My Birth Control History

Thu, 07/26/2012 - 12:36
Submitted by Carlin Ross

I've been on almost every form of contraception out there. And I've learned through trial and error (I terminated three pregnancies - no regrets).

I don't think that there's any one perfect birth control choice. It's more about finding the right birth control during each phase of your life. Your lovers will change...your sex style will change...and your birth control will change.

I started off using condoms. It was the only birth control I knew about because I was taught at home. And this was pre-cell phone pre-internet days. There was simply no place for me to go and find out about my options. One night my boyfriend (who subsequently became my husband - now ex-husband) pulled off the condom and came inside me. It was the last day of my period and he figured I wasn't fertile. At that point in my life, I couldn't talk about sex period no less define a boundary in the bedroom. Suffice it to say he was way wrong. After my abortion, I decided that I was never going to rely on any man for birth control.

All young women should know that in your teens and twenties you're opportunistic ovulators. When you have sex, you'll ovulate - it doesn't matter where you are in your cycle. There are no "safe" days to have sex. You can never use the rhythm method, let him come inside you, or pull out. All forms of natural birth control are off the table. It's nature's way of insuring the perpetuation of the species. If you cut corners, you will get pregnant.

After my first abortion, I got fitted for a diaphragm. You definitely have to be comfortable putting your fingers in your vagina and preparing for sex (when in doubt pop your diaphragm in pre-date. You can always take it out when you get home). All I knew was that I didn't want to go on the pill like all of my girlfriends. You can chalk that up to vanity. I didn't want to gain weight.

The diaphragm was great but I was still living at home and it was hard to keep it hidden from my mom. One day I left it in the shower. My brother found it and all hell broke loose. It was the first time I was called a "slut". That really burned - I decided that it was time for the pill. This moment marked the beginning of the end of my relationship with my family. For me, the pill was my liberator...the symbol that I was a single woman ready to take on the world. I was going to be a proud slut.

I didn't gain weight on the pill. The great part was that it regulated my periods. I knew the exact moment I was going to start bleeding and when it would end. I loved that. I didn't have to play the am-I-pregnant guessing game anymore. And I could have marathon sex sessions without worrying that my diapragm was in too long. Looking back on it, I think I got off being in control of my hormones. I wasn't at the mercy of my body anymore.

I got pregnant two more times. The second time was right after law school when I separated from my husband. All my girlfriends thought I was on the pill too long and none of them could get pregnant after they got married. It was a false sense of security. As soon as I went off the pill and started a hot love affair with a married man, I was pregnant. We were using the pull out method. That man never came inside me but it didn't matter. Our bodies took over and every time he came near me my ovaries tingled.

If you have a perfect procreating mate in life he was mine. I went right back on the pill...went off one more pregnant again (with the same guy)...and went straight back on the pill for another 7 years.  [Note: my last two abortions were non-surgical.  I simply went to the clinic, took a pill, inserted two pills into my vagina the next day, and bled like crazy for two days.  Done.]

Looking back on my last two abortions I realize that I had the perfect pregnancy trifecta: it was an illict affair, I was sleeping with other people (sperm competition) and I thought I was in love. I stayed on the pill for 15 years in total. Over the last few years, my sex drive plummeted. When we created a "menstruation" section on the site, I found myself captivated by our blogger's posts. Virgin talking about free bleeding and how her body changed over the course of each month - Ariel talking about how she was the most truthful during her period. Sore breasts, heavy periods, and ovulation pains seemed romantic. I'd forgotten all about those feelings. When you're on the pill, your body is fooled into thinking that it's pregnant so you don't get pregnant. I had been pregnant for 15 years!

I went back to the diaphragm. My sex drive went through the roof. My breasts got bigger (if someone had told my my boobs would get bigger I would have gone off the pill years ago). My body feels amazing. I'm in touch with my womanhood in a way I didn't think was possible. I love my hormones and I love losing control of my body. It just feels right.

Looking back, I would have opted for a non-hormonal IUD at the beginning of my sex life. I just wasn't ready for the diaphragm. I was having too much sex and I wasn't comfortable enough with my body to be that hands-on. I would never have gone on the pill. It numbed me out and negatively influenced my relationship choices. I should have saved up $200-300 and made my way to a clinic to be fitted for an IUD that would have lasted 5 years.

Then in my late thirties (me now) I would have opted for a diaphragm. I don't have to worry about being an opportunistic ovulator, I'm much more selective in my sex partners, and it's nice to know that I can choose motherhood without having anything removed from my uterus.  Overall, using a barrier method of birth control (condoms, diaphragm, cervical cap) is empowering. 

It was a long road but sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes.  I'm hoping that this post will save you some of the soul searching and anguish I endured as a young woman. The only regret I have is that I didn't have a site like D&R when I really needed it. Sex is beautiful - we all deserve pleasure - it doesn't have to be so hard.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Thanks a lot for sharing your

Thu, 07/26/2012 - 14:54

Thanks a lot for sharing your story.

