Birth Control Problems

Athol,
Loving your blog. I just read your post “Are You Poisoning Your Wife Against You With Bad Semen?” and I have a question. My wife was on the pill (several kinds) for years and she had bad mood swings and anxiety problems which seemed to completely go away when she went off the pill. So now we’ve only been using condoms and after reading your post it’s sounds like I’m in a lose-lose situation. Any good solution? Once in awhile I do the timing method but it’s only once a month when we are about as far from ovulation as you can get.
Birth Control is always problematic in that you are interfering with what a few million years of evolutionary fine tuning has planned as the way sex works. The best possible sex is two highly fertile people going at it without something in the way. Of course endless children appearing is regarded as highly problematic, so the majority of us turn to birth control in some fashion.
For a married couple you’re looking for the version of birth control that causes the lowest number of negative effects. So if your wife tried multiple birth control pills and had mood swings and anxiety issues, that’s a bad problem. If using condoms is working out better, then the condoms are a better form of birth control.
Before we had kids Jennifer and I used a combination of the rhythm method and condoms. Since the kids we’ve had her on birth control pills and she’s had very minimal side effects, so we’ve stuck with that. If Jennifer had issues with the pill we would have likely started looking for a different option. Including possibly going back to condoms. (Having had my first proper batch of sex using condoms with Jennifer, I actually find them mildly erotic still.)
Generally I advise trying the easier options first before trying a surgical one (for either sex).
Condoms do stop semen entering the vagina and semen has proven anti-depressant effects on women. So if you are using condoms there are some concerns that there may be some loss of mood for your wife. However compared to the major side effects of the pill she experienced, the loss of the gains in mood from barebacking seem of far less importance. There’s really no one size fits all birth control solution.
Being in good physical shape and being able to pump out a decent supply of healthy semen is always a positive thing though. Even for things like hand jobs and blow jobs a strong healthy squirt when you come is always going to be more pleasing to your wife than a odd smelling dribble. So you should still work on physical health even if you’re 100% condom using.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I highly recommend the Fertility Awareness Method (this is NOT the rhythm method) for those not on hormones or wanting to avoid using an IUD: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_Awareness_Method

    I've used it for 5 years without a failure and plenty of au-naturel sex. When used properly (which means vigilantly taking temps every day…no laziness!) this method is as effective as the pill.

    All that being said, do your homework and read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I'd only recommend this method for couples who can be responsible and like data tracking (try fertilityfriend.com).

    ~Fertility Hacker

  2. Anonymous says:

    The copper IUD rocks.

  3. Condoms by themselves are not enough protection. You should use combined methods or one partner should get their tubes tied.

  4. thetitanproject says:

    My relative died because of birth control.

    She was using a brand called Yaz and it formed a bloodclot in her lung that suddenly killed her. No symptoms or anything. She just started puking a few weeks ago on a friday and on saturday she died at 2pm.

    She did have the mood swings and she had jitters. Apparently Yaz has an awful lot of lawsuits against it and a lot of people I know know other people who've tried it and said they didn't like it. Type in "Yaz Birth Control" in the search bar on wordpress and you'll get a plethora of blog posts about that birth control brand hurting people.

    I wrote about it here:

    http://thetitanproject.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/yaz-birth-control-death/

    Stay safe. It was really sad to have to deal with this.

  5. Anyone care to comment on IUD experiences?

  6. Titan – very sad story.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The 'bad things' that unfairly maligned the IUD were mostly related to its use in promiscuous and/or nulliparous women. For a (faithful) mother done with (or in between) childbearing, they're pretty good, and much better than the alternatives IMHO.

  8. I used the Copper 7 IUD; was not "promiscuous," although I was not a mother; don't see how either of those factors are relevant in any case.
    Had some pain off and on with the IUD as did my partner who complained about feeling the "tail" of the IUD. Dealbreaker: the damn thing failed and I got pregnant anyway. That was some time ago; maybe they are better designed or more effective now. Do your research.

