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Effective Birth Control: "It's Better To Have It And Not Need It Then Need It And Not Have It"

Feb 1, 2008
A subject very near and dear to my heart is the subject of birth control in all its forms. Condoms are the oldest form of effective birth control (second only to abstinence of course), but of course there are many others, most of them for women. This seems to be a source of tension between the sexes as I have met many women who are displeased with the fact that most birth control methods place the responsibility on them. To this I say: what's your point? I'll admit it's unfair, but there's not much else we have to work with at the present time. We've been hearing talk of a male birth control pill for many years and it still isn't here so we have to do the best with what we have. And hey, if and when that male pill comes out I'll be first in line to get that sucker.

The responsibility, however, is shared by all of us to some degree. As a man I feel it is my responsibility to wear a condom to prevent both pregnancy and the transmission/contraction of disease. As a woman your job is to make sure the man is wearing a condom for the aforementioned reasons, or to be taking some type of birth control measures yourself. Quite honestly, in this day and age there is really no reason why there should be any unwanted pregnancy. Birth control methods are proven and tested for both sexes, they are readily available, and for the most part very affordable. At this point I can not stress enough that "pulling out" is about as effective at preventing pregnancy as driving with your eyes closed is at preventing an accident. Also, forget all the little stories and rumors you've been told or hear around the gymnasium: If you have sex unprotected you will eventually get pregnant. Here's some "tales" I have heard in my life:

Rumor: If a woman is on top she cannot get pregnant
Verdict: FALSE

Rumor: If it is a woman's first time she cannot get pregnant
Verdict: FALSE

Rumor: If a woman is on her period she cannot get pregnant
Verdict: FALSE

Rumor: A woman cannot get pregnant from pre cum (the fluid that comes out of the penis prior to ejaculation)
Verdict: FALSE

Rumor: Mountain Dew lowers your sperm count
Verdict: Seriously, do people still think this one? FALSE Rumor: Having unprotected sex for a long time (multiple sessions) reduces the risk of pregnancy/means you cannot get pregnant Verdict: Nothing can be further from the truth. Unless you have been told by a doctor that you cannot get pregnant: you WILL get pregnant. Having unprotected sex for a year with your boyfriend and not getting pregnant doesn't mean anything other then you've been lucky and haven't gotten pregnant YET.

In addition to these I should stress that 9 times out of 10 when a guy insists on not wearing a condom because he claims that he's sterile he's lying. And double that if he's under 25. He just doesn't want to wear the condom. Girls please do not be fooled by this. Your average 16 year old guy is very stupid and very hormonally driven. Try to imagine a realistic reason why a 16 year old guy would A. Be sterile, and more importantly B. Have ever had a reason to have that checked out in the first place. Men ( and typically women as well) only figure out they're sterile when they're having a difficult time trying to conceive and seek out a fertility specialist who will then run tests to determine fertility/sterility. (1)

One form of birth control that I feel gets very little attention is emergency contraception, often called "the morning after pill." This pill, (and there are a few different kinds), works by preventing ovulation so that fertilization never occurs. It is NOT an "abortion pill," although there are types of emergency contraception that are essentially just that. If you're opposed to that - make sure you get the right one.

Having the morning after pill around "just in case" is like having jumper cables in your car. You may never need to use them but if you're ever stuck without it you'd wish like hell you had them. In my personal opinion the morning after pill should be kept in your medicine cabinet just the same way you'd keep jumper cables in the car or a fire extinguisher in the closet. Better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. If. Check with your doctor for proper storage techniques and effective life span of the pill.

Other methods of female birth control available include: "The Pill," which can be any number of pills typically taken once a day, Depo shots (typically taken once every few months), IUD's, the patch, etc.. there are more and more all the time that you hear about. Perhaps it is simply easier to develop birth control methods for women as opposed to men. Not being a doctor I cannot say for sure.

I've spent enough time talking to the ladies, now it's time for me to dig into the men for a sec. Guys: Keep a condom handy. Don't be an idiot and keep it in your wallet, the condom can and will (often) overheat thereby decreasing its effectiveness and making it more prone to breaking. Guys: Do NOT be a jackass and refuse to wear a condom because "it doesn't feel good." First off I never understood that argument. I've worn plenty of condoms in my lifetime and have never found a condom to feel bad. Of course sensitivity is decreased but in my experience it's never been decreased by much and never enough to make me want to roll the dice and take a chance without wearing one.

And trust me guys, if you think a condom is uncomfortable that's nothing compared to the discomfort you'll experience when you realize you just got someone pregnant, or the discomfort your bank account will experience when your earnings are garnished for child support for the next 18 years because you were worried about having 10% more sensation in your penis. Doesn't sound so great when you say it out loud like that, does it? Roll it down over the head of the penis and down the base of the shaft. Always hold it securely when pulling out to prevent "slipping out" of it and spilling. Yes there is a risk of pregnancy even then. Oh, and condoms are like eggs: they have an expiration date. Don't push it!

So in short, my friends, Birth Control = Good. I'm not going to sit here and espouse the virtues of remaining abstinent until marriage (though it's not a bad idea, just sayin'). Odds are most of you reading this are too late for that and that's not my personal viewpoint either. Go out and have fun, but do it responsibly. Birth control is everywhere, it's readily available, and in most cases very affordable. Sometimes your insurance will cover it.

Oh and please no one give me that "I'm against birth control due to my religion" argument. If your religion prohibits birth control it probably also prohibits pre-martial sex and marital sex for any other reason than contraception. Don't tell me your religion prohibits you from wearing a condom but is okay with you having sex in the backseat of your dad's Buick after the Junior Formal. Hypocrisy abounds with that argument.
In addition, I don't want to hear any woman tell me they don't want to go on the pill because it'll make them gain weight so they'll just not use ANY form of birth control. Weight gain is a potential side effect of some of the female birth control pills however I would just like to point out that while you MAY gain weight on the pill it's nothing compared to the weight you WILL gain if you become pregnant. Don't want to go on the pill? That's fine. But make sure someone's using something. Don't just do nothing.

Planned Parenthood can provide you with more information as well as set you up to begin a birth control routine. Check them out at http://www.plannedparenthood.com or call toll free at 1-800-230-PLAN. Contrary to popular belief they employ board certified physicians, registered nurses, social workers, etc. And do a lot more than just perform abortions. Note: Dave is not a doctor and his opinions should not be taken as a substitute for medical opinion/diagnosis. Medical information in this column was obtained from common knowledge, http://www.plannedparenthood.com , The American Society for Reproductive Medicine ( http://www.asrm.org ), and personal experience. Always check with your doctor before starting/taking any medications. Read labels on all packages and consult your doctor immediately if side effects/problems occur. Read condom package for detailed instructions on storage, use, and shelf life, and disposal.
(1) According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Infertility affects about 6.1 million people in the U.S., equivalent to only TEN percent of the reproductive age population. Male infertility only accounts for one third of total infertility cases.
About the Author
Dave Trouson is an advice columnist for Ask Nat and Chris Free Advice Message Boards.
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