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How Flawed Birth Control Options Sent Us Back to the Rhythm Method--Even Though We Should Know Better

After being finished with having kids, the author and her husband found themselves back in a tricky position regarding birth control methods: none of their options appealed.
 
 
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Apathy really should not be a form of birth control. Not apathy towards sex, mind you – although with two jobs, a pre-schooler and a baby not even six months old, sex is often the last thing on our minds. It's apathy towards going through the endless, uncomfortable cycle of settling a method of birth control that doesn't cause problems for one, or both of us, after having exhausted all the options before we had kids.

So it is not so surprising that we are becoming one of “those” couples. The people who are not on any kind of medical birth control but who don’t want any more children. We seem to be finding it way easier to just ignore the issue and hope for the best than to actually make a permanent action plan regarding, well, getting any action.

 
After spending most of my adult sex life on the Pill, I can easily say that the best part of trying for kids was not having to be on contraception. I quickly learned how
much the hormones really were affecting me, from giving me predictable, regular cycles (See Mom, I really was taking it for medical reasons!) to totally muting my sex drive.
 
Then there were our attempts to actually get pregnant. When they say “95 percent of women get pregnant within one year of going off the Pill!” they do not say how many of that group literally get pregnant exactly one year after getting off the Pill.
 
I should know, I did it twice.
 
Despite saying that our family is definitely complete at two children, neither my husband nor I seem to be able to convince ourselves to cut things off permanently,
if you will. A vasectomy seems so final, and even though it is not as invasive as, say, having my tubes tied, it still feels quite extreme (physically and financially) to do a surgical procedure as a stand-alone birth control option.
 
But I won’t go back on any hormonal version of birth control. I have had it with pills and shots and altering my own body chemistry. Not to mention the fact that with a new insurance plan that makes us pay for all of our own prescriptions out of pocket, and a government declaring Holy War on my ability to get a cheap Pill from
anyone other than the neighborhood drug dealer, the cost per coitus ratio would be astronomical. Besides, if I put any more potential hormonal barriers on my sex drive, we may end up on a dry spell until the kids leave for college.
 
Once you eliminate the hormones, and take the snip off the table, suddenly you find that all you are really left with, all that remains easily accessible and fairly low cost is that old standby, condoms. As my husband jokingly put it, “Umm….I got married so I could stop using condoms.”
 
Why isn’t there an non-hormonal, inexpensive birth control form that doesn’t  require a doctor’s visit, doesn’t need approval from your insurer, doesn’t mess with your body chemistry or potentially lower your enjoyment of sex, and doesn’t require constant (and not-cheap) trips back to the pharmacy, or make you feel like you are doing it with a large plastic object rather than your partner?
 
What are cheapskate, “natural” loving, skin-on-skin contact favoring monogamous people supposed to do these days? And why has no one really put much effort into providing any new options?
 
As Ann Friedman wrote in GOOD, we have basically reached a point of contraceptive stagnation. At least 20 percent of women are unhappy with the birth control they are using, and less than 60 percent of women on the Pill actually like it. Yet despite all of the years of effort put into tweaks of the Pill and other hormonal contraceptive methods that exist, there has been very little innovation towards trying to find a method that isn’t based on hormones at all, or that would work on someone besides the female partner.
 
The Man-Pill, contraceptive gel, lasers that can fry the little wigglies before they go anywhere, all have been pitched or are “in development,” but are mostly ignored while pharmaceutical groups focus on repackaging and reselling drugs they already own the patents of so they don’t have to invest money into research.
 
Meanwhile, in our bedroom, we have created our own modified birth control regime using Ovulation Prediction Kits I buy for 10 cents a pop for a total cost of $1.40 per cycle. The downside, other than the sense of panic that occurs every time I count down to my period? I have learned that the time of the month where I’m most likely to actually want sex is probably that same time of the month where it is imperative that we don’t do it.
 
But on the bright side, at least it’s stopped my husband from googling things like “how likely are you to get pregnant if you just pull out?”
 
If  we get inevitably get pregnant again doing this “birth control” plan, I guess we’ll just have to name the kid “Rhythm Method.”