Want to Rave about Your Birth Control Method?

Recently, fellow bloggers Paul and Lori Byerly of The Marriage Bed and Sheila Gregoire with To Love, Honor and Vacuum posted on birth control methods. The Byerlys’ article covered recent studies on the negative effect of oral contraception on women’s sexual satisfaction, while Sheila’s post provided a great summary of the range of birth control options available to married couples. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage also added her take on this birth control conversation.

What birth control method a couple chooses is a very personal decision and includes such factors as if and when they desire to have children, financial wherewithal, what feels comfortable to each and both. Since I’m absolutely fine with sharing my own experience, I wanted to add my personal two cents to this topic of birth control.

The Pill
I started taking oral contraception in high school. It wasn’t to protect me against unwanted pregnancy, but rather to regulate heavy and horrible periods. My doctor proposed the pill as a way to get my menstruation under control. It definitely helped.

Oral Contraceptives

by Ceridwen, via Wikimedia Commons

It also meant that when I became sexually active, I was already used to taking the pill so that was my choice of contraception. I took it for a few years without problem. When I decided to behave like a good girl, I chucked the premarital sex and the pill along with it.

After marriage, I got back on the pill. A couple of years into it, I experienced a terrible depression. I was tired all of the time, cried for no reason, and generally felt awful. My doctor suggested antidepressants, which I began taking. When I was too nauseous to stand it, I stopped taking those pills. I also decided to stop taking The Pill for a while. Voilá! As if a magician had pulled an unexpected rabbit from a hat, my depression was gone.

I tried another contraceptive pill (different hormonal balance), and it had the same effect. After two bouts of depression with oral contraception, I no longer wanted to mess with my hormones. Goodbye, pill!

Condoms
I have used condoms only a handful of times. I have friends who swear by their use, saying that they are easy to manage, keep the mess to a minimum, and don’t alter your body’s balance like oral contraception.

For myself, I hate condoms. First off, is it just me or do any other wives out there think it looks really weird to see your hubby’s penis shrink-wrapped for sex? The bigger issue with me, though, is the lack of skin-to-skin contact. Friction increases arousal and thus the possibility of orgasm. I found it difficult to climax when my husband wore a condom.

Perhaps we could have tried various brands and styles. For instance, ribbed condoms provide more friction. However, I concluded here that skin against skin was an important part of the sexual experience to me. Goodbye, condoms!

Diaphragm
What were my choices now? I saw my gynecologist and talked to him about options — knowing what my goals and desires for birth control were. All hormonal treatments were out — no pill, shots, under-the-skin, etc. No IUD because that violates my moral stance. (Note: IUDs do not prevent fertilization of an egg; they prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Revised: A reader informed me that the copper IUD releases copper which is toxic to sperm, thus preventing fertilization; I checked her statement and confirmed that the device indeed works toward preventing fertilization and implantation.)

Diaphragm

By Axefan2 via Wikimedia Commons

My doc suggested trying a diaphragm. A diaphragm is a bendable disc with a semi-sphere shape. A woman’s vagina is measured by a doctor so that he can prescribe the correct size. Fit is important because this is a barrier method. In addition to the diaphragm itself, one should apply a spermicide to the edge just in case those crafty sperm swimmers find a teeny opening around the disc.

The first few times I used the diaphragm, it took a while for me to apply the spermicidal gel, bend the diaphragm in half, insert it properly, and then move my fingers out so that it could get into place. After using it for a while, however, I could pop that baby in faster than you could sing a verse of “Camptown Races.”

This was THE METHOD FOR ME. I wished that I had started out with this method. I loved it! It left my hormones alone. It lasted for a long time and did not require me to remember to take something daily or buy something weekly. It just sat there in my night table drawer ready for me when I needed it. It was easy to insert and easy to remove. I could leave it in for several hours and wasn’t bothered by its presence. It prevented pregnancy until we were ready. Hello, diaphragm!

The Conclusion
So am I suggesting that every wife go out and get herself a diaphragm because I’m raving about it? Absolutely not.

What I learned through my experience is this: I should have really researched the options when I was first looking into birth control. Instead, I walked into my doctor’s office, asked about birth control, and walked out with the standard pill prescription. Looking back, I believed that my only goal was to prevent pregnancy. Over time, I discovered that there were other considerations for me as well — such as skin-to-skin contact and convenience.

