She doesn't like my preferred birth control "policy". How to compromise?
January 29, 2012 7:16 PM   Subscribe

BirthControlFilter: New couple discussing our options to have better sex while avoiding babies. We're having trouble compromising and could use some advice.

Me: male, late 20s
Her: early 30s, female w/ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Neither of us want a baby anytime soon. She told me that she's never been pregnant, and with her condition it would be rather difficult for her to get pregnant even if she were actively trying.

We're having a lot of great sex over the past two months using a brand of condom that I enjoy and trust. That said, we both agree that we prefer the feeling without a condom, which we've experienced with previous partners. However, after a few hours of discussing the specifics we're at a stalemate over how to accomplish this.

I've always been a bit paranoid about getting someone pregnant, so I've historically lived by the approach of: "condoms, female birth control, pulling out -- choose 2 out of the 3". As the one producing the sperm, I feel like I have a responsibility about deciding where it should go (or not go, in this case). I know that "pulling out" is not the best birth control method, but I feel like when paired with another method it can only help, especially if that other method is "invisible" to me. I don't think that any of my partners have ever "tricked" me by failing to take their pill, but I know that accidents happen and schedules are missed, so I value being able to contribute a little extra protection, no matter how small.

She has been on various birth control pills in the past and claims that they make her feel wonky. She has offered to go back on the pill, as she'd accept the wonkiness in return for better sex. This sounded fine with me, and I reminded her that with my "2 out of 3" policy, and that I'd be continuing to pull out if we traded condom use for a female method. This made her upset -- she says she only wants to go on the pill if it means I'll ejaculate inside her, as she apparently enjoys the resulting "warm" feeling. The idea of doing that makes me very uncomfortable... it's a risk I do not feel comfortable taking, even though I know that the chances of pregnancy may be low.

We discussed IUDs and other forms of female contraception, but she still claims that she'd only want to use them if it meant I'd be willing to come inside of her. To me this means giving up a huge amount of "control", whether real or perceived.

We're prepared to revisit the issue at a later date, and keep using condoms and pulling out until then... but I'm curious to hear if anyone else has gone through a similar decision? Any idea for compromises that might work? Anecdata or real data welcome.

Of course, feel free to tell us that we're being irrational.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (88 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Would replacing pulling out with added spermicide be an alternative you'd be comfortable with?

I personally think the doubling up is unnecessary but it's your reproductive life and you need to be comfortable with the decision.
posted by mazienh at 7:25 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, with the ring you can feel it. There's some level of trust involved with whether she changes it each month on time, though that's fairly easy to deal with. It also has fewer side effects for many women, HMMV.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 7:28 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're not comfortable coming inside of her then she shouldn't be pushing you to do so. It'll ruin every orgasm you have if you're worrying to yourself, "Oh shit, is this the time? Am I knocking her up this very moment?!"

Buzz kill. If she cares, she'll understand.
posted by fso at 7:29 PM on January 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Spermicide hurts. Plus, that's a lot of chemicals in your girlfriends most porous, uh, interior bit. So so no bueno.

You should not be OK with her feeling "wonky." That's not chivalrous AT ALL.


These condoms are head and shoulder compared to the rest on the market - you can't feel them at all, no icky latex smell. Use lube.

They're not cheap, but so so worth it.
posted by jbenben at 7:32 PM on January 29, 2012 [12 favorites]

get over your hang up and get her an IUD. how about you still decide where you come, just that 50%? 70% of the time it's in her.

an expert could chime in here, or you could ask your doctor/go to planned parenthood/google, but as far as i know IUDs are pretty reliable. and your 2 out of 3 rule is ... superstitious.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:34 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Let her get an IUD. Take her to the doctor yourself if that'll make you feel better. Then calm down.

Otherwise ... To paraphrase a comedian ... If you don't trust her, then why are you shtupping her in the first place?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:37 PM on January 29, 2012 [15 favorites]

To me this means giving up a huge amount of "control", whether real or perceived.

What works for is what works for you, and there are no right and wrong answers (end cliches). However, I wonder whether you have thought through:

(1) the mathematical risk of your partner getting pregnant given a situation just the pill, and whether or not getting a better handle on this (realizing that certainty is not going to happen) would change your thinking about this at all;
(2) if you've decided that you don't care about probabilities, whether you are happy with your current mindset about this or whether you have defaulted into it and are not happy about it; and
(3) whether you've thought about the availability of the "morning after" pill to your partner and her thoughts about using that in panic situations where she is not on regular hormonal birth control or some equivalent.

I think at bottom you need to decide whether you care about the sometimes-marginal additional risk of pregnancy that occurs with only using one form of contraception. If you were terrified of pregnancy, you wouldn't be having sex, right? Seems to me that the choice on your end is whether you think you'd be happier going about things as they are or shouldering in part that additional risk.

Whether hormonal birth control will work for your S.O. and leave both of you happier (separately as well as together) is a whole different matter, but as others suggest an IUD seems to be an option.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:38 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is no 'the pill'. there are dozens of pills, all with various levels of hormones in different balances, and each with the potential to make her more or less 'wonky'.

GF has been on four different pills since we started going out (also tried NuvaRing, which sent her into crying fits, although other women swear by it), and is finally on one that doesn't cause significant mood swings.

If you're in this for the long haul, she may want to talk to her doctor about her symptoms and get put on a different pill that leaves her feeling less wonky.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to b any test to see which balance of hormones would work for each person (which I think is a conspiracy by drug companies, but that's a post for another time).

In the meantime, you need to figure out a combination of things that works for both of you. This may mean you need to give up your '2 out of 3' rule, but she may also need to compromise on something else.

Good luck!
posted by softlord at 7:38 PM on January 29, 2012

The idea of doing that makes me very uncomfortable... ...To me this means giving up a huge amount of "control", whether real or perceived.

Is this about fertility or about a sexual neurosis? Have you looked up the rates of different protection and what they offer and side-effects etc? Cause it doesn't sound like you have a really good understanding of what's reliable and what's not. God knows I'm the last person to urge people to use less contraception but you understand that at the outside your girlfriend is only impregnable for about four days in every month?

To me it sounds like you have developed a bit of a "thing" - positively or negatively - for pulling out and the feelings of control etc it gives.

