How can I convince my girlfriend to stop relying on condoms for birth control?
November 14, 2005 10:46 AM   Subscribe

How can I convince my girlfriend to stop relying on condoms for birth control?

We're in a very committed (3+ year) relationship, and we live together. Condoms (I use Durex Avanti's, which are WAY better than latex, but still...) just don't compare to natural intercourse. Her objections to various alternatives are as follows:
- Implants are off the table. I'm inclined to agree on this point.
- Diaphragms are uncomfortable for her. She also claims that her fingers are too short to get it out easily. Side question- this seems a bit odd to me, but I'm a man and I'm utterly ignorant of these things, so I'm not about to call her on it. Is this a real problem for some people, or something she's convinced herself of? She won't use a menstrual cup for the same reason.
- Her objection to The Pill is more complex, having to do with general issues of not wanting to "be medicated", to not wanting something muck with her natural cycle. Personally, the lessened mood swings and bleeding (both of which she gets in spades, but are part of "what make her who she is") would seem like a boon to me, but then, see "I'm a man" above.

Conversations usually stall at, "I appreciate your desire, but I'm not messing with my body." Given my druthers, I'd push for The Pill, but I'm open to suggestions. She's not on any other medication.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (123 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why not get a vasectomy?
posted by interrobang at 10:50 AM on November 14, 2005


I'm with interrobang. Get the old snip yourself, and have all the worry-free consensual sex the two of you could ever want. If you ever want to breed, you can freeze a sample beforehand.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:53 AM on November 14, 2005


It seems like you and she need to meet halfway. I had a gf who used a cervical cap. Unlike a diaphram, it leaves no redicual spermicidal jelly, since the amount used is less and it's further up there.

This gf eventually investeded in a crochet hook for easy removal.

So you could suggest a bit of each.
posted by Danf at 10:54 AM on November 14, 2005


Her objection to the Pill is completely valid. It does mess with you. Of course, there are many varieties of Pill, and changing brands and pill types can make a big difference. But there is a tendency for people to take the Pill way too lightly. Sit down and read that incredibly long insert sometime; there are always side effects and there are some serious risks.

Going out on a bit of a limb, though, it sounds to me as though she really doesn't have enough information about any of these methods. Her objections have some basis in reality, but are not well informed. I suggest you encourage her to go to the GYN and have this conversation with her. The GYN will be able to disabuse her of the "fingers too short" idea - (there's a technique involved which one has to learn), and describe the specific risks/benefits of all the other methods. She's going to need to get specific answers if she's willing to explore a change. But no one needs to expect you to have these answers.
posted by Miko at 11:00 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Birth control does more than just regulate the cycle and reduce cramps. For me it caused severe depression and weight gain. Some women are just more sensitive to the changing of hormones.
posted by nadawi at 11:03 AM on November 14, 2005


Another vote for snip-snip. They have types nowadays that are done with freezing instead of injected anasthetics, that are much quicker. I hear it's done in one office visit.
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:03 AM on November 14, 2005


I agree - the Pill isn't something to undertake lightly. It can completely change your mood and in some people so dramatically that it's like a personality change. It can affect your period in an adverse way (not everyone gets lighter periods) and can cause a whole host of other physical complaints. It's hormones after all.

There are a million different birth control options. She should speak to a doctor about them if she's interested. IS she interested? Your question sounds like you are the only one who wants to use a different method, and putting it on her makes the situation even more uncomfortable.
posted by agregoli at 11:05 AM on November 14, 2005


What's the problem? "I want you to take a product that costs money, can cause side effects such as weight gain, etc., just so it feels a bit better for me." I'm a guy, and I really appreciate the difference in feeling, but there's no way I'm going to insist someone take drugs they don't want to simply for my pleasure.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:05 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


The Today Sponge came back onto the market this year and is available at most Walgreen's locations. Since you're monogamous, the only concern regarding the sponge is its relatively low (when compared to the Pill or condoms) effectiveness rate. And the price - sheesh. You'd think they were gold plated.
posted by angeline at 11:08 AM on November 14, 2005


For many people (myself included), the Pill isn't just a happy pill that makes mood swings go away. It made me really horrifically screaming-harpy depressed, and I only realized that a *year* after I started taking it. The black mood lifted immediately when I stopped.

Many women also gain weight and lose their sex drives. I susepct that a lot of the "Not tonight, dear" stereotype is actually side effects from birth control pills, though I have nothing to back that up.

I really can't imagine any man volunteering to take a daily dose of hormones that had those as common side effects. And I mean common -- I know that many women here have taken the pill for years without problems, but *every* woman I know who's gone on the pill has had these problems. My roommate went on the pill and a week later got so depressed that she refused to leave her bedroom except for work, and claimed she was too tired to call her doctor to ask about switching pills. And stories like this don't really help many of us trust hormonal birth control.

All that said... she may want to look into non-hormonal IUDs. But if she's not willing to do that... I'm inclined to say suck it up, or snip yourself. Forcing your girlfriend to take medication that she's not willing to take and that you don't seem to understand her objection to is not, in my opinion, a good thing.
posted by occhiblu at 11:09 AM on November 14, 2005


Vasectomy is, as others have said, a reliable option.
I'm surprised people never seem to consider an IUD, don't doctors/sex ed teachers talk about it anymore?l
As for the short fingers anecdote, I'd say that's very possible.
Good luck! :)
posted by Radio7 at 11:10 AM on November 14, 2005


Personally, the lessened mood swings and bleeding (both of which she gets in spades, but are part of "what make her who she is") would seem like a boon to me, but then, see "I'm a man" above.

It's worth noting that that lessened mood swings and bleeding aren't a given with the pill. When I'm on it, I'm constantly near tears about 7 days a month. It can make those things better, but it can also make them much, much worse.

The reality is, female contraceptives are simply much more invasive than condoms. They go inside you or involve drugs, or in the case of some methods, some from column A some from column B.

By asking her to take on a form of birth control that makes her uncomfortable, though, aren't you just switching the burden of less pleasant sex over to her side? If the two of you can find a method for her that matches fairly evenly with the level of 'less enjoyment' condoms create for you, perhaps that compromise position could be alternating back and forth so you share the 'less enjoyment' equally. But as long as the comparison is between 'less enjoyment' for you and 'physical discomfort' for her, I can't imagine her agreeing to the switch.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:11 AM on November 14, 2005


When I read the first part of your question, I thought "maybe he's worried about condom's effectiveness as birth control." After reading the rest of your question, I realize you want your gf to change birth control to a different method that's more convenient for you.

You (the guy) essentially have two options for reliable birth control, condoms or vasectomy. Of course condoms aren't as good as "natural intercourse", but if the alternative is no intercourse...

It sounds like your gf is not interested in hormonal birth control. That's fine. Maybe the best thing is to make an appointment with her OB/GYN so that you both can discuss bc options.

Diaphrams are effective, but they are hellish to remove. (The jelly/diaphram combination forms a great seal, which is why it's such an effective barrier method, but imagine trying to reach up in there and force a finger under that seal so that you can grab the damn thing to get it out.)

I'm glad Danf and his gf found a compromise, but if my SO suggested that I could use stick a crochet hook into my vagina to remove a bc device, I'd kick him.
posted by luneray at 11:12 AM on November 14, 2005


also, aren't vasectomies nowadays totally reversable?
posted by poppo at 11:14 AM on November 14, 2005


If she doesn't want to medicate herself, you need to respect that.

It's pretty easy for you to say that she should go on the Pill. Then she has all the responsibility of birth control for both of you. And she's the one that has to deal with all the side effects and the way it messes with her body and her mind. She'll be the one with increased risk for blood clots, stroke and heart attack. She'll be the one that gains weight, or always feels a bit like puking, or, loses her sex drive, or the various other shit that some women experience on the Pill.

