Choosing the Right Contraception – The Contraception Paradox
Firstly, I’m going to talk about sex, contraception, my sex life and my sex drive, so, look away now, or consider yourself warned.
I recently took a break from the pill (The mini-pill “Microlut” as I’m currently breastfeeding our daughter). Not to try to make a baby or anything exciting like that, just because we would be staying with family, sharing a single room with our children, for a couple of months, so I figured I could give my body a bit of a break from hormonal contraception, especially when our routine was off, so after taking 2 every second day for a little while decided that was unwise and there was no reason for it anyway, so I took a break.
Surprisingly, within a couple of weeks of stopping the pill my libido increased. My sex drive was both a long-lost friend and an extremely irritating side-effect of NOT being on the pill. Of course, then it did dawn on me, that the pill is suppressing my sex drive. I knew this was possible, I’m sure I’ve read such a thing on the product information and warnings on the packaging. I started thinking things like “WHY DIDN’T WE HAVE SEX ALL THE TIME WHEN WE HAD THE CHANCE!” I started thinking of all the times I was too tired and told myself that’s ridiculous, sex isn’t exhausting, sex is energising! Bring back the sex! When those long and irritating months of living under the same roof, in very close proximity to immediate and extended family, had come to an end I resumed taking the pill. I practically marked the day it would take effect, as most of us know you have to wait 7 days before you’re protected against pregnancy.
Day 1, come on time hurry up.
Day 2, has it only been 2 days?
Day 3, that’s almost half way there!
Day 4, what does 3 more days matter, I’m not even menstruating, I wouldn’t get pregnant anyway!?
Day 5, maybe we should just get condoms…
Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9… oh wait… wasn’t I supposed to do something?
Are you kidding me body?! What kind of cruel joke is this?!
Seeking intimacy, and trying to find my own lost libido, we resumed our sex-life, but having felt the sharp contrast between being on and being off hormonal contraception, something was definitely “missing”. I’ve also noticed I’m more easily irritated, snappier, a bit more anxious, and quicker to feel anger or frustration, when on the pill. If I stop taking the pill, I’ll be happier, calmer and sexually frustrated. Which is better? How do I decide? Eeeny, meeny, miney, mo.
Yes, there’s Condoms, but because I’m currently lactating some of my sexual responses just aren’t as quick on the uptake as they should be, plus some scar tissue down-below, caused by the birth of our darling daughter, that has made sex at the best of times a little bit difficult for me, the idea of rubber rubbing against that band of scarring makes my toes curl. That’s a big “hell no”.
So, what are my other options:
I’ve never used them and I don’t plan to. From what I read they’re messy, irritating, and frankly I don’t feel inserting a chemical cocktail inside my vagina – oh and they’re only about 75% effective when used correctly and without condoms.
When I first heard about these in sex-ed in about year 10 I laughed about it pretty much for the rest of the day. The idea of needing something “fitted” for my vagina, then having to insert it, and remove it, before and after sex, both frightens and amuses me, but chances are, I’ll put it in wrong, and we’ll get pregnant. That’s another “no” from me.
These do appeal to me, especially after our writer Mimmi explained how they work and her own experience having one inserted in detail in her article “Talking about Mirena IUD” . But for me the list of possible side effects is too much, though there are also plenty of “pros”, it’s not for me. Also, knowing someone who conceived twice using a copper IUD – it would not give me any peace of mind as I would be constantly doing pregnancy tests, as it can be expelled which could result in a healthy pregnancy, or it can fail, and if the IUD isn’t removed as soon as possible there would be an increased risk of miscarriage.
Fertility Awareness Based Methods of Contraception
I like the idea of monitoring cycles, especially after actively trying to conceive, tracking my cycles using ovulation tests and recording my cycle, I did become very aware of the fact that you actually cannot conceive unless you have sex within a few days of ovulation. After learning in sex-ed in highschool that “YOU CAN GET PREGNANT AT ANY TIME, THERE’S NO SAFE TIME IN YOUR CYCLE, HECK IF YOU LOOK AT A BOY YOU MIGHT GET PREGNANT SO DON’T DO IT, EVER, NOT EVEN ONCE” it was surprising to find that getting pregnant isn’t always as easy as not using contraception and having sex once. Who knew? But as I’d mentioned above, I’m not currently menstruating, so I have no cycle to track and while that means I can’t actually get pregnant right now because I’m not actually ovulating, I myself was conceived on my mother’s first cycle after having my brother and breastfeeding for 2 years, so I do know that it’s a possibility to get pregnant before periods returning. But, it’s all about timing, so this method, right now, is not for me.
I’m going to mention this, because I’ve noticed when contraception is discussed on parenting forums, this does come up as a method that a lot of people have used at some point or another. That would explain how a number of friends have babies who were conceived using the “withdrawal method”. Obviously you cannot get pregnant if no sperm enters the vagina, however, at that moment in time, it can be very difficult to think about consequences and make good decisions, and honestly I just don’t trust myself not say “it’ll be fine” if I just need One. More. Minute.
Both Female Sterlisation and Male Sterilisation While effective and is definitely something we will consider in the future, but I’m not ready to completely close that door, especially with a little voice constantly saying in my head “But I Want Another Baby” Not that we WANT another baby…. but…..
Hahaha. No. Very effective – not gonna happen.
Then there’s Depo Provera and Implanon which are both hormonal contraception AND involve needles, so… also, not something I particularly want to try. There’s also some talk of the Male Pill that would be nice to share the burden of hormonal contraception, but right now, this is what we’re working with.
When I stop breastfeeding, I plan to go back to using the NuvaRing, as this was a perfect balance for me, low-dose hormonal contraception that didn’t seem to mess with my libido, and also as it’s inserted into the vagina, and replaced once a month, there’s no “forgetting to take the pill”, and because it’s a “one size” thing, there’s no getting anything fitted as with the diaphragm. Unfortunately, it cannot be used while breastfeeding.
So, there it is, the paradox: Take the mini-pill and be able to have sex without a sex drive or don’t take the mini-pill and have a sex drive without sex.
What type of contraception do you use? (are there any options I haven’t considered?)