When You’re Done With the Baby Making: The Married Women’s Guided Journey Down Birth Control Lane
By: Lisa Donovan
The rhythm method doesn't work. My two children, whom I adore and am pleased are in my world, are living proof of the sinister joke that is the rhythm method.
That being said — I have never been comfortable taking the pill. At first it was a deliberate choice of not wanting my body altered dramatically by chemicals and additional surges of hormones having their way with me. The whole idea just kind of creeped me out. And, I never felt very confident in my ability to take a little pill every single day. I am not that responsible. But, after our daughter came along we decided we needed to do something. Two kids made our family happily complete. And, that aside, I have utter certainty that three kids would send me all the way to crazy land without a ticket back. So, what to do?
Quite coincidentally, as I was starting to talk myself into either getting on the pill or getting a shot — all the women at work started complaining about their birth control. They were all having severe reactions (random period, painful PMS, becoming emotional nut-jobs incapable of keeping it together at all...) and trying to find something milder to take or try. For some reason they asked me what I do for birth control. Me? I'm the only one out of them who has ever been knocked up — er, pregnant. I didn't understand their reasoning so I, in turn, became the researcher, spending lots and lots of time trying to figure out how married women balance a stellar sex life (You heard me — I said stellar. Call me a braggart — I don't care). All my coworkers were tired of the emotional roller coaster and physical maladies that were hyper-prevalent with taking the pill or getting the shot. I was tired of getting pregnant. We needed to find a solution to our common problem.
So, as we have discussed — the Pill (either orally or as an injection) is not the first option. While my husband and I have decided that he will be getting a vasectomy within the next six months, it doesn't do us any good until then. And, my girlfriends don't have kids — but want them someday. So, yes, all of you out there thinking that getting fixed is the solution — I am right there with you. But what to do until that is an option? Here are the five that we have come up with as reasonable options: IUDs, Condoms, Diaphragms, Spermicides, Cervical Caps. Let me kind of sort through them for you.
My best friend has settled on an IUD. It is something my mother recommended to me and it seems like the least troublesome of all the options.
If this picture doesn't sell you on it, I don't know what will.
Basically, your OB/GYN inserts it and, when you want it removed, takes it out. I like the idea of not knowing it is there and not having to be interrupted by fumbling for a condom in the heat of the moment. But, some drawbacks:
- Common side effects: Menstrual changes (common in the first 3 months but likely to lessen after three months:
- Longer and heavier menstrual periods
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- More cramps or pain during periods
- Other uncommon side effects and complications:
- Severe cramps and pains beyond the first 3 to 5 years after insertion
- Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods, possibly contributing to anemia.
- More likely with inert IUDs than with copper or hormone releasing IUDs.
- Other uncommon side effects and complications:
- Severe cramps and pain beyond the first 3 to 5 days after insertion
- Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods, possibly contributing to anemia. More like with inert IUDs than with copper or hormone-releasing IUDs
- Perforation (piercing) of the wall of the uterus (very rare if the IUD is properly inserted). Ummm. Perforation of the uterus wall... Next!
As high school as it is, condoms are still pretty popular amongst the married couple crowd — and we all hate it. It is the lesser of many evils — there are no side effects, it is quick and easy, you don't have to think about it on a daily basis... It is, essentially, everybody's old reliable. But, there are obvious drawbacks. There's the during sex drawbacks — which are many. And then there's the not during sex draw backs. Having them sitting in a drawer for your mother in law to find while she's helping with the laundry. Having to buy them.. Who needs that headache? I believe the last time my husband had to buy them, we were in New Orleans with our children, in a Rite-Aide. They were renovating the store and, as stealthy as he was trying to be, he couldn't find them and had to ask at the counter. I was standing near him (but not so close that I couldn't pretend that I didn't know him) and the woman behind the registered said "oh, honey, we're moving everything around.. hold on a second". I kid you not, she screamed at the top of her lungs to Leroy who was in the back of the store "Le-ROY, where them CONDOMS!! I got some man up here looking for the CONDOMS and he NEEDS them NOW. He NEEDS the CONDOMS Le-ROY! Where ARE THEY?!". I ushered my children, very swiftly, out of the drugstore and left my husband to his moment in the spotlight.
Diaphragms and Cervical Caps
Doesn't the word diaphragm just make you wretch — just a little bit? I think for every reason that condoms are a misery — diaphragms are ten times the misery. I, personally, like the fact that, with condoms, my husband is the one who has to segue from "active" to thinking about birth control. The idea of having to set myself up for sex is disturbing and doesn't win me over. The only difference in the two is that the Cervical Cap is smaller.
They're something that I haven't thought about or tried. The research sounds winning, though. It seems relatively unobtrusive and mildly polite in its presence. There are no side effects and women who are nursing can use without concern to breastmilk. There is no increase in hormone levels and it is completely woman controlled. Similar to the diaphragm in that you have to prepare yourself prior to intercourse, but seem less invasive — literally.
So, what to do with all of this information? I plan on taking it up with my doctor, as should you.