This isn't a good or bad thing per se -everybody has their own sexual preferences/kinks/whatevers - but I think dressing it up in the costume of a rational and justified concern about accidental pregnancy is a bit disingenuous, and further limits the kind of options and conversations you can have with your girlfriend about it. It sounds to me like you're essentially putting an option off the table because of your preference, but your gf doesn't know that's why it's off the table.
posted by smoke at 7:42 PM on January 29, 2012 [17 favorites]

Ooo. I didn't address the pulling out issue...

If that's your routine together, YaY for you both.


Having delicious complete sex all the way to the end is an intimate and magnificent feeling to share with someone. Most female birth control methods have lots of unpleasant side effects, you're always trading on some part of your well-being if you use them as a woman. I can see why your girlfriend isn't keen to start using hormonal birth control to get the exact same experience she's having now, anyway. That's not a big win for her. I hope you can understand, hormonal birth control is serious medication.

I'm not saying you should compromise your "routine" for your girlfriend!

Just trying to give you some insight into what it is like to be a woman trying to weigh the options in a situation like this. You don't sound entirely aware of what a big deal taking this prescribed medication is.

OTOH, Using those awesome condoms sound like something that will support both of your concerns.
posted by jbenben at 7:42 PM on January 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Well, I think you're being a little irrational. Or, well, very risk adverse. Neither of these things mean you should change how you feel though.

Have you talked about what you two would do if she did become pregnant? It's an important discussion.

Have you both been checked for STDs, or is that not a concern?

I can kind of understand her point of view, why take on all the negatives of hormonal contraception if it doesn't get you the sex you want?

I think you guys need to speak frankly with her gynocologist about your concerns. You might also get a copy of "Taking Charge of your Fertility" - it's a super comprehensive book that will tell you all there is to know about a woman's cycle and when she can and cannot get pregnant.

An understanding of that, coupled with a hormonal contraceptive means you might choose to use a second method during her most fertile times and not worry so much during her non-fertile days.
posted by amanda at 7:43 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's up to you to make the decisions wrt fertility and intercourse that you're comfortable with, and it is up to your partner to either respect them or leave. It's not particularly cool to try and wheedle someone out of their comfort zone in this arena. However, that having been said, the Mirena IUD is literally more effective at preventing pregnancy than a tubal ligation, so if you'd be comfortable with ejaculating inside her if she got her tubes tied, you might want to sit with yourself and see if you can figure out why this would be different.
posted by KathrynT at 7:43 PM on January 29, 2012 [17 favorites]

FWIW, I'm PCOS and had two (TWO!) unplanned pregnancies (yay kids!). So, yeah, IUD.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:44 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for get an IUD and have lots of delicious sex and don't worry about pulling out. IUDs are VERY reliable.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:44 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hormonal birth control sucks. Life can suck on HBC. Wear condoms or get a vasectomy and bank your sperm. She really shouldn't have to go on hormonal birth control if it makes her feel unhappy, depressed, psychotic, etc.

She could find a gyn willing to prescribe a diaphragm, but it will take a while.
posted by anniecat at 7:45 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

She has offered to go back on the pill, as she'd accept the wonkiness in return for better sex.
I'd just like to note that some women experience decreased sex-drive as a side-effect of birth control pills so it's not a guaranteed problem solver. Probably an IUD is her best bet, but she needs to make that decision.
posted by bleep at 7:47 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Of course, feel free to tell us that we're being irrational.

Okay, I'll bite. You are being irrational. You alone, not you and her. One method is enough.

I felt a little sad for her as I read your description of her plea for you to come inside of her, to which you responded by referring back to "your policy."

I don't know, I think you're overstating the risk and behaving less than compassionately to your girlfriend with your bedroom bureaucrat routine.
posted by jayder at 8:04 PM on January 29, 2012 [22 favorites]

nuvaring is hormonal birth control, but the amount of hormones is much less, so there's less side effects. Also, you can feel if it's there yourself, if that would make you more comfortable with the idea of not pulling out.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:08 PM on January 29, 2012

The failure rates of oral contraception are very low in perfect use (0.3% failure rate). But in typical use the failure rate is a whole 8%. I don't think it's irrational to want to lower your failure rate from 8%.

On the other hand, it does seem irrational that you would prefer a dual method of withdrawal and condom use (typical-use failure rates 27% and 15%) to something that probably has a better overall failure rate (as low as 0.2% for typical use in progestogen IUDs).
posted by grouse at 8:20 PM on January 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Proud supporter of the "Pick two of three" baby avoidance policy! For people that think this is overkill, I both agree (overkill is good in this situation) and also think that shooting the seed somewhere other than the baby-maker is better than any number of unfortunate circumstances that can erupt in the (highly) unlikely scenario that a single method fails.

I think the best mix here is a hybrid of the two approaches...
-Pill her (or ring or whatever)
-Track that cycle
-She gets the load when the baby-making factory is idle
-The belly gets the load when it's not

Everyone wins...

And agreement with above on the variety of pills out there. There are pills out there that cause all manner of things ... acne (not acne), mood-swings, regular menstruation, irregular menstruation, increased/decreased libido, cutting, crying, singing and every other thing. Hormones are a fucked up beast... Maybe try for something different than the wonky one?

Alternately, if the IUD is as "scorched earth" as the posters above claim, toss that out as another option?
posted by milqman at 8:23 PM on January 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

i'm with smoke on kind of suspecting underlying neurosis here, but their answer suggests one compromise--her going on hormonal birth control and you pulling out for the week in the middle of her (now artificially adjusted) cycle. "taking charge of your fertility" is also an excellent recommendation--it's targeted towards women trying to conceive but contains a wealth of information on the mechanics of ovulation, conception, and contraception
posted by animalrainbow at 8:27 PM on January 29, 2012

Could you consider poly-cystic ovaries as one of the three b/c methods? I mean, it's essentially a huge reduction on the chance of conception on its own, so added to an IUD it's a combination of two contraceptives (to use a slightly wider definition of the term). So, if that kind of explanation could work for you, then it would be okay to finish inside her?

