Now that you know all about the different birth control methods–how can you figure out which one is right for you?
Here at Bare Marriage, I try to pick a big topic to tackle every Wednesday each month, and this month has been our birth control month. We’ve talked about all the different birth control methods; the pros and cons of The Pill; how to use the fertility awareness method; even how to make sure birth control is a shared responsibility.
One of the people who has done a lot of research for me on this is Joanna Sawatsky, who works behind the scenes with me on the blog. And I’ve asked her to write the wrap up for the series that sums up our thinking. So here’s Joanna!
I’ve written before on the blog about the fact that I have a Masters in Public Health.
In public health, we talk a lot about risk. I spent so many classes calculating risk of X disease after Y exposure, or discussing risk communication strategies, or trying to explain risks to undergraduate students at the university. And here’s what I learned: life is about managing risk. It’s inevitable.
Birth control is pretty much a big risk management exercise, and we’ve talked about that all month.
We decided to close off with a few final thoughts about how you and your spouse can practically choose the birth control method that’s right for you.
We’ve talked a lot in this series about the risks a couple has to manage in choosing a birth control method – from the risk of an unplanned pregnancy, to the risks of putting hormones into your body, and so on. Also, you’re trying to manage the work inherent in taking birth control. Remembering to take your temperature, chart your cycle, and so on.
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Here’s the truth about birth control: if you are a person who uses it perfectly–which means both correctly and consistently–it will almost certainly work.
So if you’ve chosen condoms, you have to use them every time. Or if you’re doing a fertility awareness method, you have to track your cycle using cervical mucous, basal body temperature, etc. consistently, and then you have to either abstain or use barrier methods during the fertile period.
The question, really, isn’t whether a given birth control method will or won’t work. They all will work in the vast majority of cases, if used correctly.
Instead the question is: are you the kind of person who can use the method you choose correctly?
Okay, fine. But, more basically, how do you figure out whether you are the kind of person who can use a birth control method correctly?
Is your husband ready to take the dip in pleasure inherent in using condoms every time? (And, remember to check out the post that Sheila wrote about how husbands shouldn’t be selfish when it comes to birth control!)
Are you willing to deal with the risks inherent in hormonal birth control? (There’s another post about The Pill to look at!)
If you’re willing to use hormonal birth control, are you a person who can take your medicine at the same time every day? If not, there are certain formulations of the pill you shouldn’t take. If you travel a lot and are frequently on different time zones, or may forget a pill or run out of a prescription and you don’t have a family doctor to refill it (a serious problem for many in Canada) will you be stuck? And if you’re a person who has a lot of vomiting and diarrhea, the pill might not be a good idea, as you may not have adequate opportunity to actually absorb the pill.
Are you willing to chart your cycle using cervical fluid and/or basal body temperature? And are you willing to abstain from sex or use barrier methods during your fertile period? If not, fertility awareness methods or natural family planning might not be the right fit for you. And remember–charting means seriously charting. You do have to keep records in an app, but you can’t just rely on the app’s past data to tell you what to do now. You need to be diligent about it.
Are you willing to deal with effectiveness at preventing pregnancy that’s under 90% with perfect use in a year? If not, pulling out (which isn’t birth control to begin with, technically) or diaphragms aren’t the right fit.
None of these methods of birth control is without work and none is guaranteed to work.
Marriage has many seasons, and some seasons require delaying pregnancy. Even the Catholic church, which is very conservative on contraception, recognizes the necessity of preventing pregnancy in a variety of circumstances. The method you use to prevent pregnancy may change based on the season of marriage you’re in. Many people, for instance, choose an IUD in their late 30s after they’ve had kids and want something that they don’t have to worry about. Others choose vasectomies later. And so it’s really important that you be communicating with your spouse as you move through life together.
If you need to, book a date night to chat through all of the options and the pros and cons of each.
What we’ve tried to do during this series is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about birth control, and to help show you ways to dig deeper, should you be interested in doing so.
God made sex to be AWESOME!
But if you’re wondering what birth control method we’d suggest as the To Love, Honor, and Vacuum team: we really like condoms.
If you can manage to use fertility awareness methods, so much the better (then you don’t have to use condoms all the time!). But condoms come with a really high effectiveness rate, no health risks, zero waiting period to go for a baby if and when it’s time to stop, they are completely reversible, and have no risk of a conceived embryo failing to implant because of a hostile uterine environment. But that method might not be the right one FOR YOU. So read up on all the different birth control methods. Don’t just jump on one without asking: Am I willing to accept the risks? AND Am I the type of person who can consistently use this?
And then YOU make that decision. I hope this series has helped!
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Let me know in the comments: Is there a birth control method that you’ve found hard to stick to and do effectively? Or have you changed your mind during this series? Let’s talk!