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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

This site is under construction. More FAQs are coming soon!

Condoms

How do I put on a condom quickly?

Putting a condom on easily takes a bit of experience. Practising when you’re on your own can help. A boy can practise by putting a condom on himself. A girl can practise by rolling a condom down over a banana. Have you and your partner been together for a while? Then you can practise together too while you’re having sex. Don’t ever try to rush it or turn it into a ‘race’. Take the time to enjoy having sex. 

Is sunscreen a good lubricant?

No, sunscreens can damage condoms. So NEVER use an oil-based product as a lubricant. These "lubricants" may also irritate your vagina or anus. Safe lubricants are water-based or silicone-based; you can buy them at the chemist. There are also special massage gels that you can use for massage as well as sex (from Durex, for example). These contain silicones, so they last longer than water-based gels. 

The condom we used tore/slipped off. What should I do?

Are you using another contraceptive as well, like the Pill or an IUD? In that case, there’s no risk of pregnancy. But you may have caught an STI. Get tested at your doctor’s practice or a Sense clinic. Was the condom the only contraceptive? Or did anything else go wrong too (a woman forgetting to take the pill or vomiting soon after taking it, for example)? In that case, there is a risk of pregnancy. Then it’s best for the woman to get a morning after pill as soon as possible from a chemist or pharmacy. Click 'in the neighbourhood' to see where you can get one. Contact your doctor or Sense to find out what risks you may have taken. 

How do you put on a condom?
  1. Tear open the wrapper. Be careful with sharp nails and don’t use scissors!
  2. Take the tip of the condom between thumb and index finger to squeeze out any air (this is important as it often goes wrong!). Make sure the rolled-up side of the condom is on the outside, otherwise it's inside out.
  3. Place the condom with one hand on the top of the erect penis. Roll the condom down as far as possible over the erect penis with the other hand. Wait until the penis is erect before doing this.
  4. After the man has had an orgasm, hold on to the edge of the condom so it can’t slip off. Then pull the penis out of the vagina.
  5. Tie a knot in the condom and throw it in the bin.
How do I find a condom that fits me?

A standard condom fits most men. If a condom doesn’t fit properly, it has the wrong circumference. If it’s too narrow, it will feel tight. And a condom that's too wide will slip off. To find a condom that fits, use the CAS sizing system. Want to find your ideal condom size (CAS index)? Measure the length and circumference of your penis and find an appropriate condom. You could even try different brands and types of the same size. It’ll give you a chance to discover the most comfortable way to have safe sex.

I don’t dare to buy condoms. What can I do?

You can buy condoms in many different ways, so just find a way which is not so scary. You can buy condoms at the supermarket or chemist. At some of these stores you can just put the condoms in your shopping basket between your other stuff, so that you don't have to ask for them at the checkout. You can also order condoms online or get them from a condom machine in a bar or club. Our 'locator’ shows where condoms are sold in your neighbourhood. Find out all about condoms.

I want to stop using condoms. Can I just do that?

Are you in a relationship? If so, you can stop using condoms as long as you do the following:

You must first make sure that neither of you has an STI. Have you or your partner ever had sex without a condom? Then there is a risk of STIs. Have a free and confidential STI test done somewhere near you.
A female partner is going to use the pill or another method of contraception. This means that you’re still protected against pregnancy.
It must be a monogamous relationship: if you’re still having sex with someone other than your partner, you may still get and pass on an STI.

Do you have sex with casual partners? It’s better to continue using condoms. You never know whether your sex partner has an STI. If you don’t use condoms, you can easily get and pass on an STI. 

Can I use massage oil as a lubricant?

No, massage oil can damage condoms. So, NEVER use oil-based products as a lubricant (so no Vaseline, olive oil or skin cream). What can you use?

  • Water-based lubricants. These are standard lubricants which you can buy at a chemist.
  • Special massage gels which you can safely use for massage and sex (from Durex, for example).
  • Silicone-based lubricants. You can also use these for massages and they last longer than water-based lubricants.
Is it true that sometimes a condom doesn’t fit?

Yes, but fortunately condoms are available in different sizes. This means there’s a condom for everyone. Choose the right size so that your condom isn’t too tight or too loose, so doesn’t tear or slip off. Find more info on larger or smaller condoms.

