Guestpost

Knit Your Own Reusable Menstrual Pads : A Pattern

It’s been many years since I last picked up knitting needles, but after Aviya’s birth I used reusable pads for the first time ever, and I am sold on them. I’m in no hurry for that part of my life to return, but when the day does come, I will be a full on reusable pad girl. It’s so much nicer than disposables!

My fellow  NPN volunteer Destany, who blogs at  They Are All Of Me recently offered to share her instructions for DIY knitted pads, and I jumped at the opportunity. Maybe someone will enjoy making them so much, they’ll gift me a few. A girl can dream, right?

I once asked my mother growing up, “What did women use for their periods before we had disposable pads and tampons?” She said that they used old rags or anything they could find around the house that could be thrown away. I immediately looked at the dirty grey dust cloth I had just used and held it up to ask her if that’s what she meant.

liners one photo liners1_zpsf4fdb3c7.jpg

She nodded. “Yup!”

Compared to the starkly white bleached cotton pads sitting upstairs behind the toilet, the idea of using old rags seemed a horror – poor Grandma!

Oh mother… If only we’d had internet! I always found her answer woefully inadequate. However, it wasn’t her fault. Women of the pre-Kotex era simply did not speak of menstruation or share their habits.

Fortunately these days we have the Museum of Menstruation to gain a little insight. Information is still sketchy, but it would appear that some women indeed used cloth “rags” and I can see that they may have used old fabric for this, but it wouldn’t have been a dirty dust rag. It would have been clean, you know. And there’s no telling what women of upper class may have used, but I can imagine it would have been better than what the lower class had to get by with.

The reason I asked my mother, apart from curiosity, is that there simply had to be a better way. Those disposable pads were (and still are) very uncomfortable to me. They give me rashes, dry me out, they bulk up in places, and when you have one flip over while pulling up your breeches and the sticky side gets stuck to you instead of your panties? Nightmare. Total nightmare!

And then there’s the disposal. Wadded up period packages filling up the wastebasket, the time spent on carefully unwrapping, changing, rolling up the old pad and winding the wax paper strip around the outside of it so that it could be put inside the plastic wrapper without sticking to the sides of it. It’s a huge hassle.

Fortunately, women these days have many options. I don’t have to choose between a wad of chemical laced paper or a dingy old rag!1 Many companies make reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups are becoming increasingly popular. As a seamstress, I have been making my own cloth pads. However, one day when I was knitting up a new kitchen towel that felt super soft and thick, I was struck with inspiration to knit some new cloth pads!

Before you get wigged out at how complicated or off putting it would be to reuse cloth sanitary napkins, let me break this down for you.

This is me on disposable pads:

Get my period. Look in the cupboard. Count how many pads I have before I need to hightail it to the store to buy more (or argue with the husband about going up and getting me some if I’m laid up with cramps). Spend the week changing out pad after pad, leaving the used ones in the can beside the toilet.2 Run out and buy more pads when I’m wearing my last one. At the end of the week, take out the bathroom trash. *When using disposable pads, my periods lasted anywhere from 4 to 6 days.

This is me on reusable pads and a menstrual cup:

Get my period. Insert my cup and grab a clean cloth pad from my dresser drawer. Count the pads. I have six, just like always. Twice a day I change the pad and put the old one in a ceramic lidded pot that I keep beneath the bathroom sink. At the end of my period, dump the ceramic pot into the washing machine with a load of towels. Launder. Place fresh clean pads back into my dresser drawer for next month and clean/sanitize the cup. *Using a menstrual cup and reusable pads, my period lasts 2 to 3 days.3

I find reusable products are much easier, more convenient, and frankly, a lot more sanitary not having a pile of gross pads filling up the trash. Mold on unused tampons is far more common than you’d guess. And you won’t know if the tampon you’re using has any mold on it because you’re not allowed to see it before inserting it.

liners two photo liners2_zps1efe90cc.jpgNow onto the pattern!

This pattern is highly versatile. Use it to make plain panty liners for very light days or back up to a cup; use it to make slightly more absorbent pads with wings; add a sturdy backing to it to handle your heavy days.

If you have very heavy periods, you can even knit an extra top piece to place on top of your finished pad, for extra absorbency.

Knitted Basic Panty Liner:

Use WW cotton yarn, size 2 needles.