If you're concerned about pregnancy (and you are), then her condition is an absolute blessing for you.
posted by twirlypen at 8:28 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your girlfriend's desire might be related to a real physical phenomenon. According to science, there is a meaningful correlation between vaginal exposure to semen and better moods and less depression.
posted by steinwald at 8:30 PM on January 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm totally on your side, for what it's worth. I use the pill, and I use it pretty well but not perfectly, so let's say I'm at about 5% error rate (planned parenthood says <1>
Don't let your girlfriend guilt you into doing something you feel uncomfortable doing. And don't guilt her into taking medicine that makes her feel bad -- there are LOTS of options out there, and you should both experiment until you find things that work while making you comfortable.
posted by brainmouse at 8:33 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Data Point: A previous boyfriend and I used only hormonal birth control for over five years and I never got knocked up. And we had a very active sex life.

Please educate yourself about the actual risk of pregnancy associated with each type of birth control. Like, make an appointment for both of you at the doctor, planned parenthood, whatever -- not just internet "statistics". I get that it's a big deal to think about getting someone pregnant and being responsible for the consequences, but you're doing your girlfriend no favors to assume that she isn't aware of them and actively trying to avoid them.
posted by stellaluna at 8:33 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was very happy with my Mirena IUD and recommend-with the reservation that I think it can be a more painful insertion if, unlike me, you haven't had kids. it'd be a conversation for your girlfriend to have with her OB, but it might not be her best option.
posted by purenitrous at 8:34 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Argh, formatting ate my response. Planned Parenthood says less than 1% risk for perfect use, and 9% for imperfect use, and a 1 in 20 chance over the course of the year is WAY too high for comfort for me. I think it's pretty nuts to only use one form of birth control with a risk as high as 5%, for what it's worth, if you want babies as little as I do.
posted by brainmouse at 8:35 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Grouse nailed it. If you think you'd still want to pull out or use a condom after she got a hormonal IUD, you should probably reconsider whether that level of risk aversion allows you to have sex at all (and should probably also look into the emotional issues around it). If you're going to be really really really careful, do it rationally based on data, not fearfully based on superstition.

Have you guys had the talk about what you'd want to do if she did get pregnant?
posted by ootandaboot at 8:44 PM on January 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

It's totally, totally great that your policy revolves around taking responsibility for where your sperm goes and being willing to give up an aspect of sex to achieve that. It's a policy that more men should consider for casual sex.

But in a more serious relationship, where you're ready to make some decisions as a couple, it's hard to not read this as a less about caution and more as a need for control and/or an issue with distrust.
posted by desuetude at 8:47 PM on January 29, 2012 [20 favorites]

FWIW, I think doubling up methods is a perfectly good idea when you know that you really, really, really don't want a baby right now. They require people who take certain birth-defect-causing medications (like Accutane) to use 2 methods, to be more sure. So if you want to be really sure to not get [someone] pregnant, it makes sense.

And, as a woman who is a mild control-freak, I've always found it strange that a guy would feel comfortable trusting his partner to take a pill at the same time every day, and not forget even once. He has no way to know whether the birth control is in effect or not, which would be a scary proposition to me if I were a guy risking fathering a child.

So, I'm jumping on the side of saying you're not crazy to want to be extra sure.

That said, "It sounds fine to me if she feels a little wonky" comes off as a bit, well... insensitive on your part. And there are other options.

As others have mentioned, the IUD is super incredibly effective at preventing pregnancy. And if you need some reassurance that it's still there doing its job, you will likely feel the strings if you are doing any finger penetration. Not that you should be giving your girlfriend a quick manual exam before sex every time, yikes, but just that if you're engaging in a fun variety of sexual activities you will have that extra reassurance of "yup, it's still there!" to help you stop worrying.
posted by vytae at 8:48 PM on January 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

People suggesting tracking cycles while she's on the pill -- umm, don't bother. The "period" that you have is a withdrawal bleed from the amount of estrogen that's used to build up the uterine lining a little bit, and then the placebo pill week gets your body to shovel it all out. There's not much point in tracking your cycle, because you're not actually having your cycle.

anyway - re: IUDs, they are totally awesome, but the Mirena does have (1) hormone in it, so that could be a consideration for tolerating it (though women who do, I notice, tend to love that in 6 months to 2 years, most of them will stop having their period...).
posted by circle_b at 8:49 PM on January 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

Kudos to you for assuming responsibility for your part in contraception.

That said, you're at an impasse, because you want to practice one of the two available reversible methods of male contraception, and your girlfriend doesn't. Something's got to give. Is there any way that you could participate in a female method that would make you feel more agency in that method? Helping pay, or picking whatever up at the pharmacy, or going to the gyne with her?

Here, about a screen or two down, is the table you'll typically see for contraceptive efficacy in the first year of a method's use. The figures are expressed as percentages - of 100 hypothetical women using a particular method, during the first year with perfect use, N1% will become pregnant, and with typical use, N2% will become pregnant. Typical use of condoms (17%) and diaphragms (16%) is nearly the same as typical use of withdrawal (18%). IUDs run at 0.1-1.0%.
posted by gingerest at 8:53 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is possible to combine a nonhormonal IUD (Paragard) with hormonal birth control.
posted by verbyournouns at 8:58 PM on January 29, 2012

Something I've used is not an option that's common in the U.S., but I LOOOOOOOOVE it -- the cervical cap. The reasons you may be interested:

1. It's sort of like a form-fitted diaphragm, which you fill with spermicide. So it's a barrier method that's also got a spermicide -- there's your two methods in one right there.

2. It's got all the advantages of the diaphragm (removeable, effective) but without a couple of the diaphragm's disadvantages (you can put in in way before having sex, and you can leave it in for multiple sessions of sex).

3. No hormones!

The caveats I have are: your girlfriend will need to be fitted for it, and there's a chance it may not work out (it works best on women whose cervixes are sticky-outy a bit); and because it's not wildly common, you may have a bit of a trick finding a doctor who even knows what you're talking about. (The last time I dragged mine to a checkup, apparently all the nurses were sneaking peeks in the office because they hadn't seen one ever and were all trying to figure out what the hell I had.) also, the first couple times she puts it in are going to be kind of funky for her (you gain a WHOLE new intimacy with some specific elements of your anatomy, let me tell you). But: they can be very comfortable (almost a little too much so -- I once totally forgot I had mine in and accidentally left it in for a week, which is about five days too long).

