We need better birth control

Yes yes yes to all of this (from a lady who no longer uses birth control for many of the reasons cited in the article).

The statistics on women’s satisfaction with birth control should be enough to make Big Pharma invest in some serious R&D: Virtually every woman in America (99 percent of us) will use some form of contraception in our lifetime. In the United States alone there are 62 million women of childbearing age, 70 percent of whom are sexually active but do not want children. In other words, at least 43 million American women need birth control—and that’s not even counting the men who sleep with them.

We also need better birth control. A 2004 survey found that 20 percent of women were not satisfied with the contraceptive method they were using. On average, women try four different types of contraception during their lifetime. Studies continue to show that even low-dose hormonal contraception exacerbates depression and decreases libido. And last year, a study in the Journal of Family Practice found that only 57 percent of women on the Pill were happy with it.

Fifty years after the invention of the birth-control pill, we are all so busy celebrating our contraceptive options—and defending our access to them—that we tend to forget how few we have. The basic science behind most contraception remains virtually unchanged since the 1950s, when researcher John Rock discovered that a combination of estrogen and progesterone would allow a woman to control her fertility. Sure, scientists have tweaked the hormone levels and delivery methods, but every single one of these innovations is still based on synthetic hormones.

The fact that nearly all birth control is based in the same science will come as no surprise to any woman who has tried to find a non-hormonal contraceptive choice. Her celebrated options are very quickly reduced to using condoms, charting her cycle and abstaining when she’s ovulating, or abstaining altogether. When young women I know have inquired about getting an IUD, a shocking number have been dissuaded by their doctors. (Here’s more on that.) And despite frequent assurances that a male contraceptive pill is “on the horizon” or “in development,” it’s nowhere close. “The joke in the field is: The male pill’s been five to 10 years away for the last 30 years,” Dr. John Amory, a researcher at the University of Washington, told CNN.

Also that: Maybe it’s time for dudes to take some responsibility for the avoiding-pregnancy thing.

Author: has written 5284 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

186 Responses

  1. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar April 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |

    So what’s the deal with clinicians’ reluctance to recommend IUDs? Is it a) lingering worry from Dalkon Shield; b) unfamiliarity; c) a general bias against anything that gets between young women and pregnancy for longer than a month (see how docs respond to women who want to be sterilized); or d) all of the above? I suspect d.

  2. Florence
    Florence April 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    @Thomas, they say it’s due to one of two things:

    a) Size of the opening of the cervix, generally available upon request to anyone who has had a vaginal birth. Never sure if I believed this as an actual issue. Can anyone who has never had a vaginal birth and who does have an IUD confirm comfort levels with the device?

    b) Clean test for STIs. They claim that the IUD can help infection “crawl up” the device into the cervix and uterus.

    If you meet both A and B, theoretically you’ll have no issue getting your IUD. Theoretically.

    In the past I had no problem with certified doctors offering implantation devices like Norplant, which I loved, but today the issue is finding doctors in a 60 mile radius that are qualified at all. I hate taking pills and just don’t rely on myself to remember.

  3. L.E.
    L.E. April 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    Had to delurk for this thread. I have an IUD, and I don’t pass the two issues noted by Florence. I got it at Planned Parenthood, and they didn’t try to dissuade me at all. When I mentioned how I heard it was better for women who had children (as that is how it is marketed on TV) and they assured me that it was fine for everybody. It was really helpful to go to a place where women and men dedicated to women are the majority of caretakers and actually used the products. I love my IUD. I had been on the pill for years; I tried the patch, which had devastating side-effects. It’s just a reminder for me of how important PP is to helping women get the care they actually need/want and not what someone else dictates to them.

  4. gretel
    gretel April 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    I read somewhere that in Europe there have been advances in “natural” hormone birth control pills. I’m skeptical, but it does seem that there is more contraceptive R&D by European pharma companies than those in North America.

    And has anyone ever tried to get a diaphragm? It seems hard to find a doctor who will deign to prescribe one.

  5. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    Aww man..ok

    1) Not every woman has a uterus and needs or uses homronal birth control

    2) Not every woman with a uterus is engaging in heterosexual sex while being sexually active

    3)and not every woman with a uterus engaging in it with a man who has sperm or is fertile

    So I dont think those numbers are accurate.

    I have asked for the IUD, I have had c-sections not vaginal births and although I did dialate my gyn who recommended it to me BEFORE I had my first child as BC post labor refused to do it after. There were several factors involved on why but one of those listed was that a baby had not yet passed through my cervix.

    The other problem and I know that NOBODY wants to hear this is: BigPharma is interested in making a profit, theyhave to pay people they have to invest money and the scientists and researchers who make these thigns a reality had extensive training and deserve to be well paid for their work. However, women are demanding cheap or free BC as it is, the goverment is not stepping in to provide it and private organizations for the msot part aren’t either. So that leaves BigPharma to voluntarily cut back on its profit or become non profit in order to sate the demands of fertile heterosexual cissexual women engaging in intercourse with people who produce semen and are fertile as well.

    They are motivated by money.

  6. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Also, IUDs carry risks, big ones.

    Also can we PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE not downplay the significant and all important protection that condoms give to TONS of women and men everywhere who are sexually active? There is no such thing as a different form of BC that also protects against STIs and STDs outside of condoms male and female. That is vital because sexually active women need not only be concerned about protecting their bodies from unwanted fetuses, unwanted diseases and infections are a big concern too especially now when the transmission rates are sooo high among those engaging in heterosexual sex.

  7. sb
    sb April 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    Florence:
    a) Size of the opening of the cervix, generally available upon request to anyone who has had a vaginal birth. Never sure if I believed this as an actual issue.Can anyone who has never had a vaginal birth and who does have an IUD confirm comfort levels with the device?

    Anecdotes are not data, but I have one (copper-T), and I have never given birth or even been pregnant. I found a doctor who was very willing and experienced in giving them to nulliparous (have not given birth) women, since the research I did suggested that experience of the doctor putting it in was a big factor in not rejecting it.

    When I had it put in, she (the doctor) first poked some sort of sizing tool in, and had told me ahead of time that it was possible it’d say “too small”, but she didn’t think it was likely. I don’t know exactly how they measure cervix size but that was what she was measuring.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more painful (on average) for nulliparous women either because of body geometry and/or because giving birth vaginally recalibrates perceptions of pain from those nerves. My experience was fairly low-pain both in initial installation and since (I never got PMS cramps before, now I get mild ones) but I’ve heard it varies a lot.

    I am generally thrilled with it as a birth control method even if it’s not perfect. I can’t see any good reason they aren’t at least brought up as an option more often.

  8. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    I heart my IUD, but I had to dr shop to get it. They don’t like providing them to never been pregnant people. Partly the issue is size. I am *just* big enough, but 6 drs turned me down without measuring on the basis that I hadn’t been pregnant. And don’t get me started on trying to get a tubal ligation. I will start typing in all caps…

  9. Kierra
    Kierra April 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    And has anyone ever tried to get a diaphragm? It seems hard to find a doctor who will deign to prescribe one.

    My doctor didn’t have any issue prescribing one when I wanted to wean off of the pill in anticipation of trying for a kid. But they are expensive (the fitting was $500 and the actual diaphragm was $50). The problem I ran into is that you have to use them with a spermicidal gel and there’s only one active ingredient for that on the market. So if you have a reaction to that (as I did) you are just out of luck.

  10. Tiferet
    Tiferet April 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    @Azalea – nobody’s downplaying the importance of condoms, but in a monogamous relationship where pregnancy is the only concern, most people do not want to use them because they do interfere with sensation.

    And you simply cannot tell people that they are obligated to assume that a monogamous partner is cheating at all times and expect to be taken seriously, because there are people who do what they say they will do.

  11. Vanshar
    Vanshar April 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    I’ve been wishing for a male pill for years. I’ve taken my responsibility for contraception seriously as long as I’ve been active, and always carry a condom or three when I’m expecting sexual activity (I’ve never understood people who think women should provide male condoms; they come in different sizes, and it works so much better if a man finds his own fit!), but sometimes I simply forget or the wrapper got damaged as I was carrying it or whatever. Unfortunately, the only other option is basically vasectomy. It can’t be THAT hard to stop sperm production!

  12. JennThem
    JennThem April 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Can’t take the pill because I have a genetic blood disorder; my blood lacks the enzyme that tells it to stop clotting, so that with BC pill with its higher risk of clot and all, no good. Before I knew I had the disorder I did take the pill for about a year and a half in college, and I hated it. It dulled my libido and made me have mood swings.
    Number two, I’m totally allergic to latex. That really cuts down on my birth control options.
    IUDs are not recommended often because that little string that comes down from the cervix is like a direct line to your uterus and if you come across any STDs, apparently its like warp speed to sickness. Or so I have been told. Also if youve ever had HPV (like 70% of us), they wont do IUD either.
    I have had to concoct a witchy system where I’ve tracked my (thankfully!) regular cycle for years, and I also track my ovulation with a fertility microscope and paying attention to cervical mucus. So I know within a day or two when i ovulate and avoid sexin’ within a generous time frame around it. Not one pregnancy in over 5 years.
    I’ve always wondered why tracking your cycle, and looking for signs of fertility aren’t, like, basic education for girls. Seriously, I do not get it.
    OH wait! Maybe so we can all be completely dependent on our doctors because our lady bodies are oh so mysterious…….

  13. Amanda
    Amanda April 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    Also delurking for this thread. I have a IUD (the mirena, so a hormonal rather than copper one) and its the only thing that has worked for me. I suffer from vaginisumus and it was very painful going in but unnoticeable now (I’ve never been pregnant). My doctor was excellent working with me to finding the right birth control.

    In college, I was really angry when I first went on the pill and had to try three varieties to find one that didn’t make me feel like I was out of control. One size does not fit all.

  14. JennThem
    JennThem April 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    Oh also, I hear Femcaps are a good option Im thinking about. Non-latex diaphragm type things….

  15. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    @Azalea – “Also, IUDs carry risks, big ones.”

    So does life, pregnancy even more so. It’s incredibly rare for an IUD to do something that cannot be reversed fairly swiftly.

    @Thomas – the US members of the blog may not like my answer, but the reason IUD use lags in the USA is because the FDA prohibits promotion of the two intrauterine devices available (Mirena IUS and Paragard IUD) to nuliparas. They also make the manufacturers produce different patient info inserts for the US market that state the devices are not suitable for people who haven’t given birth.

    The only stipulation for IUS/IUD insertion is being free of STIs, and having a big enough uterus* (something that can only be checked** by sounding it which involves inserting a measuring device through the cervix). Mirena has a sound included with the applicator negating the need for two procedures.***

    In all honesty, from the outside, the American stance on IUDs seems largely political and cultural. First there’s the whole thing about uterus-owners deliberately choosing a method that is as effective (if not slightly more so) than sterilisation, something which flies in the face of the anti-BC brigade. Secondly there’s the “uteruses are for babies” feeling, which causes IUDs to be seen as unnatural. Couple that with the Dalkon Shield legacy and the horror stories that still do the rounds, plus TheoCon propaganda about babies born clutching IUDs in their fists, and a strong dose of sexual miseducation (more than one person I’ve spoken with believes IUDs are placed in the vagina), and it’s a perfect storm of ignorance.

    * – this wouldn’t be a problem if the FDA permitted Junior-sized devices, we have them here in the UK for young teenagers and people with naturally small uteri.

    ** – more than one person I know has been told “You’re too small” without sounding. Doctors will either claim they can tell from a bimanual internal exam, or an ultrasound. This isn’t true.

    *** – Again, I’ve heard from several Mirena-bearers who’ve paid for separate, unnecessary, soundings. Goes to show that even if you find an educated, up-to-date doc who’ll do an insertion, you have no guarantee of their honesty.

  16. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    Azelea, condoms are important but they aren’t the only thing out there, and they break. If you are married/in a monogamous relationship, it’s reasonable to seek other options.

    Indeed, not everyone who has sex is capable of getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant. For some people, pregnancy is a moot point for various reasons. But BC is for those who could get pregnant/get their partners pregnant as a result of having sex and would like to prevent that.

  17. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

    Tiferet: @Azalea – nobody’s downplaying the importance of condoms, but in a monogamous relationship where pregnancy is the only concern, most people do not want to use them because they do interfere with sensation.And you simply cannot tell people that they are obligated to assume that a monogamous partner is cheating at all times and expect to be taken seriously, because there are people who do what they say they will do.

    I’m married, I’d never suggest that although I have not felt a difference between sex with a condom and sex without it, the sensations just weren’t noticeably different for me. But that is *me* I wouldnt expect or impose that on others. However, my point is not every single fertile cis heterosexual sexually active woman is in a monogamous relationship. As a whole I’d say monogmaous relationships were not the majority of the context in which sexual activity occurs. I wouldn’t force people to protect themselves but I do encourage it.

  18. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    Oh and WRT complications from insertion – recent studies show that difficulties are not dependent on the status of the recipient’s cervix, but on the skill level of the inserting practitioner, and how often they perform the procedure.

    I had an audience for my last insertion, a doctor from the area Family Planning board. They monitor inserting GPs/sexual health professionals (for the 13 types of IUD/IUS and Implanon/Nexplanon), and ensure they’re in line with current practice standards, and are able to perform sufficiently well.

    I did a bit of educating myself, and a good laugh was had by all.

  19. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    Sheelzebub: Azelea, condoms are important but they aren’t the only thing out there, and they break. If you are married/in a monogamous relationship, it’s reasonable to seek other options. Indeed, not everyone who has sex is capable of getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant. For some people, pregnancy is a moot point for various reasons. But BC is for those who could get pregnant/get their partners pregnant as a result of having sex and would like to prevent that.

    Oh I know they aren’t perfect, they do need to enhance those. As far as just straight up BC goes, I addressed thatissued in my prior comments on this thread, the condom thing was an afterthought. I live in DC and our AIDS rate is staggering couple that with the fact that I’m a WOC and how hard AIDS and other STDs/STIs hit our community and you could understand why I get a little antsy about condom use.

  20. Rebekah
    Rebekah April 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    I also have the copper IUD and have never been pregnant. I got mine put in at Planned Parenthood and the company that manufactures them allows for months payments which is great since they are app. $500 a pop. (The pill costs about the same per month when you don’t have insurance like me). But once it’s paid for in a year, no more payments so I think it’s totally worth it. There was a bit of discomfort going in but nothing unbearable. The first week I was slightly crampy but that I was it. I LOVE my IUD and would never ever go back to the pill.

  21. ACG
    ACG April 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    Florence – I consider myself very lucky that I was able to get an IUD without ever having a vaginal birth. I got it about a year and a half ago, and it hurt like punishment for all the world’s sins. But that only lasted for about six hours, and then there were assorted levels of ouchiness for the next day or so, and I haven’t had a problem since. And even if insertion will feel like that for me every single time, I only have to do it every five years.

  22. G
    G April 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    “Maybe it’s time for dudes to take some responsibility for the avoiding-pregnancy thing.”

    Okay… how? Are there good options beyond condoms (discussed heavily above), a pill that may never exist, and surgery?

  23. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    Arsebiscuits. Managed to forget in both of my comments that I’m on my second Mirena, and I’ve never been pregnant. My first was at 27 (Mr Hangly Tangly) and now #2, Cerberus, has made his home inside me. Mine are to suppress symptoms of endometriosis though, not as BC.

    Here they’ll put IUDs or an IUS in pretty much anyone. If they have STI(s) they’ll be given antibiotics and a new insertion date, if they’re very young they’ll be given a small IUD (usually UT-380 short or Flexi-T 300) or ) but NPs over 16 can choose their device based on need.

  24. figleaf
    figleaf April 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    “Maybe it’s time for dudes to take some responsibility for the avoiding-pregnancy thing.”

    Duh! It’s really frustrating that the most recent innovation in contraception for men, vasectomy, was developed nearly 190 years ago! Vasectomies are very reliable but very difficult to reverse. The other two, condoms and withdrawal, are easily reversed but almost equally unreliable.

    I’m pretty sure that if we ever do get a male “pill” (which could instead turn out to be a shot, implants, or even devices) it’ll transform men’s relationship to fertility and responsibility. I’m not sure there’ll be outright peer pressure from other men to use male contraception, but no matter what there’ll be way, way less peer sympathy for men who participate in unwanted, unplanned pregnancies.

    Unfortunately John Amory’s quip is pretty much true — it really has been ten years away for the last thirty years. The good news, though, is that there’s now allegedly enough pent up demand around the world that there’ll be a market waiting for whoever finally gets there first. (Polls in the last five years or so consistently show men are willing to use a pill in numbers corresponding to women who are willing to take The Pill. For instance AskMen.com readers aren’t exactly exemplary citizens but 68% of them allegedly say they’d use a male pill!)

    Anyway, yes, it would be really nice to see more affordable, available, useable, and reliable birth control methods coming through the pipeline and onto store shelves. For both women and men.

    figleaf (who’s had two vasectomies and one reversal in between for planned, wanted children.)

  25. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    @ Paraxeni

    I know that, but “life carries risks” isn’t going to soothe the nerves of a woman who hears “and THIS BC may cause your UTERUS to spontaneously rip open without warning and be totally useless to you forever and ever amen”. yeah “life has risks” just doesn’t help with that. When speaking on how well BC works, it also has to be user friendly. Hearing that and then noticing you went from NO cramps to now you’re cramping without hormonal birth control, you get a little uneasy. People with uteri have expressed these concerns before.