My condom slips off my penis while I’m having sex. What am I doing wrong?
  • Roll the condom down completely. If you don't, it may start to roll up again during sex and slip off the penis.
  • The condom might be too large. This means that the circumference of the condom is too wide. Choose a condom that’s a bit tighter. For different types see www.Condomerie.nl.
  • And also, hold on to the condom when you withdraw. If you don’t, the condom can just slip off. Especially if the penis is no longer erect.
My condoms keep tearing. What am I doing wrong?
  • You’re leaving air in the tip, causing them to split.
    Always pinch the tip of the condom between your thumb and index finger as you’re unrolling it. People often forget to do that!
  • Your female partner is too dry.
    She is not aroused enough so not well lubricated. Take more time for foreplay.
  • You’re having sex with the same condom for too long.
    Change your condom every 15 minutes, as the friction can weaken it and make it tear. Also make sure that your female partner is still well lubricated.
  • The condom is out of date. 
    Always check the expiry date before use. Is your condom out of date? Throw it away and use a new one!
  • The condom is not an approved brand. 
    Only use condoms with a CE mark. This is a European quality mark.
  • The condom has got too hot.
    Store condoms in a cool place. Don't leave them in your wallet for too long.
  • Your condom is too small.
    A condom is usually not too short, but sometimes it can be too tight. This means that the circumference is too small, making the condom tight and more likely to tear. If you have that problem, buy special condoms with a wider circumference. Read more at www.Condomerie.nl.
  • During anal sex: you’re not using enough lubricant.

And also: never use 2 condoms on top of each other! The friction would tear them really quickly!!

Contraception: NuvaRing

Is it unhealthy to skip the contraceptive-free week?

No, that won’t do any harm. It gives you even more protection, because you’ll be using the pill (or vaginal ring or patch) more days in a row. But remember this: if you regularly skip your contraceptive-free week, you may have some bleeding at other times (breakthrough bleeding). If that’s what’s happening, then have a contraceptive-free week. This will make your period start properly. After you’ve not used your contraceptive for 7 days (fewer if you want), you can start with a new pill, ring or patch.

Contraception: general

What do contraceptives cost?

That depends on your age and health insurance. Check with your insurance company what is and what isn’t covered.

  • If you’re under 21, contraception is included in your basic health insurance and most types are covered.
  • If you’re 21 or over, contraception is only covered by some additional health insurance packages.
  • From the age of 19, you will have to pay the excess. This means that the insurance company will only cover part of the costs and you’ll have to pay the rest yourself.
  • Under the age of 21: the pill costs between 0 and 20 euros per 3 months, depending on the brand. Coils and contraceptive implants are completely covered. For vaginal rings, patches and contraceptive injections you’ll always have to pay something yourself (excess).
  • If you’re 21 or over (depending on your insurance package):  the pill costs between 0 and 20 euros per 3 months, depending on the brand. Coils and contraceptive implants are sometimes completely covered. For vaginal rings, patches and contraceptive injections you’ll always have to pay something yourself (excess).
I don’t want to take the pill. Which other methods are there?

There are many other contraceptive methods apart from the pill. They’re all just as safe. Examples are contraceptive vaginal rings, IUD&IUS coils, contraceptive implants, contraceptive injections and contraceptive patches

Why should I use a contraceptive? (girls)

Because you want to enjoy sex, without getting pregnant. Or do you want to become a mother now? Have you thought about the effect that would have on your life? For most girls, being a young mum is not so easy.

  • You can no longer do what you want, as your child comes first
  • You may well have to stop going to school, if combining school with your child becomes too much for you. Not having any qualifications would then make it difficult for you to find a job and earn money for you and your child
  • You’ll see your friends less often, because you’re so busy
  • Your relationship with your boyfriend will change completely. You used to be just boyfriend and girlfriend, but now you suddenly have to be responsible parents. Teenage mothers often find relationships too hard and they don’t last.

If you use a contraceptive to stop you from getting pregnant when you have sex, then you don’t have to wait and see whether a boyfriend wants to use a condom. This way, you can decide when you want to become pregnant, at a time that suits you: once you’ve finished school, and you’ve got a job, a good relationship and a place to live. Read more about the pill and other contraceptives to see which suits you best.

Are hormones bad for your health (your body)?

Not usually. If you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages, you could say that women who use contraceptives that contain hormones run less health risks than those who don’t.

What does this actually mean? Women who use hormonal contraceptives have a slightly higher risk of thrombosis (especially if they smoke as well) and cervical cancer. But they also have a decreased risk of bowel and ovarian cancer. So hormones protect you as well. Overall, protection is greater than the risk.