It's very effective, the barrier plus spermicide is two methods right there so you don't have to worry, it's an initial investment that lasts a long time, and it's hormone-free.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

As stated above, the rhythm method is also a method of birth control, constituting a second method. On the pill, my ex's period was way regular, so we knew what was up when.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 PM on January 29, 2012

My husband and I were in the same situation re: needing a dependable birth control method. I hated every single pill I ever tried (upset my stomach), so that wasn't an option. I was also experiencing painful ovarian cysts. My gyn doctor prescribed an IUD, partially due to its low maintenance factor and partially due to the fact that he thought it might help the cysts. It definitely has.

It was painful (paaaaiiinnnfullllll) upon insertion and gave me some ouchy random cramps for awhile, but for me anyway, it's been totally 100% worth it. Honestly, though, that's a pretty big birth control commitment for a new couple--if she does it, she should consider whether it's the right long-term decision for herself and carefully weigh the pros and cons with her doctor. Otherwise, if it's not a good fit, NuvaRing is def. a possibility she could discuss with her provider. I have nothing but good things to say about--I just wanted something I never needed to think about, and when my doctor recommended it to me, it worked out for the best.

(Clearly, this is not medical advice, and neither I nor my aforementioned doctor are your girlfriend's doctor.)
posted by anonnymoose at 9:22 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Despite what someone else said above, while you aren't having a real cycle on the pill, you are still most likely, if you forget the pill, to ovulate if you are in the middle of the active pills, rather than close to the beginning of the sugar pills, or near the start of the active ones. Yes, missing a pill near the start or end of the "pill cycle" is also dangerous, but the danger isn't right away at that point: it's that you won't build up enough hormones to suppress ovulation in a couple of week's time. So no matter that you are on the pill, the "danger period" is still trackable, and you can pull out just during those days. That's how I understand it, anyway.

I completely understand the desire to have some form of BC that is under your control, OP. Other options depend on whether the main thing to you is that you have control over / way to check up on the BC to some extent, or whether the main thing is doubling up on methods.

If the former, one option would be the implant (you can see/feel it just under your girlfriend's skin, so you know it's there). It lasts several years, so you don't have to wrory about her forgetting it. It's hormonal control, though, so you can't use it along with pills. You'd want to think about a non-hormonal IUD or diaphragm if you still wanted to double up in that case.
posted by lollusc at 9:23 PM on January 29, 2012

I second a few things:

- PCOS is not a method of birth control. PCOS comprises a variety of different syndromes, and not all women have problems with fertility. Your partner does not know how much difficulty she will have getting pregnant until she tries to get pregnant.
- IUD is about as effective as tubal ligation, making the need for a 2nd method highly questionable.
- STD testing is a must before stopping condom use.

Your control issues are not based on accurate representations of risk, as pointed out by several people above. Since there are several female birth control methods that can be physically confirmed in terms of whether they are being used (IUD by checking for the strings, cervical cap/diaphragm/spermicide and the NuvaRing because they are both visibly present during sex), it would be paranoid of you to think that your girlfriend could be fooling you somehow if using these methods.

I disagree with posters above that one method is enough, though. Perfect pill use is difficult. Many people get pregnant unintentionally on the pill. Therefore I believe that 2 methods should be used. And one of them could be the rhythm method, if needed - after all, if you do get pregnant on the pill, that means that you did actually cycle on it, for whatever reason. Since the pill is not 100% effective, it is clear that sometimes, people do cycle on the pill.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:27 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh dear. IANA physician. IANY RN. Bleeding during the week of placebo on a 28-day oral contraceptive pack is caused by withdrawal of estrogen and is not an effective marker of ovulation. Ideally, oral contraception suppresses ovulation altogether by putting the central regulatory mechanism into a sort of dormant state. But things happen and sometimes there's an ovulation event. That event's not going to be trackable by bleeding, basal body temperature, and cervical mucus the way that unmedicated cyclic ovulation is. Calendar ("rhythm") methods and hormonal contraception are fundamentally incompatible.
posted by gingerest at 9:31 PM on January 29, 2012 [26 favorites]

The Mirena IUD is different from other things, to the extent that people who've had blood clots from BCP can be put on it. (It's not the first choice, but it's not an "OH HELL NO!") It can be a little unfun to get used to, but it's smooth sailing after that for a lot of people, and by itself it's more reliable than BCP + pulling out, unless the BCP-taker is, like, a robot.
posted by wintersweet at 9:34 PM on January 29, 2012

It is great that you are asking this question - it shows a level of responsibility rarely demonstrated when it comes to sex - please keep that in mind when reading my answer.

You compromise by listening to her. She's even willing to go on the pill and feel wonky in order to be fully intimate with you. And the pill can be a horrible, horrible thing (that can completely diminish any sex drive you actually have, but anyway).

In life, there is always risk. If you want to avoid getting your GF pregnant - do not have sex with her. Problem solved.

If you do wish to have sex with her I would suggest that she get an IUD.

Of course, if you don't wish to ejaculate inside her (which is your right) and she wishes you to (which is her right), there are some fundamental incompatibilities within your relationship that need to be addressed if that relationship is to go forward - both parties really need to feel fulfilled and comfortable here.
posted by mleigh at 9:49 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've heard the two forms my whole life, so I'm surprised people are chastising you for it. Me? I say, "Yeeha for responsibility!"

However, I've also always thought of an IUD with a hormonal component -- as opposed to the pure copper goodness -- as two forms.
posted by Gucky at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you considered anal? Seems like it would avoid the pregnancy issue entirely.
posted by Bonky Moon at 10:14 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

IUD all the way. I have a nonhormonal one (Paragard in the US) so I don't get the usual symptoms associated with hormonal birth control. Failure is almost always due to a shift or accidental expulsion of the device (it can happen); she will have to check it monthly to make sure it's still where it's supposed to be. It's an easy check.

Getting an IUD is not fun if you have not yet had a baby, but it's bearable. She'll probably spot a lot when she gets it and her periods will probably be heavy for a few months afterward, but that subsides as she heals. (You can have sex during this time--it is still effective).

If you are concerned, adding a condom to the mix would be totally appropriate. Also, look into the rhythm method, which is actually fairly effective (though not as good as IUDs or hormones or condoms). So if you want to go condom-free, an IUD plus rhythm would probably work well for you.