But actually, I cannot quite agree with the part concerning "natural" birth control. There is a research group in my country that developed a strategy to determine the days when you're definitely not fertile. The Pearl Index is 0.4 (pill: between 0.1 and 0.9). Just as safe. If you use barrier methods when you're fertile instead of simply not having intercourse, those have to be safem of course (well fitting condoms! and a guy that keeps them on).

I started using this method more than 2 years ago - not a single pregnancy, none. You should probably count every day as a fertile day, from the beginning of your period until after ovulation (2 days after the last possible ovulation day, that is safe) plus the cervixcal mucus' best quality must have been at least 3 days ago.

If you're interested: Already the English translation. I totally trust this method. Of course temperature solo, cervical mucus solo or calendar method and such are not safe at all. Do never ever use those.


Thu, 07/26/2012 - 16:35
Jake E

Carlin your not anonymous or even pseudonymous and yet you share all this publicly, Big kudos to you!!! 

I know a 5 year old who is around because her dad pulled out. It doesn't work. When the male pill comes out it'll be interesting to see how it changes the dynamic around this subject. I might try it but I'm doubtful if I would use it all the time for the same kinds of reasons as you, because as much as possible I like my bodies natural systems to work without interfering. 

Nice pic BTW :)

The pill for men was already

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 05:13

The pill for men was already developed but even the placebo group experienced side effects that you know from women who are on the pill (from what I've heard...). I don't think they will ever sell the man pill. There's just no money in that.

Non-hormonal IUD was free for me

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 14:18
Anonymous1 (not verified)

I was on the pill for a few years before I decided to get away from the hormones and get a non-hormonal IUD. It's been the best option for me. Without the hormones telling my body when to do what, I've found my natural cycle again...Now I'm always at the heaviest day of my period during the full moon (talk about high tide).  It's great to be able to look into the sky at night and know where I am in my cycle.
I don't know if this is true everywhere, but I had my IUD put in free of charge at Planned Parenthood. 

I've never been on the pill,

Sun, 07/29/2012 - 13:40
Anonie (not verified)

I've never been on the pill, or any other hormonal treatment. I started using a Diva cup when I was 22 (I was also a late bloomer, so no period til 16, and no regular monthly periods until 21), and I've LOVED seeing my body and period change, throughout the month, and throughout a period. The mucus, the blood, the skin, everything. I've noticed changes over the years too--fascinating! I hear stories about women on the pill/hormonal methods and cringe for them-- it seems so boring, so removed, so . . . dead.

I suffered from religious abuse and was a virigin til 26 by "choice" (It's not really a free choice when your social/family circle will disown you if they heard anything sexual from your mouth, and, obviously HELL AWAITS). But I also knew I never wanted to have biological children, so sterilization was my choice after that.

If I could go back, I still wouldn't touch hormonal methods, but you can bet your beautiful ass I'd get a copper IUD or a diaphragm and fuck the daylights out of everyone.  Oh, and be a ragingly happy atheist at a much younger age. :)

How to figure out when you're ovulating and use that information

Fri, 08/03/2012 - 08:38
CC (not verified)

"All young women should know that in your teens and twenties you're
opportunistic ovulators. When you have sex, you'll ovulate - it doesn't
matter where you are in your cycle. There are no "safe" days to have
sex. You can never use the rhythm method, let him come inside you, or
pull out. All forms of natural birth control are off the table. It's
nature's way of insuring the perpetuation of the species. If you cut
corners, you will get pregnant."

Can you provide a source for this claim? I think it is highly problematic to portray ovulation as this unpredictable, mysterious process, when it is in fact fairly easy to observe when it happens by paying attention to your own body.
As Stefanie indicated, there is a whole body of scientific research showing the efficacy of fertility awareness based methods of contraception. Thousands of women's cycle data have been stored in databases. These methods are not to be confused with the "rhythm method", which operates under the false assumption that every woman will ovulate around day 14 of her 28-day cycle every month. Most don't actually have a 28-day cycle to begin with! Once your progesterone level increases during luteal phase after ovulation, there is no way for additional eggs to be released during that cycle.

Fertility-based methods can be used in conjunction with barrier methods for situations where even, say, the 2% chance of a condom failing is too much. For instance by reserving intercourse with a condom for days when you are not fertile anyhow and choosing other ways of having fun on fertile/possibly fertile days. Copper IUDs sound nice in principle but aren't suitable for people like me who already have to keep their abnormally heavy bleeding under control with meds.
I would encourage you to do some reading on the different methods that can be combined to pinpoint when ovulation occurs. It can be rather useful to simply observe your fertility signs even if you are using a different non-hormonal method just to see what's going on with your body.

Imagine you've had intercourse with a condom and your period hasn't shown up after day 29 (or however long your cycle normally is). If you were observing your fertility signs that month and noticed you ovulated a few days later than usual, you will know that your period isn't actually "late" yet. The length of your luteal phase, i.e. the phase after you've ovulated, is fairly constant, whereas the follicular phase can vary somewhat. On the other hand, if you know you haven't ovulated yet and the condom slips, you know you shouldn't put off seeking out emergency contraception (which, by the way, can mean the insertion of a copper IUD).

Some links:

I have certainly never ovulated after having sex during luteal phase!