    My issue with hormonal BC as it stands right now is that it alienates women who smoke, are over a cetian age r who have certain disorders. You have to wonder, why would my BIRTH CONTROL based on estrogen increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, clotting, and for some reasona ctually increase their fertility. i actually think IUDs are best ad that something similar to it, something that works the way Paraguard does but perhaps with a little less red tape in accessing it. Hormonal birth control is great for those that CAN use it but we’d all be better served by options that included much more non hormonal yet highly effective methods.

  26. gretel
    gretel April 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    JennThem: I’ve always wondered why tracking your cycle, and looking for signs of fertility aren’t, like, basic education for girls. Seriously, I do not get it.

    Seriously! I’m in my 30s, and a few months ago I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I’m now severely pissed off that I was never taught about FAM. Definitely wasted a lot of time at the gynecologist’s office freaking out when I didn’t have to!

  27. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    @JennThem – WHOA! You’ve been fed some whoppers.

    IUDs are not recommended often because that little string that comes down from the cervix is like a direct line to your uterus and if you come across any STDs, apparently its like warp speed to sickness. Or so I have been told. Also if youve ever had HPV (like 70% of us), they wont do IUD either.

    IUDs have ‘strings’ made of sealed, non-porous material. ‘Wicking’ just isn’t a concern anymore, and hasn’t been since the Dalkon Shield.

    Past HPV infection is no barrier at all to IUD/IUS insertion.

    Also, POPs (progestin-only pills) and methods like Implanon/Nexplanon do not contain oestrogens, which are what cause problems for people with clotting disorders, and condoms come in a variety of materials now like Lambskin, polyurethane and polyisopropolene.

    There are methods out there, but obviously it depends on the info you’ve been given. If you’re told something by an authority figure then you’ll believe it, and think you have far fewer options than you actually do. I was the same way for quite a while WRT medical problems I had, that I’d been told were nonexistent or untreatable.

  28. Ashley
    Ashley April 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    Let me just say that the pill kills my sex drive. It sucks. Condoms…I’ve been there done that and I don’t trust them when I have sex nearly every day. Here’s the thing, I was very disappointed when I brought the idea of “the male birth control pill” up to my boyfriend because I was reading in a magazine that it may be an option in the not so far future, and he literally jumped out of bed and screamed “Hell no!” When I asked why, he states, “I’m not putting crazy hormones in my body…” Uh but apparently it’s ok for me to?

    I’m not sure what to think about his reaction. I can understand him being rejecting to it because it’s basically been unheard of and not thought about in most men…but it’s insane the amount of men who would honestly rather break up than to take a pill to prevent pregnancy.

  29. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

    @Azalea – er, you do realise that this: ““and THIS BC may cause your UTERUS to spontaneously rip open without warning and be totally useless to you forever and ever amen”” is pretty much nonsense, don’t you?

    IUDs do not cause your uterus to spontaneously rip open. Not quite sure where you’ve got that from. Your uterus can be perforated (ie. punctured, not ripped to shreds and rendered entirely useless for all eternity) during insertion, but that’s easily fixable and does not cause lasting damage.

    I can’t quite grasp what this means “When speaking on how well BC works, it also has to be user friendly. Hearing that and then noticing you went from NO cramps to now you’re cramping without hormonal birth control”

    Do you mean people who had cramp-free periods before BC, took BC and stopped, and then got cramps afterward? If so that’s totally normal. People seem to think that hormonal changes only happen at puberty and menopause, but it’s not true. There are hormonal shifts throughout adult life (between menarche and menopause) any, or all, could cause periods to be experienced differently than they were in the past.

    If BC containing oestrogen is problematic, then progestin-only birth control exists, and doesn’t have those risks. It does have to be said though that even endogenous oestrogen can cause exactly the same issues as exogenous oestrogen.

    And again, WRT IUDs, there need not be any red tape. Any red tape that exists is purely for political reasons. Anyone with a big enough uterus can have an IUD if they want one. There are no extra health risks that are purely due to never having been pregnant. The problem lies with the medical system in the US, not the devices that are currently available.

    Frameless IUDs that carry NO risk of perforation already exist and are in use around the world. U-shaped IUDs for people with incompetent cervix issues exist, and are in use around the world. It’s not about inventing a better BC, it’s about breaking through the walls of ignorance that American society has put up around contraception and reproductive health. Write to the FDA, petition your local health dept., campaign for access to better methods and for the FDA to stop mandating manufacturers to LIE about their products.

  30. Queen Maeve
    Queen Maeve April 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    99% cannot be accurate. At least 2-3% of women have got to be “gold star lesbians” as they say, not to mention women who are infertile from birth, abstinent for whatever reason, and who just don’t like/believe in using birth control for whatever reason.

    About IUDs, I got one after my most recent birth, which was a scheduled c-section without labor. Because of this, the midwife initially wanted me to put get something to dilate my cervix the day before. (And now I can’t remember if she wanted to use cytotec or laminaria or what.) I didn’t want to make two trips so I insisted on just trying it as it was, since I’d dilated completely for the prior two births and should have some “stretch” and it was fine, though she made some remark about my pain tolerance seeming to be much higher than average. But I have heard a lot of women who have never had a vaginal birth describe the process as being very uncomfortable, so I can see why they want to make sure women are really aware of that, not to mention the higher rate of expulsion for women who haven’t been pregnant. Accidentally flushing a $600 medical device down the toilet (and maybe not noticing and then ending up pregnant) sounds like a situation that could result in a patient looking for someone to take out frustration on, ie, sue.

  31. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    @Ashley

    “Hell no!” When I asked why, he states, “I’m not putting crazy hormones in my body…” Uh but apparently it’s ok for me to?

    What the hell is wrong with your boyfriend?

    My fiance and I have been dealing with the pill for the past 4 years. It helps her calm her cycles so they’re not a severe and painful – but she often forgets for days at a time and we have to abstain for weeks to make up for it.

    I already take daily medication and would DREAM of the day I could take the pill as well (double protection.)’

    Anyway, what ever happened to diaphragms?

  32. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    @Queen Maeve – even WSW and infertile women use BC, even if it’s not to prevent pregnancy, so the 99% figure is probably accurate. I’m in both categories and use two forms of hormonal BC as of now.

    WRT increased risk of expulsion in nulliparas, that was once thought to be true, but current research suggests there is no difference in P vs NP cervixes, but depends entirely on the skill/practice level of the inserting practitioner. By performing trials using the same inserters on both categories of cervix, rather than across different inserters for P than NP, the research pretty much bore out that successful IUD/IUS use depends on who puts it in there. So the best advice is to find a clinic that inserts in cervix-owners of all ages, who’ve never been pregnant and never birthed vaginally, as well as in FDA-approved uteri!

    For anyone interested in details about the difference in how Mirena is marketed/promoted in the US vs the UK, here are some linkies:

    #1) http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2000/21-225.pdf_Mirena_Prntlbl.pdf

    Approved printed labelling from 2000 indicating that Mirena is only approved for parous women.

    #2) http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2000/21-225.pdf_Mirena_Approv.pdf

    Letter stating that any off-label recommendation, ie. advertising that it is suitable for nulliparas, will result in suspension of the license.

    #3) UK Mirena literature for patients and health professionals: http://www.womens-health.co.uk/mirena.asp, http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/100001706.html

    #4) UK Mirena patient insert: http://xpil.medicines.org.uk/ViewPil.aspx?DocID=2796

  33. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Florence: Can anyone who has never had a vaginal birth and who does have an IUD confirm comfort levels with the device?

    I was in STL for a while and am a participant in the contraceptive choice project (which is awesome, for anyone in STL – the website is http://www.choiceproject.wustl.edu/ ). Two of my non-baby-having friends got their IUDs (mirena) through that. I believe they did the insertion on site. They both said the first day after was debilitating – they could barely get out of bed. Thereafter they were fine (though one ended up having to remove it because the thread part was sticking out of her cervix and stabbing her husband’s penis – she said the removal didn’t hurt a fraction of what it did the first time they put it in). One tried the implant before the IUD and bled every day, so she changed it. Both loved their IUDs (except for the stabbing penis thing, but they can usually trim the threads down).

    I’m on nuvaring myself, and I love it. No drying for me. Plus I still kind of love the commercials. My skin is better, my abnormal monthly irritability is completely gone, the massive debilitating monthly owie I had is negligible now, and it’s removable if my body starts acting up.

    What would we like to see in terms of bc improvements? I’m fairly happy with my ring, but if they could make it smaller without making me worry that it could fall out without me noticing, that would be awesome.

    My favorite part is the ick factor for the more conservative women in my family. “You put your fingers WHERE?” lol. And not just then, mom.

  34. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm |

    *headdesk*

    #4) UK Mirena insert is here: http://www.medicines.org.uk/EMC/pdfviewer.aspx?isAttachment=true&documentid=2796

    I linked to the blind version instead, sorry.

  35. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    @prettyamiable – usually if the threads are pokey it’s because whoever’s popped the device in has cut them too short. It happens way too often. They soften and curl up round the cervix eventually, but if they’re too short they can’t do that. I had the opposite problem with my current Mirena, it took two weeks to stop them poking out of me, KWIM?

  36. Lance
    Lance April 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Okay… how? Are there good options beyond condoms (discussed heavily above), a pill that may never exist, and surgery?

    Step 1) Freeze sperm (in case you want a child later).
    Step 2) Vasectomy.
    Step 3) Semen analysis to verify the success of step 2.
    Step 4) There is no step 4.

    Your insurance may even cover step 2. The drawback is that you’ll need help if you ever decide to be a dad. While expensive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of parenthood and far better than an accidental pregnancy. I did it myself and no complaints so far. Obviously, of course, a vasectomy does nothing to protect against STD’s.

  37. Millicent
    Millicent April 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Last year I wrote a blog post describing my experience getting an IUD, with a 6-month and 1.5 year update on how it’s impacted my period and sex. I was early twenties at the time and had no problem at all getting it prescribed from a university health clinic. I was asked in a friendly, respectful way to justify my reasons for wanting it, and had to have a “consultation” appointment before actually getting the procedure, but the process felt easy.

    That post also describes my thoughts on a diaphragm, which I used for a few months.

    Of interest too might be my post on IUDs, fisting, and the zombie apocalypse. =)

  38. Jim
    Jim April 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    figleaf: Vasectomies are very reliable but very difficult to reverse.

    Figleaf, I saw where they have developed a resin plug sort of vasectomy, so actually there is no ‘-tomy’ involved, that is supposed to be relatively easy to reverse.

    It’s brand new and I have only seen one reference to it, so it’s probably not very available, but that may change.

  39. Millicent
    Millicent April 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm |

    Oh! I forgot to add that I would LOVE to link to or post other people’s first-person accounts of IUD-insertion and life afterwards. If you have a story maybe comment here or on my post. If you want to write one but don’t have your own blog, I would love to post more of these stories to my blog from guest authors, (get in touch)

  40. ElleDee
    ElleDee April 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    I have a copper IUD and I love it so much. No hormones to throw me out of whack, no remembering anything, and when I got it I had health insurance and only paid the copay for my office visit to get it inserted, but after that I went without insurance for a while. My IUD allowed me to have uninterrupted BC during a period I could barely pay for anything.

    I have never had kids, but my doctor gave me no problem with inserting it. If you are nulliparous the most likely (around 1 in 10) adverse outcome is expulsion. This is particularly dangerous, but you might have to go back to a doc to get it all the way out, it can be painful and then you have to decide if you want to pay for another one and try again. Women with children stand a much smaller chance of that happening due to anatomy differences. I think this is where provider skill comes into play, but it’s been a while since I was fresh on the details.

    The risk of infertility is real, but overplayed IMO, and I say that as a woman whose grandmother had a dalkon shield that nearly killed her. If you have an STI at the time of insertion, the infection can be passed up through the cervix to the uterus along with the IUD, which may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and a certain percentage of those cases end up infertile. I have never, ever seen HPV given as a contraindication for an IUD.

    Also I know this is a bit controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway: withdrawl is a pretty effective method if done correctly, every time. There is no viable semen in precum as long as there’s been urination since the last ejaculation, so as long as the man is out and away in time it works. Bedsider.org lists the perfect use effectiveness at 96% (typical use is 73%), the question is always does your partner have the control and willpower to do it correctly every time. There has to be a lot of trust involved. It’s not a good choice for many people, but there are certain circumstances where it should at least be considered.

  41. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    Huh. She had told me about the threads and that she had ended up getting her mirena removed (in favor of pills). I assumed it was cause and effect, but it might have been some other issue. (I’m obvs not a mirena expert, but the staff at the choice project seemed incredibly bright and competent, so I assume they would have relayed that to her).

  42. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    **must have been (not “might have been” — I sound like a douche; my bad)

  43. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    Ashley: …when I brought the idea of “the male birth control pill” up to my boyfriend because I was reading in a magazine that it may be an option in the not so far future, and he literally jumped out of bed and screamed “Hell no!” When I asked why, he states, “I’m not putting crazy hormones in my body…” Uh but apparently it’s ok for me to?I’m not sure what to think about his reaction. I can understand him being rejecting to it because it’s basically been unheard of and not thought about in most men…but it’s insane the amount of men who would honestly rather break up than to take a pill to prevent pregnancy.

    Because there are enough horror stories of BC gone bad for women and the effects it has had on their overall health for men to just not be gung ho about it. I would say, at that point, the onus is on him to find *some* form of birth control he is ok with and start using it ASAP. Birth control is a highly personal thing, if a cis woman doesn’t want to be pregnant its HER bodily autonomy that she needs to defend from unwanted pregnancy and it is HER that needs to do something to prevent it from happening. If a cis man does not want to get someone pregnant then its HIS bodily autonomy that has to kick in gear and he needs to defend himself from releasing fertile semen. If both of you dont want kids then both need to handle their end of the deal but its unfair to expect him to be ok with making the same choices for HIS body that you made for your own.

  44. preying mantis
    preying mantis April 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    “99% cannot be accurate. At least 2-3% of women have got to be “gold star lesbians” as they say, not to mention women who are infertile from birth, abstinent for whatever reason, and who just don’t like/believe in using birth control for whatever reason.”

    …not all women go on the pill to prevent pregnancy. There are enough women with bad acne or painful periods or wildly irregular cycles that they take it, at least for a period of time, to try to sort out the un-pregnancy-related problem. Even religions that are all “No birth control evar” like Catholicism tend to not count bc taken by an abstinent woman to treat a medical issue as “birth control” for damnation purposes. So you get a ton of women using birth control during some period of their lives to prevent pregnancy and rather a lot of women using birth control pills at some point during their lives to relieve other problems. 99% doesn’t sound that far off.

  45. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    @PA – even cutting the threads a tiny bit short can cause it, any inserter can do it easily. My current GP won’t touch strings now, after bollocksing up one too many devices! That’s why it’s a real shame frameless devices aren’t licensed in the US, because they have no dangly strings, no pointy bits, just some plastic ‘wire’ are some beads.

  46. I like my birth control: On IUDs & diaphragms - Anarchapistemology.net

    […] A post on Feministe about birth control with lots of stories about IUD insertions in the comments […]

  47. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Lance: Okay… how? Are there good options beyond condoms (discussed heavily above), a pill that may never exist, and surgery?Step 1) Freeze sperm (in case you want a child later).Step 2) Vasectomy.Step 3) Semen analysis to verify the success of step 2.Step 4) There is no step 4.Your insurance may even cover step 2. The drawback is that you’ll need help if you ever decide to be a dad. While expensive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of parenthood and far better than an accidental pregnancy. I did it myself and no complaints so far. Obviously, of course, a vasectomy does nothing to protect against STD’s.

    Sterilization is not birth control, what works for you isn’t the messiah for everyone else. Vasectomy is but one option that’s largely permanent and requires invasive medical professionals to assist with reproduction should you decide you’re ready to be a parent. That’s not cheap. it most certainly isn’t practical because the first shot isn’t guranteed to result in a viable pregnancy or even that his partner will be up to going through all the crap that comes with artifical insemination.

  48. terpsichore
    terpsichore April 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    I, too, delurked just for this. And it’s mainly because this thread has got me thinking – I’m 26 and I’ve been on the pill since I was 15. Not the same pill the whole time, I’ve been on at least 2 different kinds, but not because I had any problems with them. They just changed; maybe it was for insurance reasons and I was young enough that I wasn’t paying attention to any of that, so I don’t really remember. Anyway, as I was reading this and people were talking about how the pill lowered their libidos, at first I thought, “Well, I’m glad I don’t have that problem”, but then I realized – how the hell would I know? I’ve been taking the damn thing since I started having sex. So maybe I wouldn’t actually know if my libido would be different if I weren’t on the pill. Hmmm.

  49. Macha
    Macha April 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    Agree. As long as STI’s aren’t a problem (if you know you’re both clean) nothing beats sex without a condom. Barriers can be a real problem for some people, and I for one would love to have options outside of hormones and without the risks of IUD’s.

  50. Vigée
    Vigée April 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    Azalea: If both of you dont want kids then both need to handle their end of the deal but its unfair to expect him to be ok with making the same choices for HIS body that you made for your own.

    The problem is that the onus for BC almost always falls on the woman, so no, it’s not out of line to expect your male significant other (if that’s what you have) to do his part. YOU, Azalea, do not get to define what Ashely is allowed to expect from her boyfriend when it comes to preventing pregnancy. And I can’t fault her At. All. for wanting her boyfriend to be willing to participate to the same degree that she does.