I think it's reasonable for you to encourage her to visit her gynecologist and/or Planned Parenthood to make sure that she's explored the many options to available to her and gotten up to date information. And then she can make an informed choice. Then you need to respect her choice.

When you complained about the amount of her mood swings and menstruation, it didn't sound (to my ears) like a caring and concerned partner trying to find the best solution. It had a bit of a tone of "I don't like this, and I wish she'd just start taking the damn Pill to fix it and appease me". Now it's entirely possible that you didn't mean that at all, and I want to give you the benfit of the doubt. But I encourage you to carefully examine your own intentions.
posted by raedyn at 11:18 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


What the world really needs is a pill-based birth control for men that stops the production of sperm.
posted by darkness at 11:19 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


It's funny luneray -- I'm inclined to think that the girlfriend is being selfish, and not the OP. Not wanting to take hormones is one thing, but her refusal to use a diaphragm at least some of the time seems iffy. Why are they so uncomfortable for her? Aren't those things supposed to be custom fitted? What about the female condom? Or the sponge?

Forcing the guy to take 100% responsibility for contraception in your relationship is like anti-feminism. She's abdicating control over her own fertility and shoving the hassle off on someone else. Why shouldn't he complain? He's the only one compromising in this situation.

There was a good discussion of this issue in this thread. I'm inclined to say that you should tell your girlfriend that if she's so concerned about controlling her own body, then she should actually take control of her fertility by whatever method she prefers and quit passing the buck.
posted by junkbox at 11:20 AM on November 14, 2005 [2 favorites]


Advising that the questioner get a vasectomy is just silly. For starters, he's dating somebody, he's not married to her. Second, we have no reason to think that he doesn't desire children -- just that he doesn't want them now. Third, we don't have enough details about him to recommend such a drastic measure right now -- he could be a 21-year-old college student looking to get married and have children in the next few years.

Anonymous, to answer your question, I expect you'll have to suck it up. :) If you had a condom failure or a pregnancy scare, she may well change her mind. Short of that, her objections are understandable and reasonable, and you may well just have to keep on keeping on, and hope she'll change her mind.
posted by waldo at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


My wife loves being on The Pill. It eliminated menustration and, hence, the pain of menustration.

However, I'm on the side of those saying you should just go get snipped. The latest&greatest scalpel-less, stitch-less vasectomies are quick and painless.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2005


(Darkness, from what I've read, the pharmaceutical industry (whatever that amorphous term might mean) has said that polls indicate that men wouldn't be willing to take a daily hormone pill that might have the same side effects of female birth control pills (no shit), so there's "no interest" in a male BCP.)
posted by occhiblu at 11:22 AM on November 14, 2005


The diaphragm (and cervical cup) can indeed be difficult for some women to insert or remove based on their finger size, angle of the vagina, and/or location of the cervix. I used a diaphragm for a few years, and while I happened to have a reasonably easy time inserting/removing it, I can see very easily how it would be tricky or uncomfortable for other women.

As for hormonal birth control, if she doesn't want to go on it, she's got plenty of good reasons. I'm on the Pill and while I've found a particular brand/dose that works for me, it A) still has minor side effects that I've just chosen to cope with, and B) took YEARS to find. "The Pill" does not equal just one type of pill that affects all women in one way -- there are literally dozens of brands and doses, and a wide range of very real (and sometimes very unpleasant) side effects. It's not something to be taken lightly. She clearly feels quite strongly about it and in fact has made her decision, which I think you ought to respect. Your preference for her to go on the Pill is vastly outweighted by her preference to stay off it.
posted by scody at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2005


What the world really needs is a pill-based birth control for men that stops the production of sperm.

Effectiveness is the trouble. It's easy to stop one egg. But if just one sperm gets through, you've got trouble.
posted by waldo at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2005


Invest in a crochet hook, Danf? Good grief, please don't try removing anything from any orifice, including the vagina, with a crochet hook, or encourage your partner to do so.

The 'short fingers' thing doesn't sound quite plausible to me. For removal, position, relaxation, and maybe several valiant attempts until you succeed -- just like with tampons. She might want to explain her predicament to her gyn, get some, um, pointers.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2005


She's abdicating control over her own fertility

No, she's insisting her partner wear a condom. Sounds like she's in control to me.
posted by occhiblu at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2005


Be a man and continue to wear the condom. It carries the least health risks and is cheaper than every other option. So you get decreased sensitivity with that method, but it sounds like the side effects of other options are much worse than you're slightly-less-happy-while-having-sex-which-is-still-pretty-high-on-the-happiness-scale.
posted by mathowie at 11:28 AM on November 14, 2005 [2 favorites]


Forcing the guy to take 100% responsibility for contraception in your relationship is like anti-feminism. She's abdicating control over her own fertility and shoving the hassle off on someone else. Why shouldn't he complain? He's the only one compromising in this situation.

There was a good discussion of this issue in this thread. I'm inclined to say that you should tell your girlfriend that if she's so concerned about controlling her own body, then she should actually take control of her fertility by whatever method she prefers and quit passing the buck.


If she were to go on the pill and he were to stop using condoms, wouldn't it then follow he then be abdicating control over his own fertility and passing the buck to her?
posted by duck at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2005 [2 favorites]


Stop whining and *get a vasectomy already!!!*

It's just too late for men to still be retarded about this stuff.
posted by shifafa at 11:37 AM on November 14, 2005


this usually works for me: "hey, girlfriend... i've been thinking, and i realize that the pill could cause weight gain, nausea, sore breasts, depression, low/absent libido, appetite change, spider veins and skin sensitivity, and the impact on your libido could mean we never have sex ever again, but i mean, my willy wants to be free!"

the expectation of society for a woman to fill her body with a hormonal cocktail that so consistently provides so many very visible negative side effects and look down on her if she doesn't fulfill the obligation is pretty sad. i know it mainly has to do with ignorance on the part of us men, but i really haven't known very many girls whose bodies do agree with their bc.

now that my comment is all serious-y i guess it's too late to make a joke about durex avantis feeling like creepy parchment paper trash bags or how i heard abortion is a viable method of birth control, yeah?
posted by soma lkzx at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Sounds like she's in control to me.

Exactly...and that's the problem. She knows that she's got you by the dick. The fact that she won't even try the pill tells me that she's got way too much power in this relationship. How do you turn the tables?

Stop having sex with her. After a month, she'll be begging for it and be willing to try anything to regain her sex life, even the pill.

Again, the fact that she won't even TRY the pill tells me that she's being unreasonably stubborn. Condoms have a higher failure rate than birth control and the sex (without the condom) is better for her as well. While my answer sounds a bit mysogynistic, I can assure you that withholding sex is a power that BOTH sexes can take advantage of, thereby making it sexually neutral.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2005


Waldo is right on the money. I'm astonished by all these casual recommendations for a vasectomy. If Anon ever wants to have children later on, his prospects would be quite iffy. But I understand the urgency of Anon's question. In my opinion, sex with a condom is like eating frozen food without defrosting it: the ultimate benefit might be the same, but the experience suffers dramactically. As a long-term contraceptive solution, it would be a total deal breaker for me.

OTOH, I wouldn't endorse dumping a load of hormones into my system either. So I'll sign off on Luneray's suggestion that Anon's partner should consult with her GYN and explore an IUD/diaphragm/cap. Otherwise he's got to either either deal or leave the lady.
posted by mojohand at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Personally speaking, I find that when I use a condom, I'm not having sex. At all. I'm just lying there while she jumps up and down on me and I literally do not feel a thing. Which is kinda distracting in its own way. Your eyes and ears tell you you're having sex, but not the rest of your body.