CO 8 stitches
k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p
p, m1, k, p, k, p, k, p, m1, k
k, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, p
p, m1, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, m1, k
k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p
p, m1, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, m1, k
k, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, p
p, m1, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, m1, k
*k, p, *all the way across
*p, k, *all the way across

Repeat the last two rows until you have the length of liner you wish. 60 rows or six inches for medium, 80 rows or eight inches for large.
**Your last row before beginning to decrease should end with a knit stitch.

K2tog, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p2tog
*p, k, *all the way across
p2tog, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k2tog
*k, p, *all the way across
k2tog, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p2tog
*p, k, *all the way across
p2tog, k, p, k, p, k, p, k2tog
*k, p, *all the way across
Bind off and weave in ends.

You can use the basic liners for light spotting, or as a double up for heavy days.

I decided to give them wings and it was really easy.

liners three photo liners3_zps0550746d.jpg

Find the horizontal stitches on the very edge of the liner. These are the purls. Noting the center, slide your needle beneath ten of these stitches on either side of the center, so that you have 20 stitches on your needle. Beginning from the right side, knit across to form a base of your wing. Knit as follows:
*k, *all the way across
k, k, p16, k, k
k2tog, k16, k2tog
k, k, p14, k, k,
k2tog, k14, k2tog
k, k, p12, k, k
k2tog, k12, k2tog
k, k, p10, k, k
k2tog, k10, k2tog
k, k, p8, k, k
k2tog, k8, k2tog
k, k, p6, k, k
k2tog, k6, k2tog
k, k, p4, k, k
k2tog, k4, k2tog
k, k, p2, k, k
k2tog, k2, k2tog
k, k, k, k
k2tog, k2tog
p2tog
bind off

Do this on the other side as well. Weave in all of your ends, and apply the snaps according to the package directions. liners five photo liners5_zps2cd14d37.jpg

I know many women prefer a more protective backing on their liners, and that is easy enough to add to these. I chose denim, but other sturdy fabrics such as corduroy will also work. You may choose to use PUL, or polyurethane lined (waterproof) fabric.
Place your liner facing down onto a piece of paper and trace around it. Use this template as guide, and cut your backing fabric about a quarter of an inche larger all the way around. Snip the rounded edges of your backing fabric to minimize puckering or bunching.

liners six photo liners6_zps9a5bbad2.jpg Line up your backing and your top pieces, and place a strip of terrycloth between the two layers.

Pin it and stitch it down, an eighth of an inch from the edge.

liners seven photo liners7_zps68a58fdb.jpg
Use a nice thickly woven terrycloth for your liners.
liners eight photo liners8_zps9d450089.jpg
When pinning, try to eliminate any bulky areas.
liners nine photo liners9_zps994b72f7.jpg 
I handstitched my backing on, if you machine stitch, you a long stitch setting.

That is it, your liners are complete! Here are some links that explain proper care of cloth menstrual products:

Menstruation Dot ComLuna PadsMama Cloth Green Feminine Care

 

__________________________________________

1. Despite the fact that women are known to absorb chemicals into their bodies by means of vaginal exposure (through tampons and even sanitary napkins), menstrual product companies are not expected to disclose the ingredients they use on their packaging. Tampons and napkins are known to contain many harmful substances including dioxins (according to the FDA).

Exposure to dioxins, which are highly-toxic chemicals, can lead to skin problems, liver dysfunction, immune system issues, endocrine system problems, and issues with reproduction and fertility.http://teenhealth.about.com/od/physicalhealth/a/toxictampons.htm

2. Personally, I find the use of over the counter sanitary pads incredibly messy I require a bit of extra upkeep throughout my menstrual week, including diligent cleaning. This is not true with a menstrual cup. The menses is contained within the vagina until I choose to conveniently dispose of it and normal bathing is more than sufficient. I get to feel clean and fresh as always, and have numerous times even forgotten that I’m having a period.
Becoming Cruncy
3. No one knows for certain why foregoing disposable mass produced period protection leads to shorter, lighter periods but the stories are far too common to dismiss. Personally, I didn’t believe it and was completely shocked when my periods began lasting only half as long as they did before within only 3 months. This phenomenon has led some to conclude that the chemicals in these products are causing the prolonged/heavier bleeding and some have even accused the companies of adding asbestos to them in order to prompt the excess bleeding. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty amazed and grateful!
Natural Parents Network – Reusasable Menstural Products

My Baby's Voice

I’m guest posting over on Zulily UK today.