Any time you have sex there is going to be a possibility of pregnancy, but two highly-effective methods used correctly together bring your odds down to miracle territory.
posted by elizeh at 10:15 PM on January 29, 2012

@gingerest: it's true, you wouldn't be able to use BBTs or cervical mucus to track ovulation while on the pill. But you could still roughly use a rhythm method since there is still a likely range of days you'd be ovulating on, especially since he's only talking about pulling out, versus avoiding sex on those days. This is just for his peace of mind, it's not their main form of contraception.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:21 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This was implied by ootandaboot, but I'm just going to put it right out there: what about abortion? I am on the pill and consider abortion my second ("back-up") form of baby prevention. Obviously that doesn't directly address your issue here, because it's a second form that relies on the woman's agency, not yours, and thus doesn't give you a role to play (and the feeling of control that you seem to want). But I still think you need to talk about it - her stance on abortion may make you feel either more comfortable with one form of preemptive birth control, or more insistent on pulling out.

And nth-ing that the rhythm method is useless and irrelevant if she is on hormonal BC.
posted by amaire at 10:21 PM on January 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Do you ever want to father children? A vasectomy might be a good option for you, given your concerns. It's a very very good form of birth control.

Hormonal birth control might make her libido drop significantly, rendering the better sex question nearly moot. Not a definite, but it's highly possible.
posted by k8lin at 10:31 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's definitely your right to decide what makes you comfortable, and to stick with that.

But it's also fair to let you know that you are unusual in your 2/3 policy, and a lot of people are going to find it a bit odd. Sort of like Donald Rumsfeld's comment about going to war with the army you have, most people have sex using the contraception they have, even if there is a mathematically better set of options theoretically available.

Again, I'm not saying that just because most people find one method sufficient should mean that you need to shrug and go to town -- but thinking about that might help you understand how your partner is feeling about this. And it's always a tradeoff, as has been mentioned. Every method has side effects, many people find condoms to feel terrible, and there are layers and layers of cultural baggage as well.

Purely personally, I find both condoms and pulling out to drastically lower my pleasure; if that's how your partner feels, I can sympathize with her. Not everyone feels that way (it sounds like that's not the case for you, for example), but I think it is worth the effort to understand her perspective and what is driving her motivations on this.
posted by Forktine at 10:39 PM on January 29, 2012

Yeah, Nthing Nuvaring as a possible compromise here. It is hormonal, but because there is a physical thing inside of her, you can feel it. (You can't typically feel it during sex, but if you're really feeling paranoid you can, um, reach in and touch it...)
posted by asnider at 10:50 PM on January 29, 2012

FYI I am one of the .1% for whom mirena didn't work. I an 22 wks pregnant with the mirena embedded in the uterus. So that's not foolproof either. I'm just going to have my tubes tied after the baby comes!
posted by ramix at 10:57 PM on January 29, 2012

Treehorn+bunny - I was mostly worried about what other people were taking away from the comments, since a couple of people have mentioned timing intercourse by the placebo bleed and the biology just doesn't work that way. I had already given the OP my two cents' worth and was Contributing for Posterity and Future Searches. (That is, I was worried about Googlers who think they're using two forms of contraception if they abstain for days 7-10 of a pill pack. Or, if they do the math wrong, days 14-16.)
posted by gingerest at 11:00 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I vote vasectomy. You'll never think about this again.

Failing that, the ring is a light, local hormone system, not as noticeable as ingested pills. I've known several women who felt the IUD made them too sensitive in the uterus for the sort of rough sex they like. But it certainly works.
posted by ead at 11:14 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Side note: If the roles were reversed, where he wanted to stay in and she wanted him out, I feel like more people on this thread would be decidedly pro-pullout.

I am pro-choice (actually, at the moment, I am pro-abortion, but that is a different issue altogether) and I believe in a woman's right to do what they want in that situation. Equally, I believe in a man's right to do everything in his power to avoid having a kid (up to and including abstinence).

Saying that she has any right to tell him to stay in and shoot is (kind of) like suggesting that he has a right to be able to tell her to keep a baby... I think both of those assumed rights are garbage. Generally speaking, forcing a scenario where the other person takes on additional responsibility that they do not want is unfortunate.

That said, amaire makes a great point. An INCREDIBLY strong stance on abortion under any circumstances might make me relax a little but even then, the law is not on your side and hormones are crazy things.

You have every right to do everything in your power to reduce your chances of this unwanted scenario... As does she. Neither of you (in my opinion) have a right to introduce the other to an unnecessary increase in these chances... Babies are fucking terrifying!

By all means, bone down... but if it is your choice, do everything you can, as often as you can, to avoid fatherhood.
posted by milqman at 11:50 PM on January 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

Nthing this:

Of course, feel free to tell us that we're being irrational.

Okay, I'll bite. You are being irrational. You alone, not you and her. One method is enough.

And supporting the sponge, cervical cap, and diaphram as double methods: barrier +spermicide
posted by zia at 12:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Saying that she has any right to tell him to stay in and shoot is (kind of) like suggesting that he has a right to be able to tell her to keep a baby... I think both of those assumed rights are garbage.

I disagree. If she says that she'll only have sex if he stays in, he has the option to not have sex again. In your 'similar' situation of a pregnant woman.. she's already lost the option to not be pregnant.
posted by jacalata at 1:34 AM on January 30, 2012

Whoa! The rhythm method is not ideal, particularly for someone with PCOS, who's period is not likely to be average (every 26-32 days) or consistent (38 days one round, 35 days the next...)

Nthing the book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." Tracking your cycle involves taking your temp every morning with a basal thermometer before getting out of bed and paying attention to discharge to understand where you are in your cycle and what your unique cycle looks like.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:43 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow. Um, I would say, do whatever is necessary to hold onto your girlfriend regardless of the cost, because if I were having an intimate discussion with someone, and they started to talk about their policy about me and their need for control? I would be taking control of my own life by making a policy against continuing the relationship with them.

It ain't about the physical sensation of semen against her cervix, honey. It's the intimacy of a shared orgasm that she's looking for. And you're refusing to give her this, because the "policy" of "control" you've forged from your experiences of fucking other women will not permit it. OH YEAH, THIS IS GOING TO END WELL.