  9. TheBarebacker says:

    @Athol:
    What IS ejaculate supposed to smell like? Is that written somewhere? My husband's smells awful, and when we don't use condoms, I reek like that "down there" for days if I don't shower daily.

    @FertilityHacker (the first "anonymous"):
    I like FertilityFriend.com too and the BBT method. It's not foolproof, but the software averages all your cycle numbers over time to get a really accurate picture of ovulation and your fertile days. And if you want another baby, it's easy to know when to try.

    IUDs: I've heard many, many bad things about the Mirena IUD–that it kills sex drive, makes you tired and depressed, and your hair falls out. Yaz has been the subject of a couple class action suits, of course.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @cat lady

    Issues of pain, uterine perforation and expulsion were more common in nulliparous women.
    Higher rates of complicated PID were associated with multiple partners.

    They aren't recommended for those patients anymore.

  11. Paraguard, the copper IUD w/ no hormones, has been great as long as I've used it. Works well so far, I don't notice or think about it much, and I don't have any of the hormones mucking around with my system.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I'd recommend the Billings Method. It uses the woman's mucous changes to track her cycle. It doesn't require temperature readings, and has been tested by the WHO and the Chinese government and has an effectiveness rate (when the rules are followed) better than the pill. In some study populations it actually had a 100% effectiveness rate. It can also be used to get pregnant. My wife and I have used this since we first got married with no "accidents" and achieved pregnancy on the first and third tries when we decided we wanted children.

    This is NOT the rhythm method. Whether you have regular or irregular, short or long cycles, it doesn't matter. You don't count days. You look for physiological changes. For more info go to woomb.org.

    The difficulty with this method is if you're not trying for a baby, you have about one week where you can't have sex. Well, you can, but you'd have to use condoms. We decided to go the all natural route. While the week is hard (especially since during ovulation she is both extra horny and extra attractive), the wait makes us anticipate the next meeting and makes for FANTASTIC times together.

    In short, the benefits are no pills poisoning my wife, no messy and unpleasant condoms, a better relationship, and frequent, awesome sex!

  13. This post makes me wonder about the progress on male birth control (see… http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/news/20090506/testosterone-tested-as-male-contraceptive) which uses testosterone or a testosterone-progestin hormone combination to suppress male sperm production. Some men on hormone (testosterone) replacement are, in effect, using this method right now as fairly effective birth control. I wonder if this is something for the OP to look into. (I also wonder about this method's long term impact on the overall society dynamic as well!) If interested in knowing more, I recommend you see a progressive-minded endocrinologist; not your typical GP.

    …But here's a further question: in which ingredient are the so-called anti-depressant effects of ejaculate? Is it in the semen (produced by the prostate) or is it in the sperm (produced by the testes)? It could be an important distinction.

    Athol's post above says the effects are in the semen. But previous posts questioning the wisdom of a vasectomy (which eliminates sperm, not semen) suggests the effects are in the sperm.

    Hmmmm…

  14. Athol Kay says:

    MNL – the anti-depressants are defintely in the semen and not the sperm. However in some vasectomized men their semen production has a vast reduction as a result of the vasectomy. You expect a ~5% ejaculate reduction from a vasectomy, but some men get a 70-90% reduction as a side effect of the surgery.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I used a diaphragm between each of my kids. It is put into the vagina and acts as a barriar to the cervix. Its size is measured by the doctor, and you get a Rx for it. (or you did 20 plus years ago) It can be put in hours beforehand and has to be removed long afterwards. The benefits are that you get the bareback fun, with all the "proven" mood enhancers of semen, and if planned ahead, you don't have the bother of putting on a condom during the fun. If you don't plan ahead, then it can be put in as easily as putting on a condom. The drawback is that is not the most effective birth control. You cannot remove it immediately afterwards. You are supposed to use it with a spermicide, but I reacted to that so we only used ky jelly.