  51. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Paraxeni:
    @prettyamiable – usually if the threads are pokey it’s because whoever’s popped the device in has cut them too short.It happens way too often.They soften and curl up round the cervix eventually, but if they’re too short they can’t do that.I had the opposite problem with my current Mirena, it took two weeks to stop them poking out of me, KWIM?

    And then sometimes your uterus just inhales those suckers. I had to have an ultrasound to confirm the blasted thing was still in place and they’ll have to dialate me to take it out (which needs to happen immediately – I’m a few months overdue on that). My two caveats (1) it hurt like fucking hell for three days, but I have a “sensitive cervix” and (2) it was very expensive. On the plus side it did cure my migraines.

  52. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    @Kristen – yep, which is another very good reason to leave the strings long! Apparently my uterus loved my first mirena so much that it wanted the whole shebang. Luckily one string was left low enough that it could be yanked on. This new one was poking at my thigh for 48 hours after insertion, it felt awful.

    If you have a Mirena they’re ok in their up to the seven year mark, and ten year copper T IUDs can be left for about 12 years without issue.

    I’m glad contraception is free here, although I surely use enough that I’d be guaranteed some sort of frequent-flyer discount if they ever decide to charge.

  53. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    Ugh, sorry, I meant “OK in there“.

  54. Gabrielle
    Gabrielle April 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    When I was unemployed and broke, I went to the Health Dept for The Pill, and they put me on LoOvral, which was excellent. I never had any hormonal issues with it, and it didn’t affect my sex drive at all.

    That said, taking a pill every day is a pain, so when I got health insurance I chose to get Implanon. I’ve had it for about 2 months and I really, really like it. I had a nasty bruise on my arm for a couple weeks, and the numbing needle stung like a bitch, but it was all worth it. It did itch for a bit (less than a day) while it was healing. So far I haven’t had a period this month, and I’m like a week overdue. Very exciting. Definitely recommend it – lasts 3 years! I can’t even feel it in my arm.

  55. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    Vigée: Vigée

    Let’s imagine two naked people, standing side by side, ready to have sex. A voice comes from above: “If you two choose to have sex, there is a chance you will have a child. To prevent from having a child, I offer two pills:

    “The green pill, taken by the woman, will have a 99.6% success rate. It has been taken by women just like her for the past 60 years. At first the pill caused problems for 15% of women who took it, but this, the most recent development of this pill does not cause those problems.”

    “The orange pill, taken by the man will have a 60%-100% success rate. It has never been taken by any large group of men before. There is a chance of making you temporarily unable to maintain an erection, unable to orgasm, and possibly grow breasts. It may cause you to be permenantly sterile and could cause death. As time goes on, research will fine-tune this Orange pill and reduce the frequency of these side effects.”

    Which damn pill do you expect those folks to take?

    (Sidenote: I work in the nuclear industry. Thorium vs. Uranium is one of the saddest technological victories in the world. Uranium can make bombs and makes people sick. Thorium does none of those. But Uranium is the fuel of choice because in the 1940s we “needed” a bomb. Thus, the uranium-versed scientists went on to make reactors using this fuel. If we were using Thorium instead, the nuclear power world would be a better place. But no one, right now, is willing to throw TRILLIONS of dollars into thorium power-production because uranium does “fine enough.” Same deal with BC.)

  56. sabrina
    sabrina April 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    guess what azalea? Condoms aren’t always the best option for every woman. Women with chemical sensitivity issues, women with latex and polyisopropelene allergies, and men with both tend to have issues with condoms. For example, there is only one brand that I can buy in stores that doesn’t cause me to get yeast infections. One of my close girlfriends gets yeast infections from that brand. Also most women like to have two methods of bc, usually something hormonal and condoms just in case the condom breaks because while it’s great to have EC if we need it it’s not something that you want to have to use. I just get so sick of people whining whenever someone says we need better birth control to just use whatever method they finds works best for them. NO we need better options, we need more options, the pills need to be OTC, women who have not had children need to be able to get IUD’s or a tubal ligation if they so choose, and for goodness sakes we need a male pill already.

  57. SephONE
    SephONE April 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    Hey, look, it’s EasilyConfused, once again misrepresenting an issue that he had no idea about. Surprise, surprise. And weren’t women under those same risks when pills for them first came out? Oh, but it’s okay when they take hormonal stuff and have all the responsibility and risk on them for birth control. Gotcha.

  58. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    @sabrina – “the pills need to be OTC, women who have not had children need to be able to get IUD’s”,/i> No, remember, Azalea says that intrauterine devices will make your uterus go splodey, and pills will kill you. It’s condoms and FAM/NFP or NO SEX!

  59. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |

    Bugger. Ignore my HTML cock-up!

    @sabrina – “the pills need to be OTC, women who have not had children need to be able to get IUD’s” No, remember, Azalea says that intrauterine devices will make your uterus go splodey, and pills will kill you. It’s condoms and FAM/NFP or NO SEX!

  60. space
    space April 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm |

    Adding to IUD anecdotes:

    Where I used to live, I managed to get an IUD without trouble, despite having never been pregnant. I really liked it.

    But apparently I was only barely big enough for it, and after almost a year it slipped out of place and caused a very painful period. So I had to get it taken out, and my new doctor says that I was really too small for an IUD all along and I should stick to pills. Which are at least better side-effects-wise than the Nuva Ring was, which I used before the IUD.

    There is a greater chance of problems with IUDs slipping or being pushed out if you’ve never had kids, but pill side effects are a common thing too. I doubt IUDs are really that much worse – at least not the modern ones.

    And I definitely stand by condoms as an excellent idea, for back-up/double-up birth control at least, along with disease control. As a pill accident who’s dating a condom accident, I insist on using 2 methods. :)

  61. Robert O'Hara
    Robert O'Hara April 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm |

    Very strange how my prievieous coment was not posted. It seems that people here realy are afraid of the idea of men controling their own fertility.

  62. space
    space April 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm |

    Oh, and about the nasty side effects of birth control: from what I’ve heard, pregnancy and birth tend to have even nastier ones. Id’ rather have another IUD slip out of place and give me a nasty period than a baby rupture the wall between my vagina and rectum and die anyway.

  63. Roo
    Roo April 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm |

    Paraxeni:
    (more than one person I’ve spoken with believes IUDs are placed in the vagina), and it’s a perfect storm of ignorance.

    Wow… then what do they think IUD stands for? You’re completely correct. They advertise IUD’s only for women who have given birth and you’re hard pressed to find a doctor willing to place one if you haven’t. Just like there is a stigma in the US about purchasing Plan B. There is, in fact, a senatorial candidate in Florida who believes that birth control is the cause of our national debt (no, really.). We’ve gone through the looking glass.

    What are we to do? My husband and I are still in school and can’t afford a child right now. It’s frustrating, but my husband and I have had to take our fertility into our own hands. I have serious mood swings and anxiety on the pill, and since i don’t want to be on another unnecessary (for me) medication, not being on the pill seems the best option. We keep track of my cycle, and he uses a condom when I’m ovulating. It’s frustrating because our sex life wanes when I’m at my most voracious because he doesn’t prefer vaginal sex with a condom. We’re monogamous and disease free. I wish I could get an IUD.

  64. Azkyroth
    Azkyroth April 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    Also that: Maybe it’s time for dudes to take some responsibility for the avoiding-pregnancy thing.

    What? I would LOVE to have a pill I could take. >.>

  65. Vigée
    Vigée April 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm |

    EasilyEnthused: Let’s imagine two naked people, standing side by side, ready to have sex. A voice comes from above: “If you two choose to have sex, there is a chance you will have a child. To prevent from having a child, I offer two pills:

    “The green pill, taken by the woman, will have a 99.6% success rate. It has been taken by women just like her for the past 60 years. At first the pill caused problems for 15% of women who took it, but this, the most recent development of this pill does not cause those problems.”

    “The orange pill, taken by the man will have a 60%-100% success rate. It has never been taken by any large group of men before. There is a chance of making you temporarily unable to maintain an erection, unable to orgasm, and possibly grow breasts. It may cause you to be permenantly sterile and could cause death. As time goes on, research will fine-tune this Orange pill and reduce the frequency of these side effects.”

    Which damn pill do you expect those folks to take?

    (Sidenote: I work in the nuclear industry. Thorium vs. Uranium is one of the saddest technological victories in the world. Uranium can make bombs and makes people sick. Thorium does none of those. But Uranium is the fuel of choice because in the 1940s we “needed” a bomb. Thus, the uranium-versed scientists went on to make reactors using this fuel. If we were using Thorium instead, the nuclear power world would be a better place. But no one, right now, is willing to throw TRILLIONS of dollars into thorium power-production because uranium does “fine enough.” Same deal with BC.)

    I don’t know, is this voice also going to point me toward Grilled Cheesus? Seriously? Why do you think that magical pill for women works? Because at some point women took it for long enough for that fine-tuning to happen. With all of the effects and side-effects that entailed. But you’re right, we shouldn’t expect the same from men. They and their bodies are just too damn precious. Temples or something. Let the women just deal with it. And even if the pill for men isn’t as effective as the one developed for women, it would be a good second degree of protection. But, I mean, I know the thought of taking some responsibility for family planning and reproductive health is enough to make some men’s minds explode.

  66. Andrea
    Andrea April 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |

    Interestingly enough, the female birth control pill had one of the fastest development-to-market periods (12ish years between development and when it was finally available on the market). One of the problems with hormone based birth control (speaking as someone who had clotting issues that nearly killed her, and can now not take any hormonal birth control – tubes are tied anyway but that’s beside the point) is that because there was so little testing done, now we may start to see effects in this and the coming generation being A) the first generation to really start taking The Pill from a young age, as the first cohort were mostly married and other adult women and I don’t believe it was prescribed to teens as much, and B) the first generation of women born to women who were on the Pill.

    A frightening possibility is that we don’t really know *all* the side effects at this point in time.

  67. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 25, 2011 at 9:15 pm |

    sabrina: the pills need to be OTC

    YES. I assume there are good reasons they aren’t OTC (for ex. my friend had a stroke when she was a toddler and because of that her doctor doesn’t want her on hormonal bc), but it would be lovely to have something good OTC that isn’t condoms or plan b. Though I’m grateful for both, of course.

  68. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    @roo – it’s an appalling situation you’re all in. I’ve often said that if I won the lottery the first thing I’d do would be to either airlift uterus-owners out of the US, or just do a mass BC air-drop.

    Can’t link from this device but Amanda Marcotte has a new piece up on RHRealityCheck about how the anti-choice brigade are trying to demolish access to contraception as fast as they can. It’s horrible.

  69. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

    EasilyEnthused: Let’s imagine two naked people, standing side by side, ready to have sex. A voice comes from above: “If you two choose to have sex, there is a chance you will have a child. To prevent from having a child, I offer two pills:

    “The green pill, taken by the woman, will have a 99.6% success rate. It has been taken by women just like her for the past 60 years. At first the pill caused problems for 15% of women who took it, but this, the most recent development of this pill does not cause those problems.”

    “The orange pill, taken by the man will have a 60%-100% success rate. It has never been taken by any large group of men before. There is a chance of making you temporarily unable to maintain an erection, unable to orgasm, and possibly grow breasts. It may cause you to be permenantly sterile and could cause death. As time goes on, research will fine-tune this Orange pill and reduce the frequency of these side effects.”

    Which damn pill do you expect those folks to take?

    (Sidenote: I work in the nuclear industry. Thorium vs. Uranium is one of the saddest technological victories in the world. Uranium can make bombs and makes people sick. Thorium does none of those. But Uranium is the fuel of choice because in the 1940s we “needed” a bomb. Thus, the uranium-versed scientists went on to make reactors using this fuel. If we were using Thorium instead, the nuclear power world would be a better place. But no one, right now, is willing to throw TRILLIONS of dollars into thorium power-production because uranium does “fine enough.” Same deal with BC.)

    Sign me up. We use double protection at all times since we really, really, really do not wish for Kristen to get pregnant. I have tried to get a vasectomy, but the doctors I’ve consulted were not willing to fix me. Go figure.

  70. mjameson
    mjameson April 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm |

    “…but it’s insane the amount of men who would honestly rather break up than to take a pill to prevent pregnancy.”

    Who are all these men you speak of? I know I would jump over some hurdles to have a bit more peace of mind about my fertility. I trust my current partner, but I know that anybody can forget to take a pill, or the pill may fail due to drug interactions, etc.. It also seems just, on an abstract level, that cismen like myself bare some responsibility, but I think the CYA factor would motivate a LOT of men, were options available.

  71. sabrina
    sabrina April 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm |

    pretty amiable,
    I have a solution to that problem! warning labels on the otc bc the same way tylenol, aspirin, NSAIDS, cold medication, etc comes with. It would still include the insert and they could call a pharmacist before purchase to see what pill would be the best fit for them, the same way we ask our pharmacists about what the best vitamin, allergy medicine, cold medicine, pain reliever etc is going to be right for us. I don’t see why under those circumstances there is such a problem with it

  72. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat April 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm |

    After reading this thread, I am totally going to whatever it takes to wrangle myself an IUD. (It’ll probably take some bullying to the insurance company and doctor-shopping, but it sounds worth it!) Thanks for the first-person information, ladies!

  73. Ms. Crazy Pants
    Ms. Crazy Pants April 26, 2011 at 12:18 am |

    Some may consider my route extreme, but I’ve been super happy ever since having my tubes tied (had an ablation at the same time). I have no children, but I just don’t have the desire to have any. Because everyone kept telling me that I’d change my mind some day, I waited until I was 40 to get the procedure done.

  74. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 26, 2011 at 12:19 am |

    Sabrina: Ask a pharmacist about birth control? Um, no. I barely trust mine, and they’ve come through every time. Most pharmacists these days are in it for the fingerwagging.
    That said, I do want over the counter pills. My doctor’s ragingly incompetent, so the chance of taking the pill without hurting for two days? Awesome.
    Figleaf, vigee, mjameson: I think the reason the pharm companies are dragging their heels is that they simply don’t see a demand for a male pill. I doubt that there’s as much of a demand among men as you guys claim. Even if there was a pill, would guys take it or would they only SAY they’re taking it?

  75. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage April 26, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    Ooo ooo ooo, I’ll go for a male pill! Hell, I’ll be a guinea pig. ‘Course, given the annoying side effects suffered by many users of female BC pills, I have to assume a male pill would potentially cause equally undesirable side effects – but, at least it would be worth a try.

    Stuff it, maybe I’ll just get off my lazy arse and get fixed.

  76. lacyuu
    lacyuu April 26, 2011 at 4:26 am |

    I’ve read about a double blind group test of a hormonal contraception method for men here in germany. There was even a journalist who participated in it and wrote a book about his experiences. The method consisted of regular taking estrogens through a pill and monthly injections of testosterone to balance out the hormonal level and side effects.

    The result of the test was that even the placebo group had side effects like mood swings. Said journalist wrote that during the test he got better along with his wife, he was listening to her and they had wonderful conversations. However in the end the pharmacy company stopped further testing and development due to the complaints of the men in the tests(being emotional and such- remember even in the placebo group).

    But well, even though im not a fan of hormonal bc for either men or women. It fucked up my body and i guess it might fuck up other peoples bodies as well. Is there any transperson having gone through transition by taking hormones who has experiencd side effects?

    Also I second being the first generation to feel all the side effects of the generations before us taking hormonal bc. Today the numbers of neural diseases, cancer or veneral diseases are increasing and everything in the human body is linked to hormons – science doesnt know everything yet. (im not very serious about bc causing this but it might have a light effect on it)

    But hey im not here to demonize the bc pill ;) i know it can be great for many women and i sometimes miss its advantages (piv without condoms and great skin)

  77. Another Andrea
    Another Andrea April 26, 2011 at 7:54 am |

    I have a Mirena. I’ve never been pregnant, and don’t intend upon being pregnant. It wasn’t hard to convince the doctor to give it to me, but I didn’t ask about it until blood pressure concerns made the pill an issue.

    [Side note: I’d been happily taking the pill for almost 22 years, and it was sad to leave it. Once I went off, however, I experienced a rush of emotions for about 9 months that threw me for a huge loop. I cried at anything & everything. Disconcerting!]

    I had to pay $750 in advance for the Mirena. This was in 2010. I have a high deductible plan, so it counted toward my deductible, but still. I can keep it for five years, and that is less than half what I would have paid for the pill over that period of time.

    I also had to pay for the doctor visit to have it inserted. I did not have to get measured – or, possibly, she did measure me & I didn’t realize that’s what was going on.

    Insertion hurt like hell. I had taken a couple of naproxen sodium pills (Aleve), but DAMN, had I known, I would have demanded to be knocked out with the pain-killing & memory-erasing drugs.

    It hurt, I believe, because:
    1) My tiny virgin cervix! Nothing could have reinforced my decision to remain child-free more than this experience.
    2) My no-period situation. I’d been taking the pill straight through for years, so hadn’t had a period in about 5 or 6 years. I guess that sometimes, doctors do insertion at a particular time of the month when your cervix is softer. I understand why.

    I’d asked if I would need a ride home, and the doctor said I should be fine. I was not fine. This felt like the worst period cramps times twenty. I was pale, sweaty, and probably looked like I was going to barf at any minute. The doctor allowed me to hang out in her office for about an hour, and her sweet staff brought me juice and tea. I finally made my way home (thanks, husband, for not being able to swing a ride to come get me) because I just wanted to get in bed.

