Birth control has been an issue since time began. Though we have tons of documented proof that humanity frequently fights the very essence of which that propel us forward, an ounce of prevention does seem to go a long way. Like any battle, picking your weapon not only ensures your personal safety and the safety of your potential offspring. When examining the options for preventing babies, it’s hard to find something which isn’t an inconvenience, isn’t an interference, and doesn’t just plain suck in some way. Between the side effects, serious health complications, and implicated risks, medicine has consistently failed to deliver a form of contraception that is 100% safe, 100% effective, and 100% hassle free. Here’s more with Birth Control: Little Known Facts And Methods Of Madness.
Some people elect to not ever have any kids. Others know when they don’t want any more. That’s when they have a generally quick outpatient procedure known as a vasectomy or tubal ligation. And then generally return to make sure that the pipes don’t work permanently. Painful but sometimes necessary. Kind of like neutering or spaying your pet except its your body. Are you less of a man if you don’t release sperm? Probably not. If couples decide they like their eggs best unfertilized, sterilization is expensive, mostly safe but sometimes risky, and a long term solution to the birth control problem.
Otherwise known as “the pull and pray method,” withdrawal has made thousands, if not millions, of people parents for a good long time. Coituus Interruptus dates way back to at least 2,500 years ago. And we’re all here. Some of us even became parents because of how well this option does not work. What does that say about its effectiveness? It’s well known fact that we’re biologically programmed to reproduce. So, it only follows that the little gametes between man and woman sneak through the “bar” before the “cork flies off of the champagne bottle” (pardon my euphemism.)
3. The Condom
The battle of the sexes has been going on since the big bang which caused us to evolve from our monkey cousins or Adam and Eve did their thing in the garden (depending on what you believe). History shook things up 12,000 to 15,000 years ago when the first male contraceptive rolled on the sword and ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans created a new use for their standard old loincloths. Since that day, the onus of preventing offspring (these folks preferred small families yet lots of sex) shifted a bit from the woman to man somewhat. Minos is created for using a goat’s bladder as a female condom and the rise of Catholicism pushed condom use to the top of the what not do list - right next to sin. Still people got it while they could and used everything from tar and onion juice to sheepskin and eventually latex as a barrier between the sperm and the egg. The good news is today’s condom is effective in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted disease and the propagation of baby mommas, the bad news is things get really mucked up when either person has a latex allergy (the latex free variety doesn’t prevent HIV). Say nothing about that awkward mid-or-post-coital moment that the thing rips, slips, tears, or falls off. And screw the female condom...metaphorically...unless you prefer porking through a sandwich baggie.
4. The Pill
Over fifty years ago, during the birth of the Feminist Movement, the contraceptive pill exploded the sexual marketplace. During 1965, over 6.5 million women in the U.S. were swallowing the combination of estrogens, progesterones, and other manufactured hormones. The pill revolutionized society since it was so great at preventing conception but, as with any revolution, it was at a pretty high cost. The more tolerable side effects like weight gain, loss of libido, mood swings, headaches, increased gynecological infections, and nausea did not (and still don’t) compensate for the bigger side effects. What pill is worth death caused by blood clots, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and certain cancers? And why won’t big medicine make a safer, more effective pill for men?
5. Contraceptive Implant
If a company like Pfizer was sued for over $29.5 million dollars by 3,500-4,000 women over the past 17 years over the now off the market contraceptive formerly known as Norplant, chances are you are certifiable if you are considering (or have) a contraceptive implant. Synthetic progesterones roughly the size of matchsticks implanted in the skin of a woman’s arm prevent pregnancy 98% of the time. Yet they start fires wreaking complete havoc on a girl's system. Norplant's “sister” Implanon (made with etonogestrel) is just as crazy. If things like weight gain, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, acne, pain, depression, rash, painful breasts, scalp hair loss, vaginal discharge, irregular bleeding, facial hair, and headache aren’t off putting enough, keep reading. The contraceptive implant, though it lasts for three years, totally ups the chances of ovarian cysts, high blood pressure, thrombosis, and serious cardiovascular implications. Not. Fun.
6. Depo Provera
If a subcutaneous hormonal injection every 12-14 weeks doesn’t sound like a bad time so that you may have a good time in the sack, Depo Provera is for you. Or not if you consider progestins, like the medroxyprogesterone in Depo, somewhat scary. This medicine is known to not only cause bone loss but also greatly increase the risk of breast, cervical, and epithelial ovarian cancers. But it’s great at preventing pregnancy, ovulation, and the spread of tissue for women with endometriosis. Yech. Toss in the side effects like weight gain, irregular bleeding, nausea, weight gain, hair loss, decrease in breast size, acne, stomach cramps, bloating, headache, fatigue, malaise, irregular periods, changes in sexual interest and abilities, mood swings, and the threat of blood clots, and you might be better off with a shot in the head.
7. The Mirena IUD
Considered more effective than sterilization, the Mirena IUD is a great longer term solution to preventing parenthood. Plus studies have suggested that because the Mirena thickens cervical mucus, it may have a part in preventing the spread of HIV (just remember that’s a risk not worth taking...don’t press your luck) in addition to preventing mini-mes. Part of the deal that physicians and manufacturers don’t mention is that it doesn’t prevent pregnancy every time...in fact at least six out of every 1,000 women hit the jackpot and defy this IUD’s odds by entering motherhood by growing a fetus via a high risk pregnancy with the thing still in place. Plus the bad skin, thinning hair, higher incidence of ovarian cysts, the risk of the device embedding outside of the uterus, and likelihood of a significantly decreased libido darkens the “lets get it on” mood. Most women have to have previous children (or almost previous children) before this device can be placed (which is most generally excruciating). Oh and it can stay in the uterus for up to 5 years if you can stand it.
8. The Paraguard (Copper) IUD
Expulsion, heavy to severe menstrual bleeding and pain, anemia, backache, spotting, cramps, vaginitis, painful sex, and a freakishly weird discharge are all the domain of the uterus with a Paraguard IUD. The copper in this device gives the lining of the uterus a “bath” in copper which causes an inflammatory response and makes the womb room toxic to male sperm. Good news if you don’t want a fertilized egg implanted, want to increase the risk cervical dysplasia, and need a form of birth control which lasts up to 10 years. Bad news if you have any concern about the health risks associated with increased inflammation, cancer, and other stuff.
9. Plan B
We’ve all had an oopsie moment in the heat of passion. Fortunately the makers of birth control invented a not-so-free-comes-with-a-heavy-price-to-pay-for-unprotected-sex “eraser” in the form of Plan B. The wickedness of levonorgestrel is perhaps too much for words but as a last resort, can help prevent pregnancy from continuing when taken immediately following a “slip.” Among the side effects of this nasty emergency contraceptive are side effects like vomiting, extreme breast tenderness, severe nausea, massive headache, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle weakness, menstrual changes, dizziness, and some other temporary but nonetheless terrible symptoms. Plan B is also known to decrease the total amounts of naturally occurring hormones like testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, dihydrotestosterone, and sex hormone binding globulin. Basically, Plan B is really great at making a bad choice worse. Avoid it like the plague.
Abstinence is absolutely, without a doubt 100% effective. Seriously, who voluntarily chooses not to get it on? If you could, you would. Go get some. Preferably from someone you’re madly in love with. Or even just like. You’ll feel better. Trust me. I’ve lived through 10 months of celibacy twice.