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Release your superpower – just like our birthday boy, Superman!

Posted on: February 25, 2020

Superman is the biggest-selling comic superhero of all time.[1] But how did he get to be so famous? Many Superman fans worship his superpowers and love to imagine what it would be like if they could fly or had superhuman abilities like laser eyes. But you – yes, you! – have more in common with Superman than you might think.
It’s all a matter of perspective! You have the superpowers of self-determination plus a sense of responsibility for yourself and others. And just like Clark Kent, who needs his Superman outfit and cape to slip into his superhero role and unlock his powers, you have supertools available to you that are designed to help you master the challenges facing you. Let’s take a look at these tools, which will guide you safely through the trickiest and riskiest situations.

Release your superpower – just like our birthday boy, Superman!

Contraception methods – what’s the difference?
You’re probably familiar with more than one method. But we bet there’s still a lot of new options out there waiting for you to be discovered. Did you know there are short-acting and long-acting contraceptive methods? As the names imply, they take effect over different periods of time. Their forms range from daily used methods, like the pill, to intrauterine devices (IUD) that can stay in place for up to ten years. If you’d like to find out which contraception method is right for you, check our questionnaire tool: Which contraception is right for me?

But today’s talk is about short acting contraceptives. We’ll give you a short introduction of each method so that you can make an informed decision about which one(s) you’re going to use every time you have sex. To discover all contraceptive methods and related common asked question, visit our FAQs. Let’s have a look at your superpowers of self-determination right here, right now.

How short is short?
All methods of this contraceptive category require you to think about using or taking them regularly or each time you have sex. The biggest advantage of short-acting contraceptives is that you can choose a method with an interval that fits you best: from single use, daily intake, to up to 3 monthly application. The (super-)toolkit of short- acting contraceptives offers a wide variety of hormone-based and barrier methods, all of which help to kick-start your superpower of self-determination: “Up, Up and Away!”[2]

Super Strength level – Hormonal methods
The Pill is probably the most widespread of the hormone-based contraceptive methods. This little tablet of hormones must be taken at the same time on a daily basis. It has several clear benefits: effectiveness rate of 91%, it’s available everywhere and easy to use.

An alternative to the Pill is the contraceptive injection, a subcutaneous hormone injection that you can get every one to three months from your local health provider. It has an average effectiveness rate of 94% – and you don’t even need to remember to take it every day. But perhaps you fear needle and need a different solution. How about a contraceptive patch? This little stick-on patch releases hormones that enter the bloodstream through your skin, where they stop ovaries from releasing eggs. Its effectiveness rate is 91%.

And there’s still one more to go: the contraceptive ring. It’s a small but functional elastic band. Once inserted into the vagina, it releases hormones into your body and stops the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from getting to the eggs. Efficacy: also 91%. You can leave it in place for 3 weeks, then remove it, take a week off and pop another one in.

Weapon Master level - Barrier methods
The most familiar barrier method is certainly the male condom, a latex sheath that goes over the penis during sex and immediately captures sperm as it is released. Its counterpart – less familiar, but still worth mentioning – is the female condom. There are quite a few differences between the two. For example: the female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before having sex, the male condom has the effectiveness rate of 82% and the female condom 79%. Also important to know: the superpower of male and the female condoms is that they are the only methods offering protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) AND preventing pregnancy.

But if latex isn’t your bag (see what we did there?), there are good alternatives. You might already know about the diaphragm, a little rubber dome that is placed over the cervix – the entrance to the uterus – and repels the sperm just before they can reach their goal. A diaphragm can provide protection for up to 24 hours and is about 88% effective; you can insert it well beforehand, so there’s no need to interrupt the proceedings just as you’re getting going.

Did you know that there is a contraceptive add on, that makes an impact when added to a diaphragm? It’s called spermicides (72% effective). The spermicides are like kryptonite for sperm, draining their strength and preventing most of them from reaching the egg. They come in different forms: pastes, foams or films. You can apply the spermicides between 5 and 90 minutes before having sex. And then there’s the sponge. No, not that guy with the square pants and the goofy grin! This is a small disk of spongy material that works in the same way as the other barrier methods, the diaphragm and cervical cap (84% effective). A sponge can be left in for up to 30 hours and has an average effectiveness rate of 76%.

Now you’ve become a master: make your choice
Altogether, there are 9 short-acting methods and a special add on to support your contraception superpower.[3] But how can you find out which one will become your personal superweapon? Simple: just choose the method that fits best to your lifestyle and your habits. You can try out various options to see what you like best and of course talk to a healthcare provider of your trust.

Remember: only you have the power to influence your future. Self-determined family planning starts with your decision. This isn’t just about contraception, this is about you taking charge of your own life in an adult and responsible way, so be proud of yourself. And don’t forget that superheroes are never completely alone; they always have a sidekick or partner, who can help them choosing their superweapon.


A coalition of international partners with an interest in sexual and reproductive health