Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Taking charge of your fertility...part 1

I love babies. And love being pregnant….but all women need to have the knowledge to take charge of their fertility. We need options, to be able to have our babies on our schedules. As a midwife-in-training, I think it's important to serve women throughout their life cycles, including when they aren't or don't want to be pregnant.

We are all pretty much acquainted with the pill. The birth control pill was introduced to the public in the 1950’s in the US and became it became legal to prescribe it as a contraceptive in Canada in 1969 (before this point it could be prescribed to “regulate menstrual cycles”). It is generally accepted to have about a 99% effectiveness rate, as long as you don’t miss a dose and you take it at the same time every day. You can go online and look at all the wonderful benefits of the pill and the side effects and decide for yourself if it’s a good choice.

We all SHOULD be acquainted with condoms. If ya ain’t using them for contraception, you sure as heck should be using them if you aren’t in a monogamous relationship. Condoms are 97% effective when used properly. That includes using latex friendly lubrication to help avoid breakage. A point to note is the thinking in the late 1990’s was that spermicides like nonoxynol-9 were good to boost the effectiveness of the condom and to help prevent STDs. Several studies over the past decade have shown that spermicides actually irritate the vaginal wall and INCREASE chance of STD infection. I would suggest using the condom properly J

Most women don’t know that the morning after pill or “emergency contraception” as it’s also known, is available without a prescription at most local pharmacies. So you’ve made a mistake, missed some pills or the condom broke? Go see your pharmacist within 24-48 hours after having sex. One questionnaire (to ensure that you understand how the drug works and if it will be effective or not) and $40 later, you’ll walk out the door with two tiny pills. I bring this up here because while it’s more desirable to use an effective form of contraception ALL the time, there is a reason it’s called “emergency contraception” and in my mind it is important to have the option.

Ok….so what’s all this discussion leading up to? True, natural birth control, also known as fertility awareness. It is more in depth than the good ol’ “rhythm method”, and 99% effective when used correctly. Yep…you heard me right. 99% effective. And to me, every woman has the right to get to know her body in a drug-free, hormone-additive-free state. She can know when she’s fertile, so she can plan when to have her babies instead of going on the assumption that she “can get pregnant at any time”. She can stop dumping money into the drug companies’ pockets. She can get in touch with her inner goddess J

Tomorrow, I’ll go thru the basics of fertility awareness, who it is most effective for, and some things to start thinking about. An excellent resource is the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler, MPH.

In sisterhood,

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