Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sometimes It's Hard To Be A Woman

By its nature, blogging makes the personal less so. I am well aware that on any given day, at least 100 people are looking at this blog. Mostly, I know who you are

(Which is kind of funny considering there are a couple of people I know IRL who I actively dislike who log on here at least twice a day. And believe me, if I dislike you, you know. I am not one of those people who bothers pretending I like you just to "make nice" So, why do they keep reading? Shoo! Be gone! Your presence is making me consider going private.)

But I digress.

This is not my main point of the day. My point, which you can plainly see, is birth control. Duh. Was I the only one who got that from the above paragraphs?

The thing is, I can't talk about something so personal without explaining why I would talk about something so personal on the internet when I usually try to keep the truly personal off this blog. Here's why: sisterhood. Our choices are limited, ladies. And we need to talk about them more and compare notes.

Since going off the pill in 2006 and getting pregnant within a month, I have had the sneaking suspicion that the birth control was super fly effective. How else can you explain no pregnancy for the 10 years I was on it and then BANG, pregnancy right out of the gate? It is a potent little thing that tiny friend. Granted, I was also really good about the pill--same time every night, never forgot one. I love my routines and the pill suited me.

Until it didn't.

The problem with the pill as I got older (I was 28 when I went off it, so hardly old man river, but still) is that I was no longer comfortable messing with my hormones. My mother died of breast cancer and while studies are contradictory as to whether the pill raises the risk of cancer, I am still not 100% comfortable with it, even if it is 100% effective--or something very close to that.

The problem with that is that there are few options for women who are sexually active but not planning to have a baby. Here are a few:

1.) Diaphragm: Barrier method, messy. Good for people who don't like spontaneous sex and who really enjoy putting messy goop into themselves prior to a sexual encounter. Nothing kills the mood like a slimy cup that is only 75% effective anyway.

2.) Cervical Cap: See above

3.) Condoms: Great if you are having one-night-stands, but less great if you are monogamous and married and do not like smelling like latex for eight months. Note: This is the ONLY birth control available for men short of a vasectomy, which is why so many men fork over 1/4 of their paychecks in child support.

4.) The Sponge: Doesn't work. Period. Believe me. I know.

5.) The Pill: A fabulous little pill that must be taken nightly, but tends to clear up your skin and make you gain 10 pounds (depending on the brand). Still our best bet, though.

There are many others: injections, patches (do they make these anymore), female condoms, etc. But I am not familiar enough with them to mock them. So I am sticking with what I know. And that is this: they all pretty much suck. The best possible method? Abstinence. Hear that Sam and Alan?

I tried the whole abstaining thing for most of my life until I was married and I woudl probably still be doing it now if I did not have a pesky husband who is less thrilled with that method than I. So, I am seeking a method that does not affect my hormones, but also, you know, like works. I want no side effects and I want to be able to have a baby as soon as it is removed. Like Huey Lewis before me, "I want a new drug."

We discussed a vasectomy, which is the plan once we are through with children, but neither of us are ready to close that door yet and since we are pretty sure that babies are made in our house just by saying the word pregnant twice in one hour and turning around twice, we are looking for something good.

And so I found the Paragard. After Sam, I considered one, but was scared away by the whole Dalkon Shield
mess of our mother's generation. The shield was an IUD that caused a lot of women to become infertile so for years doctors would not give IUDs to childless women. After Sam I was nervous about that. This time? Not so much. I am not even 100% sure I want another baby, so the 99.9% effectiveness combined with the zero hormones and the sterility lasting 10 years is pretty appealing. And so I have made my decision.

If anyone has experience with this method, please feel free to share. I think we need to talk about these things more, get them out in the open. Yes, it is personal and a little strange, but it is also our health and our bodies we are talking about and we deserve to be able to make the best choices possible regarding our few reproductive options.


Kristi said...

I don't have any experiences to share, and after my c-section and tubal, I won't have a need for birth control anymore (as if I needed it before-ha!), but you're right. Women do need to talk about this more, especially given how many unwanted pregnancies result from women not worrying enough about birth control.

AJ, Shauna, Keegan and Camden said...

So this is my first time commenting, although I've been reading your column for quite some time (my oldest son is the exact same age as Sam...same birthdate and everything). I digress, however. For what it's worth, I used the Paragard between babies one and two. I've never done well with hormonal birth control and I absolutely LOVED (I mean seriously LOVED!!!) the Paragard. Once my doctor inserted it, I never thought about it again. There wasn't a pill to worry about taking daily, I couldn't tell it was there, my husband didn't notice it, there were no hormones screwing with me and my emotions and when we were ready to have baby #2 it was removed very easily and I got pregnant very quickly afterward(hence, it's definitely 99.9% effective). I'm about to have my 6-week postpartum visit and I'm all for getting another one inserted. It's been the best form of birth control that I've used so far, and I've tried them all...the patch, the pill and now this.

Stephanie said...

No personal experience with Paragard, but I can tell you the topic has recently become quite popular in my circle among those who are looking for the between children birth control option. I'm sure I could dig up some clinical info somewhere if you want it...

me. said...

One of my good friends has the paragard and LOVES it! She says she would recommend it to anyone.

Mimi37 said...

I have the Mirena, which is the IUD that does have hormones (the Paragard doesn't). And I love it. Love it love it love it love it love it love it. I love that the hormones are delivered directly rather than systemically (though that means it doesn't help my skin; on the upside it doesn't make me gain those 5-10 pounds the pill did). I love that I don't have to think about it, ever. I love that I can have it out in a quick office visit and then be all nice and fertile again right away. I love that my periods are now lighter (I hear that doesn't apply with the Paragard, but I'm not sure.)

Love it. LOVE IT. I tell all my friends. YAY FOR IUDs!