    That’s where I remained for 5 days, medicating with naproxen and a heating pad. I had cramps on & off for the first several months, but they went away after about 6 months.

    On the plus side, I didn’t have any bleeding around insertion, and never have. I went in a couple of times (had to pay) to have her check to see if it was still in place, because I was totally freaked out about it coming out & me flushing a $750 piece of whatever down the toilet.

    I’ve never been able to feel the string, but the doctor tells me it is there. I’ve given up on trying to find it. My husband believes he’s encountered it a few times, but honestly, I don’t think it is even the third thing on his mind.

    I’ve heard that removal isn’t nearly as painful, but I know they’ll need to drug me just for the anxiety. I’ll probably get another one inserted at the same time, because I’ll only be 45 when this one comes out. The ones without hormones are the ones that can stay in longer, but I’m fine with the hormones b/c it means no period, and periods for me were just miserable until the pill. I’m not about to subject myself to days of cramps and all of the horribleness I go through with that ever again if I can help it.

    Of course, if the damn doctors had just taken my uterus out when I started asking, in my 20s, none of this would have been a problem. I really resent that my adult medical care has basically been about keeping me in a state of pre-pregnancy readiness. But that’s another story that many of us share!

  78. NotAScientist
    NotAScientist April 26, 2011 at 8:24 am |

    You know what I don’t understand?

    I’ve been told that researchers conducting their tests generally prefer using male rats to female ones. The reason is, the female hormonal cycle makes things much more complicated, so it’s easier to detect sciencey stuff using male rats (or male humans). This is the reason some heart medicine stuff does not work as expected on women.

    OK. So, if we women have such “complex” hormonal cycles and bodies – why is it we who have to eat pills, then?

  79. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 8:33 am |

    Vigée: The problem is that the onus for BC almost always falls on the woman, so no, it’s not out of line to expect your male significant other (if that’s what you have) to do his part. YOU, Azalea, do not get to define what Ashely is allowed to expect from her boyfriend when it comes to preventing pregnancy. And I can’t fault her At. All. for wanting her boyfriend to be willing to participate to the same degree that she does.

    So she has a right to demand that he start taking a certian medication because she’s taking it too?

    ….yeah bodily autonomy doesn’t live in that relationship for him if she gets to expect him to do things with his body that hedoesn’t want to and didn’t agree to do.

    She may not liek condoms but if he says I’ll do my part by wearing one, she can either refuse sex with him, or go along with the condom. BC for many women have changes their scent, their consistency (of self lubrication), caused yeast infections and BV, and decreased libido, all things that affect the sex life they had with their partner or would have if they werent taking it. The compromise is a two way street. But I wouldn’t be ok with ANY man demanding his partner take hormonal BC and I’m not going to be ok with any woman demanding that her partner does it either. It’s an infrignement.

    If it’s a dealbreaker, she can leave and find a guy who will use hormonal birth control. but staying and trying to guilt or coerce him to take it is not cool.

  80. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 8:36 am |

    But it’s okay for him to expect her to take a medication that he wouldn’t put in his own body? Okay, gotcha.

  81. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    There’s totally no double standard at all when women are just expected to be on the pill but it’s not even a consideration for most guys. Not at all.

  82. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 8:42 am |

    Paraxeni: @sabrina – “the pills need to be OTC, women who have not had children need to be able to get IUD’s”,/i> No, remember, Azalea says that intrauterine devices will make your uterus go splodey, and pills will kill you. It’s condoms and FAM/NFP or NO SEX!

    Bullshit. I said it has those RISKS, if you’re going to use my name please quote me correctly or not at fucking all. Or would you liek to dismiss the lives of those women who DID die as a result of those forms of birth control? They don’t matter because their deaths kinda give credence to why SOME people were afriad of using an IUD? Yeah go on, let’s tell people you will never ever get sick or hurt from taking the pill or using an IUD and that those risks don’t exist and the people who died well, they weren’t real anyway right?

    Doesn’t feel too good when people make a fuckery of your words does it?

  83. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    @sabrina, you’re right. I wish it were OTC.

    And Azalea, I’m pretty sure Ashley isn’t coercing her partner into taking bc. Nowhere did she demand it (nor could she, given that it’s not on the market). She expressed displeasure that she’s expected to be on bc as a woman but the same isn’t true for her boyfriend, but said she understood not wanting to take a time-tested drug.

  84. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    Vigée: There’s totally no double standard at all when women are just expected to be on the pill but it’s not even a consideration for most guys. Not at all.

    Double standard? Women WANT to take the pill men dont. You cant expect men to want to do something women are doing because women are doing it. Especially not when that something carries risk to someone’s sexual and physical health and life. Those risks haven’t been fully explored. There are still new issues and side effects popping up with varying hormonal BC and for anyone who has never had a problem that is GREAT but pretending because you and your friends are this way (a la Liz Jones) that the rest of all womanhood is the same way is fuckery and madness. If a man were discussing a vasectomy and asked his wife if she would consider essure ( no surgery tibal ligation and its fairly new with its own set of complications) and she said HELL NO would we all jump on her to jsut do it since she never wants kids anymore anyway and her husband is willing to get a vasectomy? WHy let the onus of BC just fall on him right?

    WRONG, this pesky little thing called bodily autonomy means she is the sole authority on pregnancy prevention for HER body. Same with him.

  85. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    not wanting to take a drug that hasn’t been tested by time? Meh coffee-monster

  86. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 8:53 am |

    Azalea: Double standard? Women WANT to take the pill men dont.

    This entire thread you’ve been going on about birth control (aside from condoms) being the devil and causing deaths. And suddenly women want to take the pill because you need to make a point about how Ashley is coercing her boyfriend and other women who have these expectations placed upon them are not? Nice.

  87. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub April 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |

    The Pill did not fuck up my body at all–if anything, it made things a lot easier on me even when I wasn’t having sex. Regular, more bearable, far less painful periods are completely worth it to me. Dealing with an unintended pregnancy that has health complications (even if you’re able to terminate) can also mess with your health and be really traumatic. I know this first-hand.

    As far as the “hormonal treatments are just bad” sentiment: the BC pills that are out now have a far lower dosage than they did when they were first developed.

    Granted, I think there should be a variety of options for both men and women–oral contraceptives and barrier contraceptives–that will work. The Pill isn’t for everyone–some people are sensitive to the hormones, etc. or cannot take the Pill because of other health issues. Some people have latex allergies, some people are allergic to spermacide, and some people want to have kids eventually and don’t want to do anything permanent.

    And I second what was said about men taking more responsibility for this. I’m glad more men would like to see BC options for themselves, but please keep in mind that it wasn’t developed before because many men were not interested.

    PA and Sabrina, there are countries where the Pill is OTC, I believe.

  88. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    Vigée: But it’s okay for him to expect her to take a medication that he wouldn’t put in his own body? Okay, gotcha.

    Expect? Was she taking it before they got together? It is perfectly natural to expect your partner to continue doing certain things they were doing before you became a couple. It would be fine to expect a man who was taking BC to continue it after you became a couple and not say hey, YOU get on BC so I can get off or I’ll call sexism. Thats BS all day long. Its akin to a bait and switch.

    But if she wants to get off, its her body and her choice to do so, hormonal BC is not the only option. I just dont think forcing, coercing or demanding that someone ELSE take BC is ok ever.

  89. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    PrettyAmiable: This entire thread you’ve been going on about birth control (aside from condoms) being the devil and causing deaths. And suddenly women want to take the pill because you need to make a point about how Ashley is coercing her boyfriend and other women who have these expectations placed upon them are not? Nice.

    I didnt say it was the devil, WTF is this BS? Quote me on calling it the devil and I wont call you a fucking liar. I pointed out (wait for it, everyone has their pearls in hand?) not 99% of sexually active women were on BC because you must include lesbians, infertile women, trans women, pregnant women, ( I could go on) but I bet that after you count it all (and even those who are quivering) they make a combined MORE than 1% of the woman population. Then I went on to say hormonal BC isnt for everyone it HAS killed women before, WTF is the issue with actually saying that? Damn its liek you have to pretend BC is perfect around here or the BC brigade will say you have an issue with BC.

    Please let this be the last time someone tries to imply I said something that you all know damn fucking well I didn’t fucking say.

  90. Tori
    Tori April 26, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    Or would you liek to dismiss the lives of those women who DID die as a result of those forms of birth control?

    Are there people who’ve died from currently available intrauterine contraceptives? I found this, which is neither authoritative nor verifiable, this, which was written (IIRC) 4 years before current US IUDs came on the market, and this, which concludes that IUD use is safe among the discussed population.

  91. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    And just who are expecting women who are NOT on birth control to get on birth control? My stance has been simple, condoms shouldnt be downplayed, less than 99% of women use birthcontrol, each indivudal has a responisbility for their own body and they can not expect someone else to use a form of BC jsut because they are using nor can they dictate to their partners which form of BC their partner must use.

    Saying no to sex with that person is always an option, brekaing up is always an option. Shaming guilting coercing or forcing ANYONE to use BC is fuckery. It’s funny how often hormonal BC has been praised around here (even when you admit its problems its still praised as something good- because it allows reproductive and bodily autonomy for WOMEN) to now saying oh the horrors this GREAT and WONDERFUL thing that needs massive improvements is being forced on us but we need it and want it so it has to be improved.

    Really.

  92. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    Tori: Or would you liek to dismiss the lives of those women who DID die as a result of those forms of birth control? Are there people who’ve died from currently available intrauterine contraceptives? I found this, which is neither authoritative nor verifiable, this, which was written (IIRC) 4 years before current US IUDs came on the market, and this, which concludes that IUD use is safe among the discussed population.

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/Pregnancy/25661

    I skimmed it and didnt see any IUD deaths but there you have it, the IUD isn’t perfect either. My point was that there were women who were afraid of it. (And for those who misse dit I was NOT one fo them as I requested it myself after my first child but I was refused that otion for other reasons)

    Here is for Yaz and Yazmin

    http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/yaz-yasmin-deaths-in-united-states-17556/

    And just few sctatered more:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,405261,00.html

    http://www.suite101.com/content/death-lawsuits-and-the-pill-a15378

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8565177/ns/health-womens_health/

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives

    There is a need for non hormonal birth control (which is another stance of mine) that is effective.

  93. C
    C April 26, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    I’ve been thinking about side effects of hormonal birth-control pills a lot, with the recent discussion of women’s sex drives. I’m a straight cis woman who’s been on the pill since long before I was having sex — it’s the best way to control a hormonal imbalance I have. When I recently was off the pill for three weeks, because of a delay in getting my prescription refilled, I noticed two things. First, my sex drive spiked. I wanted to do it once or twice a day, rather than once a week, and the desire was much stronger. Second, my energy level was much higher. I’m also on an antidepressant, so it might be related to depression. Or it might have been that having more sex was making me happier; I was definitely enjoying it.

    Most doctors I’ve talked to have said my lack of sex drive was a coincidence, happening because of something else, or an unpredictable effect based on my personal biochemistry, not a “real” side effect. Either way, they weren’t particularly interested in figuring out a solution. That side effect of the pill is just not taken seriously — after all, women just aren’t that interested in sex anyway, right?

    But if a drug causes impotence in men, it’s taken seriously, and doctors will try to find alternatives. (Antidepressants are one example.) Men don’t tend to get “Oh, it’s just because you’re stressed out” or “Yeah, that just happens with this drug sometimes [shrug, implied ‘deal with it’]”.

    Those three weeks off the pill confirmed to me that the pill really does lower my sex drive, and that really does affect my quality of life. Obviously, you can’t draw any conclusions about how prevalent this side effect is among all pill users from my n=1 experience. But I’d be interested to see it studied.

    There’s great value in being able to control when, and whether, I get pregnant. I’m glad the pill exists. But the side effects need to be improved, and they can’t be improved if no one takes them seriously.

    (My partner chooses to use condoms because he wants to take his own responsibility to prevent unintended pregnancy. I would be comfortable with relying on condoms only, and keeping a dose of Plan B just in case — we’ve only had one condom break during many, many years of using them. But I’d still need to manage my hormonal imbalance. I think I should talk to an endocrinologist about whether there’s a non-birth-control-pill method for that.)

  94. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |

    Azalea – ” I pointed out not 99% of sexually active women were on BC because you must include lesbians, infertile women, trans women, pregnant women”

    Except guess what, even though it’s been said by me and everyone else already, multiple times, CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES AND MEDICATIONS WHILE DESIGNED TO PREVENT PREGNANCY, HAVE MANY OTHER USES. Guess what? Even lesbians and infertile women (again I know this, because I am both of these things) have acne, PCOS, endo, irregular periods, heavy bleeding and other conditions that are helped greatly by pills, implants, shots, the patch, the ring, Mirena. Pregnant women are pregnant for a whopping 40ish weeks, they’re not permapregnant. Oh and guess what a lot of trans women use to transition? BC PILLS!

    Shit. Looks like your strawman is burning.

    Oh, and I’ll quote again, because you seem to have a really selective memory, what you said about IUDs:

    “THIS BC may cause your UTERUS to spontaneously rip open without warning and be totally useless to you forever and ever amen”

    which is complete and utter horse-shit. Your endless stream of horror stories about oestrogen making your heart stop, IUCDs exploding in your insides (I think you’re confusing IUDs with IEDs), while simultaneously asserting that *all* women want to take the pill, that *everyone* should use condoms, and that we should all clasp our hands and weep for the ~poor menz~ because BC might give them mood swings, just makes you look like you’re grasping at straws.

    You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about, and are on some sort of personal crusade against BC because YOU had a bad experience. Well guess what? Pregnancy kills far more women than BC ever will. That’s why some people want to prevent it anyway they can. Birth control is AMAZING, it’s saved more than a few lives (mine included) and has revolutionised human life.

    2-3 women die every single day in the USA because of pregnancy/childbirth complications. ‘Near misses’ (where women are saved at the last minute) have risen by 25% in the last ten years. Without BC those rates would be much higher. Now find me a birth control that has those sorts of issues associated with it, where 40 weeks of usage can cause lifelong illness/impairment/disability. Find a BC that kills 3 women a day.

    Here are some more helpful figures . They all refer to non-fatal events:

    Incidence of thromboembolism in non-gravid women not using hormonal BC – 5:100,000

    Incidence of thromboembolism in women using second-gen Combined HBC – 15: 100,000

    Incidence of thromboembolism in women using third-gen CHBC – 25: 100,000

    Incidence in thromboembolism in pregnant women – 60 : 100,000.

    So any way you slice it, pregnancy is far more dangerous to health than BC or abortion.

    Oh, and anyone in the US without access to insurance, if you’d like a Mirena but can’t afford one, see if the Arch Foundation can help you: http://www.archfoundation.com/index.htm

  95. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 26, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    I fully recognize that women of the past 60 years have been guinea pigs (of sorts) as the pill has been tested and improved.

    If we flip the situation around, and men had a tried and tested form of hormonal birth control, and women were getting a new, untested form of birth control, I’d prefer that I take the tested one rather than her take the untested one.

    Where did that “But you’re right, we shouldn’t expect the same from men. They and their bodies are just too damn precious.” come from, because I never said anything of the sort and CERTAINLY don’t think anything of the sort.

    Please stop putting words in my mouth and subscribing me to ideas that I do not hold.

  96. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 9:47 am |

    Oh Azalea – “Saying no to sex with that person is always an option, brekaing up is always an option”

    I didn’t realise you were that kind of person, a victim blamer. Rape never happens in relationships does it? Nobody ever stays with someone out of coercion, threats, violence, a broken spirit.

    That’s it, I’m done with you. You’re making me physically ill. This is a FEMINIST site, not a haven for “Women are evil for wanting men to take responsibility for protection, and anybody can refuse sex” people riddled with internal misogyny.

    Tell you what, next time I’m talking to someone terrified who is pregnant, or has contracted an STI or injury because of rape/SV/SA/DV I’ll send them your way shall I, so you can tell them “Well, you should’ve said no”

    Shame on you.

    @Tori – Hello! I’ve been scouring the NHS Knowledgebase for SARs (serious adverse incidents) from IUCD use and can’t find any either. Lots about IEDs causing deaths, I suppose it’s an easy slip of the fingers, because the E is right above the D.

  97. sb
    sb April 26, 2011 at 10:00 am |

    Paraxeni (quoting Azalea:
    I can’t quite grasp what this means “When speaking on how well BC works, it also has to be user friendly. Hearing that and then noticing you went from NO cramps to now you’re cramping without hormonal birth control”

    Do you mean people who had cramp-free periods before BC, took BC and stopped, and then got cramps afterward?

    I think she might have been referring to my post. I traded hormonal BC for a Paragard, and swapped* migraines and depression for extremely mild cramps. I am thrilled with this bargain, and while my experience is not universal, I wish it were at least discussed with more women in the US.

    As for insertion stories — they really do vary. I drove to mine, took a couple of advil beforehand, found the process uncomfortable but on the same order as getting new ear piercings. I drove myself home right after, and occasionally over the next 24-48 hours had occasional (maybe one or two an hour while awake) brief interludes where it felt like I’d just been punched in the stomach — a spike of pain fading quickly to a mild ache.

    * I went off the pill for a while to verify that the migraines/depression cleared up and were not just a hormonal shift with age, so I am pretty sure the cramps are from the IUD.

