Reader Challenge

The Great Orgasm Challenge: Birth Control

In our great, noble pursuit of the illustrious orgasm, the chances of getting pregnant are a bit more elevated than they would be were we not all pursuing said orgasms. So, today, we’re going to talk about contraceptives. Gather ’round, kiddos. TW for fertility-related issues.

While I am a huge proponent of the good ole Nuva Ring – mostly because it did not screw with my emotional health, dermatology, or weight like some other hormonal methods of birth control did – I’ve been off the Ring since July of last year due to long-lapsed insurance and a couple of other mitigating factors. So, to keep untimely fetuses at bay, we’ve been going the ole rubber route.

So my questions for you are:

1. If you’re actively trying to avoid pregnancy during this year’s challenge, what method(s) do you use?

2. If you are actively trying to encounter pregnancy during this year’s challenge, were you ever a birth control user? What did you use, if so? If not, are you engaging in any process that increases your chances of conception?

3. For those of you for whom none of the above applies (you’re flying solo this year, or conception is – due to any variety of circumstances – off the table for you (and you feel comfortable discussing it), can you provide us with the best old wives’ tale about contraception you’ve ever heard?

Because of the nature of this topic, I’m going to go out of my way to ask our always cautious commentariat to be sensitive in their remarks to the variety of experiences that will be represented by readers here, and to use trigger warnings judiciously. And in light of the current political climate, I’d also ask that no one shame anyone for their chosen approach; we’ve got enough unsolicited opinions flying at us about what we do with our bodies from our elected representatives without having to hear it elsewhere, amirite?

On that note… Birth control! Go!

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

30 replies on “The Great Orgasm Challenge: Birth Control”

Just wanted to mention that my partner and I have sex in a whole bunch of different ways, only one of which increases my chances of pregnancy. And actually, the one that increases my chances of pregnancy *doesn’t* make me orgasm, so I don’t feel there’s an inevitable correlation between the challenge and birth control (and there certainly isn’t one for me).

But yeah, when we fuck, we use condoms. I used to be on a combined pill, but stopped it a few years ago. I miss bits of it, like the ability to start fucking quickly, without the *short break — fiddling — ok lets start now*. Also, the ability to finish and have him stay inside me for ages, without needing to get the condom off just in case. Condoms have the advantage of less mess though. But my main reason for not taking hormone based stuff anymore is that it had side effects.

When I was 29 (about eight years ago), I had my tubes tied with no prior babies. I never wanted kids, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have any more scares or close calls, etc. Now, I’m celibate and man-free by choice and circumstance (rounding near about a year now), and I haven’t regretted my decision for a second.

I’ve actually really grown to like condoms. I think it’s the rubber smell. Since I only come across it for sexytimes, it’s built an association, and it’s quite sexy!

I haven’t really tried anything else. I’d like to look into getting an IUD, but I haven’t yet because I hear they’re expensive, and since my periods are all ready pretty damn painful and PMDD-y, I don’t know if I want to try the copper one. But I’m cautious of putting myself on hormones, because I don’t know how my body will react. So I don’t know if Mirena is better. Arg!

If it helps, the active hormone in the Mirena is levonorgestrel, which is also used in a lot of combined pills, but more relevant to you, some mini-pills as well. So if you wanted to see how you felt on the hormone, you could take a mini-pill containing levonorgestrel for a few months and see how it goes, bearing in mind that (a) it can take a few months for your body to get used to it, and (b) any side-effects you have on the mini-pill will be less with the Mirena as it only goes to your uterus and cervix, not the rest of your body. That way, if you don’t like it, you can just stop taking it and you don’t have to pay the cost of the Mirena upfront.

We use condoms or, depending on where I am in my cycle, we just go for it, but I know I’m fortunate to have a very regular 28 day cycle. I have used other contraception once, which was the implant for a couple of years after Juniper Junior was born but jeepers, I was glad to get rid of the implant in the end. So, condoms all the way!

We are using…well, using is the wrong word.  We are doing the withdrawal method.  It is pretty stupid, but we’re prepared to handle a pregnancy, I hate hormonal birth control, and condoms were irritating me while breastfeeding for some reason (and I haven’t tried since I stopped).  So.  Irresponsibility all the way!

I use the pill – low-dose combined pill. Works like a charm, I can regulate the withdrawal bleeds to when I like and the only side effect is sore boobs every so often. I may be moving to the UK in the next 12 months in which case I’d look into an IUD (yay NHS!) just because I’d like to eliminate the chance of user error.