We all know that babies cry, and that they cry to tell us that they’re sad, hungry, thirsty, tired, overstimulated, cold, hot, and just about everything else. It’s one of the first things you learn as a new mum – distinguishing those cries and knowing which one means what. It’s also one of the first victories of motherhood: hearing a cry, responding to it appropriately and seeing your baby settle, smile or relax. It’s wonderful.

read more…

*For the record, I love Zulily, and I’ve loved every thing we’ve received from Zulily through purchases, credits or for review. Yes, I have a business arrangement with Zulily, but rest assured, I wouldn’t if I didn’t love them! If you join Zulily from my link, I’ll receive £10 if you make your first purchase.

My Body, My Choice With A Backup – A Look At IUD’s

After I had my first son, I knew that I would want to get pregnant in the future but not right this minute and I wanted some assurance that it would not happen. I had been on hormonal birth control prior to having children and I was not happy with what it had done to my body over the 10 plus years I used it and I also did not like the possibility that it might mess with my precious milk supply.

I was much too lazy and forgetful for the charting and NFP that we had learned about through our Pre-Canaan classes before I was a mom. As a new mom I barely remembered to take my prenatal vitamins and I was exclusively breastfeeding, which in itself is a form of birth control called ecological breastfeeding or LAM but I wanted to be sure.


Just look at all the little doo-dads we have used over the years for IUDs

I couldn’t rely on knowing when my cycle would return in order and I wasn’t ready to trust my body to know when a cycle was coming. I don’t like and have never liked condoms and besides I am allergic and need to use only one specific brand. Who has time as a new parent to remember to put one on when you find that one moment of together time? That wasn’t going to work. So what is a newly natural minded mama to do?

I decided on an IUD or intrauterine device. I opted for the non-hormonal copper unit because I hated the hormone birth control and there was still the risk of interfering with milk supply. I was still taking a chance that I might have a reaction to copper since my skin reacts to cheap jewelry and I never really had copper around me before – luckily I didn’t.

I barely felt the insertion and I was only aware of the device being inside me for a few hours after. We weren’t completely positive when we would like to have another child (I was thinking in another year, he was thinking talk to me after we’ve been parents for a bit) so I liked that it could be left in for up to 10 years or it could be removed before that.

It contained no hormones so it was not interfering with my body in that way. It would however physically block sperm from meeting the egg or the egg from implanting.

Paragard packaged prior to use

I chose to use the IUD for around a year. By then I had seen some side affects from it and I really never saw the return of my period because I was using the IUD and breastfeeding. Maybe there is something to LAM after all? But we decided to add another member to our family.

I was expecting to feel some discomfort from the removal but I did not feel anything. That could be attributed to having a vaginal birth prior because some women do complain of discomfort during insertion and removal.

Overall though I was happy. I was not constantly worried that I was going to get pregnant before I wanted to but I also did not feel the way I did on hormonal birth control with the ups and downs of mood swings. After the birth of my second child this will definitely be a consideration for me again because just like every pregnancy is different, every post-natal menstrual cycle is different and I’m not taking bets that breastfeeding will work the same way again.

_________________________

Information About The Author:

AUTHOR BIO: Shannon R writes at The Artful Mama and is Co-editor of Natural Parents Network’s Reviews and Giveaways. She writes about her choices in natural parenting as a working parent to a toddler and soon to be new baby.

 

A Recommendation For The Humble Condom

Continuing on the Contraceptive Options series, today we have Lauren sharing with us why her and hubby, Sam, love using condoms. Lauren writes at Hobo Mama and is co-founder of the Natural Parents Network, and it’s a huge honour for me to be hosting her interesting (and amusing) post.  I hope you enjoy it too!

I would like to present to you … the condom.

Not any particular condoms, either, just male condoms in general.