Irrational? No, you're not being irrational. You are being entirely too rational. And if your girlfriend is someone you actually care about? You really ought to work on that.
posted by mie at 3:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Wow, I can't believe the responses in this thread. If the OP were a female saying that her partner really wants to cut down on BC methods and cum inside her but she's uncomfortable, everyone here would be UP IN ARMS and freaking about a woman's choice and that her comfort and peace of mind is more important and all that. I'm actually really ashamed of people in this thread saying that just because this guy wants added protection that he's being irrational. Seriously, wow MetaFilter.

Anyway, for those who have constructive answers, I tend to agree with the ring or the IUD and maybe just the occasional inside-cum, like maybe the day before she's supposed to start her period (less chance of pregnancy). But I do recommend you go to a practitioner who will guide you through the options and show you the actual numbers with or without combos of methods.

I for one commend you for wanting, as a man, to take some control and responsibility to prevent pregnancy. If there were more people like you, we would have less unplanned/unwanted pregnancies. So kudos to you, and don't let people make you feel like a freak for wanting these things.
posted by greta simone at 4:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [22 favorites]

My husband is in your boat, entirely. Completely paranoid and yes, has the same "2/3" policy. I'd never heard of it before and pretty much shrugged as, unlike your girlfriend, where he finishes the deed isn't as important to me as everyone having a good time.

I'm getting an IUD today (almost a year after the birth of our first very, VERY planned child) and he's already waxed ecstatic about being able to have sex without worry about pregnancy at all. So, if it's good enough for him...

Also: the only, ONLY way you can avoid pregnancy *guaranteed* is not to have sex. I know women who have had babies on the pill... with tubes tied... with every method of contraception imaginable. Pulling out isn't going to help as much as you think it will since - sorry to say - there's a small sperm in pre-cum as well. If you're already having sex without a condom, some of your sperm are out there. Now, of course, pulling out means there are *fewer* sperm, but it's absolutely not fool proof.

Which is to say it's pretty ridiculous to combine something that's totally not effective in any real sense with methods of birth control with 1% or less failure rates.

(Another option I haven't seen anyone else mention is Depo-Provera, which is a crapshoot. Some women love it, others have horrible side effects. I can't take the pill - in any of the forms I've tried - since it makes me CRAY-ZEE but I loved the hell out of Depo.)
posted by sonika at 4:51 AM on January 30, 2012

Pulling out isn't going to help as much as you think it will since - sorry to say - there's a small sperm in pre-cum as well.

Actually, the studies (four cited on wikipedia, although apparently small-scale studies) suggest that pull-out failure is more likely due to semen still being present on the penis from the last ejaculation and that pre-cum has not been found to contain sperm.
posted by mreleganza at 5:14 AM on January 30, 2012

pull-out failure is more likely due to semen still being present on the penis from the last ejaculation and that pre-cum has not been found to contain sperm.

I stand corrected, though the end result for the OP is the same: pull-out isn't effective.
posted by sonika at 5:33 AM on January 30, 2012

I can't take the pill, I've tried several, it makes me nuts and gives me cold sores every week. I can't use the nuvaring, it makes me completely uninterested in sex.

My partner and I used the withdrawal method exclusively for about a year. Studies suggest that it is as effective as condoms when used correctly, which my partner was. Now I'm on the Mirena IUD, not for birth control necessarily but to control the symptoms of endometriosis, but I have to tell you, I would never, ever, ever get an IUD as birth control if that meant my partner would still pull out. IUD insertions can be (and mine certainly was, especially for nulliparous women) horribly painful and the cramps that follow for months while your body adjusts to having a foreign body in your uterus are almost as bad. It's worth it for a medical reason, or for birth control, but for neither? No. Feeling "wonky" doesn't even begin to describe it.

The stalemate, as I see it, is that you want two forms of birth control, and she wants you to come inside her. The compromise, as I see it, is a non-hormonal barrier method (like a paraguard IUD, or a diaphragm, or a cervical cap) and FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), but again, this method involves you trusting that she's accurately charting her cycle.

The problem, though, seems to be that you don't trust her. Your stance is commendable for casual sex (more men should accept more responsibility for where they deposit their sperm because, as you say, that's the end of their control re: pregnancy) but it doesn't work in committed relationships, where both of your needs need to be met, emotionally and physically. If you can't help find a solution because you don't trust her, then you need to rethink why you're dating her (or anyone) in the first place.
posted by lydhre at 5:43 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is this about fertility or about a sexual neurosis?

I was wondering the same thing. There are plenty of ways to "double up" on birth control methods that don't involve pulling out, I don't see why you'd want to hold onto that particular "method" unless it brought you some enjoyment.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't have time to read all of the comments, but I read the post and wanted to drop in to suggest an IUD, particularly the Mirena. I totally appreciate how wonky birth control pills can make you feel, and while I've never had an IUD, the reviews I've read have suggested that this is lessened or totally taken away with the Mirena, because the hormones are much more localized than a pill. My recollection is that it's the most reliable birth control method out there - more reliable than sterilization, even - although obviously look into this before choosing. I only suggest this because it could be that only this one method is enough to be reliable for you, and it sounds like it also might meet all of your requirements.
posted by UniversityNomad at 7:13 AM on January 30, 2012

First off, I commend you for taking birth control seriously. And you shouldn't have to have sex you're not comfortable with. Neither should she, though.

Hormonal contraception can wonk you right the fuck up like hardcore. And IUDs, though super effective, are a commitment, and can be seriously painful at first, as others have noted. If she's going to risk the wonk or ouch and still not have the kind of sex she wants, what's the point of doing it in the first place? All she's getting out of the deal is wonk and ouch.