Each woman and couple needs to look at what is important to them when choosing a birth control method. Various methods have pros and cons. (Be sure to read the Byerlys’ interesting article about recently-discovered cons of oral contraception.)

You may even wish to use natural family planning. Dustin Reichmann of Engaged Marriage wrote a great article for Your Tango on Why I Believe in Natural Family Planning.

But study the methods yourself. Look into the advantages and disadvantages. Don’t rely on your physician or your best friend who suggests the method they like is the method for you. It may be; it may not be.

Also, I wouldn’t put too much stock into the claims that the pill is 99%+ effective while another method is only 98%+ effective and make your decision based on that. I’ve known a few couples who used the pill properly and still got a little munchkin and couples who have successfully prevented pregnancy with natural family planning for years. If you use any birth control method properly, it will likely work. Until that one time when it doesn’t, and I believe that God can get you through that one.

Of course, if you really want to prevent any future pregnancies, I could write a whole other post entitled “In Praise of Vasectomy.” For now, I’ll avoid having my male readers grab their crotches protectively until I can give that topic more coverage.

Your turn: What birth control method do you absolutely love? Go ahead and rave below. Why do you love it? What considerations do you take into account when choosing a birth control method?

30 thoughts on “Want to Rave about Your Birth Control Method?

  1. A

    I am a newlywed (9 months in a few days!) and I’ve been on the pill for about a year maybe a little longer. I started the pill actually a few years ago, for crazy irregular periods. And restarted it recently because of PMDD moodiness. I don’t hate my pill, but I have noticed a lower sex drive over the past few months. Which I don’t like. But for now, it’ll do 🙂

  2. noregretsliving

    We use Natural Family Planning — or Fertility Awareness Method because we didn’t abstain during fertile times. I LOVE IT. We’re pregnant right now, so we’re not practicing. I loved that it taught me about my body and my fertility. I loved that we made the decisions about what we’re doing at any given time.

    I also love the fact that it gave us the information we needed to get pregnant the first month we tried to. When you KNOW when you ovulate, you can make sure you time things properly. If I would’ve had trouble getting pregnant, it would’ve helped me diagnose if it was because I wasn’t ovulating or if because my Luteul Phase was too short to sustain a pregnancy or a bunch of other things.

    I can’t say enough GREAT things about it!

  3. Stephanie

    I love FAM! 🙂 I think I did enough raving on Sheila’s post, so I’ll just stick with this:
    – It’s the only thing we’ve ever used.
    – I love that’s instantly reversible. There’s no need to wait for synthetic hormones to quit messing with your body before you try to concieve.
    – It’s healthy!
    – It doesn’t try to “fix” what’s not broken, but it gives you clues to what MAY be broken, so that you CAN fix it. 🙂 I have PCOS, and long-ish cycles, and my gynecologist was able to spot that by looking at my charts. If I’d forced my body into a 28 day cycle, we never would have known!

  4. Anonymous

    I came across your blog via To Love, Honour and Vaccuum. I must commend you on your blog! You are a blessing and I thank you for being so open, honest and God honouring! 🙂

  5. erin

    I started out on the pill for the first year and a half of our marriage and then we got pregnant. After my son was born I went back on the pill, but it was really affecting my moods the second time around so I went off it. Since then we have used condoms for birth control. They took some getting used to, but now it’s just part of our routine and it’s no big deal.

  6. The Younger Rachael

    I did the pill for the first year of our marriage. That first month I was on the reg. dose… and miserable. I now know what real depression feels like. After that, it was the low dose. When I got off the pill, WOW! I felt amazing. But, I think the hormones wonked out my body, and 3 years later, we finally got pregnant after a month on clomid. My baby is now 6 mo old, and here’s to hoping that pregnancy reset everything.

    I’ve used FAM to make sure I wasn’t ovulating while on the pill, then to try and get pregnant and then to see what was wonky and why we weren’t getting pregnant. I think every woman should spend some time charting, if only to learn about how her own cycle works.