I’d like to recommend them to you for their consideration as a birth-control method for male-female sexual couples interested in preventing pregnancy, due to their many benefits:

  • Condom Embroidery Hoop ArtEconomical — in my own comparisons with other birth-control methods, condoms are a frugal choice.
  • Compatible — since they’re non-hormonal, you can use them while breastfeeding or in preparation for trying to conceive, and they won’t interfere with tracking your cycle.
  • Convenient — less mess. Don’t make me over-explain that.
  • Easy — less chance of user error than remembering to take a pill every day at the same time or schedule an appointment for a shot or other procedure. I mean, yes, some prep is needed, but that’s what practice is for.
  • Effective — somewhere around 90-98%. More on that later, but suffice it to say — no “oops” babies here so far!
  • Reversible — want another baby? You got it.

Now, obviously male condoms are also a great choice for preventing (potential or known) sexually transmitted diseases, so if you know you need to use condoms with your partner, then keep on keeping on. I also cannot guide you if you need to use a particular method of birth control for medical reasons. This article’s more for people in a committed male-female relationship who want to prevent pregnancy, are monogamous, and could or do use a different method of birth control but could consider condoms instead.

OK, so, my back story. This is firmly in the TMI category, but you knew that going in, yes? And using “going in” right there just made me giggle. Ah, writing about sex…

I started out my marriage on the birth control pill. I have severe acne, and one thing dermatologists loved to prescribe me was antibiotics. The antibiotics gave me a recurring yeast infection. And I do mean recurring. It turned out part of the reason was that my husband Sam and I were passing it back and forth to each other. Whoops! So my gynecologist told me we should start using condoms to protect each other.

Now, I have to explain that Sam and I come from a rather conservative religious background, and condoms were just not the done thing. Condoms were for … well, loose people. It took having them “prescribed” to me by a doctor for us to feel comfortable buying and using them. That seems quaintly squeamish in retrospect, but so it was. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to even mention this, but maybe it will help someone else also feel comfortable considering them.

It took awhile for Sam to get used to the difference in sensitivity, but once he did there were no problems. In fact, if you want sex to last longer (hint, hint), a condom can slow things down a little if the man’s not used to them. But, seriously, Sam doesn’t really even notice the difference now, and I never felt a difference (yes, even with those “ribbed for her pleasure” varieties), so if you or your man has tried condoms and found them awkward, give it at least several occasions before you rule them out. Think of it as an experiment. For science. Really test it out.

So, anyway, we used condoms off and on when I was having my little flare-ups due to my medication. The turning point, though, was when Sam got laid-off, we had to buy our own health insurance, and I started to reevaluate the cost of all of our medical care. Which brings me to Point #1:

ECONOMICAL

Ed Note: In the UK, health care is free to residents, so doctor’s visits fees for contraceptives don’t apply, nor do the cost of the contraceptives. Condoms can be bought over the counter, and are quite expensive, but if you’re really hard up – no pun intended – you can get them free from your local clinic. I know ours will give you up to 30 free condoms every 90 days. (I just saw the sign on the door. Really.)

I compared birth control pills to condoms and realized even my generic pill on tri-monthly mail order was costing me about $0.50 a pop, plus doctor’s visits every six months for a refill at around $90 a visit. Assuming I would still go to the doctor yearly (or, ahem, every other year … or so) for a checkup if I weren’t on the pill, let’s add only $90 a year to the cost of pills, which makes the per-item cost more like $0.75. You can easily find condoms at drugstores and supermarkets in bigger packs that run about $0.50 a condom. If you don’t mind a little further searching, we were able to find condoms at Big Lots (unexpired, major brands) and on Amazon for more like $0.22 a condom or as low as $0.11 apiece. So, assuming we weren’t having sex multiple times every day (and, true confessions here, we weren’t), condoms were a lot more economical a decision. And just think, if you know the exact cost, you can decide how much sex is worth to you at any given opportunity. “Not tonight, honey. I’d rather save the 11 cents.” (In case you’re wondering, I also switched from dermatologically prescribed acne methods to over-the-counter ones that were cheaper and more effective. Funny how that works.)

If you’re using a different medical type of pregnancy prevention, your costs will vary, depending on how your insurance treats the visit, what the cost is for the procedure, and how often you need to see a health professional. Apparently, for instance, an IUD runs about 5-0 every five or ten years (depending on the type). Let’s say Sam and I have sex three times a week (yes, let’s say that, since it ain’t happening with a young baby right now) — over the course of five years, with the cheapest condoms, that would be $85.80. Ten years would still be cheaper than an IUD, at $171.60 See? Cheap. Now, if you can get reimbursed or deduct the cost of healthcare, that might mitigate the financial factor, since condoms are not considered a medical purchase. You’ll have to weigh out all the options for yourself and your family’s budget.