Not that it helps, but the choice isn't necessarily between sex-with-a-condom or better-sex-without-a-condom for the man.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 11:42 AM on November 14, 2005


SeizeTheDay, that's the most unhealthy relationship advice I've read yet.

She doesn't have to TRY the pill to know she doesn't want to take it. If she doesn't want it, her partner should respect that. I don't see how this is a power issue at all. She doesn't want to put hormones in her body. Good for her for knowing her own mind and not bowing to her boyfriend's unreasonable expectation that she do so.

What happened to mutual respect in relationships? This one doesn't sound like there's enough there, for sure.
posted by agregoli at 11:43 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


And if a girlfriend said you had to try steroids, because she'd enjoy having sex more if you were buff -- and the sex would be better for you, too, of course, because you'd have more strength for various positions? You'd be OK with injecting steroids, then? After all, they're just hormones.
posted by occhiblu at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


RE: My cervical cap/crochet hook comment . . . .

In no way was I the originator for that idea. She went out and bought it.

(on the phone to the editors of my upcoming sex manual, hoping that they can do a last minute deletion)
posted by Danf at 11:45 AM on November 14, 2005


Aside from the fuss and mess with diaphragms, they also increase the chances of urinary and yeast infections. Not sexy. If you are young, not married and have no kids it is virtually impossible to convince a doctor to perform a permanent procedure such as a vasectomy. Condoms aren't great but they are cheap, easy, and getting better/thinner all the time.
posted by arruns at 11:48 AM on November 14, 2005


Trying the pill doesn't cause long-term damage in most women (I would pull a % out of my ass, but it'd be so blatant that my credibility would die).

The mere fact that women here would suggest a SURGICAL procedure instead of just trying the pill speaks worlds of your priorities and struggle to maintain sexual control in the relationship. anonymous isn't asking for something completely outrageous (hell, if my g/f asked me to take viagra, for instance, I would give it serious consideration, despite the short-term side effects).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:49 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Anon is asking the question. He's the one here with the power to do something. He cannot FORCE his girfriend onto the Pill, so some of us are talking about what other options *he* has.
posted by occhiblu at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2005


If she were to go on the pill and he were to stop using condoms, wouldn't it then follow he then be abdicating control over his own fertility and passing the buck to her?

Contraception is not a zero sum game. It doesn't have to be a burden on one partner; it should be an arrangement that both people are happy with, and that may require compromise.

As a man, you take a huge risk giving up that condom. How many guys have been told, "I'm on the Pill" only to get an ugly surprise 9 months later? But if you're in a committed, trusting relationship, it shouldn't feel like a gamble.

As a woman, "My body, my choice" means being willing to take control of your fertility. If you have a partner who's happy wearing condoms, then great. But if he's not, you should be ready to manage your own fertility with the variety of options available to you, or be ready to accept the consequences of unprotected sex. It's your body; own it.

I think too many American women take their contraceptive options for granted; yeah, The Pill has some nasty side effects. I've experienced plenty of them myself -- including the deep depression and mood swings. But every day I thank god that thanks to The Pill, to IUD's, the diaphragm, the sponge, spermicide, etc, I can control my body and my fertility. There are millions -- millions of men (and women!) who would like to take that right away from me. Just look at the controversy swirling around the Plan B morning-after pill (which I've used). Politically active misogynists want to demonize women who have sex, and punish us with the consequences of intercourse, because clearly we're all whores who need to be kept barefoot and pregnant and away from the clean and pure people of the world.

So yeah, when I hear about some girl who expects a man to manage her fertility for her, I think about everything she's taking for granted, and how easily it could all be taken away from her.
posted by junkbox at 11:54 AM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


The mere fact that women here would suggest a SURGICAL procedure instead of just trying the pill speaks worlds of your priorities and struggle to maintain sexual control in the relationship.

I, for one, would never suggest a surgical procedure for the man. But I do find it ridiculous that the woman is expected to go on the Pill when it has many many side effects and is hormonal, while condoms, while not as much fun for EITHER party (I don't like using them either, thank goodness we no longer have to), don't cause any physical changes in either the man or the woman. She can and should investigate other options if she takes her partner's complaint seriously, but he's acting like it's no big deal for her. Well, it is a big deal. Non-hormonal birth control methods should be explored, but by no means do I think she should have to consider a method that has many side-effects and that she has already decided she doesn't want to use.

The mere fact that he wants this when she doesn't speaks volumes for the "control" issue in the relationship. A truly healthy relationship would be one where her partner respects her decision and works with her in finding one that would work better for both of them.
posted by agregoli at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2005


Actually, he asked how he could *convince* his g/f to stop relying on condoms. The method I've suggested has worked with people I know.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2005


And we're telling him that his attitude is both appalling and counter-productive to a healthy relationship. As well as giving him other, better options.
posted by agregoli at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2005


You can always use the classical, tried and true method. What do I mean? Well... there's more than one way to have sex with a person.

Honestly, asking her to go on the pill is a far more drastic measure than you putting a rubber on now and again. You need to ask yourself "How important is this to me? Is it worth ruining a relationship over? " I mean, good Lord, you're having sex with a person you love! Isn't that enough?
posted by sbutler at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2005


When I was on the Pill my sex drive died almost totally.

Also what the rest of you are forgetting is that just because the relationship is three years monogamous doesn't mean that there aren't health issues from previous partners-or perhaps even trust issues now.


Maybe you shouldn't even BE having sex, hm?
posted by konolia at 11:58 AM on November 14, 2005


Junkbox, yes, I did come off a bit harsh. I was trying to illustrate a drawback to using a diaphram. Yes, they are "custom fitted", which means that they come in premade sizes, and the doctor figures out which size fits best over the cervix. I was lucky and the smallest one fit me, but the largest was several inches across, and was quite frankly scary looking. I can imagine that the larger ones are uncomfortable.

Anyway, we don't know anything about the poster or his gf. They might be in university, they might be in their 30s, or they might be Americans without health insurance.

Most female birth control methods requires a visit to the doctor and some health insurance plans don't cover birth control.

Of all the over the counter birth control methods available, male condoms are the cheapest, most widely available, and most effective.

And if the poster is mostly concerned about the feeling of "natural intercourse", I don't see how a female condom will make any difference to him.
posted by luneray at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2005


I suggest you go get counseling. Seriously.

Here you've got a situation with a conundrum that's important to you that you seem unable to reach consensus on. It's one that's easy for one partner (her) to simply stonewall on but significant to the other partner. How you deal with this is probably a very useful indicator for your future life together. Presumably after 3 years and now cohabitation (you don't say how long you've been living together) you're thinking this is a possible forever deal.

So this is a good issue to figure out how you two deal with these problems. Because better that you find out if you can make compromises with each other over an unwrapped dick than in the future over moving, buying a house, jobs, kids, retirement plans....
posted by phearlez at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


My girlfriend is using Nuva Ring and it's easy to handle. It also has the lowest horomone of any birth control method, thus lower incidences of any side effects. I guess not having to remember to take a pill every day would be a plus too. It's only like 10 dollars a month or something like that too.
posted by bigmusic at 12:01 PM on November 14, 2005


What agregoli said, twice.

*applause*
posted by raedyn at 12:01 PM on November 14, 2005


Danf, I didn't mean to accuse you of the crochet hook.

I was just thinking if my bf had read your comment and then suggested the crochet hook idea to me.
posted by luneray at 12:06 PM on November 14, 2005


Ok, in an effort to be less snarky than my last post, I will relate my own experience with bc over the past 25 years.

Five different pills, tried at various times: caused migraines, severe mood swings, depression, lack of libido. Also increases chances of some cancers, heart disease, blood clots, strokes, etc.

Condoms: got pregnant because of failed condom.

Spermacide/Sponge: allergic reaction. Ended up with symptoms that you don't want me to describe here.