    I did a review of a good book that discusses FAM extensively: http://youngernews.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-review-taking-charge-of-your.html

  7. Anonymous

    Hello,
    I appreciate reading your blog, but I have to disagree with you about something. I have a copper IUD, and it works by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. Copper is a natural spermicide, and because the copper IUD has no hormones, it does not disrupt a woman’s monthly period or affect hormones in any way. I also had problems with the pill before, and in deciding I did not want to use anything that affected my hormones any longer, that only left a few options. I chose the copper IUD for that reason and more and am very happy with my choice. It was not and is not a moral choice because it does not prevent implantation as you claimed above; it keeps the egg from being fertilized in the first place.

  8. UK Fred

    I had been sexually active with some of my previous girl friends before I became Christian and did not notice any change in libido with them when they started to take the pill.
    DW was a virgin when we married and she went on the pill a couple of months before we married. I was not able to see any difference on starting. She came off the pill to have our first child after just over 3 years of marriage and about two years later we were trying for #2 when we had an ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed DW. She went back on the pill for a couple of years until the abdominal wall had healed and then we tried for another, who finally arrived after about a year. DW was always suspicious of the pill, but continued to take it until our second was around 7 years old, when some friends had a surprise pregnancy despite wife taking the pill. Several of the social circle decided that this was a reason for the men to have a vasectomy if they had completed their planned family. DW is pleased she is no longer pushing drugs into her body. The sensations are better than with a condom, and there was, until menopause no chance of pregnancy. The only possible problem was if one or other were to play away there is the higher likeliehood of an STI, but since I have been 100% faithful, and I believe that DW has been 100% faithful, we do not have anything to worry about.

  9. J

    Thank you, Anonymous. It has always been my understanding from various sources for years that IUDs prevented implantation. After reading your comment, I researched further. From http://www.askmyobgyn.com came the following information:
    “The copper IUD works by releasing a small amount of copper into the uterus. This prevents pregnancy in several ways: •It prevents the egg from being fertilized. •It prevents the fertilized egg from attaching itself to the wall of the uterus. •It prevents sperm from going through the uterus. •It reduces the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg.”
    I humbly revise my comment.
    Several sites did say that a copper IUD could be used as an emergency contraception method after fertilization (instead of the “morning after pill,” for instance).
    These are personal, difficult decisions, and I am glad that you did your homework. I should have done mine a bit better. Perhaps the way in which the device works has changed over time.

  10. Sheila

    J, thanks for joining the conversation! I’m glad we’re talking about this more.

    I’ve never been able to use a diaphragm, but I agree that if you can insert it and remove it properly, it sounds like a great alternative, because it doesn’t mess with your hormones. What I’ve heard, too, is that many women take it out every morning to clean it and then put it back in so that they don’t have to worry about being spontaneous–it’s always there!

    We had a vasectomy a while ago (well, he had one 🙂 ), and I do regret that. I wish we had waited. But there’s nothing we can do now except for tell other women that there are choices other than the Pill, those choices do work, they’re not that cumbersome, and they make you feel a lot better!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  11. Michelle M

    Great blog! Birth control is something my hubby and I talk a lot about. Unfortunately for me I have to be on the pill for other issues – PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). It does dampen my drive a bit. We also practice other methods – the pull out method. Is there any other couples out there that does this too? Children are not an option for us right now.

    1. Anonymous

      My husband and I have been married for nearly four years. The first 9 months I was on the pill. I actually went off it because we got stuck at my parents’ house during a snow storm and I didn’t have the pills for two days. The directions say to take two a day for like six days or something to make up for it. Well, that quickly made me very sick feeling, so I go frustrated with them and stopped. Both of us were very concerned about a pregnancy, since he was still in college and we were planning on me working until he had his Masters at the very least, but he was super supportive of me looking for another method of birth control. I cannot even say how happy I am that I went off. I didn’t even realize how grumpy they made me until I went off them. Also, about a week after quitting I was amazed at how much sensation during intercourse I had been missing. It was like my nerves down there had been turned off. Anyway we realized that we had to find some other way of preventing pregnancy. Initially we tried condoms, but we both hated them. I am prone to yeast infections and they made it worse. Plus we both felt like it was “fake sex.” No skin to skin. Just can’t take it. Finally we settled on the pull-out method. I read up on it enough to see that it could be nearly as good as the pill, as long as the man has a lot of self control. Surprisingly, my husband, who was 20 at the time, was and is very in tune with his body. He has NEVER messed up. We started combining the pull-out method with natural family planning, so we have unprotected sex all the time. It is wonderful. No babies yet. I assume that once my husband is not as scared of having a kid, we might have “mess up” and get pregnant. 🙂