COMPATIBLE

When I was trying to decide on a breastfeeding-friendly birth control, going back to condom use was a no-brainer. Since they’re an entirely non-hormonal barrier method, there’s no interference with milk supply and no transference to the baby. If you need a hormonal method, your doctor or midwife can point you toward hormonal methods that work better with breastfeeding, but I personally didn’t want to risk it. There are also other barrier methods, but the benefits of condom usage for me outweigh the other methods.

I also appreciated condoms when we were preparing for conception, which was incidentally around the same time as I stopped using my birth control pills for other reasons. As I weaned off the pills, I was able to see my true cycle emerging and I began to take my morning basal body temperature and chart my fertility symptoms. It was fascinating to me to see what my true fertility cycle was like. That honestly is the biggest factor in my not returning to a hormonal method of birth control. I hate the idea of masking my cycles again. I don’t know if this is simply an emotional reason, because I was happy enough on hormonal birth control before, but since becoming a mother, it’s been brought home to me how delightful and intriguing is the cycle of ovulation and bleeding, and I enjoy seeing it unfold as it’s meant to. I mean, I don’t enjoy every moment, but I don’t feel like interfering with it anymore. This is a personal thing, I do understand!

If you’re on other medications, you might find a barrier method a better fit for you as well. For instance, that combo of antibiotics and birth control pills? Not really a good one, after all. If you’re on any other treatments along with hormonal birth control, be sure to ask about any incompatibilities.

CONVENIENT

I seriously love how condoms make cleanup easy. And, here, just to extend the please-stop-talking-now factor, they can be beneficial when having sex during a period. Just saying.

EASY

Condoms come with instructions printed on the box. Follow the instructions. You’ll be fine. They’re cheap, so you can afford to throw one or two away as you learn.

Follow the warnings, too. Don’t put them on inside out. (Learning the difference between inside out and right side out was our steepest learning curve.) Don’t reuse them. Be cautious when taking them off — let the man grasp the edge before withdrawing and hold it on. And that’s about it.

Somewhat related, I’ve heard the Diva Cup and other menstrual cups can be incompatible with some women’s IUDs, which would be my next choice in birth control if I didn’t heart condoms so much. To me, that’s reason enough to stick with condoms, because making my period easy is worth it to me.

EFFECTIVE

When Sam and I were first comparing birth control effectiveness, condoms were way down our list because of some reported effectiveness rates of 85 percent or so. That’s a huuuuge window of potential failure. Well, it turns out there are two types of birth control statistics: There’s what would happen in a lab, and what happens in the real world. The reason real-world condom effectiveness stats are sometimes laughably low is because people get to self-report their method of birth control. So, a person gets pregnant and is asked, “What’s your method of birth control?” She says, “Condom,” and that gets reported as a condom failure, even if she didn’t use a condom for the act where she got pregnant. So a more reliable effectiveness rating for unexpired condoms that are properly used and used every time would be around 98%. A lot depends on user error, in other words, rather than true condom failure. We’ve never had a condom break; only a few times have we had a slippage moment when withdrawing, and for only one of those times was pregnancy a concern. (This was very recently, just after the birth of our second son, and seemed to be the universe laughing at us for having finally stolen a moment to get it on.) I know you can’t go with what one person’s experience is with condoms as to their effectiveness, but all I can say is we got pregnant right away not using them.

12 Durex Maximum Love Condoms NEW! Larger and Thinner Condom for more Sensitivity and Sensation

You can add spermicide or use spermicidal condoms to boost the effectiveness factor, though for us that wasn’t an option, as Sam was allergic to the spermicide most commonly available in the US. (Speaking of allergies, if latex is a problem, there are non-latex condoms available.) We had a really tough time finding an alternate spermicide and gave up — with no unforeseen consequences to show for it. Then again, we are in a committed relationship and know we could handle having a baby at an unexpected moment, so remember to follow all condom precautions and consider spermicide if you’re very worried.