Diaphragm: got a bladder infection every time I used the damn thing. This is not uncommon.

Cervical cap: have trouble getting it in place, cannot reach it to remove it. Had to visit the doctor to have it removed three times before I gave up.

IUD: that's barbaric, in my opinion. Also incredibly painful to insert/remove, and causes increased chance of pelvic inflammatory disease.

Tubal ligation: This is big-time, expensive surgery for a woman's body.

Two men I've been in LTRs with have had vasectomies. Sex was blissful for both of us. The vasectomy takes about 10 minutes as an outpatient procedure, one day of slight soreness, and if done right is totally reversable.

Consider having a removable plug inserted into the vas, if you want children in the future. There are many options, that most men don't know about because they refuse to even think about it.
posted by shifafa at 12:06 PM on November 14, 2005


junkbox and SeizeTheDay are the only sane answers here. Lots of women shrieking for vasectomy, and coddled men prodding you to go along with your girlfriend.

You really need to stand up for yourself.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:10 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


By the way, anyone who thinks a vasectomy is "surgery" needs to do a little research on how they are actually done these days.

Knowledge is power.
posted by shifafa at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2005


Hi, I'm the anon who posted this- I mostly didn't want my name showing up on the front page, since my g/f occasionally browses through, but I think it's moved down far enough...

But, I did want to address some of the comments thrown my way. First of all, a vasectomy is off the table, unless someone can convince me that there is a 100% reversible procedure. I'm 33, and I'm not going to rely on some 3rd party to hold my sperm. Frankly, I find the casualness of that suggestion off-putting; I'm not advocating she get her tubes tied.

On the "my" vs. "her" needs front: I agree with a lot of the sentiment toward "respect her desire not to medicate", but there currently isn't, to my knowledge, a male solution other than condoms or vasectomy. If there were, I'd be all over it.

I also don't want anyone to get the idea that my conversations with her are solely within the context of The Pill. I'm aware of the potential issues, and am more curious about people's feelings regarding other forms of birth control. My g/f is very doctor-phobic, so she's averse to going to a gyno (separate issue), but that's good advice.

SiezeTheDay- I respect your right to have it, but I find that attitude really gross.
posted by mkultra at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2005


vasectomy is off the table, unless someone can convince me that there is a 100% reversible procedure.

Unless you too are averse to seeing a doctor, would you consider consulting a urologist about this?
posted by Gator at 12:21 PM on November 14, 2005


You both need to act responsibly; the two of you need to use two forms of birth control. She needs to use the pill, or the sponge, or an IUD, or something; you need to continue to use condoms. Either that, or the two of you need to stop having sex. Right now you are beating the odds, but that will not continue forever, and if you keep on like this one day you are going to have a huge problem on your hands.
posted by lilboo at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2005


Even "reversible" vasectomies cost about twelve thousand dollars to reverse, and no, isurance doesn't usually cover that. So unless you're damned fucking sure you don't want kids ever, don't do it. Ask me how I know!
posted by mimi at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


She really needs to see a doctor if she wants a real answer. But the Planned Parenthood site has good background info on all sorts of birth control, which might at least help her get an overview of her options.
posted by occhiblu at 12:26 PM on November 14, 2005


Even "reversible" vasectomies cost about twelve thousand dollars to reverse, and no, isurance doesn't usually cover that. So unless you're damned fucking sure you don't want kids ever, don't do it.

Yeah, everyone blithely advising vasectomy ought to drop it. If mkultura's gf can take the Pill off the table, he can damn well take a vasectomy off the table as well.

Which largely leaves barrier methods as the possible options in this case. On that note, has anyone tried the female condom? (If someone mentioned it upthread, I missed it, sorry.) They've always looked (to me) like you'd be making love to a baggie, but maybe they work for some couples.
posted by scody at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Unless you too are averse to seeing a doctor, would you consider consulting a urologist about this?

I've done the research on this. I'd be happy to hear otherwise, but the general consensus I've found regarding reversible ("no-cut") vasectomies is:

- Reversibility is not guaranteed, and declines with time.
- Even "successful" reversals generally lead to decreased fertility rates.
posted by mkultra at 12:34 PM on November 14, 2005


Vascectomies are not totally reversable. If the procedure is performed when you're young, there's only about a 50/50 it can be reversed.

Also, as a girl (albeit one who has never had any problems with the pill), I have to say that the responsibility of birth control is primarily on the woman. Aside from satisfaction issues, condoms (and sponges and diaphrams) aren't particularly effective. I do think your girlfriend is being unreasonable if she won't at least try birth control pills. I understand that a lot of women have problems with it, but you hear more from the women who have problems than they ones who don't. Plus, the idea that, by taking the pill, a women is dumping loads of hormone into her system is bullshit.

I don't understand people's skewed assessment of risk. "I'm not going to take hormones, but I'm going to eat shit and drive a car everyday." I'm making a generalization here, but the amount of hormone in modern birth control pills is small and by and large most women have no problem. My boyfriend had a vascectomy and I'm still on the pill because it makes my periods lighter and more regular and, for whatever reason, I enjoy sex more on the pill than off. I second Miko's suggestion that your girlfriend get more information on her options from her GYN. Yes, there are potential side effects to birth control pills. But other than sterilization, there aren't a lot of other reliable options [IUDs aren't appropriate for a woman who has not already had a child]. You're running the risk of pregnancy just using condoms.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2005


Just wanted to chime in and say that SiezeTheDay must be kryptonite to women. Follow that advice and look forward to a bitter and lonely life.

There are plenty of reasons for women to avoid the pill (i.e. to not even try it) as stated in this thread. Look into the vasectomy path. There's also the patch, which may not be a suitable answer but at least a path of investigation.
posted by xmutex at 12:42 PM on November 14, 2005


IUDs can, in fact, be used by women who have not had children. More and more doctors are willing to insert them, as discussed here.
posted by occhiblu at 12:44 PM on November 14, 2005


I'm concerned that she's scared of or phobic of the gyno. Has she ever been? Or had a bad experience and now won't go back? Regardless of the birth control issue, is she having regular check-ups? I would address this issue first, before getting into the birth control one.
posted by agregoli at 12:45 PM on November 14, 2005


No one's mentioned switching to anal sex yet.

Conversations usually stall at, "I appreciate your desire, but I'm not messing with my body."

That's not a stalling tactic. It's someone saying that her part of the conversation is finished. It's not even all that unreasonable of her; if it's a deal-breaker for you, she's telling you that the deal is off.

You should be glad that you have a girlfriend who's willing to communicate with you about these issues and the way she feels about them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:47 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


I always find it interesting that methods of controlling other people (though used all the time by everyone upon everyone) are always deemed as abhorrent and evil when brought into the light.

Judge my character all you want; while I may never have used the particular method I suggested, power relations, control, and convincing others of engaging in certain activities (or thinking a certain way) are a lot more grey than "we need to have a loving, equal relationship". Equality is an abstract farce; read any political theory long enough and you realize how silly it is since we're all so different and better/worse than each other.

Though, I do apologize if my lack of tact has offended anyone. I was never good at sugarcoating things.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:48 PM on November 14, 2005


I'll just weigh in here that I think the pill is fucked up, and it messes with many women in bad ways. My personal experience with it was it pretty much ruined a perfectly good sex life. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
posted by knave at 12:51 PM on November 14, 2005


If she's doctor phobic, she can set up an interview appointment with the doctor and specifically say she doesn't want an exam on the first visit. This way, she can ask questions about how things work and make sure she's comfortable before agreeing to an exam.

It seems like this should be the first step your girlfriend takes if she's going to explore birth control methods. A good doctor should be able to discuss the ups and downs of hormonal and non-hormonal methods, and help her make a decision.