    2. Heather

      My husband and I started our marriage out with hormonal birth control (the ring) but it caused many problems for me (and came out a few times during intercourse…weird). We then tried the pill, but after some serious ethical considerations for us we decided not to use it anymore. One pastor’s wife recommended condoms, the other recommended the diaphragm. We did not think we would be diligent enough to use a diaphragm each time so we went with condoms. It wasn’t bad and we both still enjoyed sex, but not as much as when we used nothing. DH started putting the condom on only towards climax, and that way we could enjoy unprotected sex , but still catch the swimmers :). Well, basically, we inched up to using the pull out method most of the time, and using a condom sometimes. (If I climax before him he would just pull out, if we wanted to climax together then he would use a condom). We conceived our son on a last minute decision by my hubby to ‘try’. (I had been wanting to try so he knew I wouldn’t care). We still use the pull out method sometimes, but because timing of our children seems crucial to use right now (my son is only 9 months old) I usually insist on a condom if he climaxes inside. After reading this again, I may try to use a diaphragm… the fact that the condoms take away even the slightest bit of pleasure is bugging me a bit. And having to put it on when we are both nearing climax is kind of frustrating…. this was a very thought provoking post! But yes… others use the pull out with success (so far).

    3. J

      I have to say I’m nervous about the pull-out method. Those little swimmers leak out before the big event, and some of us are Fertile Myrtles. If you want to use the pull-out method, just be prepared that might find yourself with a little one. Although actually, you could say that of just about every birth control method. (Which is why I say the only sure way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence, which you should practice before marriage but NOT in marriage.) Best wishes!

  12. Havalah

    I did NFP with a diaphragm for fertile times, but unfortunately, my cycle is nowhere close to regular, so I was unable to keep up with charting. My husband and I now use primarily a diaphragm, and keep “raincoats” handy when need be.

    The option for a diaphragm was not given to me by my doctor. Instead I did my research, talked to women that I trusted, and decided with my fiance what we would use. I’ve never regretted using it, and often encourage newly weds to give it a shot.

  13. Anonymous

    Diaphragm sounds really good but i just looked up it up and it says it’s 92-98% effective. For people who really can’t have a baby right now, would you say that’s risky?
    PS love your blog!!

  14. J

    Anon – Thanks for the sweet compliment! I wonder if the effectiveness percentage is diaphragm alone or with spermicide? That would certainly make a difference.

    I’m not a doctor, but my own gynecologist thought it was a good choice if used properly. Personally, I’m a fertile Myrtle, as they say. As soon as I put down the birth control, boom! belly bulge. Yet, the diaphragm was great for us.

    This is a very personal choice. I rave about my birth control method, but obviously I’m not saying everyone should use it. Some might love it. Some might hate it. It sounds like you’re doing exactly what you should, though: Your own homework. Best wishes!

  15. Tony

    I’ll rave about the vasectomy. I survived testicular cancer, and I’m here to tell you there is no 50% discount if the surgeon has to do 1/2 the plumbing work.

    But it was the best $100 co-pay I ever spent. Did it on Thursday. Bags of frozen peas and frozen carrots were my best friends. I returned to work on Monday.

    Just be sure you get the follow up sperm counts done to make sure you have zero swimmers.

    Again, best $100 co-pay ever spent in my opinion.

  16. Christy

    OK I have no comment on the birth control because I can’t get pregnant so we have never had to use anything. butttttt…..I would like to comment on the fact that I agree with the shrinkie wrapped penis. No thank you! LOL!

  17. IAAMM

    If it’s certain that no more babies are popping out of the oven, then burn those tubes. I did. No problems here. Though nothing is 100%, well except abstinence, of course.

  18. Suse

    First I have to say thankyou for this blog…it makes me smile and it has proved very useful so far 😉

    I was put on the pill as a teenager to control skin breakouts and very heavy and irregular periods. For the first few years, it was fine, but after we had our first daughter (which we conceived while I was on the pill) I went back on it and it made me so nauseus (spelling?) that I had to stop. I tried the implant (the little matchstick size thing they stick under the skin in your arm) and it was brilliant! No periods, no pain, no hormonal swings.