REVERSIBLE

Another huge plus to me about condoms is they’re immediately reversible. Some hormonal methods, particularly injections like Depo Provera, can take a loooong time to clear your system and return your fertility. (I once used injections and had major hormonal withdrawal coming off them, with bizarre bleeding patterns.) Whereas, with condoms, if you want to try for another baby, you can do so on the turn of a dime. Which is, incidentally, exactly what we did rather spontaneously for our second baby — once again, we got pregnant our first try.

So there it is. I wanted to speak up for a method Sam and I have found enjoyable and beneficial to us, in case anyone else is in the same “condoms are icky” category we were in when we first married! Or, even if you’re more mature than that, if you’ve just never seriously considered condoms as a feasibility, give them another thought. They’re plenty easy, way cheap, and have low interference with your body other than just catching those determined little swimmers.

Have you used condoms? What do you like and not like about them?


Hobo FamilyLauren blogs at Hobo Mama about natural and attachment parenting and is the co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She lives and writes in Seattle with her husband, Sam, four-year-old son, Mikko, and nine-month-old baby, Alrik.

Birth Control Options Overview

As you know, we’ve just had our second baby, and while pregnancy and childbirth have been possibly the two most incredible experiences in a pretty full and eventful life, Hyperemesis Gravidarum has dictated that I won’t be having any more babies. It’s just too strenuous on my body and my family.  Which means for the first time in four years I’m having to think of birth control again.

I was on the contraceptive pill until 2003 and had problems with complete lack of appetite for a number of years. I moved to the UK and went on a local tri-phasal contraceptive pill and gained three dress sizes in three months. As a result I have definite fears of going back onto a hormonal pill.

I’ve asked a few of my friends to share their experiences with birth control with us over the next few weeks, and today Jorje from Mama Jorje starts us off with an overview of the different types of birth control she’s used or researched.

Thanks Jorje!

——————–

I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my own research and experience.

Condoms

A large pile of condoms

Condoms are probably the most common form of barrier birth control. They’re available in different materials, sizes, and textures! I have never met a man that would prefer this form of birth control if they had any option at all. I only dated one man that didn’t seem to mind using condoms and I married him.

Conceptrol is a vaginal contraceptive gel. It is a spermicide you insert before sex. For even greater pregnancy prevention, you can use this gel in conjunction with condoms. I’m certain most men would prefer this gel to condoms (no numbness), but some men are allergic to Nonoxynol-9 (the spermicide).

I’m going to tell you from personal experience, you have to insert the gel before sex. Inserting it after sex is lazy and not nearly as effective. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here!

Hormonal Pills

This is, for me, what comes to mind when you hear “birth control.” I think of it as the most common form of birth control, although it doesn’t protect against any STDs. I was on hormonal birth control for a few years. There are an awful lot of side effects that can happen. You might gain weight, have headaches, acne, and mood swings. There are several versions on the market. The difference is in the specific hormones used and the amounts / balance of those hormones. There are pills on the market now that can limit your menses (period) to 4 times per year or less!

My general opinion after being on birth control pills, especially as a bit of a hippie, is that it is not nice to mess with Mother Nature. I understand some medical problems may need to be treated with hormones, but otherwise… I don’t think we should mess with hormones.

Pulling Out

This would technically be called coitus interruptus. There is some debate over whether pre-ejaculate contains sperm and can result in pregnancy, but no studies have shown this to be the case. There have not been many studies, though. The usual problem is not pulling out in time.

Depo-Provera® (The Injection)

In my early 20s, Depo-Provera was new on the market. My best friend and I decided to give it a “shot,” so to speak. This product is from Pfizer and is an injection. One shot provides hormonal birth control for 3 months. We both experienced the same results: absolute disinterest in sex. Neither of us wanted our husbands to touch us at all. So… it worked great as a contraceptive! No sex = no baby. Shoot, by that logic, it even protects against STDs! I sincerely doubt Depo-Provera gave all women the same issue. Since it is hormonal, I suspect you might experience the same side effects listed under hormonal pills above.

I never went back for any further shots, but my friend did. She thought maybe it was just an initial problem, but she continued to experience disinterest in sex for an additional three months after her second shot.

Years later I participated in a medical study for women with sexual dysfunction. There was some suspicion that some of my problem (not achieving orgasm) may have been a result of having used this product.