She's willing to meet you more than halfway by getting the pill or an IUD, and if she's on one of those, the added protection of pulling out is negligible. It seems more than fair for you to relax this rule. If you're really, really not comfortable with that, then maybe there's no good solution here. But it'll help you in the long run to reconsider your policy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:13 AM on January 30, 2012

I know someone who is a sex educator, and she likes to say that there is no such thing as "safe sex." There is only "no sex" and "safer sex." Regardless of how old they are, when women keep coming to my friend for reassurance because they are in a panic--once again--about the possibility of being pregnant, she generally stops giving them birth control advice and starts advising them to Slow Down and stop having sex until they can feel comfortable with the fact that the possibility of getting pregnant goes hand-in-hand with having sex. Sometimes people need to think through their back-up plan: what would we actually do if I did get pregnant? Sometimes they need time getting more comfortable with their partners or their own bodies. Sometimes they just need time to think it all over. You are a guy, obviously, but if you can't handle the fact that there is even the smallest possibility of your girlfriend getting pregnant, then I think you should stop having sex until you can get your emotional house in order. Because being ready to take reasonable precautions and having a back-up plan if something goes wrong is very different than freaking out about the fact that you can't control every single part of the process.
posted by colfax at 7:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm shocked by the people who are insisting that you're being irrational. I also don't think this is a trust issue; as mentioned before, there certainly is a risk of becoming pregnant even when using hormonal birth control. Planned Parenthood states that 9 in 100 women will become pregnant each year if they don't take the pill every day as directed (i.e., "typical use"). You can have absolute trust in your girlfriend and she could still get pregnant. Unless you actually have some reason to doubt that she'd take the pill reliably each day, which I didn't pick up in your question, then "trust" doesn't have anything to do with this.

Since you call yourself a "new couple," it might be somewhat preemptive to be considering an IUD, but that's a decision you two will have to make. IUDs are expensive, painful to insert (especially if you've never had children), and are typically meant for longterm use (5-10 years). I don't know how "new" is new, but if you haven't been together for very long, this might be more of a commitment than she's willing to make at this point. Again, only something you two can figure out.

Pregnancy and childbirth (or abortion) are a big freaking deal. An 8-9% failure rate using one method of birth control alone would be unacceptable to me. For that reason, my partner and I also use hormonal birth control plus a backup method, every single time.
posted by pecanpies at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

This doesn't add up. You seem perplexed (perhaps a bit disgusted?) by her desire for you to finish your orgasm inside of her. But you're defending pulling out as a form of contraception while acknowledging that it's unreliable for this purpose.

I would say that perhaps condoms are the best solution for you two, but you're pulling out even while wearing a condom?! Sex educators, chime in here, isn't that considered riskier for breakage/spillage than withdrawing immediately after ejaculation?
posted by desuetude at 8:55 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wow, I can't believe the responses in this thread. If the OP were a female saying that her partner really wants to cut down on BC methods and cum inside her but she's uncomfortable, everyone here would be UP IN ARMS and freaking about a woman's choice and that her comfort and peace of mind is more important and all that.

This. I am kind of surprised by the responses. At some point, if you are uncomfortable, people just have to accept that you are uncomfortable.

I would suggest two things (as someone who is adamantly childfree and who is partnered with someone adamantly childfree):

1. Mirena IUD (the most effective BC out there; you may or may not continue to pull out, whether you remain comfortable/uncomfortable with that)

2. A really frank discussion regarding what would happen in case of an accident.

So, like, the partner and I are way anti-baby, we use the IUD, we do not use any other method, but we also know EXACTLY what we would do in case of an accident, are on the same page, and are happy with the arrangement. You may feel more comfortable if you actually talk about the what if....
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, frankly: as a new couple, I think your hesitation is acceptable. Do with your body only what you are comfortable doing. You can reevaluate later, if you're still together.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 9:07 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

My partner and I doubled up on bc for the entirety of the time that we Really Did Not Want Kids (about 10 years all told) and it was definitely a situation where we each felt more in control using our preferred method. The idea that this is somehow insulting to your partner is shocking to me--she has a right to state her preferences, but you control your body and you do what you're comfortable with.

On the other hand, she's also got the right to do that too, and if she's only willing to use other birth control without you getting your 2 out of 3, that sounds to me like "condoms and pulling out" IS the compromise for the two of you. I don't think that particular combo reduces your chances of conception much but your body isn't mine.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, any more "If the genders were reversed..." speculation needs to go straight to MetaTalk and not here. Please answer the question and don't argue with other commenters, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2012

Trust me, the IUD is your best friend. It's very reliable and you can shoot off in her as much as you want. My wife and I have used an IUD for the past five or so years, and it's the best thing ever.

Unless she takes it out herself or has it taken out behind your back, there's no reason to be concerned about losing "control." Don't put obstacles in front of enjoying sex that don't need to be there.
posted by Fister Roboto at 9:46 AM on January 30, 2012

I work in teen pregnancy prevention, so I'm pretty up on the new research, etc. Part of my job includes answering questions like yours.

The biggest issue with hormonal birth control is user error. You will want to consider a class of contraceptives called LARCs (Long-acting, reversible contraceptives) that mostly take the user error out of the picture entirely. The LARCs are: IUD/IUS (Paragard/Mirena in the US), the implant (Implanon), and Depo Provera.

All of the LARCs share a 99%+ effectiveness rate. In other words, fewer than one woman who uses a LARC will get pregnant over the course of a year. Given possible fertility issues in the first place, I highly doubt you'll ever get her pregnant using a LARC and nothing else.

Sorry I'm late getting here.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:04 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'll be done in a sec, but also: reading through the replies, there is quite a lot of misinformation and straight-up erroneous advice in this thread. You may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor/an OBGYN/one of the Planned Parenthood nurses to get actual, accurate information about contraception. Go together. That might help you figure out which decision is best for you.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 10:14 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree about the misinformation in this thread. Planned Parenthood would be my choice of a place to go to explore what method(s) best work with your needs, values, and desires.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:15 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you truly are terrified of getting a woman pregnant, why don't you consider having some of your sperm stored and getting your tubes tied instead of pressuring her.

If this is a "big deal" to you, then consider that there are ways that you can "take control" and fix it yourself without putting the pressue on her and her body.
posted by Shouraku at 10:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

As desuetude says, "perfect use " of condoms includes finishing inside the partner, and withdrawal compromises rather than enhances their effectiveness. Seconding sock puppet's suggestion that the two of you schedule an appointment at Planned Parenthood, or with a gyn who's up on the latest research in contraception, and talk about this with an expert.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:01 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree with Sidhedevil and others who highlight that your pulling out when using a condom actually makes condoms LESS effective.

