Birth control: the bane of the modern woman’s existence, amirite ladies?! Today in The Atlantic, a compelling case is made for more widespread use of fertility awareness-based birth control methods (FABM). Women are less and less enthused about pumping our bodies full of hormones that alter one of our body’s most basic functions and come with a whole host of undesirable side-effects. IUDs involve a painful insertion and also carry risks of side effects, including increased risk for ectopic pregnancy. Condoms are inconvenient, expensive, and often times half the battle is getting a man to reluctantly agree to use one (which is awful and selfish, and a topic for another time). And don’t even get us started on female condoms.
Tired of these birth control methods, women- particularly those in long term monogamous relationships- are turning to the pull-out method. Ah, the pull out method. It’s the reduced-fat Coolwhip of sex. Sure it’s better for you, but girl- you’re still eating Coolwhip.
Women (and their partners) seeking more natural forms of birth control needn’t skip straight to the pull out method. Fertility awareness-based birth control methods, which a scant 1-3% of us admit to using (as of 2009), carry as high a success rate as hormonal birth control if used correctly. FABM is not your mother’s rhythm method, where you simply look at a calendar and arithmetic your way to unprotected ecstasy. It relies on an intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of our bodies, and it’s not at all intuitive. Options for FABM include an intricate system of temperature-taking, cervical mucus feeling and use of some exciting technology that tests your pee for fertility. It certainly sounds complicated, but one would imagine that with practice it could become second nature. And the upshot is that there are NO SIDE EFFECTS. No hormones and no pain. And if you decide to have sex when you’re fertile, you just use a condom or other barrier method.
So why is our wheatgrass, fitness, third-eye center, organic meat- loving generation not picking up on this? A more natural option than latex or hormones or some plastic inserted through your tiny cervix may be the final frontier. The issue is that no one is telling us about it.
For some women, the words “cervical mucus” alone may be incentive to run directly to the gyno and demand some hormones. Also, it’s important to remember that this is really only appropriate for ladies in monogamous relationships because it offers zero protection against STIs. It’s not necessarily THE answer, but it may be AN answer. And when it comes to your sex life, the more answers the better.