I didn't go to a gyno until I was much older than I should have been because I was so scared of the experience. How did I make it manageable? I screened doctors to make sure it was an older woman -- the idea of a man down there made me uncomfortable. I asked her to explain the exam to me. She ran her tools under warm water before touching me. She explained what she was doing as she did it. It was not "fun," but it was way less scary and unpleasant than I'd built it up to be in my mind.

Although I like to do this sort of stuff on my own, I know some folks bring their boyfriends to the exam. You can wait in the hall during the actual exam, then come inside for the conversation about methods, or yan can stand by your girlfriend's head and hold her hand during the exam.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:53 PM on November 14, 2005


I'd agree with agregoli - if she's also in her early 30's and not going to the doctor regularly or at all, that's a whole other issue that needs to be tackled before you sit down and hash out who's going to wear/use what. You can't make a decision that will appease both of you with only one partner being informed. As irresponsible as she thinks it will be to put hormones in her body, it seems pretty irresponsible that she won't consider seeing or consulting a gyno. Her whole thing about being medicated and the aversion to the doc makes me think there is something a lot deeper going on than just "i don't want to mess with my body", but maybe I'm wrong. I'd tackle the doctor issue in the context of the body (since it seems related to me and perhaps is why she's pushing off other methods) before addressing your need for comfort. Besides, if you guys get pregnant through not having adequate birth control, she's going to be seeing a lot more of the doctor than I'm sure she'd like.
posted by ml98tu at 12:58 PM on November 14, 2005


You're running the risk of pregnancy just using condoms. - lunalaguna

Or any other method of birth control, including the Pill. But you knew that of course. Just a reminder, is all.

Also, there is a difference between theoretical efectiveness (what the effectiveness would be with perfect use everytime), and 'use effectiveness' (what the success/fail rates are with the averages of how people actually use them). Check out Table 1 here to get an idea of the differences.
posted by raedyn at 1:00 PM on November 14, 2005


I'm concerned that she's scared of or phobic of the gyno.

Me too. She should be having annual exams for signs of cancer, if nothing else. And I wondered about it from your very first post, since discussing birth control strategies is a major part of the job of a GYN. The doc will be able to pinpoint the sources of your gf's concerns, and take away some of the needless concerns and fears she may have. I am inclined to throw the 'short fingers' thing right out the window, for instance -- a GYN can show her how to position herself and what to do to make diaphragm removal easy. I say again: picking a birth control form that works for her is not something you'll be able to do. Your gf will have to do it in consultation with someone who's really familiar with the range of options, pros and cons, and side effects. Get her to the doc!
posted by Miko at 1:01 PM on November 14, 2005


Your girlfriend IS being stubborn by refusing to even consider other options, but nor do you seem to grasp the magnitude of what you're asking her.

I think a big part of why people are chiming in with vasectomy so fast and furious is because your perception of that procedure (unnecessary, unnatural alteration and a debasement of sexual self) may be very analogous to how she perceives hormonal birth control. It can be scary to imagine regimenting something so basic about yourself, putting part of your gender into a box and telling it to obey you.

Of course, the Pill is not surgery, but neither is it the "Oh joy! Yes please!" solution for everyone. Maybe she knew someone who reacted very negatively to it? Maybe she's scared to gain weight, become depressed, lose her libido, or any number of other side effects that could make sex far less enjoyable for both of you? I say this because you should be trying harder to see where she's coming from. Even if it's "irrational" you need to understand her reasoning. Sex is about TWO people, remember.

Before you decide what the best solution is on your own, go to Planned Parenthood together and talk to the fabulously wonderful people there about your other options. You'll be surprised by how many there are, and honestly they aren't "doctor-like" there in the least (at least in my perception).

Real, honest information and advice from someone other than the one who wants in her pants, might be more convincing and reassuring. Good luck!
posted by nelleish at 1:01 PM on November 14, 2005


I've had terrible luck with antidepressants...some made me a screaming mess. I spent two years in hell, and the drug experimentation ruined a relationship. But that's me. I would never recommend that someone not try antidepressants (or birth control) based on my personal experience because everyone is different.

That said, I'm really disturbed by the sentiment that a girl's comfort is more important than the guy's (or vice versa). If the poster is in a monogamous relationship and is not sexual satisfied because of condom use, that is a big deal. The responses here are really one-sided. Their comfort is equally important. This isn't a feminist issue. This is an issue of practicality and utility. And I don't know the answer, but there has to be a solution that is both effective and comfortable. Seriously, talk to a doctor about this.
posted by lunalaguna at 1:04 PM on November 14, 2005


No one's mentioned switching to anal sex yet.

Oh yeah, that's a completely valid point. Where are the anal sex proponents? Let's all hear it for this valid alternative.


It is, actually, a perfectly valid alternative. I had a long-term GF who was not on the pill, and eventually as we tired of the interuptions of condoms we started engaging in more and more oral and anal sex and less and less coitus. Towards the end of the relationship, our condom use was down considerably.

That strikes me as much less drastic an alternative than a vasectomy.
posted by alms at 1:05 PM on November 14, 2005


Consider having a removable plug inserted into the vas, if you want children in the future. There are many options, that most men don't know about because they refuse to even think about it.

Shifala, do you know where there's any more information on this or what to search for? I thought reversible vasectomies were experimental.

If they're available it'd be fucking great.
posted by lunkfish at 1:19 PM on November 14, 2005


is not sexual satisfied because of condom use

Please don't think this is at all the case. It's more like Matt's "slightly-less-happy-while-having-sex-which-is-still-pretty-high-on-the-happiness-scale" comment. I enjoy sex with a condom (esp. the Avanti- Folks, if you've never tried it, please do; it's worth the money. Trojan also makes a polyurethane(?) condom.), but without the extra layer is that much better.
posted by mkultra at 1:26 PM on November 14, 2005


Regarding the patch: There was a warning issued recently. Because of the consistently high hormone level it's putting women at higher risk than the pill.

Overall, I'll nth the point that she has made her decision regarding the pill, and you need to respect it.
posted by dame at 1:27 PM on November 14, 2005


mkultra - both of you need to go to her gyno, or at least a doctor, or hell Planned Parenthood - that's what they're around for. You're obviously not happy, and that's not good for your relationship. If she's not willing to accomodate you in any way, then perhaps you two need to sit down and reevaluate your goals for this relationship. Oh yes, and I second or third considering options that don't involve vaginal intercourse and the risk of pregnancy.

Stop having sex with her. After a month, she'll be begging for it and be willing to try anything to regain her sex life, even the pill.

Or she'll dump his ass, which I assume is an outcome that mkultra is not willing to consider, or he'd just leave her for a woman willing to go condom-less. Honestly, women have been playing this game for years - it results in nastiness and more stupid games. I'm glad mkultra is smarter than that.

Though, I do apologize if my lack of tact has offended anyone. I was never good at sugarcoating things.

You haven't offended us, we just feel very very sorry for you.
posted by muddgirl at 1:27 PM on November 14, 2005


Mkultra: If it is slightly less happy on the happy scale, then I'd suggest that maybe this is something worth letting go. I know only you know how hard that would be for you, but in my relationship, it meant so much to me that when I was unhappy on the pill, my boy was the one pushing me to go off. His willingness to just put on the condom and not make me feel bad about it has had a positive effect well beyond what I would have imagined.

You may also want to consider combining fertility awareness with condom use. Some people think fertility awareness is just the rhythm method and that you'll be about as successful as the old-school Catholic families. Many others sweear by it. If you were interested, this could be a good compromise.
posted by dame at 1:45 PM on November 14, 2005


If she's scared of going to a doctor, try looking at the Planned Parenthood website. Lots of good info about various choices there.

You can also go to your local Planned Parenthood, if you have one, just for information -- no doctor's appointment.

Be sure to let her know that you're not insisting that she go on the pill, but that it's not fair to make this choice together without having better information.