What side effects can hormones cause? (and what can you do about them?)

You may experience side effects for the first 3-6 months. They usually disappear by themselves:

  • Tender breasts
  • Nausea
  • Fluid retention (= putting on weight)

It’s no use changing your contraceptive within 3 months. Another type of contraception could cause the same temporary side effects. So just be patient, and don’t just stop! Some side effects may occur after some time. This is mostly with contraceptives containing progestogen:

  • Breakthrough bleeding: bleeding between periods. Can be solved by investigating with your doctor what could have caused it. Your doctor can give you advice.
  • Less interested in sex. Can be solved by switching to another contraceptive.
  • Gloomy feelings and depression. Can be solved by switching to another type of contraception.
  • Headache, often during the contraceptive-free week. Caused by lower hormone levels in that week. One way to solve this is by skipping your contraceptive-free week.
I want to use a different contraceptive. What is a safe way to do that?

It depends on what kind of contraceptive you’ve been using. Ask your doctor or Sense how to do it safely and always use a condom in the first month after you’ve changed, just to be sure.

Is it unhealthy to skip the contraceptive-free week?

No, that won’t do any harm. It gives you even more protection, because you’ll be using the pill (or vaginal ring or patch) more days in a row. But remember this: if you regularly skip your contraceptive-free week, you may have some bleeding at other times (breakthrough bleeding). If that’s what’s happening, then have a contraceptive-free week. This will make your period start properly. After you’ve not used your contraceptive for 7 days (fewer if you want), you can start with a new pill, ring or patch.

Can you still have children when you've used contraception?

Yes, once you stop using contraception you can get pregnant again. It’s only while you're using a contraceptive that you won’t have a child.

My boyfriend says he’ll withdraw his penis before he comes. He says a condom isn’t necessary. Will that stop me getting pregnant?

No, absolutely not. There may be semen in your boyfriend’s pre-cum. And that can enter your vagina before he has an orgasm. And even when men say they’ll withdraw in time, they don’t always manage to actually do it. You’ve tried this and it worked? That was just luck.

Do you want to have sex without getting pregnant? Then use a reliable contraceptive like the pill, vaginal ring or coil. And use condoms to make sure you don’t get any STIs either.

When should I take a morning after pill?

If you’ve had unsafe sex and don’t want to become pregnant, you can take a morning after pill or have an emergency coil fitted within 5 days to prevent pregnancy.

  • You can take a morning after pill within 72 hours (3 days) of having unsafe sex. But the sooner you take it, the better it works. It’s best to take the pill within 24 hours of having unprotected sex.
  • On the 4th or 5th day after unsafe sex, you can take an EllaOne pill or have an emergency coil fitted.
Is fertility awareness a safe way to prevent pregnancy?

No, absolutely not. Fertility awareness means working out which days in a menstrual cycle a woman is unlikely to be fertile, and only having sex on those days. But the menstrual cycle can be different every month. You only know afterwards which days you were infertile, never with certainty in advance. You’ve tried this and it worked? That was just luck. Do you really not want to get pregnant? Then use a reliable contraceptive like the pill, vaginal ring or coil. And use condoms to make sure you don’t get any STIs either.

I would like to use a contraceptive that doesn’t contain hormones. What are my options?

If you want to use a contraceptive that doesn’t contain hormones, there are two reliable options: an IUD (coil containing copper) and condoms. The IUS (hormonal coil) has very few hormones that are only released in the uterus, so that can also be a good option if you want to take as few hormones as possible. Other methods, such as withdrawal before ejaculation or working out when you are less likely to be fertile, are definitely not reliable ways to prevent pregnancy. There’s actually a great risk that you’ll get pregnant, so keep that in mind. Hormones in contraceptives are not harmful. This has been tested extensively. But some women do have more side effects than others.

How old do you have to be to start using contraceptives?

All contraceptive methods are suitable for under the age of 18, except the contraceptive injection, because it  can affect bone growth. That’s why doctors advise young girls to wait until they’re fully grown before having contraceptive injections. The morning after pill and the contraceptive pill, implant, vaginal ring, patch and coil are all fine at that age.

Which contraceptive suits me best?

That depends on your needs and lifestyle. Ask yourself the following questions to make a choice: Do I want a contraceptive with or without hormones? Do I want something I have to take every day? Or a contraceptive that I don’t have to think about very often? Do I still want to have my period while I’m using contraception?

