Monday, 27 June 2011

Return of the ranty Feminist: Know your Birth Control Facts

This pissed me off. I usually love Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross, but this pissed me off.

Neither of them claim to be experts BUT a lot of people look to them for advice because they talk about things that nobody else will, such as in this case birth control.
I cannot describe how disappointed I was to find them telling people myths and scare stories that were designed to scare people with vaginas (I say people with vaginas because we aren't all women) out of using birth control.

First and foremost, which or even if you use birth control is YOUR personal decision to make, you need to find out the facts and then decide what is best for your situation because what suits one person doesn't suit another.
I'm not an expert either so I'd always recommend you go talk things over with your doctor (or nurse depending on who deals with reproductive health in your country), but I know enough from the time I spent volunteering for my local sexual health services (I used to mystery shop family planning clinics to make sure they were doing their jobs properly, it was actually really fun :) ) that IUDs don't cause spontainious misscarriges.

As far as I'm aware (as in there might have been some newer developments since I stopped volunteering), contraception comes in the following types:

Male and female condoms
"The pill"
The implant (Implanon)
Contraceptive patches
Diaphragms and caps
"The ring"

The safest form of contraception and the only one that is 100% likely to work is just not to have sex at all, and that works for some people, but for some of us it just isn't that practical, and unfortunately sometimes it can also be taken out of our hands.

Probably the most common for of contraception is the male version of the condom. In the UK you can get these free from your Family Planning Clinic, GUM clinic and sometimes from your GP, if you're under 25 your GP will pretty much THROW THEM AT YOU whenever you go in for a check up (seriously I went in with earache once and left with a purple baggie of condoms and a chlamydia test), your local area may also do a similar scheme to the "C-Card" scheme that runs in mine, where if you apply for a card you can get free condoms in various places (sometimes including Student Unions and Libraries), which is handy if you're caught short and happen to be passing a Library at the time.

Female condoms (sometimes referred to as Femidoms), are not so widely available. Personally I'm not fond of them because I think they look and feel like a plastic shopping bag, but as I said this is my personal feeling and obviously they work fine for some people, so if you've not tried them, give them a go and see what you think.

I put the pill in quotes because there isn't just one pill, there are several different versions, with different combinations of hormones in, so if you find one isn't working out for you (for example you lost your libido, you've suddenly turned into the mood swingyest person on earth or you just keep forgetting to start taking your pills again after the week you stop), ask your doctor to switch you to a different one.
Initially I used a pill as my form of birth control (I actually used it before that to help regulate my very heavy periods that would often happen out of the blue), the first one I tried made me angry and weepy all the time, the second one I kept forgetting to take after the week off and the third one was the best of the three, didn't alter my moods plus it had three weeks of real pills then one week of placebos to help me remember to take them.
There is no proven link between the pill and cancer.

Implants (Implanon), are plastic tubes that go under the skin of the arm.
I'm not really sure how they work, but they last around three years, and this is why I eventually decided while I was a student that this would be the best option for me. When I became a student I had so much stress in my life and remembering to take my pills at the right time combined with having sex with a guy for the first time was just added stress, so I decided that something that could take part of that worry away for three years was just what I needed at the time.

My mother uses the injections, personally I can't see myself ever using this one because I have a fear of needles, but depending on which injection you get it can last 8-12 weeks.

The patch is similar to the pill in that you get a new one once per week and then have a week without a patch.
The effects of the patch last seven days.
It can be a little hard to use in that sometimes it can fall off before it's supposed to.

Diaphragms and caps seem stupidly complicated to me and again I can't see myself ever using them, but if you think they're right for you talk it over with your doctor.
Diaphragms and caps are made of latex or silicone and cover your cervix to prevent sperm getting past, to actually be effective you have to use them with a spermicide which can heighten your risk of UTIs, unless you use them in conjunction with condoms they cannot be used to prevent STDs. You have to leave a diaphragm or cap in for at least six hours after having sex but unless you take them out after a certain amount of time ( I'm not sure how much time, ask a dr) there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Because they don't protect against STDs and you have to leave them in for six hour they are NOT recommended if you're having group sex.
Diaphragms and caps are 92-96% effective and in the UK they aren't really "pushed" as much as other birth control because they are less effective than other kind of birth control (I assume this is why Planned Parenthood aren't "pushing" them either), and so are of little interest to most people unless they dislike other forms of birth control or can't use other forms of birth control (a lot of the pills and things aren't recommended for people with heart condiditions or depression)

An IUD causes the lining of the uterus to change so that a fertilised egg can't attach (this is similar to how the morning after pill works).
For some people the copper in the IUD can cause them to have heavier periods, this is not a miscarige.
 If you are using an IUD and suspect you might be pregnant you need to URGENTLY see a Dr as there's a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. Pregnancies occurring whilst using an IUD are pretty rare though.
IUDs are 98-99% effective but cannot be used to prevent STDs and can last 5-10 years

IUSs are similar to IUDs but contain hormonal birth control rather than copper.
I'm very much considering this next as it can also last 5 years.
This also alters the lining of the uterus to stop eggs attaching, but in some women it can also stop them releasing eggs in the first place. This is a little to extreme for some people, but for me I like the idea.
in general it tends to make periods lighter.

As for the other things in the video.The withdrawl method? Seriously? People still do that?
I suppose it has it's uses if you're not planning on having a baby but if one came along by accident then you'd be ok with it because otherwise you're pretty certain to have it fail on you because even if your guy has the best come control in the world, that isn't going to stop the fact that sometimes fertile sperm are in precum.
Excuse me while I head desk.

Yaz has been around in the UK for a good few years now (I have a Yaz purse from when I used to volenteer so at least five years), and I've not heard anything about it killing people, sure there's a risk of allergy with every type of pill but I doubt it's randomly killing Canadians.
Also it doesn't cut most people's period down, it works like all of the other pills.

So I hope this helps somewhat and like I said if you're considering your birth control options visit a health proffesional for up to date advice.

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