I was on the regular pill for 2 years and “mini” pill for 7 years. However, I recently saw a doctor for horrendous yeast infections that wouldn’t (still won’t) go away. She told me that being on the pill for so long could possibly contribute to me getting the yeast infections repeatedly and told me to go off hormonal birth control for a few months. It’s been three weeks and my partner and I have been largely using the withdrawal method, after a lot of research into it. I’m considering asking him to use condoms again though – I’ve been having horrible pregnancy nightmares and I’m not sure the stress is worth it! Anyone else have an experience with withdrawal? Or just care to weigh in on my life choices? :)

There are ways to make withdrawal safer e.g.: he pees before sex to flush any semen out of the urethra, has very good control, etc. Have you looked into FAM? It is more work-intensive but could help with anxiety if you know when pregnancy is possible (and you can use condoms then) and when it’s fine.

Just the pill for me, a slightly pricey one called Mercilon which is supposed to be good for my zitty skin but hasn’t done its job recently.

For many many years I always made sure it was both condoms and pill, as for a while I was on Accutane, so had to use double protection to ensure no flipper babies! But Mr. Cesy wasn’t a fan so we’re reliant on making sure I take my pill now!

I’m a bit concerned about when I come off the Pill again, I came off it after I broke up with my first long term boyfriend and it just never showed back up. I’ve been diagnosed and undiagnosed and diagnosed again with PCOS, so just need to see what will happen later down the track .

I’m ‘flying solo’ at the moment, but have in the past wondered what the best method would be when the time comes for it to be necessary. I tried a couple of types of b.c. pills a few years ago and had some nasty reactions, and am loathe to try any again, but I fear they may be in my future just because of awful PMS (and/or other health issues that no doctor seems to be able to diagnose, but it seems my hormone balances are not normal). In any case, as I’m looking for a career right now and not a family, I’m terrified about getting pregnant by accident, and will be doing everything I can (other than abstinence…) to avoid it.

I’m on Yaz because it helps with PMDD. I’ve been on a few different BCs, and they all make my period worse… Yaz seems to be the lesser evil. Actually, my period is best-behaved off BC than on. 4 days, no cramping, etc. But, I don’t want babbies, and condoms give my ladybits issues, so Yaz it is! I’ve been thinking about an IUD, but the puncturing scares me, as well as the potential sterility issues, because I’m already half-sterile.

I’m on the generic version of Yaz. My gyno said it has anti-androgens, which is great for me, since I have PCOS. I’ve been on it for nearly 3 years, although earlier this year I was off for 6 months because I needed to go to the doctor for my annual, and I refuse to go to any doctor but mine. She’s the one who diagnosed me, and has other patients with PCOS, and is wonderful. One of the nurses at the office, when I wrote down that I hadn’t had a period for 6 months (no bc, no period), asked me if I was pregnant. I’m a very small woman, there was no way I could be 6 months pregnant and look the way I do. When I told her I had PCOS, and it was normal, she looked at me like I had 6 heads. And that’s a nurse at the office where my doctor works. That’s why I refuse to go anywhere else. I’ve heard stories about other doctors not believing about PCOS, I’ll stick with mine.

That was probably off-topic. Sorry. Short answer: Yaz oral birthcontrol pills because they have anti-androgens, which are good for girls with PCOS.

Used good old ortho, or some variant thereof, for years of college, but then went off my parents insurance. Coincidentally, that’s also about when I figured out that ortho and other estrogen-based contraceptives were what was causing my regular massive migraines. Apparently, my body chemistry does not like to be forcibly regulated (just like the rest of me!). Relied on rubber for long periods of time until.. well… one too many failures. After that, the lovely ladies of PP (woop!) put me together with non-estrogen-based birth control pills (still can’t front enough money to make an IUD worth it). The funny thing is that with the non-estrogen pills, you actually have to take them at the exact same time (or at least within a three hour window) or it is ineffective. So now with BC that works, I also own a watch with an alarm. I set it to go off at noon so I will always be a) awake and b) it also reminds me to eat lunch if I’m focusing on work too much. Now everyone I work with thinks I have the alarm because I really like lunch. Which is true. But still…

We usually go the rubber rout, because of some bad reactions to hormonal solutions and lack of insurance.

The fun part about this is that we got a new bed recently, and in moving the old one out we discovered that our dog thinks condom wrappers are treasures worthy of being buried under our bed. I’m pretty sure every wrapper we have used in the last two years was under there. It made us look like we were having much more fun than we really are ;)

As a single lady who is not actively involved in any sexy times, I am not worrying much about the b.c. When I do worry about it, I prefer oral contraceptives, though I’ve lately been contemplating an IUD.

And while were at it, I’ve only ever met one dude who took control of b.c. — he knew he didn’t want kids ever and went to the trouble to have a vasectomy. As a single dude. Because he didn’t want kids. And I was frakking impressed. Too bad he lives too far way for a permanent-type relationship.

I read that and think, “It’s so easy for a young (I’m assuming) single dude without kids to get snipped. Too bad a woman of any age, in a relationship or not, who doesn’t have and doesn’t want kids isn’t ‘allowed’ to make that decision for herself.”