Once you've answered these questions for yourself, find out more information about different types of contraception. Or ask your friends about their experiences. Then discuss your choice with your doctor or with Sense. You’ll need a prescription for most contraceptives. It’s best to try out the contraceptive you’ve chosen for 3 months to see if it suits you.

Contraception: the pill

How does the contraceptive pill work?

Take the pill at the same time every day (except in the pill-free week). Choose a pill that suits you. There are different types of pills. Carefully read the instruction leaflet.

Where can I get the contraceptive pill?

You can get a prescription or repeat prescription for the pill from your doctor or from Sense. With a prescription, you can get it at a pharmacy.

When you take the pill for the first time, can you trust it straight away?

Start taking the pill on the first day of your period. If you do that, it will be reliable from day 1. If you don’t start on that day, use condoms for extra protection. The pill's instruction leaflet will tell you how long you have to do this.

Can I get pregnant in the pill-free week?

That's only possible if you forgot to take a pill in the 3 weeks before the pill-free week.

  • Did you forget to take a pill in the weeks before the pill-free week? Then the pill may not be reliable. In that case you could become pregnant in the pill-free week.
  • Don’t make your pill-free week any longer than the leaflet says. If you do, you could get pregnant. For example: if your pill-free week is 7 days, but you stop taking pills for 8 days and then have sex on the 8th day without a condom, you could get pregnant.
I've forgotten the pill, what should I do?

What you need to do, depends on when you forgot to take the pill. Follow the advice below. Are you worried or just not sure? Contact your doctor or the Sense Infolijn helpline (send an email or call them).

  • When should you have taken the pill? Less than 12 hours ago? Then there’s no problem. You run no risk of pregnancy. Just take the pill now.
  • If you’re more than 12 hours late, there may be a problem. It depends on the pill’s week in the blister strip. It also depends on whether you’ve had unprotected sex (without a condom). 
  • Week 1? Take the pill now. Even if this means that you’re taking 2 pills at the same time. Have sex with a condom for extra protection this week. Important: if you’ve had penetrative vaginal sex without a condom in the last 5 days, then you may be pregnant. To be sure, take the morning after pill, and if you have sex in the next week - use condoms. You can get the morning after pill at a chemist or pharmacy. Look for addresses under Sense in your neighbourhood.
  • Week 2? You’ve only forgotten 1 pill? Then there’s no risk of pregnancy. Take the pill now, and take your next pill at the usual time. 
  • Week 3? You’ve only forgotten 1 pill? Then there’s no risk of pregnancy. You have a choice: have a pill-free week right now, or skip your pill-free week altogether.
What are advantages of the pill?

Hormones can reduce acne, make your cycle more regular, and make your bleeds lighter and less painful. You’ll know when your period is due. You can delay it by skipping your pill-free week

What are disadvantages of the pill?

It's easy to forget the pill. You may experience side effects such as headaches and tender breasts. The pill doesn’t protect you against STIs.  

Is the pill safe if I’m taking antibiotics

Antibiotics can make the pill less reliable. Possibly because antibiotics don’t let the blood absorb the hormones. Check with your pharmacy or doctor.

Does the pill still work after vomiting or diarrhoea?

Always read the pill’s instruction leaflet. Have you vomited or had diarrhoea within 3 hours of taking the pill? Take another pill straight away. Mild diarrhoea usually has no effect on the reliability of the pill. If you have watery diarrhoea, then the pill cannot be fully absorbed. Follow the instructions for 'missed a pill'. Use condoms as extra contraception. 

Does the pill make you fatter?

No, the pill itself doesn’t make you put on weight. You may temporarily retain more fluids, which may cause weight gain for a while. These fluids disappear after 3-6 months. Some pills do increase your appetite, so that you eat more and put on weight. Is the problem continuing after 6 months? Just ask your doctor for a different pill. Pills containing other hormones may not increase your appetite as much.

How old do you have to be to start taking the pill without your parents’ permission?

You must be 16 years old to be able to do that without your parents’ permission.

How long will it take before you’re fertile again after you stop taking the pill?

You could be fertile again immediately, whichever pill you take. Sometimes it takes a little while before your own menstrual cycle starts again. After using the contraceptive injection, it can take up to a year before you become pregnant. Do you not want to get pregnant? Make sure you always use another contraceptive after you stop taking the pill.

Can you take the pill without a pill-free week?

Yes, it is possible. In that case, you’re well protected against pregnancy. You may occasionally have a bleed. That’s called 'spotting'.

I would like to postpone my bleed with the pill. How does that work?

