The term 'birth control' creates an inherent misconception. My husband and I recently learned this sitting in our doctor's office, listening to her say, "If you have a uterus and live sperm you can always get pregnant, even with birth control, even if your tubes are tied, even right after a vasectomy". This news happened to follow the scariest night of my life wherein I took my very first pregnancy test.
A year before, I'd gone through the painful ordeal of having an IUD contraceptive device implanted in my uterus. This same doctor assured me then that this device was 99.8% effective at controlling birth, that is, keeping birth from happening. That's like ALL the percents! Yet, there I was, taking a pregnancy test while holding a glass of wine thinking, "I'm sure I've been throwing up because of some weird food allergy". My pee hit the stick and instantly a blue positive sign lit up on the display. I carefully set it aside thinking, "maybe they all say that at first but then you wait the two minutes and it goes to negative". Nope. Two minutes passed, still positive. Two more tests taken, still positive. Several google searches also assured me that false positives are not a thing no matter what kind of test you buy. So, I am definitely super pregnant.
Sitting in the doctor's office listening to her, "if you have sex you CAN get pregnant" speech, I felt my world view shift irrevocably. I must admit I genuinely thought the chances of me giving birth were under my control. To me, 99.8% was as good as 100% because who ever guesses they'll be the exception to the rule? Somehow, deep down, I thought the "If you don't want to have a baby don't have sex" lines were said mostly to scare teens out of fornicating. I thought it wouldn't apply to someone like me. I'd waited! I had a plan! I'd only been married a year, and in that year I lost my virginity on a resort in Mexico and had fun, care free sex with my husband all the while thinking, "what wonderful modern science! This birth control has given me a glorious life where I get to choose everything and never learn how to use a condom!".
The truth, dear readers, is that birth control can lower your chances of getting pregnant. It really is a marvel of modern medicine. I believe it has changed our society for the better and given great power to women seeking equality. But, you are not in control. Heterosexual sex was designed to create babies and if a live sperm, a live egg and a working uterus are given even the tiniest chance, a baby will grow. Science is certain on this: if you have sex, a baby will always be a possible outcome.
I'm sorry if I'm bursting all your sexy bubbles. I don't mean to. This experience has already taught me so much. The chief of which is that sex is HUGE. It changes us. It motivates us. It devastates us. Birth control has done a lot of good in the world but it has yet to make sex into a purely recreational activity. Until human's design a 100% effective form of birth control, we will always have to consider several things when having sex (even with our spouses): am I ready to have a baby? if not, do I believe its ok to have an abortion? If I have a baby, is this a person I want to be in some sort of emotional and financial relationship with for the next 18+ years? Those are heavy questions and, if you happen to be having recreational sex, even with your spouse/ true love/ long time partner, and you're not considering them, I'm here to say you might get the wind knocked out of you when reality hits.
This might all sound very obvious to you modern folks having safe sex in full knowledge of the potential consequences but, in case you are a sex ed failure (like me) let's talk about contraception.
Regardless of how you feel about Planned Parenthood their website is an incredible resource. They have an entire page devoted to explaining every type of birth control there is. Did you know there's such a thing as a female condom? They have a little video explaining what it is and how it's used. Were you totally lost when I said IUD at the beginning of this article? They have a little video explaining that too! All the videos and articles are FAR less vulgar than anything I've ever written and are very safe for anyone ready to talk about sex and ways to protect oneself from STDs and lower the chance of pregnancy. I could sit here and recap everything on that page but it would be really redundant. So, go now. Wander through the wilderness of contraceptives available to you, then come back and read the rest of this blog post.
There is a new kind of birth control that isn't quite ready for the market yet but is going into human clinical trials this year. It's a form of male birth control that mirrors a vasectomy but is not permanent and involves less discomfort. You can check it out here. This could potentially be a game changer giving men equal resonsibility in contraception by sharing the physical and financial burden. It will be interesting to see when and if it becomes available.
I'm so thankful for birth control. It does keep millions of people safe from STDs. It has given women more power to manage their ability to get pregnant and get hired for/ keep jobs that they otherwise may have lost. Rape victims who have contraceptive implants are now less likely to get pregnant. I was naive to think they gave me (or anyone) control. Thankfully, God is still in control and His plans are bigger and better than mine. Birth control is a tool we use to improve health, quality of life and society at large, but none of it is a guarantee. Sex, in at least one fundamental way, hasn't changed since the first humans: it can create new humans. When you think about it, that's incredible. The science of sex is truly divine in its infallibility. I can't wait to study it further with all of you.