Also, have you tried some of the "better" condoms out there? Have you tried putting lube in the condom? I'm a girl, so I don't really know how much difference these things make... I've just read that that makes a big difference for some men.

Finally, to those who say she should just try the pill and that there are no permanent side effects, for some women Oral Contraceptives Permanently Reduce Libido.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2005


MK: She'll have sex with you more often if she doesn't resent you. Would you rather have sex often with condoms or rarely and grudgingly without?
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on November 14, 2005


Even though it's a hormonal treatment, I'd reccommend the ortho patch. My wife uses it (after having tried the pill) and loves it. She doesn't suffer from any unreasonable moodswings and, while most women confess gaining weight due to hormonal birth contral, my wife has actually lost weight during the course of the year that she's been using the patch.
posted by Jon-o at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2005


The patch can have just as many unpredictable side effects as the pill -- I used it a couple of years ago and it was horrific: endless bloating, heavy periods that lasted 2 weeks at a stretch, and breast tenderness so intensely bad that a friendly hug would make me cry out in pain. The bottom line is that all hormonal birth control methods carry the risks of side effects, and they all vary from woman to woman.
posted by scody at 3:42 PM on November 14, 2005


yeah, the patch's tricky. I cannot believe that in a thread this long there has only been one mention of the Nuva Ring. it rocks. your girlfriend should check that out with her doctor.
and anonymous: you should -- ahem, wrong thread for this figure of speech -- suck it up, she doesn't like the Pill, she won't take it. and if you don't like vasectomy, she should accept that, also.
as others have said, that only leaves you with few options -- barriers, anal, oral.
posted by PenguinBukkake at 3:49 PM on November 14, 2005


Holy cow. There are some very strong opinions about The Pill being stated in this thread. Some of these very strong opinions are coming across as though the author feels that their personal experience is the only possible personal experience.

Be careful about that. Some women benefit greatly by the use of The Pill's hormones. My wife is one and it looks like Jon-o's is another.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:53 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]


Have you tried lambskin condoms? (standard disclaimer: they are for prevention of pregnancy, NOT disease transmission.) They are supposed to be much better.
posted by availablelight at 4:00 PM on November 14, 2005


Okay, I skimmed through the posts and I was surprised I didn't see this. I'm not sure if everyone is completely skeptical or what.

Buy your girlfriend the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

This will require her having a LOT of interest in her own menstrual cycle and keeping track of it pretty much every day for the rest of her life. If she doesn't have an interest in keeping track of her cycle, this method WILL NOT WORK.

Basically your body gives off some pretty hard to miss signs when you are fertile. There's only a short window of time every month a woman is fertile. Once she gets to know her cycle, she should be able to do a pretty good job of knowing when she is NOT fertile and during that time, sex without a condom is okay. Sex with a condom can be used when she IS fertile.

This will also teach her how to read her cervical position, which will make her more familiar with that area of her body. From what you've said, she's not very comfortable with that area of herself and probably hasn't done a lot of exploring, which explain why she can't properly insert a diaphragm or menstrual cup.

The method can be turned around when she is ready to have a baby, making chances of conception a lot higher (since she'll know when she is fertile).
posted by lynda at 4:04 PM on November 14, 2005


fff: of course some women -- millions of women, in fact! -- benefit from the Pill. I've found one I'm happy on (though again: with minor side effects I've decided to live with), and I know there are lots of other MeFites who are happy on theirs (or whose partners are happy with theirs). The point is not that the Pill is uniformly bad; the point is that it's just not uniformly good or easy for every woman who goes on it.
posted by scody at 4:05 PM on November 14, 2005


I'm surprised no one has mentioned the shot -- Depo-Provera. It's great for a lot of women, better than the Pill in a lot of ways. A shot in the ass once every three months, as opposed to having to take a pill every day, and typically no more menstrual periods, period. But there are side effects with the shot, too, so...there you go.

As a couple of other have suggested, getting her to see a doctor would seem to be a necessary first step before getting her to pick a birth control method. If you can impress upon her how important and serious it is to get an annual pap, and how concerned you are for her health in that department, that'd be a good start.
posted by Gator at 4:16 PM on November 14, 2005


If someone is opposed to doping herself up with pills, I don't know why the patch (more hormones, more danger) or the shot (three unreversible months) would be better. But I think all the useful advice has already been given.
posted by dame at 4:24 PM on November 14, 2005


Fertility Awareness is NOT the rhythm method. And it works for me and my husband (details are slightly further down from the linked answer).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:34 PM on November 14, 2005


Real quick, re: the Nuva Ring. It isn't perfect for everybody; I for one couldn't sleep for the two months I used it.
posted by hopeless romantique at 5:08 PM on November 14, 2005


Just a warning on the patch
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:11 PM on November 14, 2005


What fff said. The people who've had bad experiences with many versions of the Pill are very loud on this thread, but [both anecdotally and statistically] they're not the majority. For most women, it's one of the lowest-impact long term medications. There are also dozens of different formulations - often a woman who has trouble with one will do fine on another. Finally, hormonal birth control generally doesn't cause side effects that last for life - if you suffer depression on the Pill, for example, it'll go away after you stop taking it.

Does this mean you should nag her until she caves? Of course not, but you may want to make sure that she's making her no-Pill decision on real information [hopefully helped by a doctor] rather than scary internet anecdotes and the feeling that "the Pill isn't natural." She should be making her decision based on a realistic estimate of the risks, possible side effects, etc., and given that you say she doesn't have a gyno, she may not be fully informed. [Interestingly enough, there's research suggesting that since women used to spend most of their reproductive lives pregnant or lactating, a regular monthly period isn't natural either and may have deleterious effects due to the more frequent hormonal shifts associated with menstruation. What your girlfriend thinks is "natural" may not be.]

Most important, however, is that she sees a gynecologist. It's really not a good idea for a sexually active woman to skimp on the gyno visits, particularly if there's any possibility she's at risk for breast or other reproductive cancers [or, for that matter, STDs.] Furthermore, a gyno can help her with diaphragm fitting and also help her make a more informed decision about the risks of various forms of contraceptives [yes, including the Pill.]
posted by ubersturm at 5:24 PM on November 14, 2005


Another condom to try [article] and [advert].
posted by tellurian at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2005


I'm surprised no one has mentioned the shot -- Depo-Provera.

I never mention Depo-Provera; it turned my normal friend into a near-suicidal mess in 6 months. She went off it. There are a lot of mood and weight gain problems with DP.

I think people on this thread are not really anti-pill; just anti-the idea that it's 'nothing'. The woman who is taking it has to make the final judgement as to whether she likes its effects. It's not something you can just recommend to anyone.
posted by Miko at 6:20 PM on November 14, 2005


Lamb skin condons are pretty yucky. By all means, meet at PP and discuss options and maybe there is a way to compromise like condoms sometimes, female condoms sometimes, sponge sometimes, etc.
posted by plinth at 6:28 PM on November 14, 2005


I never mention Depo-Provera; it turned my normal friend into a near-suicidal mess in 6 months. She went off it. There are a lot of mood and weight gain problems with DP.

Again, similar to the pill, that's a smaller percentage than you would think. I've been on DP for over a year and it's been absolutely fine. I haven't gained any weight from it at all, and my moods are fine, libido still very much intact. I've talked to tons of women who absolutely love it. Sometimes, people react badly, but that's certainly not the majority of users. The side-effects are something to think about, but many people have very positive results with DP.
posted by heatherann at 6:41 PM on November 14, 2005


I think people on this thread are not really anti-pill; just anti-the idea that it's 'nothing'.