  98. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    SB – cramping is really common with larger devices like Paragard and Mirena. How long have you had it? With my first Mirena I had on and off cramping for a year, nothing major just my uterus apparently realising it had a lodger, and freaking out a bit. Compared to the endometriosis though, it’s like tickling!

    Mirena #2 has just sat there without complaint. I wish I could’ve kept the original and used it as the centrepiece to a shrine, celebrating Dr Awesomesauce who recommended it. It sure beats playing painkiller-roulette, and hoping to die, that’s for sure.

    Apparently generic ibuprofen taken in the run-up to your period is helpful for eliminating crampage. It blocks some of the prostaglandins that signal your uterus to contract, and makes them weaker.

  99. GumbyAnne
    GumbyAnne April 26, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    I have never had children or been pregnant and I have a Mirena IUD. My sister also has no pregnancy history and she has a Paragard. My sister got hers from Planned Parenthood and I got mine from my regular WHNP (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner) at the family practice I have been going to since I was a kid. Neither of us was given a hard time about not having kids, but maybe we were both lucky.

    I have tried a lot of different birth control methods and Mirena is the only one I am honestly happy with. Pros are that there is nothing to remember, it is highly effective, periods are extremely light to nonexistent, no weight gain, little impact on my libido (unlike pills which make me completely dry and frigid). The only negative I can name is that it has changed the nature of my acne. I have always had problems with acne but it seems to be more cystic now that it used to be. On the whole, I’m extremely pleased.

    As far as the insertion, I was surprised at how easy it was. Since I have never had kids I pumped myself up for the procedure like I was going into battle or something, expecting terrible pain. I’d say it was about 30% as painful as I expected. I brought someone along to drive me home but I wouldn’t have needed to. I suspect that the level of pain on insertion has more to do with the skill and experience of the inserting clinician. An OBGYN or WHNP at a place like PP probably does 2 or 3 of them a day, while a random MD at a more general clinic may do them much more rarely and cause you more pain.

    I ended up paying a total of $177 after insurance but by the time I have had it for a year I will probably have saved that much on all the tampons I don’t have to buy anymore.

    That’s my two cents!

  100. Jadey
    Jadey April 26, 2011 at 10:18 am |

    Paraxeni: Apparently generic ibuprofen taken in the run-up to your period is helpful for eliminating crampage. It blocks some of the prostaglandins that signal your uterus to contract, and makes them weaker.

    Yes, a lot of the prescription medication for period cramps are also NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) that are basically stronger versions of ibuprofen, like mefanamic acid and naproxen (which is what’s in Aleve and is actually OTC in a lot of places too). They work exactly like that, blocking prostaglandins, so the earlier you take them the better. Be careful taking a lot without food because NSAIDs are hard on the gut and can cause stomach bleeding. I know – I love ironic medicinal side effects too.

  101. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 10:22 am |

    I was paraphrasing. Chill your shit. You’re talking about bc like it’s a fucking doomsday device and as if you are the only one ever to consider its risks. Any dissent you’re getting (aside from when you’re factually incorrect and paraxeni corrected you) is not because you’re pointing out risks, but because you’re talking about them like you’re the only one who’s ever thought of it. It’s condescending. I largely ignored you until you suggested that Ashley was coercing her boyfriend into taking medication and removing his bodily autonomy by having a discussion about male bc that isn’t even available yet. I think defining coercion like this is dangerous.

  102. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 10:41 am |

    @Jadey _ I loved mefenamic acid, but I have kidney stones and it gave me renal colic. I wept when I lost that option. I tried a Cox II inhibitor as well which was so good, but then withdrawn for actually killing people.

    I miss being able to use NSAIDs, I now use a labour drug to control the remaining pain, and that’s with the help from the Mirena and a combined pill.

    That’s what some naysayers don’t understand, that for all the “It will kill you, it’ll make you barren” rhetoric, some of us do not care. Some of us (and if Tori comes back to this thread I know she’ll back me up) will do ANYTHING to make the MenstroMonster be dead.

    I take a huge chance every time I pop a dianette in my mouth (i’m in virtually every risk group for it, but I’m not over 35 and don’t smoke). The CoxIIs could’ve killed me, I knew that and it was OK. The morphine carries risks when taken with my other pain meds, and the labour drugs are… well they’re labour drugs, I shouldn’t need them. Even they barely take the edge off. I will take the risk of death every single time over going back to how I was from menarche. I’m sure others feel that way about pregnancy.

    That’s what bugs me about people nagging, and finger-wagging as if we’re silly kids playing with matches or something. We know the risks. How many people who choose pregnancy know that a third of American women experience permanent impairment because of it? Pregnancy is no joke, and while birth control may carry risks, the vast majority of users (99% of AFAB people in the US as per the article) escape without damage.

  103. sb
    sb April 26, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    Paraxeni:
    SB – cramping is really common with larger devices like Paragard and Mirena. How long have you had it?

    Apparently generic ibuprofen taken in the run-up to your period is helpful for eliminating crampage. It blocks some of the prostaglandins that signal your uterus to contract, and makes them weaker.

    Seven years! And when I say mild I mean mild — less than a 1 on any sort of pain scale. (I love ibuprofen, but it gives me heartburn if I take it for more than a couple days running. So I use it sparingly, which = never for cramps.)

  104. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 10:58 am |

    @sb – ah well, if you can deal! I hate having indigestion from meds. For some reason morphine makes me feel like I’m gargling fire. Woe betide me if I miss one proton pump inhibitor.

    Would you get another Paragard when this one’s expired, do you think?

  105. sb
    sb April 26, 2011 at 11:30 am |

    Paraxeni:
    @sb – ah well, if you can deal!I hate having indigestion from meds.For some reason morphine makes me feel like I’m gargling fire.Woe betide me if I miss one proton pump inhibitor.

    Would you get another Paragard when this one’s expired, do you think?

    I expect I’ll be removing this one around the expiration date in order to try to have a kid. After that (assuming all goes well, which is a big assumption, but) I probably will get a new one.

  106. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 11:46 am |

    Paraxeni: Oh Azalea – “Saying no to sex with that person is always an option, brekaing up is always an option”I didn’t realise you were that kind of person, a victim blamer. Rape never happens in relationships does it? Nobody ever stays with someone out of coercion, threats, violence, a broken spirit.That’s it, I’m done with you. You’re making me physically ill. This is a FEMINIST site, not a haven for “Women are evil for wanting men to take responsibility for protection, and anybody can refuse sex” people riddled with internal misogyny.Tell you what, next time I’m talking to someone terrified who is pregnant, or has contracted an STI or injury because of rape/SV/SA/DV I’ll send them your way shall I, so you can tell them “Well, you should’ve said no”Shame on you.@Tori – Hello! I’ve been scouring the NHS Knowledgebase for SARs (serious adverse incidents) from IUCD use and can’t find any either. Lots about IEDs causing deaths, I suppose it’s an easy slip of the fingers, because the E is right above the D.

    Oh please! You’re so full of it! Now suddenly every woman taking birth control is being raped by their partner and thats why they’re taking it? Ther eis no such thing as a woman voluntarily taking birth control in this country?

    You quote me saying that saying no to sex is always an option (because again we’re speaking in the context of relationships where people are EXPECTING monogamy or at the very least that their partner’s partners are all tested and there is no need to be concerned with passing around STIs/STDs. You going off on a tangent you’re starting to backtrack here.

    Ugh, *this* word twisting cluster fuck is what I deal with everytime someone disagrees with what I have to say and it has been common when that someone is a POC for this to happen. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I wont let you make me the boogey monster because you’re expecting the WOC to just up and agree with you because your word is THE word.

  107. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    PrettyAmiable: I was paraphrasing. Chill your shit. You’re talking about bc like it’s a fucking doomsday device and as if you are the only one ever to consider its risks. Any dissent you’re getting (aside from when you’re factually incorrect and paraxeni corrected you) is not because you’re pointing out risks, but because you’re talking about them like you’re the only one who’s ever thought of it. It’s condescending. I largely ignored you until you suggested that Ashley was coercing her boyfriend into taking medication and removing his bodily autonomy by having a discussion about male bc that isn’t even available yet. I think defining coercion like this is dangerous.

    It’s YOUR perception that I posed BC to be the doomsday device. Where did I say or recommend anyone not to take it. My issue with MALE hormonal BC is that it has not been put to use as long as women’s options have and even though women’s BC has been tried and tested very few women STILL die from taking it and you dont have a fail proof on which woman is totally safe using it and which isn’t. It doesn’t take a fucking rocket scientist to gather from that the male BC isnt all that ideal. Playing around with a person’s hormone levels can get dangerous, it isnt the end of the world and it certainly isnt the absolute worst thing ever. But even IF the male BC was perfect you STILL cant expect someone to take ANY medication they do not want to take it. Thats just life, you cant control what other people put into their bodies or take out of it. YOU have control over your own and its YOUR right to exercise that right of bodily autonomy as it pertains to YOU. Your partner isnt your property. I advise Ashley to dump him if she wants, not sleep with him if she doesn’t want to sleep with a guy who refuses to use male hormonal BC but to stay and then try to guilt him into it is still coercion.

  108. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    Azalea: Where did I say or recommend anyone not to take it.

    Where did I say that you recommended not to take it? Misleading question is misleading. Again, not quite as misleading as when you talk about Ashley coercing him into taking a drug THAT HE CAN’T TAKE BECAUSE IT’S NOT ON THE MARKET, but there you go. Talking about male bc with your partner? Not coercion. Feeling uncomfortable that you’re expected to be on birth control when your partner wouldn’t take similar risks to prevent pregnancy? Not coercion. If Ashley sat and withheld sex or whined until he gave way or whatever, you would have an argument for coercion. Again, all of this is moot, because this drug IS NOT AVAILABLE.

  109. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    I was going to respond to Azalea again, but I think PrettyAmiable and Paraxeni pretty much have it covered. But yea, I agree with the two of them. Obviously.

  110. ks
    ks April 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm |

    Yeah, you can pry my birth control pills from my cold, dead hands. I’ve been on the pill since I was 18, pretty much non-stop, except for two planned pregnancies (and then I was pregnant within a couple of weeks of going off the pill) and a 10 month foray into the world of the IUD last year. I love the damn pill–I have very light periods with the one I’m on now, my skin is clear and nice, and I don’t know what my sex drive would be off it, since I’ve been on since I was a teenager. But it is pretty high now and if it were to increase, my poor husband would probably have a heart attack from being overworked. I am a little heavier than I think I otherwise would be (after kid #2 I switched to Seasonale and gained almost 30 pounds in 6 months, so I promptly switched back to Yasmine, which stopped the weight gain but brought back the periods), but that’s really the only complaint I have now. I tried Mirena last year, because I’d heard do many amazing things about it and the lack of periods is something I am definitely interested in, but I am apparently an outlier and I had a period that lasted, nonstop, for over 6 months. Since then I’ve gone back to the pill and again, I find it annoying to have to remember it every day and I do not want to have a period ever again, but I’ve not had an accidental pregnancy and I’ve never really had any problems with the pill.

    I’m seriously considering a tubal, but then I’d have to go back to periods again and really, I don’t want that at all. So I’ll probably be on the pill forever, unfortunately.

  111. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    @Azalea : remember this? “Saying no to sex with that person is always an option”

    Do you know what the biggest killer of pregnant women is, in the US Azalea? It’s not pre-eclamptic toxaemia, or stroke, or cardiac problems. It’s murder, specifically murder by their S.O.

    Men sabotage contraception to control ‘their’ women all the time. Men beat their partners, rape them, and kill them. All. The. Time.

    Do not DARE come here and say anyone can say no to sex at any time. Being in a steady, monogamous relationship does not prevent rape/SA/SV. You are enforcing rape culture, “Stupid women should just say no or leave” as if it were THAT EASY.

    Yeah, I get it, you’re pissed off that nobody went along with your little “BC is unnatural and evil” crusade, that people objected to your “Condoms are essential” argument, and burned your strawmen to ashes. You’re contradicting yourself all over the place, victim-blaming, crying misandry, spreading FUD in a place where vulnerable people hang out, and you still think we’re the problem?

    Oh and FYI (even though I must’ve said it anyway) I am not American, I do not live in America, I have not been there. I do drink a lot of Pepsi, and enjoy Amigos de Garcia comedy productions and RuPaul’s Drag Race, but that’s my only tangential connection with your country.

    The moral of the story is – don’t try to pass off opinion, lies and anecdata as fact, and expect to not get called on it. This isn’t Yahoo Answers.

  112. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    @ks “I tried Mirena last year, because I’d heard do many amazing things about it and the lack of periods is something I am definitely interested in, but I am apparently an outlier and I had a period that lasted, nonstop, for over 6 month”

    Actually that’s fairly common. The lack of periods (for most users) kicks in after the one year mark. The problem is that there seems to be no pre-insertion counselling/info, from what I’ve heard, in the US at large. At Vaginapagina and iud_divas (on livejournal) people will complain of irregular/extended bleeding (which is the most common side-effect) and report never having been told about the possibility of it. That shocks me a bit actually, especially as you guys are usually handing over a fair bit of money for the little plastic T!

    FWIW Implanon/Nexplanon is pretty good at stopping periods, and lasts for three years. It’s also extremely efficacious, and becoming more popular. The whole irregular/extended bleeding thing can crop up there too, but often that can be stopped by temporarily (ie. for a month or so, same goes with the Mirena for anyone else with that problem) taking a low-dose combined pill.

  113. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Where did I say that you recommended not to take it? Misleading question is misleading. Again, not quite as misleading as when you talk about Ashley coercing him into taking a drug THAT HE CAN’T TAKE BECAUSE IT’S NOT ON THE MARKET, but there you go. Talking about male bc with your partner? Not coercion. Feeling uncomfortable that you’re expected to be on birth control when your partner wouldn’t take similar risks to prevent pregnancy? Not coercion. If Ashley sat and withheld sex or whined until he gave way or whatever, you would have an argument for coercion. Again, all of this is moot, because this drug IS NOT AVAILABLE.

    Witholding sex wouldn’t be coercion, if it turned her off and she didnt want to have sex with him because of it why should she have to avoid the coercion? there was no misleading question. One of the things I said was that she did not HAVE to have sex with this guy if she didn’t want to, she even has the option of breaking up with him, but to EXPECT him to take hormonal BC *just* because SHE is taking it, is not cool. At all.

  114. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    Paraxeni: @Azalea : remember this? “Saying no to sex with that person is always an option”Do you know what the biggest killer of pregnant women is, in the US Azalea? It’s not pre-eclamptic toxaemia, or stroke, or cardiac problems. It’s murder, specifically murder by their S.O.Men sabotage contraception to control ‘their’ women all the time. Men beat their partners, rape them, and kill them. All. The. Time.Do not DARE come here and say anyone can say no to sex at any time. Being in a steady, monogamous relationship does not prevent rape/SA/SV. You are enforcing rape culture, “Stupid women should just say no or leave” as if it were THAT EASY.Yeah, I get it, you’re pissed off that nobody went along with your little “BC is unnatural and evil” crusade, that people objected to your “Condoms are essential” argument, and burned your strawmen to ashes. You’re contradicting yourself all over the place, victim-blaming, crying misandry, spreading FUD in a place where vulnerable people hang out, and you still think we’re the problem?Oh and FYI (even though I must’ve said it anyway) I am not American, I do not live in America, I have not been there. I do drink a lot of Pepsi, and enjoy Amigos de Garcia comedy productions and RuPaul’s Drag Race, but that’s my only tangential connection with your country.The moral of the story is – don’t try to pass off opinion, lies and anecdata as fact, and expect to not get called on it. This isn’t Yahoo Answers.

    You DO relaize nobody here has discussed BC in teh context of abusive relationships right? That when this was brought up, it was because a woman in a relationship with a man askled him about taking male BC and her reaction to his emphatic “HELL NO” right?

    Ok, so yeah continue beating your drum if it makes you feel better. I never said nobody gets raped or that domestic abuse doesn’t exist but this isn’t a conversation about domestic abuse and I’m sorry but I’m not going to tell someone they can never say no to their partner or he’ll rape them. I just wont. No means no all day long Paraxeni and if she wants to say no she damn well can I refuse to TELL a woman to have sex she doesn’t want to have. Saying no is always an option. The issue beyond that is whether or not that no is respected and because I do not have the great book of rapists I can’t tell who is and who isn’t being raped or is raping someone.

    So yeah I WILL come up in here and tell any woman that she CAN say no, she has a fucking RIGHT to say no and that nobody on this fucking planet has a RIGHT to her fucking body! Women are not predestined to all be rape victims and not a single woman should be afraid to say no, even to someone she loves and trusts for fear that he will rape her anyway!

  115. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    “So yeah I WILL come up in here and tell any woman that she CAN say no, she has a fucking RIGHT to say no and that nobody on this fucking planet has a RIGHT to her fucking body! Women are not predestined to all be rape victims and not a single woman should be afraid to say no, even to someone she loves and trusts for fear that he will rape her anyway!”

    I give up. I honestly cannot fathom your line of thought.

    > You say all AFAB people have the right to refuse sex if pregnancy is not an option (sounds like Leslee Unruh that one),a nd that if they stay with someone who does that – it’s their own fault. Victim-blaming at it’s finest there. > I tell you that you’re erasing the experiences of people out there, and in here, who do not have that option. Then somehow > You imply that I want all women (and AFAB people who do not identify as women, please don’t erase them) to be raped, that I’m saying nobody has the right to refuse sex, and that somehow, you believe that a ‘NO’ prevents rape.