I don't think you're being irrational, though. You have the right to say what kind of sex you want to have. However, I do think it's weird that when faced with what, to me, is a pretty clear incompatibility, you're not breaking up.
posted by spunweb at 1:10 PM on January 30, 2012

Also, your list of conditions, in my opinion, shouldn't even include female birth control if you're even worried about partners "tricking" you by not properly taking a pill that may make them feel weird or sick. Here's a list of male contraceptive choices:

And here's a quiz you guys can take together to help broaden your conversation about birth control.
posted by spunweb at 1:14 PM on January 30, 2012

If you don't trust your girlfriend, that's a separate problem that we can't help you with. But I can speak from personal experience when I say that the IUD fucking rocks. Very few side effects, more effective than the pill, and easily reversible. OH, and did you know they're effective for 10 years? 10 years! If you have a girlfriend who's interested in getting one, you'd be a fool not to go along with it. *

*provided that you're both tested and STD-free
posted by Afroblanco at 2:56 PM on January 30, 2012

Also shocked at all the "that's way too paranoid" responses, considering the number of pill-babies (or abortions) that happen - both with correct and incorrect pill use. A family member got pregnant despite taking the pills correctly and without messing it up with antibiotics, etc....apparently the dose was too low for her or something. Even IUD babies happen.

It does depend how she feels about abortion, but of course you can't be in control of her decision there regardless of how she feels now, so it's very reasonable to be extra-careful if you REALLY don't want a child right now. 2 independent methods is best IMO (ideally some form of hormones+some sort of barrier method), although you can be a little more creative in your options than the ones you listed, and you'll want to consider the odds of both methods.

1-5% chance of getting pregnant in any given year might be fine with some posters here but it's not fine for me, and I don't think you're a paranoid control freak for not being fine with's not controlling her body, it's making rational decisions about your own body and future.
posted by randomnity at 3:48 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

[Mirena] My recollection is that it's the most reliable birth control method out there - more reliable than sterilization, even

I had a Mirena IUD placed this morning and in the pre-amble "let's discuss this thing I'm jamming into your uterus" phase my doctor ran down the stats and yes, Mirena is more effective than having your tubes tied. The numbers I was given: If 100 women are having unprotected sex for a year, at the end, 85 will be pregnant. With "perfect" use of condoms, 3 will be pregnant. For a pregnancy to occur in a year, 3,000 women with their tubes tied will need to be having otherwise unprotected sex. For one pregnancy in a year with Mirena, that number jumps to 10,000.

Which is to say, it's failure rate is 3x less than tubal ligation.

It sounds like this would absolutely be a good thing for you and your girlfriend to talk to a doctor about. I'm not sure how PCOS plays into getting an IUD, but if she doesn't want to be pregnant for 2 or 3 years (minimum - and you can keep Mirena in for up to 5) it would be a good choice for her to have the most effective birth control possible.

In the end with an IUD, this is something that she has to keep in her body for a long time. My doctor said she wasn't comfortable giving it to women who were going to use it for less than two years. So, if she's not willing to commit to absolutely NOT getting pregnant under ANY circumstances in those two years, it might be a no go. Which is to say, this is really only something that you should be talking about in terms of your future as a couple if you see yourselves still together years down the line. It's completely reasonable to bring it up, but unless she truly doesn't want to be pregnant with you or anyone else in the next 2-5 years.... don't push it.

(I will put it out there that I've already had a child and those were five of the most *uncomfortable* minutes of my entire life. I imagine that had my cervix not already been beaten into submission before, it would be downright painful.)

(I'll also also put it out there again that Depo was amazing for me and is much more effective than the Pill. It would absolutely be my first recommendation to someone in a serious relationship seeking reliable birth control for a mid-range [3mos-2yrs] period of time. It should be noted that Depo should not be used for more than two years consecutively as it can contribute to bone loss later in life.)

Planned Parenthood on IUD.
Planned Parenthood on Depo Provera.
Planned Parenthood on pulling out. I didn't realize that when used perfectly is about as effective as condoms. When used imperfectly... isn't terribly effective at all.
Planned Parenthood on condoms. Which become more effective if you pull out before ejaculating, but clearly do not want to be yanking out mid-spurt.

I do respect your decisions to do what you want with your sperm, but at the same time - your girlfriend is willing to meet you more than halfway here by taking up the birth control burden herself and altering her body chemistry with hormones or inserting a piece of plastic into her uterus - to say that's not "good enough" to prevent pregnancy is fairly paranoid. If this is more about your not wanting to ejaculate in her based on your sexual preference of not liking it, that's a different discussion and one that's going to be harder to compromise on since she seems to have a strong preference in the other direction.
posted by sonika at 4:33 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Even IUD babies happen

Failure rates of various birth control methods (expressed as "perfect use" to "typical use) :

Withdraw : 4% - 28%
Condoms : 2% - 18%
Hormonal Contraceptives : .05% - 9%
Copper IUD : .6% - .8%
Tubal Ligation : .5%

The IUD isn't just effective, it's *ridiculously* effective.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

if you're even worried about partners "tricking" you

Nobody is talking about deliberate trickery or scheming on the part of the girlfriend. Statistics show that almost nobody takes the pill perfectly, which is why stats for pregnancy with "typical use" are so much higher than for "perfect use." The OP is not accusing anyone of deceit. It is simply realistic to imagine that any girlfriend, no matter how wonderful, will not always take the pill precisely as scheduled. It is perfectly acceptable for a man to be worried about the consequences of that.
posted by vytae at 10:33 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mirena is your two methods.

It's an IUD *with* hormones. But at a dose way lower than even the lowest dose pill, so literally hitting you here (uterus) rather than here (head).

It's also better because you can't forget to take it.

It can be pricy though, so if you want her to get it, you should cough up your fair share.
posted by Elysum at 11:00 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stewriffic mentioned it upthread, but I wanted to second the suggestion to investigate the contraceptive implant. It is hormonal, but a lower dose (which may be why I suffer none of the unwanted side-effects I get from the pill), it has a very low failure rate, and the implantation and removal is easier than for an IUD. And you can easily feel it under the skin, so you know it's there and working. I find that knowing that I am using a contraceptive method which can never be made less effective by human error is good for my peace of mind, especially when it comes out as more effective than tubal ligation.
posted by penguinliz at 9:10 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is a recent article about a birth control pill recall (not a health risk...but may not effectively prevent pregnancy!). I don't think you're being too paranoid.
posted by anaelith at 6:30 AM on February 1, 2012

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