Yes. There's a lot of generally well-intentioned pressure for women to be on the pill, and in my experience, not much discussion about common side effects. I've had very bright, very educated, very open women surprised to hear that it might cause loss of libido, for instance, or any type of depression. I think that lack of knowledge can leave women who are experiencing these problems feeling isolated, and can lead to men (like mkultra) acting like the pill is no big deal and then pressuring their girlfriends into something that might turn out very badly -- again, not from bad intentions, but just from lack of knowledge.
posted by occhiblu at 6:46 PM on November 14, 2005


Second the lambskin condom rec. They're a bit icky (protip: don't let her lick it) and spendy, but they're like (literally) a second skin.
posted by neckro23 at 7:12 PM on November 14, 2005


What klangklangston said. If she's talked with her gynocologist, leave the girl alone. If not, encourage her to find more info, but leave it at that.

PS Depo worked for me for a long time... I had to watch my weight but *loved* not getting periods. And then they released new information that that bone density loss they thought was temporary is actually permanent. No more depo.
posted by lorrer at 7:13 PM on November 14, 2005


What SeizeTheDay said.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:53 PM on November 14, 2005


As other people have said, your gf really should be having annual pelvic exams since she's sexually active. If she's doctor-phobic and maybe a bit earthy (I'm basing that on her not wanting to mess with her natural cycle), maybe she'd be more willing to see a midwife instead. Most midwives do annual exams and whatnot in addition to delivering babies, and they're less doctor-y.

On birth control pills: This page (ignore the question and scroll down) has a comprehensive chart listing the amounts of hormones in various pills and suggestions for which pill to try based on specific issues/previous problems with oral contraceptives.

On diaphragms: there are some cervical caps and other things that have handles to make 'em easier to pull out.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:57 PM on November 14, 2005


A third alternative to the all-natural suggestions from Ikkyu2 and alms: pull out and spooge on her tits -- the 'porn shot'. This is not meant facetiously.
posted by Hogshead at 8:13 PM on November 14, 2005


...except that withdrawal (which is what grownups call it) is not a reliable method of contraception, because the pre-ejaculatory fluid (aka "pre-come") can still contain sperm.
posted by scody at 8:29 PM on November 14, 2005


This is not meant facetiously.

It is incredibly bad advice, however.

I sympathize with your situation 100%. I know that condoms can diminish sex for women in some ways, too, but nowhere near as much as they do for men. They're a major drag.

It seems fair for her to fiddle with the diaphragm sometimes, even if it does require her to find some special tongs for removing it. I'd say that half/half condoms/diaphragm is fair.

Condoms are also not reliable enough birth control to use over years and years.
posted by scarabic at 8:31 PM on November 14, 2005


This is not meant facetiously.

That's an excellent method of family planning, if you're plannin on having a family sometime very very soon. (Which a friend of mine was - and hey, it worked for him.)
posted by metaculpa at 11:01 PM on November 14, 2005


No one's mentioned switching to anal sex yet.

This will not solve the problem of how to ditch the condoms. One should never, never, never have anal sex without using a condom and lots of lube, no matter how long-standing one's relationship or how trusted one's partner.

I'm finding this thread pretty frigging depressing. All our scientific advances and we still haven't come up with a truly safe and effective contraceptive?
posted by orange swan at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2005


Well, we do have the morning after pill now, which is a useful thing to have on hand if you're relying on condoms. Eventually, you will experience a condom malfunction and it sucks to just "hope for the best."

Along the lines of dame's earlier suggestion, fertility awareness or "the rhythm method" has a pretty bad reputation as birth control but not always fairly. There is new technology for detecting ovulation cycles more accurately than a thermometer can. If you're careful, you should be able to find a safe day or two per month when you can have condom free sex. It's still a marginal risk to have unprotected sex the day her period ends. But condoms will not be 100% effective on her most fertile days, either. If her cycle is regular you might consider it.

One should never, never, never have anal sex without using a condom...no matter how long-standing one's relationship or how trusted one's partner

Why's that?
posted by scarabic at 6:51 AM on November 15, 2005


That's because you can get herpes in your butt. (you think I'm kidding) And let's not even talk about the risk of AIDS (because the anus is a lot more likely to tear and bleed than the vaginal opening, and class, I'm sure you all remember that blood is AIDS's favorite vehicle) and then, if you're a guy bonking a girl, she can still get pregnant.

See, it's just a bad idea.
posted by bilabial at 7:19 AM on November 15, 2005


another anecdote to add to the biased sample - when I got my first longterm b/f I went on the Pill because it seemed like a normal enough thing to do, condoms were expensive and inconvenient, the Pill is free in the UK and I thought it was a harmless little tablet you took once a day. I have a good memory and am organised, so this didn't seem like a problem.

I became very depressed, put on loads of weight and seven months later I had to come off it (as someone described above, it took a long time to work out what was causing my misery). It was all I could do to get to work and do my job, and I spent most of the rest of the time crying. Like dame, I was helped enormously by my b/f being encouraging, telling me to stop the drugs and willingly going back to condoms.

For me, periods are not painful and I don't get much in the way of mood swings - this changed massively when I was on the pill. YMMV but don't say you weren't warned.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:29 AM on November 15, 2005


If she's a woman over 30, she should be talking to a gynecologist. If she's a woman having sex, she should be talking to a gynecologist. There's probably something you're afraid to do too - have a serious, honest conversation with her, where you outline your fears for her health that she doesn't have a doctor that can take care of her physical well-being, and that you'd like to take the leap to do something for your own health as well.

This conversation about pills, IUDs, Nuva Rings, condoms, fertility awareness, or patches should not be held in the absence of a GYN.

If you help her find and attend to her fears about a sensitive, smart, caring, calm gynecologist who will be able to give your girlfriend solid, personal advice and information about these options, I have a feeling that your *own* conversations about this will not be as frustrating. That doesn't mean she'll immediately jump onto the pill, but it does mean that she'll be making the decision based on medical advice, and know that she will be monitored and aided by her caring GYN. Right now the thought of anything along those lines is freaking her out - a doctor looking at her, putting a pill in, whatever. There are many reasons not to be on the pill. Not having a GYN isn't one of them. The first step in this conversation should be finding her the best GYN for *her*.

A bunch of people on here saying the had good/bad experiences on ONE of the literally hundreds of versions of the pill does not a decision make. Count me in as another voice adding to thinking the side-effects, for me, are virtually nil compared to the benefits. Make it your New Year's resolutions that you'll both deal with some scary aspect of your health - prostate exam? And it's only after she's found an appropriate GYN that your conversation with possible fertility control will either work or be possible for her to think through - with an outside, independent, safe, medically-knowledgeable observer.
posted by barnone at 7:35 AM on November 15, 2005


she can still get pregnant.

er...?
posted by anagrama at 8:09 AM on November 15, 2005


That's because you can get herpes in your butt. (you think I'm kidding) And let's not even talk about the risk of AIDS (because the anus is a lot more likely to tear and bleed than the vaginal opening, and class, I'm sure you all remember that blood is AIDS's favorite vehicle)and then, if you're a guy bonking a girl, she can still get pregnant.

See, it's just a bad idea.

posted by bilabial at 7:19 AM PST

I was shocked that someone would propose anal sex as a form of birth control-- the disease angle didn't even bother me, it was the idea that you could avoid preganancy.

No. Please. Very, very bad idea! Anybody reading this should know it is possible to get pregnant by depositing sperm anywhere near the vagina (and that includes the upper thigh as well as the anus.) Sperm can travel and a woman's natural lubricant near her time of greatest fertility is designed to help that sperm travel.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:12 AM on November 15, 2005


I think people on this thread are not really anti-pill; just anti-the idea that it's 'nothing'. - Miko

Yes. The Pill wasn't the solution for me, but I know lots of women who it does work for. My responses here are only to try and raise awareness that the Pill isn't the magical cure-all for every woman. I think it makes sense to try the Pill, but that's a choice that she has to make. In consultation with her partner, certainly, but it's ultimately her body. If he was in here wanting her to get pregnant, would you say that she should try it for him? Of course his opinion should matter, but if she's considered it and still won't put her body through it, that's her right to choose.

