The Easiest Ways To Avoid An Unwanted Pregnancy, According To An Expert

Whether you’re simply not ready to have a baby at the moment, or you know for a fact that being a mom isn’t something you want in your future, sometimes, things happen. Unfortunately, no form of birth control is 100 percent effective, so unless you’re staying totally celibate, unwanted pregnancies are a reality. It’s a slippery slope to navigate when you're sexually active, but the good news is there are a handful of pregnancy prevention hacks you can familiarize yourself with in order to reduce your chances of having a bun in the oven before you’re actually prepared to do so.

Obviously your first line of defense against an unwanted pregnancy is going to be birth control, but keep in mind that you do have options beyond oral contraception. I know myself, and when I was taking birth control, I must have went through about four or five different kinds before I found one that was right for me. Talk with your OBGYN to figure out which method of birth control is right for both your lifestyle and, perhaps most importantly, your body. It may take some trial and error, but do your research, ask questions, and eventually you’ll find your match.

According to Elina Berglund, chief technology officer and co-founder of the digital birth control app, Natural Cycles, of the sexually active women who choose not to use any form of birth control or take preventative measures, roughly 85 percent will become pregnant within the year. “This is why it is so important to, when it comes to birth control, increase choice, such that each woman finds something that suits her,” Berglund tells Elite Daily. “The risk is otherwise that she will not keep using it and then there is a high pregnancy risk.”

But here's something you don't hear too often: Birth control is only one component of preventing an unwanted pregnancy. In addition to finding a BC method that works for you, here are a few pregnancy prevention hacks from experts in the space that might help to lower your risk of becoming pregnant before you're ready.

If You Know You're Ovulating, Avoid Vaginal Sex

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that, the more sex you have, the more likely your odds are of getting pregnant, but it is a factor to consider nonetheless — especially during the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle, aka when your body is most fertile.

But let's say you aren't really up to speed on what the four phases of your menstrual cycle are, or when they happen. If I'm describing you, here's a quickie breakdown to help you out: Your menstrual cycle begins each month on the first day of your period, pharmacist and wellness expert Dr. Lindsey Elmore tells Elite Daily. Approximately 14 days later, she says, ovulation begins.

Ovulation is the time of the month when your body is most fertile, and best equipped to sustain a pregnancy. Elmore suggests looking at these days in your cycle as an opportunity to experiment in the bedroom with your partner with things like oral sex, anal sex, or masturbation. That way, you're still free to explore your sexuality without such a high risk of pregnancy.

Document Every Little Thing About Your Menstrual Cycle

I'm a fan of making lists and taking notes, myself, but according to Elmore, even if you aren't typically the most organized individual, it's definitely a skill worth fine-tuning when it comes to keeping track of all things birth control-related in order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

"Some birth control methods are easy to forget. When did I put that ring in? How long have I been wearing that patch?" she explains. "Be sure to keep a calendar of when you started birth control and when it is time to replace."

And, if you aren't using a birth control method that you have to take at the same time every day, or you're using something like an IUD that's already in your body, then you might want to consider tracking your cycle via pen and paper, or through an app like Natural Cycles, which collects data based on your unique body. This type of technology can alert you on days when your fertility is high (these are considered "red" days) as a reminder to use birth control.

Know How To Use A Product For Optimal Efficiency

Again, it's really important that you do extensive research on all the products out there that are intended to help prevent pregnancy because, as beneficial as it is to know your options, it's even more helpful to know how to use them properly.

For example, Elmore tells Elite Daily that, while a lot of people might wait until the end of sex to apply spermicides (a gel used to kill sperm), these products are most effective when applied before sex. "Same thing with diaphragms and sponges," Elmore adds. "They only work when they are in place before the initiation of sex."

If you're unsure how to use either a product or birth control method the way it was intended to be used, or in a way that's most effective, don't hesitate to call your OBGYN. After all, that's what they're there for.

Be Careful When It Comes To Mixing Intimacy And Alcohol

Alcohol works in some mysterious ways. One minute you're sipping on a glass of merlot, feeling all warm and fuzzy, and the next, you and your partner are getting all kinds of romantic.

These moments can be silly and wonderful, but they can also take a turn for the irresponsible if you forget to take your birth control, or have unprotected sex. I'm not saying not to drink, or not drink and have sex, but Elmore highly suggests that you be more mindful of both in these types of situations to guarantee your ability to make smart decisions.

Make A Game Plan With Your Partner

I cannot stress enough how important it is for both partners in a sexual relationship to be on the same page because, unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, you really can't rely on anyone but yourself to come prepared.

However, if this is someone you are in a relationship with, or have sex with on a regular basis, director of health education at Cycle Technologies and the creator of the Dot App, Ann Mullen, suggests having a conversation about what birth control method you'll be using. That way, both of you know the game plan before moving into the bedroom.

"It may sound unromantic, but planning ahead is a good idea," Mullen tells Elite Daily over email. "If you both know what the method is going to be, then your expectations are in line with each other, which contributes to lowering the risk of unplanned pregnancy."