    I’m baffled, I really am. Every single person has the right to refuse sexual contact, everybody. But, in case it’s escaped your notice, rape culture exists and rape happens anyway. People become victims by chance in the comparatively rare random attacks, they are raped and assaulted by men they know or have gone out with, and they are raped and assaulted by boyfriends, husbands, relatives, friends. “NO” doesn’t work.

  116. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    Azalea:

    No means no all day long Paraxeni and if she wants to say no she damn well can I refuse to TELL a woman to have sex she doesn’t want to have. Saying no is always an option. The issue beyond that is whether or not that no is respected and because I do not have the great book of rapists I can’t tell who is and who isn’t being raped or is raping someone.

    So yeah I WILL come up in here and tell any woman that she CAN say no, she has a fucking RIGHT to say no and that nobody on this fucking planet has a RIGHT to her fucking body! Women are not predestined to all be rape victims and not a single woman should be afraid to say no, even to someone she loves and trusts for fear that he will rape her anyway!

    Because Paraxeni is secretly pro-rape and doesn’t think women should be able to say no? Umm, I don’t think so, and saying as much makes you look kind of silly.

  117. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    @Vigee – she’s uncovered my deepest, darkest secret!

  118. Emma
    Emma April 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    I just wanna give a little props to fertility awareness method (FAM) — charting cycles. I know this thread is about getting better products on the market. I gotta say, though, I don’t love to see my method of choice perpetually relegated to the “celebrated options are very quickly reduced to” category. I get that FAM is not for everybody — it has its constrictions — but it is for me.

    I started doing FAM after having an abortion (condom break, morning after pill fail) over a year ago. The abortion doctor shamed me about it and told me I would get pregnant again because I would mess it up.

    From my feminist perspective, I like FAM because it’s hella cheap, takes my fertility out of the consumer cycle (I cop to being in the reusable menstrual products set), and demands cooperation and collaboration from any fertile sperm-toting sexual partner. I feel empowered by the method.

    I’m 24, and my FAM was self-taught using a pile of texts. I found the first dated 1970s info about it buried in a reference in an Ina May Gaskin text when I veered off the syllabus of an ethnography of reproduction class my senior year of college. I was like, wow, I actually can know what’s going on in my body and use that information to prevent pregnancy.

    What frustrates me is how the method gets belittled and treated as quaint, dangerous, so difficult as to be impossible, archaic, only for Catholics and hippies, etc. … That nobody effing told me about it and that teachers are hard to come by.

    I do abstain from vaginal intercourse during my fertile phase. When I abstain, I feel safe, and I can rely on other sexual acts. I did have to get comfortable touching my cervix and pass through a learning curve. Yeah, the method requires me and any fertile sperm-toter going near my twat to know stuff about and respect the way my body cycles — having experienced non-consensual sex: word that it’s a privilege to be able to rely on trust and my chart. (I’m only talking fertility here, not STIs.)

    What I think is cool is that even though my cycle is classically regular, the method can work for and reveal a sense of logical flow to ovulators whose cycles don’t fit the 28-day-ish stereotype. Also, my friends get excited. They’re like, “Oh, you mean, just because I ovulate doesn’t mean I’m fertile every day of my life?”

    Anyway, I agree that there needs to be some mega forward movement in what’s available through the pharmacy. The assortment of HBC offered to me was pretty thumbs down for this body and I felt adrift amongst side-effects and mixed media/medical messages. At the same time, I experience FAM as a whole lot of radical, revolutionary, empowering awesome. High fives to everyone who pushed for their IUDs.

  119. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    @Emma – apparently the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Wechsler is great. There’s a website now too: http://www.tcoyf.com/

  120. Donna L
    Donna L April 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    “Oh and guess what a lot of trans women use to transition? BC PILLS!”

    Just fyi, I don’t think that’s been true for a long time, since they reduced the amount of estrogen in BC pills. So, they don’t have *enough* estrogen in them to be effective for transition. I, and most other trans women I know, just took plain old estrogen pills (estradiol in my case), or estrogen injections or patches or gels or whatever. The equivalent of 8 mg per day until I had surgery, 4 afterwards. With no progestin (and, therefore, supposedly no increased risk of breast cancer). Although some take that separately.

    All in all, I’ve been taking estrogen for 10 years now, and will probably have to take it for the rest of my life. I’m still here, but there haven’t really been any longterm studies I know of specifically involving trans women. It’s still been more than worth it, whatever happens in the future.

    Negative side effects? Of course people have them, and/or have the risk of them, the same as any other woman on HRT, for birth control or otherwise. I had a serious problem at one point with off the charts prolactin levels and a couple of pituitary gland tumors, but that was probably caused by the anti-androgen I was taking prior to surgery, and they shrank eventually after I stopped taking it.

    Still, though, I wouldn’t necessarily count trans women among the supposed 99%, because, at least in my case, I’ve technically never taken BC pills.

    PS: I have a great deal of trouble believing that most cis men would be willing to take any form of birth control involving estrogen. No matter how much testosterone they took to counteract it.

  121. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    It seems pretty reasonable to expect your partner to make reciprocal sacrifices. The pill is – in some cases – used by het partners as the only preganacy prevention method. In those cases where the person with the uterus doesn’t otherwise wish to be on the pill, but does so for the benefit of their sexual relationship(s), it seems fairly shitty if an otherwise healthy sexual partner benefiting from the birth control is unwilling to take similar measures.

  122. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    Kristen J.’s Husband:
    It seems pretty reasonable to expect your partner to make reciprocal sacrifices.The pill is – in some cases – used by het partners as the only preganacy prevention method.In those cases where the person with the uterus doesn’t otherwise wish to be on the pill, but does so for the benefit of their sexual relationship(s), it seems fairly shitty if an otherwise healthy sexual partner benefiting from the birth control is unwilling to take similar measures.

    This, this a thousand times this. Thanks for saying what I was having trouble getting out.

  123. GumbyAnne
    GumbyAnne April 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    I’m with Emma that FAM is pretty awesome and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It can work very well with commitment to the method and a trusted partner.

  124. IrishUp
    IrishUp April 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    “(I think you’re confusing IUDs with IEDs)”

    paraxeni, I have had many red eye-hearts for your posts, and this time they were joined by pepsi nose-spray.

  125. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm |

    @IrishUp – haha thank you! I’ve had a few Pepsinus moments in here myself today.

    @Donna – I’m thinking mainly of Dianette/Diane/Estelle/Ginette 35. It’s a popular DIY method, because it contains cytoproterone and oestradiol all in one. I know that people undergoing transition in the US and UK via health services don’t use that method anymore, but it’s really common in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia. Lots of sites like Inhouse Pharmacy sell it (and regularly sell out by all accounts!) in their trans health section. It’s no longer prescribed as BC here, only for extreme cases of hirsutism or severe acne. Still got my beard though… stupid ovaries.

  126. ACG
    ACG April 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    GumbyAnne:The only negative I can name is that it has changed the nature of my acne. I have always had problems with acne but it seems to be more cystic now that it used to be.

    F’reals? I’ve been having complexion issues for a while now, particularly with that exact same problem. I figured the increased spottiness might have been related to going off the Pill, but I hadn’t considered that the increased cysticity (which is a real word! I just learned it!) might be because of the Mirena. Huh. I wonder if there’s anything to do about that, because it’s unpleasant.

    Now that I’ve had mine for about a year and a half, the only other side effect is my own paranoia about not getting a period. I still spot on occasion, but when I don’t, I’ve been known to run out and pick up a pregnancy test just to check.

    And yeah, insertion was incredibly painful. I got sounded and inserted in the same visit, so I’m glad I only had to go through it once, but sweet zombie Jesus did it hurt. The nurse had to go get my boyfriend to drive the car around to the front to pick me up because I could barely walk. It’s the only time I’ve ever vomited from pain. But once every five years? Totally worth it.

  127. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    @Gumby & ACG – sometimes an anti-androgen will help reduce that acne, spironolactone is a common one. Androgenic effects from the Mirena are pretty common, because they slow your ovaries to a crawl.

  128. Donna L
    Donna L April 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm |

    Thanks for clarifying, Paraxeni. Unfortunately, estrogen and anti-androgens don’t really do much of anything for facial hair for trans women, either, although they generally reduce hair elsewhere.

    Cyproterone acetate (under the name androcur) is what I used to take as an anti-androgen, even though it wasn’t available in the US (even though my doctor prescribed it), because I couldn’t take the one that’s usually prescribed because of unrelated medical issues. So I ordered it online from places like Inhouse Pharmacy myself. And it happens to be what apparently caused my prolactin/pituitary tumor problems. You can’t win sometimes.

    Not to get too off-topic, but I always read that ethinyl estradiol was supposed to be more dangerous to take, in terms of risking blood clots and liver damage and so on, than plain old estradiol (whatever the difference may be; I’m no chemist).

    Anyway, anyone who thinks trans women (or trans men) don’t need to be concerned about the dangers of hormones is wrong. Even if they don’t use it for birth control, and even though there’s really no alternative.

  129. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm |

    @Donna – it is pretty dangerous yep, that’s why I wish the ‘informed consent’ transition model was available to more people. Gatekeeping (roadblocking?) forces too many people into DIY.

    Dianette has a pretty big chance (statistically) of doing me harm, but given my ridiculously complex slew of problems it’s my only option+ Mirena for the endo suppression. Also, Dianette is (oddly) the only thing to ever kill my crippling depression. SSRIs and SNRIs, diet, tried all sorts of things, but only that tiny little pill has ever worked.

  130. Tori
    Tori April 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm |

    Azalea: http://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/Pregnancy/25661I skimmed it and didnt see any IUD deaths but there you have it, the IUD isn’t perfect either. My point was that there were women who were afraid of it. (And for those who misse dit I was NOT one fo them as I requested it myself after my first child but I was refused that otion for other reasons

    Okay, but what you said was, “Or would you liek to dismiss the lives of those women who DID die as a result of those forms of birth control?” while discussing pills and IUDs. As it turns out, neither of us has been able to find sources to substantiate your claim.

    I never claimed the IUD was perfect (though it was immensely valuable to me when I was in a relationship where I was being coerced into sex); I just want you to source your shit.

  131. xenu01
    xenu01 April 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm |

    I would like to second (fifth?) the request for a male pill. I take my responsibilities re: birth control seriously, but I wish it didn’t always have to be the responsibility of the one with the womb. I just bet, too, that if a pill came out for men it would be thoroughly tested and not have serious risk of blot clots, etc.

  132. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    Alright. I’m assuming we’re going to keep talking past each other because a) I don’t think having expectations in a relationship is by default coercive (example: I’ve never felt coerced into dressing more conservatively even though my father lectures me some victim-blamey shit and clearly has expectations for how I, his daughter, should dress), b) I think you know there’s another element that needs to be present, which is why you brought up guilt even though there’s nothing to indicate that she tried guilt-tripping her boyfriend about hormonal bc, and c) you cannot coerce someone into doing something they cannot do. Dude birth control is not available. He cannot take it, no matter what she says. I really don’t get how you’re ignoring this every. time. you. comment.

    And yes, asking me where you said that women shouldn’t take birth control is misleading. It suggests that I accused you of saying that. I did no such thing. Thus, misleading question? It’s misleading.

  133. Tori
    Tori April 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    That’s what some naysayers don’t understand, that for all the “It will kill you, it’ll make you barren” rhetoric, some of us do not care. Some of us (and if Tori comes back to this thread I know she’ll back me up) will do ANYTHING to make the MenstroMonster be dead.

    @Paraxeni — Just following up on this to agree. My 6-month stint with my Mirena was the only time in the past… 27 months?… that I haven’t been moderately to severely anemic. We can talk all we want about the possibility of severe reactions to certain contraceptive methods, but — for me and for some others at least — that pales in comparison to the certainty of the severe effects we experience without them.

    I’m seriously considering a tubal, but then I’d have to go back to periods again and really, I don’t want that at all. So I’ll probably be on the pill forever, unfortunately.

    @ks — If it sounds like a good idea to you, it might be worth looking into getting a tubal and still using the pill thereafter for period management. It’s definitely been done by others, and it’s sort of like what I’m doing now: I had my Essure sterilization done and confirmed but recently re-started a progestin-only pill to help control pain and bleeding. I don’t mind the act of taking a pill every day (provided this pill is effective for what I need), but it is nice not to have to rely on it as a contraceptive measure. Obviously, it’s something that would need to be discussed with a health care provider (which I am not), but it might helpful to know.

    What frustrates me is how the method gets belittled and treated as quaint, dangerous, so difficult as to be impossible, archaic, only for Catholics and hippies, etc. … That nobody effing told me about it and that teachers are hard to come by.

    @Emma — I agree. I ended up using FAM as a primary method for… about 4 years? It wasn’t right for me all of the time (but that’s true of a lot of methods for a lot of people), but when it was, the knowledge was very empowering. I think making an informed choice is key, and I totally understand that a lot of people make informed choices that this method is not for them. However, I also sometimes get the impression that people ridiculing the method (rather than simply deciding they’re personally uncomfortable with it) are doing something more akin to making (potentially misinformed) choices for other people.

  134. Emma
    Emma April 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    @Paraxeni⁠, yes! Tcoyf is amazing. I use the Celsius chart that is offered for free download on the site and keep the book bedside. I started with Margaret Nofzinger’s two tiny books.

  135. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm |

    @Tori – exactly right, I can face definite damage without Mirena+pill, or possible damage with them. Given that I already have lesions in my respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal tracts, as well as the adhesions, scarring, cysts and mental damage incurred – I’m happy taking my chances, and I’m not happy leaving a body with autoimmune cascade to it’s own devices.

    I think people who haven’t experienced it have no idea just how bad it gets, and just how quickly an effective treatment (be that painkillers or hormonal suppression) can be trumped by your body and turned into so much “Meh”. When you find something that works for longer than a few weeks you dig in and hold on for life, ‘splodey uterus or no.

  136. GumbyAnne
    GumbyAnne April 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    Yep, Paraxeni, you’re right about the acne treatment: I’m taking spironolactone for the hormonal cystic acne and it is pretty well cleared up.

  137. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm |

    Vigée: Because Paraxeni is secretly pro-rape and doesn’t think women should be able to say no? Umm, I don’t think so, and saying as much makes you look kind of silly.

    How about because she actually got pissed off that I *gasp* said that someone CAN say no!!! YOU look silly agreeing with her that you can NOT say no. And if she meant something different she sure as hell used the wrong quote to make her point.

    She secretly back tracked and had no where else to go but try to accuse me of victim blaming. Bodily autonomy means YOU CONTROL YOUR BODY and if you dont want to have sex with anyone for any reason it is your right to say NO, if you do not want to take a medicationfor any reson you have a right to say NO and anyone’s expectation of you to do otherwise can go to hell. Even if the reason is “because you’re not using birth control” you have the right to say no. What YOU areforgetting in your rush toside against me, is that my post was in response to a woman being upe and then being told that she had a right to EXPECT that her parter take birth control. I say “She could always say NO to sex with him or just break up but that expecting demanding or coercing him to take homronal bc JUT because she takes it, isn’t respecting his bodily autonomy and its wrong.

    What I see, is that you two have taken this and twisted and turned it to mean that I dont respect rape victims because I told a woman who it seems is NOT being raped by her partner that she can tell him no to sex.
    Yeah

    Who’s silly again?

  138. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm |

    Tori: Okay, but what you said was, “Or would you liek to dismiss the lives of those women who DID die as a result of those forms of birth control?” while discussing pills and IUDs. As it turns out, neither of us has been able to find sources to substantiate your claim. I never claimed the IUD was perfect (though it was immensely valuable to me when I was in a relationship where I was being coerced into sex); I just want you to source your shit.

    There are links where women deaths HAVE been linked to the pills, the idiscrepency was with finding a death related to the NEW IUDs . Yaz, Yazmin OthoEvra and I personally know someone who died as a result of taking Yaz. Did you not see the links I gave you?

  139. Vigée
    Vigée April 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Azalea: How about because she actually got pissed off that I *gasp* said that someone CAN say no!!! YOU look silly agreeing with her that you can NOT say no.

    You’re right, dude. We both think that women can’t say no. You got us. (By the way, I’m a survivor of sexual assault, so why don’t you STFU on that point)

  140. Tori
    Tori April 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm |

    Azalea: There are links where women deaths HAVE been linked to the pills, the idiscrepency was with finding a death related to the NEW IUDs . Yaz, Yazmin OthoEvra and I personally know someone who died as a result of taking Yaz. Did you not see the links I gave you?

    I read and understood just fine. However, part of your claim involved IUDs. I asked about that portion of the claim. Neither one of us has been able to substantiate that portion of the claim. Ergo, that shit has not been sourced.

  141. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    Azalea: Can I give you a few tips? First of all, spell check your posts, please. They’re becoming unreadable. Secondly, Fox news, one of the sources you cited, makes shit up all the time. They aren’t credible.
    *I know, I know, but it’s fun to poke the troll.

  142. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm |

    @Azalea – you’re really, really funny. a) The replies on here are timestamped, and b) all in English, which is handy. So, to address this bit of weirdness from you “How about because she actually got pissed off that I *gasp* said that someone CAN say no!! […] She secretly back tracked and had no where else to go but try to accuse me of victim blaming”

    Right, as I’m not sure if English is your first language, I’ll lay this out as simply as I can to minimise confusion. OK?

