shape. ParaGard works for up to 12 years!
Weaknesses: Cost and It Does Not Protect You From STIs
Any one of the members of the IUD Defense Squad can cost several hundred dollars without insurance, and they must be inserted and removed by a health care provider.
Secret Identities: Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla and ParaGard
Super Shot, one of the most effective methods of birth control, is an injection of the hormone progestin into the body that can prevent pregnancy for 12 weeks. Since Super Shot does not prevent STIs, it is even more powerful when it teams up as a mighty duo with its famous partner, Captain Condom.
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy for Three Months
Able to prevent fertilization in a single shot, Super Shot is active for up to three months at a time! Its powers include stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickening the cervical mucus so sperm, if there happened to be some, cannot reach an egg.
Weaknesses: Loses Its Power After Three Months and Does Not Protect You From STIs
With each shot, Super Shot’s powers are available for an amazing three months, but once that time is up, Super Shot loses its powers. For Super Shot to be effective at preventing pregnancy, a girl or woman has to get another shot when that three-month period is over.
Secret Identities: Depo-Provera
The Powerful Pill
The Powerful Pill is just that—a pill that is usually a combination of man-made hormones that help prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. If no egg is present, pregnancy can’t occur. While the Pill is super powerful at preventing pregnancy, it does not prevent STIs, which is why the Pill needs to team up with Captain Condom or The Great Receptor.
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy
If taken once a day, each day, at the same time the Pill is over 99-percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Not only does the Pill help prevent pregnancy, it can also help with other things as well. Some people use the Pill to relieve their PMS symptoms, and others use it to help clear up their acne.
Weaknesses: Must Be Taken at the Same Time Every Day and Does Not Protect You From STIs
Secret Identities: Tri-Sprintec, Natazia, Apri, Ortho-Novum and many more
The Pill has many different secret identities. With so many options out there, it’s important to talk to a doctor or health care provider to find the one that works best for you.
Agent Ring is a small, flexible vaginal ring that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks and then removed for one week when a girl gets her period. A new ring has to be inserted each month. If you are comfortable using a tampon, then the Ring could work for you. Like its other members of the Hormonal League, the Ring does not reduce the risk of STIs but can join its superpowers with someone like Captain Condom to prevent the spread of STIs.
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy
The Ring slowly releases a low dosage of hormones. This prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, so the Ring’s arch enemy, the sperm, never meets up with an egg to cause a pregnancy.
Weakness: Loses Its Power After a Month and Does Not Protect You From STIs
Secret Identity: NuvaRing
Phantom Patch is a thin piece of plastic resembling a square, beige Band-Aid that is placed on the skin to prevent pregnancy. To be effective, the Patch must be changed each week for three weeks. There is no patch worn on the fourth week, which is when a girl would get her period. Phantom Patch is a member of the Hormonal League, so remember it does not reduce the risk of STIs and must team up with Captain Condom or The Great Receptor to prevent the spread of STIs.
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy
The Patch is placed on the skin and releases hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken the cervical mucus so sperm cannot reach an egg.
Weaknesses: Loses Its Power After One Week and Does Not Protect You From STIs
Secret Identity: Xulane
The Incredible Condom Twins and Deputy Dental Dam
Superpower: These superhero barrier methods form a barricade between partners and prevent the exchange of fluids, like semen and vaginal fluids, which reduces the risk of STI transmission. The Incredible Condom Twins—Captain Condom and The Great Receptor (also known as the “female” condom)—also prevent pregnancy by forming a barrier between egg and sperm.
The Incredible Condom Twins: Captain Condom & The Great Receptor
left and top right image credit: http://fc2femalecondom.com/
Captain Condom and his companion, The Great Receptor, are two of the safest and most widely used forms of birth control and STI prevention. Captain Condom is a latex or polyurethane sheath that can be rolled over a penis to prevent pregnancy and STIs. The Great Receptor is a polyurethane pouch that has two flexible rings on either end. It can be inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs. You may hear it referred to as the female condom or the internal or receptive condom. When the inner ring is removed, it can also be inserted into the anus and used during anal sex to prevent the spread of STIs.
Condoms also have a “shelf life” after which they are too weak to use, which means you should always check the expiration date printed on the condom wrapper.
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy and Reduces the Risk of STIs
By simply slipping over the penis, Captain Condom contains the ability to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of acquiring STIs by keeping semen and pre-cum (another term for pre-ejaculatory fluid) inside the condom and out of the vagina. Similarly, The Great Receptor is a pouch that is inserted into the vagina or anus and keeps pre-cum and semen inside of the condom rather than in the vagina or anus.
Weaknesses: Fragility, Sensitivity to Heat and Shelf Life
Both Captain Condom and the Great Receptor can be damaged when not stored at room temperature. Being stored in wallets, glove compartments or with sharp objects are their kryptonite. Condoms also have a “shelf life” after which they are too weak to use, which means you should always check the expiration date printed on the condom wrapper.
Secret Identities: Trojan, Durex, Lifestyles, FC2 and many more
Secret Fortress: Not well known for their ability to hide, Captain Condom and The Great Receptor are readily available at local drug stores, supermarkets and health centers.
Deputy Dental Dam
image credit: Sheer/www.globalprotection.com
Contrary to popular belief, STIs can be spread during mouth-to-vulva and mouth-to-anus sex. But during those times, Deputy Dental Dam (DDD) is there to save the day!
Superpower: Reduces the Risk of STDs
Deputy Dental Dam protects her users from contracting STIs by creating a barrier between partners so that those pesky little STI villains can’t get through. She is also a shapeshifter. In a pinch, she can be made out of condoms or latex gloves!
Weakness: Sharp Objects and Limited Area Coverage
DDD’s powers can’t work if she isn’t covering the whole vulva or anus. If there is, say, a herpes sore on the skin that the dental dam isn’t covering, there’s a possibility that the herpes virus could be transmitted between partners. Deputy Dental Dam also hates sharp things, like knives and teeth, which could rip the dental dam, making it less effective at creating a barrier between partners.
Secret Identity: Sheer Glyde
Secret Fortress: Deputy Dental Dam doesn’t set up fortresses in many pharmacies, but you can usually find her online. It can be harder for younger people to access her through her online hideout, so it would be easier to find her at a health center or to use a cut-open condom.
Also known as the “morning-after” pill, Extraordinary Emergency Contraception (EC) shows up to save the day if you had unprotected sex or want to prevent pregnancy after another method failed! This could happen if someone forgets to take their pill or change their patch on time. EC comes in the form of a small pill or an intrauterine device (IUD).
Superpower: Prevents Pregnancy
Although Extraordinary EC may not have telekinesis or teleportation abilities, it does have the power to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if other contraceptives, such as Captain Condom, failed at their task.
Weakness: Time is Extraordinary EC’s greatest foe
Extraordinary EC’s powers are diminished with each passing day under its secret identities of Plan B One-Step or Next Choice One Dose. Note that in its ella and ParaGard IUD forms, Extraordinary ED maintains its powers even up to five days after unprotected sex.
Secret Identities: Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, ella, ParaGard IUD
Secret Fortresses: Like the powerful Batman, Extraordinary EC possesses her own secret fortresses. You can find EC as Plan B One-Step or Next Choice One Dose at your local pharmacy, but you’ll need a prescription to obtain access into EC’s secret lair, where EC comes in the form of ella or ParaGard. And yes, you can also acquire different forms of EC at Planned Parenthood and other health centers.
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