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follow up on birth control

May 14, 2010

A three part series that’s a good read: one, two, three.

Those posts cover things I should have talked about in my previous post about the wonders of birth control. Yes, hormonal contraceptives are amazing, but they’re not for everyone. I’ve recently realized that when my Mirena needs to be replaced in a little over three years, I’d like to switch to the copper IUD. Hormonal birth control isn’t easy for me. It affects my sex drive, and has terribly changed my ability to metabolize alcohol. When I was on the pill, I had consistent breakthrough bleeding, and my doctor’s answer was for me to switch pills every few months trying to find the ‘right’ one. The pill also caused intense fluctuations in my sex drive such that there were days when I couldn’t stand the idea, and days when I felt 16 again (which is an intensity of sex drive I’m glad to leave behind). It gave me PMS, which I never had before taking it.

Hormonal birth control isn’t easy, and it’s a sacrifice a lot of women make so that they can have sex. I take two things away from that: 1. everyone should be aware of their options. For some people, condoms are quite enough security. For others, they need three backup methods. There is an amazing variety of contraceptives out there, much more than just the pill the patch and the ring. And seriously, argue with your doctor if they refuse to prescribe what you want and don’t explain themselves well. 2. partners need to be aware that it really is a sacrifice for many women to use any birth control. It’s taken me a year to figure out how to get drunk without throwing up the next day, and that’s not a sacrifice I take likely. I’m very aware that my relationship includes sex to some level at my expense. I’m also aware that my last relationship didn’t include respect for the difficulties birth control caused me, and that was one of many reasons I refused to sleep with the guy.

A final note. Both this post and the last post ignored one group that uses birth control: transmen. I am aware that this post has excluded them, and I do regret that. I write from my experience only, and while I feel a lot of these things apply to transmen, and there are probably a lot of other challenges (I can’t imagine it’s easy to ask for the pill if you’ve got a beard…) I can’t write from their experience. I’m also aware that not all women use birth control, either because they don’t want to have sex, or only have sex with women, or want to be pregnant. Anyway I just wanted to point out that I speak for me only, drawing on other people’s experience to some extent, and I welcome other stories.

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