    Right. Here we go.

    Comment 91: Azalea 4.26.2011 at 9:14 am

    Saying no to sex with that person is always an option, brekaing up is always an option.

    Comment 96: Paraxeni 4.26.2011 at 9:47 am
    Oh Azalea – “Saying no to sex with that person is always an option, brekaing up is always an option”

    I didn’t realise you were that kind of person, a victim blamer. Rape never happens in relationships does it? Nobody ever stays with someone out of coercion, threats, violence, a broken spirit.

    Comment 106: zalea 4.26.2011 at 11:46 am

    Oh please! You’re so full of it! Now suddenly every woman taking birth control is being raped by their partner and thats why they’re taking it? Ther eis no such thing as a woman voluntarily taking birth control in this country?

    You quote me saying that saying no to sex is always an option (because again we’re speaking in the context of relationships where people are EXPECTING monogamy or at the very least that their partner’s partners are all tested and there is no need to be concerned with passing around STIs/STDs.

    Comment 111: Paraxeni 4.26.2011 at 1:10 pm

    Do not DARE come here and say anyone can say no to sex at any time. Being in a steady, monogamous relationship does not prevent rape/SA/SV. You are enforcing rape culture, “Stupid women should just say no or leave” as if it were THAT EASY

    Comment 114: Azalea 4.26.2011 at 1:25 pm

    I’m sorry but I’m not going to tell someone they can never say no to their partner or he’ll rape them. I just wont. No means no all day long Paraxeni and if she wants to say no she damn well can I refuse to TELL a woman to have sex she doesn’t want to have. Saying no is always an option

    Got that?

    So, you say anyone who doesn’t want to get pregnant can say no to sex, or leave. I tell you that isn’t always an option, and you build your pointless “AMG EVERY WOMAN IN THIS COUNTRY IS NOT BEING RAPED!!!!11″ strawman, from words I never typed.

    I say that saying ‘No’ doesn’t stop rape, and that you’re a victim blamer, and suddenly I’m pro-rape, and you’re thrashing about with your “EVERY WOMAN (again with the erasure of AFABs who aren’t women) HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!” when I never fucking denied that, I said that NO is not a magic bullet against rape.

    NO does not stop someone with a penis raping someone with a vagina.
    NO does not stop people being forced into sex, or getting pregnant, or being killed.
    NO isn’t magic and all powerful. Every single person on EARTH has the right to say NO, but it’s a sad truth that not everyone will listen.

    Oh and guess what, you still haven’t addressed this little humdinger:

    “THIS BC may cause your UTERUS to spontaneously rip open without warning and be totally useless to you forever and ever amen”

    So, again, [citations] pls.

    Oh and re: drospirenone, it’s already been pointed out that pregnancy is still more than twice the risk for thromboembolism. Being on the pill will not fuck up 33% of childbearers. Pregnancy will. That’s why people want to PREVENT PREGNANCY. All your spurious citations from ambulance-chasing companies financially dependent on targeting a name-brand med without a generic won’t change that.

    BC of any kind = safer than pregnancy
    Abortion = safer than pregnancy.

    That non-hormonal solution you keep wittering on about? HAS EXISTED FOR 80 YEARS. Non-hormonal silver and copper IUDs are safe, reliable, and well tolerated by most users. Instead of arguing the toss here why not petition the FDA to stop putting inane, paternalistic restrictions on who is allowed to be in charge of their reproductive health, hmm? People all over the world use IUDs for huge swathes of their lives without issue, but because of draconian US policy that insists anyone with a uterus is too feeble to decide for themselves, they’re not allowed to be marketed to the people who need them most. In addition there’s a whole ONE choice of Paragard IUD (Mirena is an IUS so doesn’t count), when other countries can choose from a dozen.

    So, why not write to the FDA and demand they ease restrictions that tell manufacturers that not putting the words “Suitable only for women who have given birth” will result in losing their license. Ask then why they don’t approve devices like Gynefix, Multiload, and ‘short’ or ‘slim’ versions of silver and copper Ts that would give people more choice.

    Wouldn’t that be more productive?

  143. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |

    @Tori – OK I’ve searched everywhere I’ve still got access to, and still cannot find a death related to any one of the dozen IUCDs available now, or any of the earlier ones that people are still wearing.

    Funnily enough the only place on the whole interwebs that yielded a result was a delightful anti-choice site, which I refuse to give the oxygen of publicity.

    So nobody’s uterus has exploded, or imploded, I’m almost sad about that because it seems like it would be very interesting to see. She also still hasn’t provided me with details of any HBC that damages a third of it’s users, or that has a thromboembolism rate of more than the 60:1000,000 risk associated with pregnancy.

    So I’m done. The smell of burning strawmen and rape/SA/SV apologism (because clearly the survivors in this thread just didn’t say NO hard enough) is aggravating my sinuses.

    Still, if just one person went away from this thread (and I know they did) thinking “Wow, so all those nasty rumours of death, infection and exploding uteri aren’t real? An IUD seems like a good option for me, no more being scared of unwanted pregnancy”, then as far as I’m concerned it’s been a good day.

    If anyone is interested in finding out more about any kind of contraceptive then http://www.vaginapagina.com/ has articles and discussion, is QUILTBAG and kink-friendly, and has 30,000+ users from all over the world (on the livejournal community- you don’t need to be a member to post, details are on the site) who are more than happy to share any information and anecdotes they have. It’s a great place for separating the truth from the scare stories and lies. It also offers support and advice for survivors of SA/rape/SV/DV.

  144. Stuntmonkey
    Stuntmonkey April 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm |

    I wonder if any real R&D has been directed at using heat as an effective form of birth control for men. It’s well-known that sperm can be killed by activities that warm the testicles, e.g., sitting in a hot tub, or wearing tight-fitting underwear. (Indeed evolutionarily this is why the testicles are hanging out there to begin with.) Sperm take about 60 days to develop in the testes, so a specifically-designed heating regimen even just once every week or two might do the trick, and additionally be entirely natural, non-hormonal, and easily reversible. If it involved sitting in a hot tub with ones partner it would even be fun. :)

  145. AVS
    AVS April 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm |

    sb: I think she might have been referring to my post.I traded hormonal BC for a Paragard, and swapped* migraines and depression for extremely mild cramps. I am thrilled with this bargain, and while my experience is not universal, I wish it were at least discussed with more women in the US.

    As for insertion stories — they really do vary.I drove to mine, took a couple of advil beforehand, found the process uncomfortable but on the same order as getting new ear piercings.I drove myself home right after, and occasionally over the next 24-48 hours had occasional (maybe one or two an hour while awake) brief interludes where it felt like I’d just been punched in the stomach — a spike of pain fading quickly to a mild ache.

    * I went off the pill for a while to verify that the migraines/depression cleared up and were not just a hormonal shift with age, so I am pretty sure the cramps are from the IUD.

    This comment gives me such hope! I have a history of depression and I’ve been getting brutal migraines, three times a month, for fifteen years and my doctors have done nothing to help aside from suggest that I go on the pill (I also have extremely irregular periods) but my neurologist advised against it as I would have an increased risk of strokes. Hearing that there might be something out there that could help makes me want to cry.

  146. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm |

    it seems fairly shitty if an otherwise healthy sexual partner benefiting from the birth control is unwilling to take similar measures.

    If you’re still reading this thread, Kristen J. or her husband, at which point, if given the option of taking a tried and tested pill vs. a relatively untested (yet FDA-approved pill) would you guys chose the “untested” one?
    After reading some of the comments here I asked my fiance if she’d be OK with me taking a male Pill. She said she would, as long as there weren’t any permanent side effects. I asked her about a hypothetical 2% chance of me becoming permanently infertile and she said she would not allow me to take the pill if it had that chance of making me unable to have biological children with her.
    Do you guys have a similar position?

  147. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    OK. So, if we women have such “complex” hormonal cycles and bodies – why is it we who have to eat pills, then?

    Medical professionals and/or people who do research in this field please correct me if I’m wrong, but…

    …I believe at least part of the reason is that hormonal birth control, when used by cis women, tries to mimic a “natural” hormonal state that our bodies already go through every month or so. Because cis women generally ovulate periodically (regulated by cyclical hormone changes) — unlike cis men, who produce sperm pretty much all the time — you can use BC to try and sort of maintain the transient non-fertile state in cis women. But for men there might need to be a more dramatic change, because there isn’t any monthly time at which they are “naturally” non-fertile; you’d be introducing a whole new hormonal state they don’t generally experience. So despite research being done primarily in male animals (because fluxes in stuff can be a headache) the changeability of female-bodied hormones is actually beneficially in this case.

    Also, babies are girl stuff and BC is icky and vajayjays have cooties and sperm need to run free like the wind. :D

  148. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

    I asked her about a hypothetical 2% chance of me becoming permanently infertile and she said she would not allow me to take the pill if it had that chance of making me unable to have biological children with her.
    Do you guys have a similar position?

    Does she also forbid you to put your laptop on your lap and go into hot tubs? :p

    In short… no. Maybe 2% just doesn’t seem that bad to me (or maybe I just don’t care about having biological children) but I think at some point you have to remember that fertility and the future are not perfectly controllable things, and there is some risk associated with everything. I mean, you could carefully guard your manly fluids against all comers, shield your precious DNAs, and carefully tuck everything into an air-conditioned lead-lined cup… and still get hit by a bus. Squish no babies for you. Life’s too short to obsess about some stuff — but like I said, biobabies are a low priority for me, so please don’t let my opinion influence any future lead cup purchases. :D

    (If it were a 2% risk of serious injury or death I’d give it a lot more thought. But infertility just kinda seems like it would suck but not be insurmountable. If you’re trying to control your fertility and end up losing control of it that can be tragic, but it’s also sort of back where you started to some extent; out of control of your fertility.)

  149. Djinna
    Djinna April 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm |

    I personally have never had two gynes in two states who didn’t blink an eye over my nulliparous self getting an IUD. Then again, I’ve got the magic words, history of blood clots leading to pulmonary embolism, so hormones are off the table forever. (Like JennThem way upthread, genetic thing, only in my case I don’t metabolize vitamins properly.)

    Just had my Mirena switched out last month, my current gyne uses it herself, and is well-versed in preventative measures for women who haven’t had their cervix stretched. She gave me a Rx for Cytotec to insert vaginally the morning of the procedure – she warned me that some patients have reported probelsm with pharmacies not carrying it, as it’s popular as a DIY abortifcant, but the local CVS had it, and it really reduced the discomfort/pain I experienced the first time, even though it’s more involved/lengthy to remove and insert than just insert. She said that it was super-easy from her end with it, as it softens the cervix and makes it easier to get something past. As far as I’m concerned, it was a very successful experiment. (And it’s very cheap, like $2 cheap, compared to just the copay for the gyne visit, it’s nothing.) So, two gynes, two insurances from two employers, I didn’t have a problem at all getting one, so don’t assume that just because there are some that won’t do them, that it’s impossible. Painful briefly, but there are topical treatments nulliparous women can use to make it not so bad. And then don’t have to think about it for 5 years.

    Love, love, love the Mirena, but sad to think I never would have thought to try it if the Pill hadn’t been taken so decisively off the table by one little trip to the ICU. I’d loved the Pill up ’til then. I used to be the queen of BC, back in college, Pill plus condom plus sponge. Can you say paranoid?

    Oh, and my partner refers to it as my intrauterine explosive device. We call it the IUED. So got a good laugh over Paraxeni’s comment.

  150. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth April 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm |

    I currently have a copper IUD, and I am quite happy. I have random cramps throughout the month, but weirdly, my menstrual cramps are actually less intense (I used to have awful cramps that could not really be controlled by medication, and now I pop two ibuprofen and I’m fine. I have less intense cramping but for a longer period of time.) I have awful reactions to hormones–I’m allergic to progestin BC, and don’t react well to estrogen. I actually used withdrawal for several years, and I never had a pregnancy scare at all (unlike when using condoms). You have to be able to trust your partner, or course.

    I don’t want to scare anyone, but I just wanted to share my experience with IUD insertion. I have no children, and my insurance (which luckily covers bc) requires me to get my primary care from a large research hospital. The first time I went to have an IUD put in, they were unable to insert it. They spent two hours trying to dilate my cervix, and finally they had to give up because they were worried I’d go into shock from all the pain and blood loss. It was the absolute most painful experience of my life, even more so than an ovarian cyst. The gynecologist said that I was the first person in 10 years who she couldn’t dilate, and that my cervix was smaller than average, so I don’t think my experience was normal. I actually got pregnant while on bc pills (ectopic pregnancy), but I had a D&C anyways at Planned Parenthood, and they put in the IUD while I was sedated. It was such a positive experience, everyone was so friendly and respectful, and now that I have an IUD, I am really happy. I wish I had had it years ago.

  151. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband April 27, 2011 at 12:58 am |

    EasilyEnthused: If you’re still reading this thread, Kristen J. or her husband, at which point, if given the option of taking a tried and tested pill vs. a relatively untested (yet FDA-approved pill) would you guys chose the “untested” one?
    After reading some of the comments here I asked my fiance if she’d be OK with me taking a male Pill. She said she would, as long as there weren’t any permanent side effects. I asked her about a hypothetical 2% chance of me becoming permanently infertile and she said she would not allow me to take the pill if it had that chance of making me unable to have biological children with her.
    Do you guys have a similar position?

    As soon as it receives FDA approval in my opinion.

  152. notemily
    notemily April 27, 2011 at 1:33 am |

    Paraxeni:
    Arsebiscuits.Managed to forget in both of my comments that I’m on my second Mirena, and I’ve never been pregnant.My first was at 27 (Mr Hangly Tangly) and now #2, Cerberus, has made his home inside me.Mine are to suppress symptoms of endometriosis though, not as BC.

    Here they’ll put IUDs or an IUS in pretty much anyone.If they have STI(s) they’ll be given antibiotics and a new insertion date, if they’re very young they’ll be given a small IUD (usually UT-380 short or Flexi-T 300) or ) but NPs over 16 can choose their device based on need.

    Wait, you’re telling me IUDs can actually HELP endometriosis? I have Cramps Of Death if I don’t take hormonal birth control, and I’ve always heard that an IUD would make cramps even worse. I don’t like what the hormones do to my sex drive, but it’s better than being incapacitated for a few days every month so I deal with it. I wish there were an alternative that controlled the cramps without messing with my hormones, but that’s probably not possible.

  153. maggie
    maggie April 27, 2011 at 5:01 am |

    Men are fertile 24/7 for most of their lives and women only for a few days each month for around half their lives. It’s a no brainer who does the contraception.

    Men, bank your sperm and get a vascectomy. Do it now!

  154. Maggie K
    Maggie K April 27, 2011 at 7:45 am |

    I didn’t even bother trying the pill, I knew I was bound to forget it all the time. I spent a month alternating between condoms and withdrawal before I could get an implant (they’re super paranoid about accidentally putting it in pregnant women so you have to come within a few days of your period, never mind that the appointment has to be several weeks in advance and people have irregular ones :/) but that has worked out pretty well for me so far. The only drawback has been increased incidence of yeast infections, to the point where I went back and wanted to take it out because I was so irritated, but the doc pointed out a one-day oral anti-yeast pill and reassured me that if I didn’t need it more than once a month or so, that wasn’t more often than healthy. So basically I’m paying about a hundred bucks a year in yeast medication for this BC, plus the AU$30 for the device itself of course. It seems reasonable to me! I wanted an IUD but I got the “you haven’t been pregnant” thing. I’m honestly a little squeamish about it regardless.

  155. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 27, 2011 at 9:37 am |

    Add me to the list of women who have an IUD (copper) and hasn’t given birth. I had to be sounded first. During that process, they measure the size of your uterus. I had small amount of pain during insertion, like a brief-but-nasty headache. I pretty much lived on NSAIDs for the month after as my uterus got used to the IUD, but adjusted after that. I pretty much love my IUD because I’m terrible at taking pills and also may have the clotting factor. Plus I have PCOS, which can worsen on progestin only medication.

  156. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 27, 2011 at 9:42 am |

    @notemily – the Mirena literally saved my life. My endo symptoms were 25 out of 28 days a month. My three free days were spent curled up in a ball, weeping, knowing what was coming. I’d honestly been hoarding pills because I couldn’t cope anymore, and planned to end it because nobody believed a) how much I was bleeding and b) the level of pain I was in.

    I’m a fat lass, and my cramps were strong enough that you could see them. My partner’s given birth before, and said once that if she hadn’t seen my ultrasound pics two days earlier, would’ve expected to see a baby exiting my vag.

    So, yes, Mirena is used fairly often to combat heavy bleeding, and painful periods. When this one’s due to be replaced I’ll get another, when that one’s done I’ll get another and so on until they can a) cure me or b) invent an even better IUD! I know many, many people who have been able to stop living their lives according to how their uterus was behaving thanks to that little plastic beastie and it’s hormone-releasing goodness.

  157. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 27, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    @shoshie – fellow PCOSer, which is one of the three reasons I need the pill and a Mirena. I’m nothing if not complicated. Oh the irony of being a dyke with two types of infertility, two diseases that mean I could never carry to term anyway, and needing two types of contraception to be able to just live! Still, it makes for interesting encounters in emergency depts.