Bitter, party of one!

I also know of exactly one male that had a vasectomy without having children first. He has a trust fund (he’s 55; he got the money when his wealthy adoptive parents died) and doesn’t want a woman he’s with to get pregnant and “take” him for his money. It sounds bad, but he’s a good guy and I understand where he’s coming from.

I have adopted a “I don’t give a shit about when I become pregnant” mantra for the past month and a half because the three months prior were absolute emotional roller coasters. However, I cannot say no to an article such as this! So here goes.

We are, in fact, trying to get pregnant and have been since, hmm.. December 2011. So not very long, in the scheme of things… not that you would have guessed by how upset I was to learn that, GASP, you don’t always get pregnant right away! Lots of tears those first few months whenever I got my period but last month when I got it? Breakthrough! No crying and complete acceptance. Let’s hope I keep that attitude up!

Aaanyway, prior to trying I had to take out my IUD, which I had had in for roughly three years. We took it out three months before starting to try for a baby so that my body could “regulate” itself (I was on the Mirena and LOVED it). In early college I used Depo Provera. It was great but I randomly lost a lot of weight on it (which the nurse said was atypical) and after a year I stopped it. I’ve heard some nasty things about Depo that I try not to think about now because I hope it in no way is hindering me trying to get pregnant now. So then I went to the pill but became nauseated with it and stopped. Eventually my body regulated itself, albeit with horrendously painful periods.

Then I graduated college in 2008, got a new job and moved halfway across the country, which in turn fucked up my period so badly I was bleeding heavily for two weeks straight. So my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I discussed options and we heard amazing things about IUDs. So into Planned Parenthood I went – this was pre-job insurance, THANK YOU PP! – and after a considerable amount of pain upon insertion, I was set to go. I have loved it so much for these past three years and plan to go back to it once we finally make one of those baby things. :)

And hopefully most of that made sense.

What was having the IUD taken out like? I love my IUD, despite the fact that it was extremly painful to get it put  in (I actually passed out when i stood up right after having it done) and now i’m getting near the time where I’ll have to get it removed/ replaced. Is getting it taken out worse than getting it put in?

I recently had my IUD removed and replaced with a new one (only good for 36 months, you say? whoops! That was six months ago!).

The removal was EASY. I did not get to see the IUD after though, bummer. But seriously, it was a pinch and a weird feeling and I will take that over the poke and yank and OW of insertion.

Even if you are not getting a replacement put in afterwards, I would recommend taking a painkiller as usual half an hour before the appointment. Just to be safe.

Good luck!

I 100% agree with Soes! I was really, REALLY scared that the removal was going to be as traumatic as the insertion. The woman who inserted mine kind of bumbled and worried she might not be able to get it in, so maybe that’s why it hurt so badly upon insertion?! Either way, I nearly fainted and was really ill afterward.

So needless to say, I brought my husband with me to get the IUD out and the doctor assured me it wasn’t as bad as insertion. She also said insertion shouldn’t have been as painful as it was for me, but ah well. Anyway, removal was a BREEZE! It was one, two, three – pinch, and done. I was practically hyperventilating and afterward I was like “Really? That was it?” Got all worked up for nothing. Good luck and try not to worry overmuch! It really isn’t bad at all.

You are not alone! I too have found out that it is not easy to get pregnant. I went off oral birth control April 2011. I didn’t get my period until Nov 2011. My period was normal until Jan 2012 when I thought for sure I was pregnant. Turns out I was just irregular that month as my period came in Feb like normal! So, now I am waiting again as my period is set to return in a few days.  I am going to try a mindset like yours after this month because I will go completely nuts otherwise. The emotional roller coaster that is getting pregnant is fucking annoying. UGH! (very intelligent, I know!) Good luck to you :)

Yes, it is insane! After I took my IUD out I was truly surprised my period came every 28 days (even with the IUD in for three years I still had a period every 28 days, albeit a light one). I thought my cycle would be wonky after removal but for the past six months it’s been normal.

Anyway, I know what you’re going through and it sucks that it’s taking a while! I finally had to adopt this mindset because I was mentally drained every month after the interminable two week wait (after ovulation, before period) and the inevitable disappointment that came with getting my period. I still have twinges of paranoia (“Will it ever happen?! Am I infertile?!”) but they are brief and I try to stay busy with other activities. Plus, it’s only been four+ months. And I tell myself there is no race to get pregnant! Though my sister announced she was going to start trying for baby #2… and if it takes her only one month of trying I am probably going to allow myself a crying binge. While also congratulating her because I truly will be happy for her.

And then I’ll resume my “I don’t give a shit about when I become pregnant” mantra! ;) But seriously, best of luck to you as well! It’s always nice finding people who are going through the same thing.

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