These Hacks Will Make Sex Less Stressful

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
We all know how important it is to practice safe sex. After all, in the case of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, it's better to be safe than sorry. In a perfect world, you'd be prepared enough that you wouldn't let a birth control pill slip through the cracks — or get caught up in the heat of the moment, only to discover that you don't have a condom.

But we know that, sometimes, this is easier said than done — after all, according to a recent study from the Urban Institute, many of us are still misinformed about birth control. As the study pointed out, even though most of us know about oral birth control pills and condoms, nearly a third of women reported not knowing much about IUDs and implants.

So we went to Colleen Krajewski, MD, MPH, and medical advisor to Bedsider, for some safe sex hacks to make your life a little easier. First things first: Dr. Krajewski recommends exercising caution and consulting a doctor to decide what methods will work for you.

"No one should do any of this stuff without talking to their doctor," she tells Refinery29. "There’s different medical conditions and [these methods] don’t apply to every person."

With that in mind, click ahead for a few tips on making it a little easier to practice safe sex. Whether you want to be a bit more prepared, or you want to make it easier to remember to take your birth control, we're here to help.
The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
A Reminder App

You may already have an alarm set on your phone, but Dr. Krajewski recommends taking it one step further by getting a reminder app that keeps you on top of your birth control pills.

For some of us, she says, "you can set an alarm on your phone and it’s going to go off every day at 10:30, and that’s going to work for, like, a week." If you're starting to get reminder fatigue, switch it up with Bedsider's Reminders app, which you can set up to send you texts through the day. You can also use myPill, or Spot On, which also tracks your menstrual cycle.
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Chewable Birth Control

This one actually came to us by way of one of Refinery29's own editors. If you've ever found yourself with your birth control pill but without anything to down it with, you know that the struggle is real.

Chewable birth control makes things a little easier by eliminating the middleman: a glass of water. How many times have you put off taking a pill for when you've found some water, only to end up forgetting? Chewable pills like the Minastrin 24 Fe might just be your fix. (But again, talk to your doctor and find out if it's a good fit for you.)
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Use Birth Control To Skip Periods

Dr. Krajewski says that a pretty common method among her patients is using hormonal birth control to skip periods. It sounds dodgy, but it's actually safe to do (though it might not be your thing). And, again, check with your doctor — sensing a theme here?

The way it works: Take your birth control pills as per usual, but skip the placebo pills and start right away on a new pack.

You'll be able to skip your periods, or at least have a little more control over them, which makes it easier to plan for, say, vacation sex.
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Have Plan B On Hand

Plan B doesn't exactly come cheap, but if you're regularly sexually active, you may want to consider having a morning-after pill on hand.

You might not think you need it, but Dr. Krajewski says it'll save you from a panicked trip to the drugstore if the situation does arise — especially since you only have 72 hours to take Plan B, and you never know if you'll run into issues trying to get it from the pharmacy.

"Of course, you don’t think you’re going to need it — it’s like a fire extinguisher," she tells us. "There’s no reason to not have it in the cabinet."
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Be Careful With Fertility Apps

While fertility apps can be great, Dr. Krajewski says that they can also underestimate your fertile days.

That's because, while many of them only tell you your three or four most fertile days, most of us have a lot more than that. She recommends the CycleBeads app for maximum accuracy.
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Stock Up On Condoms

She also recommends storing condoms where you know you're going to be — to a certain extent. If you regularly switch out purses, for example, you might consider having one in each bag, just in case.

However, she says, "The main thing to know is that [condoms] can go bad, and they can be exposed to heat [in your bag]." (Condoms are not supposed to be stored in very hot, cold, or humid conditions.)

"If you put one in every handbag, but you only wear that handbag two times a year, that may not be the best method for you," she says.
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Illustrated by: Anna Sudit.
Time Your Birth Control Habits

"I like to have people take their pills when they brush their teeth in the morning," Dr. Krajewski says. "There’s a lot of things you will forget during the day, and hopefully brushing your teeth first thing in the morning isn’t one of them!"

Her principle probably applies to most of us, but again, you can decide what works best for you. It doesn't have to be while you brush your teeth: It could be while you eat breakfast, or any other routine you know you never miss.

This last tip is one most of us can do, but of course, everyone is different. You'll have to figure out which birth control hacks best fit in with your lifestyle, but we hope we've left you with a few ideas for how to make safe sex a bit easier.
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