Essure®

After having Sasha 2 years ago, we decided we were done having children. I researched Essure as a fairly new permanent birth control on the market. Here is the (very) basic rundown: The doctor goes in through your cervix and places 2 small pieces of metal that look very much like the springs out of ink pens into the openings of your fallopian tubes. Over a month or so, your fallopian tube grows to the metal, closing off the tubes with scar tissue. Then the doctor goes back in, using fluid and x-ray, to make sure your tubes are successfully completely closed.

This procedure is considered even less invasive than vasectomy. It seems a little invasive to me, but considering that they don’t have to cut you at all, I can see how it would be considered non-invasive.

I went for the preliminary appointment and had one problem with the process. They wanted to give me several drugs before the procedure. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with the drugs they wanted to give me, but I was breastfeeding. The office assured me that the drugs were fine for nursing mothers, but I’m very selective and restrictive about drugs, especially when pregnant or nursing.

After deciding against Essure (until later, at least), I opted for an IUD.

Mirena®

Paragard® IUD

This is my ParaGard® IUD after removing it myself at home.

There are two IUDs on the market. The first and most commonly used IUD is the Mirena, which is hormonal. An IUD is a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix and provides time release hormones for 5 years. You can have it removed at any time and get pregnant just as quickly as you could if you were on any other hormonal birth control. Considering the hormone angle, I knew this was not the product for me.

During my research, I found a lot of women felt a lot of negative emotions while this IUD was in place. Some women were so desperate to be rid of it that they remove the IUD themselves at home.

ParaGard®

The second IUD available is also a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix. This one, however, is wrapped in copper and hormone-free. Because there are no hormones, you can start trying to conceive the same day it is removed. It can also last up to 10 years!

We later decided we wanted to try to conceive one more child, preferably a boy. After some online research (see Mirena above), we agreed I would attempt to remove this IUD myself at home. I’m sure any doctor would strongly advise against this! It took me about 5 seconds!

Lactation

The idea with this form of birth control is that it is nature’s way of spacing babies. While lactating, you are presumably not menstruating. This is not, however, fool proof. Your ovulation cycle can return before your first menses. It is absolutely possible to conceive while breastfeeding.

Natural Family Planning

I’ve practiced this one, but used it more in an effort to convince my ex-husband to try to conceive a son. The basis here is to monitor your cycle and your body to determine when, exactly, you ovulate. You can conceive several days before through several days after ovulation. I charted my menses and mucous on my cervix. You can find several programs, books and charts out there to help you track your data. Natural Family Planning is not just a form of preventing pregnancy, but also a system to use when trying to conceive. Controlling birth doesn’t necessarily mean preventing it, right?

Vasectomy

This is a commonly known permanent form of birth control. Generally, the man is given some Valium to calm his nerves prior to the procedure. He is then given a topical numbing shot in the testicles. The doctor then makes a very small incision (or two) through which he finds the vas deferens (the tube that transports sperm). He then snips and removes a small section of the tube.

I was amazed when my husband volunteered to have this procedure, since he had previously been against it. There are lots of horror stories out there, but the procedure is really not that bad! Men just have a tendency to “talk it up.” He had to refrain from sex for about 5 days while he healed. You will also be advised to use a secondary form of birth control for 2-3 months until all sperm are cleared from your system. At that time, you’ll take a semen sample to a lab to be tested for sperm content. If you still have a normal amount of sperm, you may have to repeat the procedure.

Vasectomies are considered permanent, but they are reversible.

Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation seems to be very common among women who are having a cesarean section. It is very convenient to have your “tubes tied” while the doctor already had you cut open. This form of permanent birth control is much more invasive than a vasectomy because they have to cut further into a woman. The doctor makes two incisions, then severs the fallopian tubes.

NuvaRing and Wedding Rings

NuvaRing® (+wedding bands)

Tubal ligation is considered permanent, but it is reversible.

There are a few more hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods available on the market. You can find out more through your personal doctor or Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of which form of birth control you choose, I sincerely recommend you research possible side effects. Even if you don’t think there are side effects with your chosen form, research it. There may be issues that hadn’t occurred to you.

 

 

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Check back again over the next few weeks as other contributors share their experiences with some of these methods of contraception.

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