    After our second daughter was born I went and had another implant put in and it wreaked havoc with my body. I didn’t sleep for 4 months (I mean, not a wink – and you can only imagine what that does to your body and mind), I was angrier than a cut snake most of the time with venomous words spewing from my mouth at every turn and the most severe case of thrush my GP had ever seen (sorry, TMI). So the decision was to remove the implant.

    Now we HAD to have contraception. I nearly lost my second daughter when I was pregnant with her because the morning sickness was so bad (I lost more weight than I put on over the whole pregnancy) and had to be on a ccktail of drugs to get me through each day. So our last option that we tried was the Vasectomy. Now it was not something we just jumped into, we did a lot of research, and we are only young (hubby was only 27 at the time), but he selflessly had the procedure done to get his wife back. And you know what…it was one of the best decisions we ever made. Our sex life because of it has improved 100 fold, and you can ask him yourself, he will agree 😉

    Sorry for the essay 🙂 But thanks for an awesome blog

    1. J

      Thanks so much, Suse, for your wonderful compliments and awesome comments! I had that same weirdness of different experiences with the pill. I wish I knew then what I know now! Thank goodness for our fabulous hubbies who finally took care of things. Our sex life has improved as well since we haven’t had to think about contraception at all. Blessings!

  19. Jenni

    We have used the diaphragm and I loved it until I started getting recurring yeast infections (which turns out to be a VERY effective birth control!) and found out I was probably allergic to the rubber in it. Then went in search of a contraceptive that didn’t abort the fertilized egg. Found the NuvaRing which my doctor said wouldn’t even let me ovulate so no worries about that. Unfortunately, my doctor was misinformed and I got pregnant and miscarried. After that we had our third child and I got my tubes tied. Now we don’t have to worry about conception. Now all we have to concern ourselves with is making time for making love. 😉

  20. Merri

    I’m just becoming aquainted with your blog…Thank GOD for your transparency!
    I used the pill for about ten years only to awake one morning to an alarming mess- a burst cyst or two!! Scary and stressful, unsure if I’d be left sterile.
    Our GOD is faithful! We now have three little girls, who arrived very close together!!
    We first chose to withdraw- but that became to difficult in the heat of climax and our second daughter was on her way. Next we agreed upon spemicides- film/foam, which worked fine until I began to see results of my workout! My husband also noticed the reclaimation of my curves, he would be a little less patient with the film(you need 15 min before intercourse….) and since he can easily persuade me to be in his arms, I delivered our third daughter this past February.
    We are more agreed now that we should wait a couple years before we decide on more children, so we’re incorporating condoms with spermicides- being concious of slowing down so we both have full enjoyment without adding a new member to the team, for now!

    1. J

      How lovely to hear that your hubby can “easily persuade [you] to be in his arms.” I loved that! Glad you found a method that works for you. I think that’s the main issue — determining what works for your own situation. Best wishes!

  21. A

    I know I am commenting way after this post originally ran but I took the pill for years. After our second child was born I switched to nuvaring so I could cont bf’ing. Long story short I have decided for many reasons that hormonal bc is not for me (moral, health, mood…). We are researching other methods. We have been using condoms for a while but are unhappy with the lack of intimacy we feel with them. I like the idea of a diaphragm but am concerned with the increased chance of yeast infections. I was hoping some other people who have actually used a diaphragm could chime in with personal experience. We feel like our family is complete but are not quite ready to pursue a vasectomy. Thanks in advance!

    1. J Post author

      I did not notice an increase in infections with the diaphragm. I’d be interested to hear from others, though, as well. Best wishes finding the right choice for you!

      1. A

        Hi J. I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately, the maker of the diaphragm available in America has stopped production for now. I think they just discontinued it in April 2014, so someone may still be able to find one at a pharmacy (especially the lesser used sizes) with some work. I read a report that a European manufacturer may look at expanding their market, but it will likely take a while to get through the FDA, etc. Bummer…

        1. J Post author

          Really? Surely, they’re still available, even if manufactured elsewhere. Anyone else know?

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