  158. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 27, 2011 at 10:10 am |

    Paraxeni- Yeah, it’s weird. My PCOS symptoms at this point are basically just anovulation, so I decided not to risk a clot by going on BC. Every few months my doctor likes me to withdrawal bleed if I haven’t had a period, but other than that, we’re just leaving it alone until I (probably) have trouble conceiving. I’m fat and kind kind of hairy, but I’m also an Ashkenazi Jew, so that kind of goes with the territory. I attributed the hairiness to the PCOS for a while (as did my doc) until my husband pointed out that I was decidedly LESS hairy than many of the other Ashkenazi women in our friend group. And the fat…well..the women in my family are fat going back many, many generations. And, so far, no metabolic disorder. So…*shrug*

  159. Jim
    Jim April 27, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    maggie: Men, bank your sperm and get a vascectomy. Do it now!

    …and trust the sperm bank to do their job. Yeah no.

    Here’s a better idea – only have sex with a woman when you want a kid. A woman for children and a man for pleasure.

    And if the women wants sex with her, she can pester you for it and be the creep for a change.

    This will solve so many problems all in one.

  160. SephONE
    SephONE April 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    So sperm banks are evil and/or widely incompetant now? I hope that was sarcasm or something because otherwise you didn’t back that up at all, Jim. Just some kind of blanket negative statement. And seriously, did you just read out of a pamphlet for Abstinence only education, Jim?

    Yeah I’m really hoping that entire post was sarcasm to be honest.

    And to EasilyEnthused: I can only respond to what you imply in your statements. And it really did sound like ‘well the male pill /might/ be at risk from taking the pill so it’s fine enough to leave as it is’ was that general statement. I’m not okay with that, plenty of medicine has risks and it’s not okay to have most of the responsibility and weight of BC on women.

  161. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    maggie:
    Men are fertile 24/7 for most of their lives and women only for a few days each month for around half their lives.It’s a no brainer who does the contraception.

    Men, bank your sperm and get a vascectomy.Do it now!

    Suppose I could get federal funding assistance from Planned Parenthood for that? :)

  162. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    Since some people think I’m here in bad faith: let me drop the snark.
    I donate every year to Planned Parenthood. I was only commenting that I wish it were cheaper to get a vasectomy and freeze my sperm.

  163. SephONE
    SephONE April 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    “Suppose I could get federal funding assistance from Planned Parenthood for that? :)”

    This question makes no sense. I wish people who complain about others putting words in their mouth would elaborate on what they say.

  164. SephONE
    SephONE April 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    “Suppose I could get federal funding assistance from Planned Parenthood for that? :)”

    This question makes no sense. I wish people who complain about others putting words in their mouth would elaborate on what they say.

  165. Jim
    Jim April 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    SephONE: So sperm banks are evil and/or widely incompetant now?

    Strawman much? Wild-eyed misrepresentation much?

    I just meant that if you rely on someone to make sure the power stays on and your sperm stays frozen, that’s a lot of trust when it comes to your reproduction. Sort of like the trust you put in them to keep your identity secret, and then someone comes along and wants to know her/his parentage, as is really their right, and the sperm bank fights it throguh the courts tooth and nail, but then the legislature wherever passes a law opening all the rocoeds anyway, so it’s all moot and there goes your secrecy (Waaaah – the right to secrecy is secondary to the right to know in this case) so there goes what you were trusting.

    So how does that equate to “evil and/or widely (wildly) incpmpetent”. What sperm banks are good at, and very good at, is helping women who want babies get pregnant. That’s a very good thing.

    As for the second part, since I don’t really get the whole “woman for pleasure thing” – gay men are like that, you’re going to have to get used to it – I was only joking a little. And I’m not the only one. The parks and the adult bookstores are full of straight men, as in married to women or with girlfriends, who are not there to look at porn with women in it.

  166. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni April 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |

    @Shoshie – my partner’s PCOS is pretty low-maintenance now (she’s 39), she only has the insulin resistance and hirsutism. Her periods and ovulation can be timed to the hour, which is sad because when she was trying for babies all those years back, she was anovulatory. Once she did conceive an undiagnosed autoimmune problem caused stillbirths. It’s horrible to think about for me. But yeah, she’s a well-functioning PCOSer at the minute, although we fear she’s edging toward diabetes.

    Mine though? Ugh. You name a symptom associated with it, even the really rare stuff like borking my endocrine system entirely and leading to a related condition that caused brain damage.

    I just wish it manifested somewhere other than the ovaries, because it’s clear that it’s endocrine disruption with autoimmune involvement, not just reproductive. But, it’s dismissed as an icky ‘woman’s problem’ and basically ignored.

    I’m dying for someone to say “Listen, we need to get to the bottom of this”. It seems like PCOSers share other characteristics that don’t seem to be related to that, but are common like bruxism, and frequent sore throats/swollen glands. Digging back into our families has unearthed odd coincidences too – for instance, both me and Lisa (my partner) were born to mothers who’d had period problems in their teens that evened out after age 20. They both had facial hair, but little to no body hair and self-medicated their eating disorders with slimming pills. We’re both like bearcubs, everywhere. We both have scoliosis, both have the same set of autoimmune conditions (which is very bizarre, given how rare they are. My consultant asked if we were sure we weren’t cousins!), had the same EDs, it’s really weird. We often ponder whether the whole thing is maybe caused in utero and triggered by menarche. If only it affected cis men in the numbers it’s affecting AFAB people, because it seems as though every other person has it now. And still, 13 years after I was diagnosed, they’re still chucking prescriptions for the pill at people (which only ever masks the symptoms) and waving them off, without even suggesting anything like metformin.

    Have you ever been offered metformin to try and get yours to rein itself in a bit?

  167. SephONE
    SephONE April 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm |

    No, there was no Strawman, Jim. You didn’t present your case very well and left it vague and unsupported. If you don’t want to be ‘misrepresented’ be sure to actually make yourself clear instead of making some vague blanket statement. Otherwise people are going to misunderstand you. That’s just logic my friend.

  168. Jim
    Jim April 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm |

    SephONE: That’s just logic my friend.

    Oh so it’s “logic” now that if I don’t write my comment so that even you will be unable to misunderstand it, you feel entitled to distort it however you like and it’s not a strawman or any kind of misrepresentation.

    Just so that we a re quite clear that you did misrepesent what i said, please quote where I actually said that sperm banks were “evil” or “wildly incompetent” where I am not quoting oyu verbatim.

    And while you’re at it, show something to show that you didn’t start this whole back-and-forth out of straight woman pissiness at the suggestion that [straight] men should not stand around drooling in thrall to straight women’s awesome lusciousness, as suggested by:

    SephONE: And seriously, did you just read out of a pamphlet for Abstinence only education, Jim?
    Yeah I’m really hoping that entire post was sarcasm to be honest.

    I mean suggesting that man-on-man action was something out of an Abstinence Only Education pamphlet is either just too stupid or too dishonest to even reply to. Yeah, the Fundies are all in favor of that.

  169. maggie
    maggie April 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    Yep, thought so. The ‘fundie’ haters are out in force. They only want the women to pay for 40 years worth of birth control. Heck why should they fork out a measly sum for a sperm bank deposit (after two kids why would you need to store the damn stuff), and a vascectomy that makes them safe(r) to women.

    Carry on as you were, I’m sure you’ll impoverish a woman so much she’ll pretty much agree to anything to put food on the plate…

  170. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused April 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm |

    Well I decided to do some looking around:
    Vasectomy: ~$750
    Storage of Sperm Fees ~$350/year
    Artificial Insemination Fee: ~$400/attempt

    Vasectomy would be a one-time fee – so lets ameliorate that out. There’s no way to know how useful a vasectomy could be, right Bagelsan? The Vasectomee could get hit by a bus.

    But if we assume $350 a year, that works out to $29 a month. Isn’t traditional BC like $30 a month? (That’s what my fiance pays.) Then you have the insemination fees, which pile up each time you try to have a child. I’ve heard it can take between 1-6 attempts so let’s average 3? That makes for $1200 per child you attempt to have.

    So I guess if you were sure you only wanted to have one child and you were a young couple, it might work out financially. But there are a lot of variables there.

    And as a second point – a simple not about biology. Cis women’s bodies have a natural on/off switch regarding fertility. That switch is controlled by hormones that can be artificially introduced. Cis men’s bodies don’t have that same naturally-occurring switch. There is a biological reason why the men’s Pill hasn’t come along yet.

    I know I’d rather take a male Pill than do the whole vasectomy, sperm-freezing, artificial-insemination thing that would cost more than a motorcycle.

  171. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    Paraxeni-

    Well, that’s the rub, right? My hubby and I think that I may not actually have the metabolic disorder termed PCOS because I don’t have any of the metabolic symptoms except anovulation and the other “symptoms” I have are explainable in other ways. I don’t have any glucose intolerance, my lipids are fab, my blood pressure and heart rate are where they should be for someone my age, but oh wait fat lady OMG PCOS. I’ve been offered Metformin, but, according to the studies I’ve read, it doesn’t seem to actually do much if you don’t have insulin resistant PCOS. There’s been a small amount of work at separating non-insulin resistant PCO from the diabetes-related PCOS, but there’s not much.

    When I’ve gone to doctors about the anovulation, they tend to zero in on things like my weight or my facial hair, even though that’s not the reason why I’m there. When I finally get them to think about my ovaries, they’re like, “Oh, huh. Well, come back when you want to get pregnant. Are you sure you don’t want a hair suppressant? Or maybe a weight-loss diet or two?”

  172. SephONE
    SephONE April 28, 2011 at 1:05 am |

    “…and trust the sperm bank to do their job. Yeah no.”

    ‘Even me’, even though you gave nothing you which will surely create misunderstandings, even me. Please stop pretending you didn’t bring any misunderstandings on yourself, Jim. This was your statement about sperm banks. It was nothing else. Yes, people will make assumptions, of course. It’s your own fault if they do.

    “Here’s a better idea – only have sex with a woman when you want a kid. A woman for children and a man for pleasure.”

    So then your argument was just stupid? Like ‘even if you’re straight just have sex with guys and never have sex with women unless you want kids’ presented as a better idea? Okay, I don’t think that would work with how sexual orientation goes. I’m not seeing how ‘just don’t have sex unless you want kids’ doesn’t sound like something out of abstinence only but whatever either. I’m not sure how logic works in your world. Also ‘straight woman pissiness’? ‘In thrall’? Who the hell talks like that? And heads up but you seem to be the one pulling things out of thin air now.

  173. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 28, 2011 at 2:59 am |

    EasilyEnthused: And as a second point – a simple not about biology. Cis women’s bodies have a natural on/off switch regarding fertility. That switch is controlled by hormones that can be artificially introduced. Cis men’s bodies don’t have that same naturally-occurring switch. There is a biological reason why the men’s Pill hasn’t come along yet.

    http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/contraception/male-bc-pill.htm

    Also, there’s interesting statistics in there about what percentage of men would be willing (based on a small sample size survey) to take a pill.

  174. samanthab
    samanthab April 28, 2011 at 8:20 am |

    I have to disagree that the pill should be oc. Planned Parenthood offers $46 birth control counseling; the health department is an option. But there’s a LOT that women need to know when they make bc choices. I would never have known that the pill interacts with the Lamictal that I rely on to control my bipolar disorder. Knowledge matters, and it’s just too hard for women to stay informed on every new medical update. Let’s not discount the value of science and data; let’s fight for easy access to it.

  175. Jim
    Jim April 28, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    SephONE: Yes, people will make assumptions, of course. It’s your own fault if they do.

    Passive aggressive bullshit. You’re not worth talking to. I’m done with you. Get help.

  176. SephONE
    SephONE April 28, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    ‘Get help’, which I guess is an implication I’m mentally ill/unstable now or something. ‘Initially, I said something with little to no context and someone had the nerve to take it out of the context that I didn’t actually provide! How dare they!’ Sure, Jim, sure. Yeah, y’know, it’s for the best this ends here. x.x

    Onto to more important things, thanks for the info link Kristen J, I’m gonna read over that.

  177. mztress
    mztress April 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar:
    So what’s the deal with clinicians’ reluctance to recommend IUDs?Is it a) lingering worry from Dalkon Shield; b) unfamiliarity; c) a general bias against anything that gets between young women and pregnancy for longer than a month (see how docs respond to women who want to be sterilized); or d) all of the above?I suspect d.

    it’s definitely option c. i ask about sterilization periodically (I’m 23 and don’t want kids…ever), and I am always damn near crucified for it. the general consensus is that i have to wait for age 30 in case i change my mind. evidently, being in possession of a uterus will make you want to use it some day. but, here i am, still on the low-dose combo pill, five years later. I’m satisfied with it, but wondering if it’s what has been causing my severe mood swings…

  178. Angelica
    Angelica April 30, 2011 at 2:57 am |

    I am turning 40 this year and I am the mother of three children and in the past, I have used the pill, depo-provera, condoms, and two forms of the IUD. The para-guard and another IUD that is very similar to Mirena. The para-guard I used for almost 12 years and it was the best form of birth control for me, at the time. The only side effect was that it caused me to have heavy periods. Every month. For 6 days. Currently, I am taking part in a research study for Planned Parenthood testing out a new form of the Mirena IUD. It has a slow release, low dose hormone and it is projected to last 5 years. I do like it but, I no longer have periods. At all. Some months I have a slight pink tinge but no blood. I know this sounds great but, it does bother me a bit as I no longer have any way of telling where I am in my cycle. I notice that sometimes when I ovulate I get slight cramping. I wanted to address the issue with confusion regarding whether or not young women (who have never had children) should get the IUD. Definatly, they can and do get the IUD. The para-guard can be a little large for their cervix, so most doctors will recommend Mirena. I know this because my 20 year old daughter has the Mirena as well as several of her friends. It has the highest rate of protection of pregnancy, very close in fact to actual surgical sterilization.

  179. Robert O'Hara
    Robert O'Hara April 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm |

    Seriously!

    I posted a comment here some days ago with a link to an article I wrote concerning the reasons why there are still no male firtility control methods available to men in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. or Australia while they are available in other parts of the world. The link is here:

    http://mensnewsdaily.com/2010/05/21/the-real-reason-we-do-not-have-a-male-pill/

    My comments were not posted and I wondered why untill I saw the attack on poor Jim here when he decided to sound off on the need for a man to take control over his reproduction. Typicaly, he was attacked simply for speaking out. The fact is that many women, whether they be feminists or not , are EXTREEMELY uncomfortable with the idea of men controling their firtility and in fact depend heavily on the fact that they and they alone decide whether or not and when the men in their lives become parents.

    I challenge anyone here to read my article and comment on it there or here. I won’t be holding my breath though and I won’t expect to see this comment posted either. It’s just too much truth for some people.

  180. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |

    What kind of ridiculous lack of reading comprehension do you need to have to claim that women (as a whole) don’t want men (as a whole) to control their own fertility? Examples from this thread, please.

  181. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Elisabeth: Thanks for the information, I’m another of the small cervixed, so I applaud your courage. Even getting pap smears causes me horrible horrible pain, so it’s nice to know that I might be able to have an IUD inserted. Would the doc mind if I had a few drinks first?
    Paraxeni: I’m afraid he might mean me. Though my remarks were not meant to be taken that way: I do support men having control over their fertility, I just doubt that there are hordes of men out there clamoring for a male pill.

  182. umami
    umami April 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    Jim is hilarious. Is he honestly really and truly a gay MRA on a campaign to “convert” bitter misogynistic straight men? That’s almost heartwarming. It’s nice that somebody wants those guys.

    Robert’s take on the conversation with Jim is also hilarious. This is a great thread for absurd trolling.

  183. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    Robert O’Hara:
    Seriously!

    I posted a comment here some days ago with a link to an article I wrote concerning the reasons why there are still no male firtility control methods available to men in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. or Australia while they are available in other parts of the world.The link is here:

    http://mensnewsdaily.com/2010/05/21/the-real-reason-we-do-not-have-a-male-pill/

    My comments were not posted and I wondered why untill I saw the attack on poor Jim here when he decided to sound off on the need for a man to take control over his reproduction.Typicaly, he was attacked simply for speaking out.The fact is that many women, whether they be feminists or not , are EXTREEMELY uncomfortable with the idea of men controling their firtility and in fact depend heavily on the fact that they and they alone decide whether or not and when the men in their lives become parents.

    I challenge anyone here to read my article and comment on it there or here.I won’t be holding my breath though and I won’t expect to see this comment posted either.It’s just too much truth for some people.

    o_0 Ummm…did you miss the part where several people called for male BC, where people with sperm indicated their wish for such an option, and the whining by other sperm carriers that such an option would be too hard or costly or “dangerous.”

  184. BruceChris
    BruceChris May 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Now just a minute. We are not talking about fertility, we are talking about a LACK of fertility. I want to have control of my LACK of fertility. Medical science, where the hell are you?

    Birth Control. I want more choices than a rubber. Condoms give me a limp dick. Oral or anal sex, any one? And I’ll consider a vasectomy, but I’ve got to be in a serious relationship first.

  185. rae
    rae May 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    @samanthab (174)

    How about over-the-counter refills without needing a yearly exam to get a prescription renewal then? I am seriously annoyed at being coerced into getting an unpleasant annual exam when I haven’t had any changes in my health and am in an exclusive sexual relationship with the same person I was involved with last year when I got my prescription (so it’s very unlikely I have a new STD I don’t know about, and anyways my gyno’s office can’t run the full panel anyway). As long as my consent is properly informed, I should be able to decide how often I want to get an exam, just like I can with regular general practice check-ups, dental check-ups, etc.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.