A third alternative to the all-natural suggestions ... pull out and spooge on her tits - Hogshead

...except that withdrawal (which is what grownups call it) is not a reliable method of contraception, because the pre-ejaculatory fluid (aka "pre-come") can still contain sperm. - scody

Scody's reply needed to be repeated. To add to that: if 100 women use withdrawl as their birth control method, within one year 18 of them will be pregnant. (Source) that's not very reliable.
posted by raedyn at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2005


if you're a guy bonking a girl, she can still get pregnant.

I'm curious - any stats on that? I don't doubt that it's true, I just wonder how often it happens...
posted by Irontom at 8:18 AM on November 15, 2005


To use raedyn's terminology, if 100 women are using anal sex as their birth control method, what number would be pregnant within the year?
posted by Irontom at 8:20 AM on November 15, 2005


That's because you can get herpes in your butt. (you think I'm kidding) And let's not even talk about the risk of AIDS

These are issues of trusting your partner and knowing your STD status. If those bases are covered, and birth control is considered, I still see no reason why unprotected anal sex is absolutely forbidden forever.

Of course sperm can travel between orifices and of course anal sex is an opportunity for transmission of an STD. But in those regards it's equivalent to vaginal intercourse: know your STD status and practice birth control. Nothing wrong with it otherwise (if you're into it, of course).

And a footnote about the pill: I've had partners experience such insane mood swings on it that I can not only understand the reluctance to use it, but I can safely say it can be problematic for both partners.

What I don't understand is aversion to IUDs. I can understand some reluctance to go through the insertion process, but modern IUDs are very safe and way more effective than most birth control methods. And more reliably reversible than a vasectomy. I would suggest it as a reasonable option in this case, but there seems to be some (possibly irrational) aversion to them. IMPLANTS! I guess everyone sets the standards for their own body, but I'd happily install a physical device if it promised reliable, non-hormonal birth control that could be undone later.
posted by scarabic at 8:43 AM on November 15, 2005


From here:
So how did the IUD get such a bad rap? The IUD first became popular in the late 1970s. Many women embraced this form of contraception until a faulty version called the Dalkon Shield raised questions about IUD safety and efficacy. Women using the shield reported painful removal and insertion, bacterial and pelvic infections, and unintended pregnancy.

In 1974, the Dalkon Shield was removed from the market. An ad campaign followed, urging women to have their sheilds removed. Because of the negative attention around the Dalkon Shield, other brands, though safe and effective, fell out of favor. Fearing litigation, manufacturers withdrew safe and effective IUDs from the market.


And then for a while everyone said that women who had not already had children couldn't get IUDs, and while it looks like the reasoning behind that was faulty or at least overly cautious, it still tends to be a common assumption.

Plus, there are both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs, and some of the side effects of each get confused with each other, so that further muddies things.
posted by occhiblu at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2005


Re: the questions about IUD's. occhiblu is right about why women are hesitant. They got a bad name back in the 70's when there was one faulty brand.

I currently use an IUD, and I am veryvery satisfied. I'll quote myself about what I see as the benefits:
I've recently switched to the non-hormonal IUD, and I am completely satisfied. My favorite features:
- once the doctor puts it in, you can almost forget about it (just check that it's in place once a month) So no chance of forgetting it, no need to interrupt the action for it, no effect on the feeling, no worries about slipping or breakage.
- Because I chose the non-hormonal one, I don't get any of the nasty side effects that I experienced with the pill.
- I can stop it at anytime if side effects bother me*, or if I decide I'm ready to conceive.
- It's effective for three years.
- It only cost me $60.00 - for three years of birth control. As my doc put it, "it's the best value in birth control".

Please remember, every woman has different experiences with birth control, so what is perfect for me, might not work for you or your girlfriend. But I do encourage women to explore all their options with a knowledgable professional. Now that I've found the method that works for me, I wish I'd considered it years sooner.

PS - Thank you to the women of MeFi in previous threads for talking about how much they love thier IUDs. Previous to that, I'd never really considered it!
I'd add to that list, as well. IUD's are more reliable than condoms (even when the condom is used perfectly!) and more reliable than typical use of the Pill.

*I have not experienced any side effects from this birth control method. YMMV.
posted by raedyn at 9:20 AM on November 15, 2005


I discussed IUDs with my gyn, and she highly discouraged them as an option for me. I've never been pregnant, and apparently it's both difficult and painful to insert them, and they often cause a lot of problems in women who've never been pregnant. A friend of mine tried to have one inserted (also never been pregnant), and she said it was one of the worst experiences of her life (and no, it wasn't successful). It sounds like IUDs may not be problematic for everyone (including those of us who've never been pregnant), and I'm still interested in pursuing this option at some point.

I've tried both the patch and the ring and discontinued using both for various reasons. Both made my periods longer. The patch was annoying if for nothing else than the adhesive that sticks to everything - clothing, hair, other skin, etc... The ring was OK, except that it happened to come out after sex once and wasn't discovered until a few days later. That could've been VERY problematic. I don't want to have to be checking to see if it's still in place every day. If I'm going to have that hassle, I may as well be on the pill.
posted by MsVader at 10:14 AM on November 15, 2005


(From what I've read, success with IUDs is highly dependent on your doctor's skill in inserting them, especially for women who've never had children, where the insertion is more complicated. It seems like doctor-shopping, or a visit to a Planned Parenthood clinic that has more experience with them, might be good in this situation.)
posted by occhiblu at 10:23 AM on November 15, 2005


Well, we do have the morning after pill now, which is a useful thing to have on hand if you're relying on condoms. Eventually, you will experience a condom malfunction and it sucks to just "hope for the best."
Well, sometimes you get the double and, when you use the morning after pill because a condom broke the night before, it doesn't work quite as well as expected.

*holds up photo of son*

Sometimes, fate decides for you. If you are having sex at all, you run the risk of pregnancy no matter how careful you are.
posted by dg at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2005


fertility awareness or "the rhythm method" has a pretty bad reputation as birth control but not always fairly. . . .you should be able to find a safe day or two per month when you can have condom free sex.

Once more, Fertility Awareness is NOT THE RHYTHM METHOD! We abstain during my potentially or definitely fertile times (during my period, and around eleven days in the middle of my cycle - ie, leading up to ovulation and a few days after). My body's window for condom-free sex usually covers around 3 or 4 days after my period, and 10 days before the next one. Other women's mileage will vary.

It's still a marginal risk to have unprotected sex the day her period ends.

Unprotected sex the day her period ends, or during her period, can be risky because she may ovulate twice a month. Your statement relies on rhythm/calendar method assumptions, and we all know the rhythm method doesn't work. Each woman's body is different, and each woman's cycle varies from month to month. Tracking that variation is what fertility awareness is all about. I'm not trying to push fertility awareness for everyone. There is an initial time and energy investment in learning the principles backwards and forwards, your partner must be supportive and monogamous, and the temptation to cheat can be strong. But more and more women, myself included, are finding it's right for them. So please don't promote or practice fertility awareness until you know its principles backwards and forwards.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:20 PM on November 15, 2005


I've done NFP as a couple of folks here have done, and no accidents. It does get quite the bad rap--it's effective, but does require some effort. It really should be considered more often than it is.

However, I have found that (of course), a woman's fertile (and most lubricative) time is also when the libido is highest, and...you're abstaining during that time. Kinda sucks. Also, is libido is low the rest of the time, that sucks. Oh, and if the cycle is short and you only have a few safe days, well that sucks too.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:27 PM on November 22, 2005


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