    Sereena

  16. Susan Walsh says:

    Athol, two links on birth control your readers might find interesting. First, it's been shown that women on the Pill are more prone to jealousy:

    http://www.bakadesuyo.com/does-the-birth-control-pill-make-women-more-j

    The other looks at the PIll as a factor in the declining college attendance of males:

    http://www.bakadesuyo.com/is-the-birth-control-pill-the-reason-so-few-m

    That blog – Barking Up the Wrong Tree is very interesting, and usually quite provocative.

  17. Today I am one week out from a vasectomy. No problems so far, just a sensation like blue balls. It actually makes me want sex more since I am conscious of my balls all the time. I have ejaculated twice so far (against Drs orders since he said no sex for 10 days). Both times were with gentle blow jobs. The loads felt like normal volume but both were promptly swollowed so I can't say for sure. I am curious to see the color.

  18. I had an IUD for 3 years, loved for the first 2 1/2 and then late last year into early this year it all went south. Terrible pain, constant periods. Went and had it removed and the doctor said it had actually been trying to come out on it's own. I have MANY friends who use one and they love it. I just don't think its for everyone.

  19. I'd recommend that the female partner have a chat with her gynecologist. There are many good alternatives to the pill.

    I had a Merena IUD. Doc inserted it and it was effective for 5 (yes 5!) years. No problem. And, best of all, no periods either as is common with this type of birth control, so that made sex a possibility all 30+ days of the month. Woohoo!

    After the 5 years were up, I had an unrelated minor issue that made by gynecologist recommend a different alternative. I went with an Implanon, which the doc inserted on the underside of my left upper arm (little lower than the armpit).

    The insertion was relatively painless and over in less than a minute. The Implanon is invisible and can only be felt if you are searching for it and really pressing on the skin. It's like a little matchstick in shape. It is effective for 3 years and then will need to be replaced.

    One year in and I've had no problems with it. I never have to hesitate about sex or remember to take a pill. And, like the IUD, no periods, which is common for this type of birth control. It's a great option.

    Again, a gynecologist can provide these options as well as other alternatives. There's much more out there than condoms and the pill. It's worth asking.

  20. This is anonymous from above with recent vasectomy. I'm 9 days out today and pain free. Had real sex for the first time last night. I tried to keep it gentle but ended up doing it just slightly less aggressive than normal. No problems. Ejaculate looks the same. From my experience, I recommend the procedure.

  21. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I are going to try the Lady-
    Comp:

    http://www.amazon.com/VE-Valley-Electronics-GmbH-Germany-LCF1001/dp/B000NOKX4Q

    http://www.lady-comp.com/en

    It works by measuring Basal Body Temperature, and will give you either a red or green light depending on what point in the cycle the woman is at. On the days when the device gives you a green light, it has been shown to be 99.3% effective as a means of birth control, which is in the same ballpark as the pill. The best part for us is that its all natural, no side effects, and is completely reversible – in fact, you can use it to get pregnant as well. From most of the reviews I have read, it seems to work very well.

  22. Rhythm is not same as NFP and is not nearly as effective. NFP can be done (and mostly relies on) observing cervical fluid/mucus for changes. BBT merely confirms ovulation took place. I don’t take my temperature as it’s too hard to get accurate readings when waking at odd hours to attend to my toddler but CM tells me everything I need to know (though I also check cervical position too). IUDs are best for moms b/c childbirth causes the cervical opening (os) to change shape from a tiny circle to a small slit, so that impacts the ease of positioning it correctly. Condoms are fairly reliable on their own IF used correctly. So educate yourself, read the instructions and use some lube while you’re at it! They rarely break if you apply lube on the inside and outside of it as well as to vaginal opening and it feels a hell of a lot better for both parties! I used condoms for years and only ever had an issue the one time when I asked hubby to say in instead of pulling out right after orgasm like you should. Besides if you want STI protection, they are your only real option even if using pill or something else. Here’s a great resource for determining best BC for you. If you’re a guy, answer quiz from perspective of partner. This covers everything from NFP to barriers to hormonal Rx’s to sterilization and more. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/all-access/my-method-26542.htm

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