Managing our choices

Sarah pointed out in her comment on my last post Letter to a daughter

One thing I have noticed is that children come when they are ready, not when we plan them.

I for one try to have as much choice over this as possible, well the planning aspect of not having them anyway. Yes, I want to talk about contraception and being green. The aspect of frugality in the UK isn’t really an issue as you can pretty much get free contraception, with the exception of condoms (and even then you can get them free if you fall into certain categories). This post is only related to hetrosexual intercourse and is primarily concerned about pregnancy, as opposed to safe sex for all relationships, so sorry to exclude any of my LGBTQI readers.

So, firstly I would like to have a small feminist rant…I am utterly convinced that if it were men who were the ones who had to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth; and the world works as it does now, ie a primarily patriarchal society, then there would be a much better range of choice and options available for contraception. As it is I personally have issues with all of the options available to us.

I am a big fan of safe sex, having always practiced it and I have always been known as the person who gently ribs (ha ha, get it, condom joke!), her friends about the importance of it. This stems from always being hyper paranoid about falling pregnant (its only recently that I have even vaguely contemplated the possibility of wanting to have children) and at a formative age  AID/HIV was being positioned as a potential epidemic and we were all going to DIE if we even thought about having sex.

Let’s look at our options one by one, but first I would like to point out that I am not in any way, shape or form an expert on this subject and, in fact, that is rather my point – it’s quite difficult to find out about our options. These are my opinions and I am not passing judgement on other people’s choices.

Condoms – well the packaging and little bits of rubber are not exactly environmentally friendly, they can be expensive (depending on the quantity of your sex life!), they do not rate very highly on the reliability scale (I can give you at least 3 personal stories of condoms failing during sex for one reason or another), and let’s face it they really can ruin the moment.

However, I think condoms do have their place, especially when you are not in a committed, monogamous (or closed polyamorous) relationship, or if you are using them for STD protection, rather than, or as well as pregnancy prevention.

The cap – again, not wonderfully environmentally friendly and a real passion killer. It also sounds horribly fiddly to me and I am inherently quite lazy, I can also imagine it being awkward having to dash out and squirt some spermicide up there.

The pill – having been on a few of them in the past and having allsorts of horrible side effects I don’t want to go back to them. Also, having worked so hard to eliminate chemicals in other ares of my life why would I go back to swallowing them? I also found that they were an extremely effective contraceptive in that they all killed my libido, which, quite frankly I didn’t like.

The injection – see above

The Myrene coil – this is a coil which has hormones in it – see pill.

The copper coil – this has been the option I have chosen to take – it is just the one item, although they need to use a whole set of (scary-looking) medical equipment when a coil is inserted and it just gets thrown away at the end. I did ask the doctor why this was and she explained that it’s because CJD cannot be sterilised off of equipment. I found this somewhat frightening to be honest, but I had other things on my mind which meant I wasn’t really focused on following this up with her.

The downsides – the PAIN! I realise it will not compare to childbirth, but still, it was the most painful thing in my life and I have split my head open, dislocated my hips several times and had a horse land on top of me in a jumping accident. There is also the fact that it quite often feels like I have quite severe period pain in the middle of a cycle. I had to see two doctors before I found one who was willing to put it in for me, this is because I haven’t had a child, so it may not be the easiest to access for anyone who isn’t prepared to spend hours researching it on the internet and feel confident putting their case forward with a doctor.

The pros – I don’t have to really think about contraception for 5 years (well, 3.5 now). Always a bonus! And if I do change my mind and want to start trying for a family I can just have it taken out.

The morning after pill – I don’t consider this an option for regular use, although after said condom failures it has been great. But as for those who think women actually chose to use this for a regular contraception – you have no idea as to how much it screws up your body and makes you ill.

Abortion – For anyone who argues this is used by women as a regular contraception (oh and there are some)………I will not even dignify this with a response.

So, there you go, Jen’s ranty guide to our appalling options on pregnancy contraception. I realise of course that I write this from the very priviledged position of having options available to me, which not all women in the world do have. But I feel we deserve better options. I hope you are all still with me and have some thoughts on this – what do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Managing our choices

  1. EcoYogini says:

    contraception is a strange part of my eco-life right now. I have tried every single type of ‘pill’ out there (seriously) and was having issues with all, even though I spent the appropriate 6 months on each first. The gynecologist informed me that after long term oral contraceptives that often women’s cervix lining will degrade. WTF? sigh. So my options were to go off the pill, or get an IUD (your copper coil). It was 500$ for an IUD here in Canada and I knew it would be painful. And I am a baby when it comes to pain. so I went off the pill.

    We use condoms, not eco-friendly at all. sigh. but now I don’t have any synthetic hormones in my system (which the IUD does still produce hormones). However, my acne has gotten worse, my PMS and cramping is worse…. sometimes I wonder why I stopped taking the pill (oh right- estrogen pee into our drinking water-eww!).

    Another option I have heard a LOT about is the rhythm method- not the silly ‘counting days’ one, but the ‘I test my temperature and map out my ovulation stages daily to create an accurate chart on when I am ovulating and when I am not’ method. I know that I would probably forget one day and get pregnant though…. so not really for me.

    I agree with you- if men carried the pregnancy we would have a completely different system in place.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I was worrying about putting this post out there!

    My understanding is the copper coil doesnt give out any hormones (unlike the mirena coil, which does) and when I told my doctor thats why I wanted it instead of the other one she didnt disagree with me.

    I cant believe you have to pay $500 for a coil though. That would so be different it if were men who got pregnant, how is that fair?

    The rhythm method would so not work for me, I am hyper hyper paranoid about being pregnant and I would work myself up into a frenzy about it and would spend all of my time calculating and recounting. It is so not going to work for me!

  3. Eilleen says:

    What a fantastic post! Thank you!!!

    Well, there is also abstinence. Yes, I know its not a realistic option for many but its still an option.

    I have also tried the rythmn method with quite a bit of success and after I got the hang of it, its actually amazing how “routine” my body is! I am also the type who isn’t grossed out by studying mucus changes (hey its natural!). I found that mucus changes was the best indicator for me (and a change in mucus also meant change in body temp -whereas sometimes, my body temp would change but mucus would not.

    Yes, some things can disrupt that routine but I now am more aware of when my body’s natural rythmn has been disrupted and used condoms or abstinece then.

  4. Leanne NZ says:

    Have you heard of the billings method
    another option.

    Love Leanne

  5. Both Eilleen and Leanne have mentioned what I think is the same method.

    you are right, this is a very eco friendly method of contraception. But for me, I am so paranoid about getting pregnant I would get ultra stressed by it all!

  6. Sarah Head says:

    You might want to research the use of wild carrot seed (Queen Anne’s Lace) as well. Robin Rose Bennett is doing some serious research about its use. On a personal note, We used condoms for about twenty years and never had a problem. I was on the pill for about 5 years or so, then got put on the mini pill after my first son was born but decided to go chemical free soon after that.

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