For as long as I can remember, I’ve been saying that I didn’t want any kids. My mother would always say, “I used to say that, too. But I changed my mind.”
Well, I’m now older than my mom was when she had me. And I haven’t changed my mind. In fact, I’m doing just about everything I can do to prevent pregnancy. (Save for abstaining from sex, of course.)
I feel lucky to have been born into a world where my contraceptive choices are virtually endless. Gone are the days of the pullout method. We have so many options that it can get kind of boggling. In this day and age, it’s up to a woman to decide when (and if!) to have a baby.
Personally, I rely on the trusty contraceptive pill. I’ve been on oral birth control since I was 18. I feel like I’m reliable enough to remember to take a pill everyday. And I’ve only missed a few times in the past seven years. But do you know how the pill works?
The long and short of it is that birth control pills essentially suppress ovulation. See, an egg doesn’t get released if you don’t ovulate. And if there isn’t an egg, there isn’t anything for the sperm to fertilize. It seems pretty foolproof, actually. Oral contraceptives are available as either combined pills (which contain both estrogen and progestin) or progestin-only pills. Your gynecologist will know what’s right for you.
All you have to do is take the pill at the same time everyday. This revolutionized life for women back in the 1960s. It wouldn’t even be a stretch to say that it was almost single-handedly the cause for the sexual revolution. Either way, I’m so glad the pill is out there. It’s made my life (and my periods) so much easier.
If you can’t remember to take a pill everyday, there are other hormonal options out there. There’s the ring, the patch, the Depo-Provera shot, and IUDs.
But I didn’t stop with hormonal contraception. (And you shouldn’t, either.)
Condoms and other barriers
Condoms, condoms, condoms. I don’t care how embarrassing they are to buy – you have to do it. This is especially important if you aren’t in a serious monogamous relationship. Barrier methods like this don’t just help prevent pregnancy. They also help in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Livestrong.com really sums up the barrier methods of birth control quite nicely.
There are condoms (both male and female), diaphragms, the sponge, and a cervical cap. Some of these options can be used alone, but others should be combined with spermicide. I’d suggest trying out some different options to see what works the best for you.
With all of these options out there, there’s no real reason to be in a compromising position. Just suck it up and buy the darn things. This is especially important if you’re looking at preventing an unwanted pregnancy.
Uh oh… Emergency
I haven’t had to use this (because I’m crazy about contraception), but there’s the infamous morning-after pill, too. You can take this up to five days after unprotected sex, and substantially reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraception prevents an egg from implanting in the uterus. This obviously isn’t as effective as the kind of contraception you use before and during sex, but it’s nice to know that it’s around. Everyone has stupid moments in his or her life, and we shouldn’t need to pay for it with an unwanted pregnancy if we don’t have to.
The morning-after pill is basically a higher dose of regular oral contraception. So if you’re really (really, really, really) in a pinch, you might actually be able to use your regular birth control pills as emergency contraception. How? There’s a nice little chart on the Emergency Contraception website. It’s important to follow the instructions so you can try to avoid any weird side effects.
Let’s make it permanent!
Hey, if you’re totally sure that your reproductive days are over (or aren’t ever going to start), there are ways to make that happen. There are surgical sterilization procedures for both men and women. These can be expensive procedures, and many doctors won’t necessarily perform them on younger people. This is because it’s kind of tough to go back. You can’t really change your mind. I’m fairly certain that I don’t want any kids, but I don’t have much of a reason to get my tubes tied just yet. I’ll just take my pill everyday and deal with the pseudo-menstruation when it happens. No big deal.
I’m not the mothering type
I know I’m not alone out there with my non-desire to have children. I think it’s a choice that everyone should be able to make. Right now (and for the foreseeable future), I just don’t have a maternal bone in my body.
Some of my friends have babies, and they’ll offer to let me hold them. I usually politely decline.