You can postpone your withdrawal bleed by taking the pill for longer than 3 weeks. You are still protected against pregnancy.  

STIs

Is a yeast infection an STI?

No, but it can be really annoying. If you have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, you may have itching, swollen labia and more discharge than usual. These symptoms are caused by an imbalance in pH levels (acidity) in the vagina. 

The imbalance may be the result of: 

  • antibiotics or the pill, 
  • washing the vagina with soap, 
  • leaving a tampon in for too long,
  • some sexual activities, such as fingering.

Consult your doctor or Sense if you often have these symptoms.

I have discharge coming from my penis. My girlfriend doesn’t have any symptoms. Do I have an STI?

You may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) called gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection. It usually causes symptoms in males within a few days. 

Gonorrhoea is easy to treat with antibiotics. This kills the bacteria and you won’t be contagious any longer. It’s important that both you and your girlfriend are checked for STIs. She may have the infection, without having symptoms. Go to your doctor or to Sense for STI testing.

I seem to be having one herpes outbreak after another. It drives me crazy. Is there something I can do about it?

Unfortunately, there’s no medication that removes the herpes virus from your body completely. But medication is available that ensures the outbreaks are shorter and less painful. 

This medication is also prescribed in a lower 'maintenance dose’ as suppressive treatment. In that case, you take the medication every day. Ask your doctor or Sense health worker about this if you have frequent outbreaks. The treatment is usually prescribed for 6 months to a year. During that period, but also afterwards, you should have less outbreaks and symptoms.

I don’t have any symptoms. Can I have an STI anyway?

Yes! Often you don’t even notice that you've got an STI. If you do have unprotected sex sometimes, get tested! That way, you’ll know for sure if you have an STI.

Does an STI test cost money?

It depends where you have your testing done. STI testing done by Sense is free and confidential. If you get tested at your doctor’s practice, you often have to pay some of the cost yourself. A chlamydia test costs around 30 euros. 

Does testing hurt?

Not usually. It depends which STIs you are tested for. You might have a blood test, a urine test and a physical examination. The blood is taken using a needle and during the physical examination your urethra may be looked at. That may hurt a little. But most men who’re being tested only have a urine test. All you have to do for that is give a urine sample. Which, of course, doesn’t hurt. For women, a urine test is a little less reliable than a swab from the vagina that you take yourself. But even that doesn’t hurt. An examination with a speculum is only necessary if you have symptoms. 

What's so bad about STIs?

An STI can be really annoying. The symptoms aren’t nice at all: itching, burning sensations and pain in your abdomen, for example. STIs can also have serious complications. You may become infertile. Most STIs are easy to treat if you do something about them quickly. So have a test. And use condoms when you have sex, so that you don’t get an STI in the first place.

How do you find out whether you have an STI?

By taking an STI test. You can do this free and anonymously somewhere near you. Find out where at help and advice. And remember: often you don’t even notice that you have an STI. But you may have one anyway and pass it on. One of the reasons it’s important to find out early, is that STIs can cause infertility. Get tested if you have unsafe sex!

How do you get an STI?

You get an STI by having unsafe sex - sex without a condom. Or when the condom rips or slides off. Some things you can do safely, others you can’t.

This is always safe:

This is safe if you are careful:

This is never safe:

  • Sexual intercourse without a condom
  • Anal sex without a condom
  • Oral sex when you get semen in your mouth
  • Withdrawal (having sex where the man withdraws his penis from the vagina just before he has an orgasm)
What is an STI?

An STI is a sexually transmitted infection. It used to be called a venereal disease. As the name suggests, an STI is an infection you can get or give when you have sex with someone without using a condomChlamydia, for instance, is an STI, and HIV too.

Where can I be tested for an STI?

Your doctor can test you. Or you can have a test at an STI centre near you.

My ex has chlamydia. I have no symptoms. Should I get a test?

It’s good she’s told you. You are always advised to tell your partner(s) if you have an STI. Even if you don't have any symptoms. That way, you stop the STI spreading any further or it giving other people serious health problems. Make an appointment with your doctor or go to a Sense drop-in session near you.

Should I have an STI test after an unprotected one-night stand?

If you’re under 25, a visit to a municipal health (GGD) or Sense STI centre is free. Do you have casual sex partners? Then you should have an STI test and an HIV test at least every 6 months. Are you a man who has sex with men? Then get a free hepatitis B vaccination. Are you a woman who’s had unsafe sex with a man? Then also take a pregnancy test