Our day-to-day lives are a mixture of appointments and obligations pulling us in several different directions. Birth control is one more thing to consider, remember, and consistently use. Now that there are a wide array of birth control options available, do women consider birth control to be one more inconvenience in an already busy life? Are they really satisfied with their choices? Would they now —or in the future — consider something more permanent?
I sat down with six women, aged 22-50, and asked them to think about their present and future goals, and how contraceptives are figured into the mix. Here’s what they had to say.
Considering the Options Available for Contraception, Do You Have a Preferred Method and Why?
Davis is a 39-year-old married mother of two and has tried different methods. “I’ve used condoms, the pill and I have an IUD. I prefer the IUD, it is the most convenient.”
Brandi is 29 and in a committed relationship. She relies on her body’s rhythm. “After not tolerating hormones and the IUD, I started reading about Basal body temperature. I track my period using an app, natural cycles. And also use the pullout and pray method and have been good for a year.”
Lynn, 50, is in a committed relationship and grandmother of her only child’s daughter. “While I appreciate all the options available, it seems to me that its unspoken ‘woman’s responsibility’, yet, in the same way, I feel that these empower women. Condoms were just fine by us, that way everyone is protected!”
29-year-old Mandy is married and chooses the pill: “I have only used the pill form of birth control in the past. I found it to be effective and easy to use. The only issue is if and when you occasionally forget to take your pill.”
Maria, 29 and married with two children, is concerned with being informed. “I don’t think nearly enough information is given to women about side effects and what altering your body chemistry actually means and entails. We use condoms.”
Joy, 22, is single and adamant: “I like the pill.”
Do You Ever Consider Birth Control to Be a Nuisance, and Why?
Davis does not. “It’s not an inconvenience. It is necessary. I’m fortunate, I have always had insurance that has covered the majority if not the entire cost of birth control.”
Brandi adds, “I do, because of side effects.”
Lynn shares her experience: “Yes, on the whole, an inconvenience. The pause to put on the condom obviously. Remembering the pill each day (back in the day of course) and getting refills filled and being “silently judged” by pharmacists or the cashier. I did the implants in the upper arm and those seemed ok but I itched quite a bit. I began to have other severe symptoms so they were removed.”
Mandy feels satisfied with her choice. “As I mentioned, my experience was pretty pleasant beyond the worry you may encounter if you miss a pill.”
“YES. Condoms don’t feel as good/natural as intercourse without them, are inconvenient, and expensive,” says Maria.
Joy also cites cost. “It’s super expensive, and you have to make sure your insurance covers it, or they can drop coverage. Once, I had to go back to my doctor, and she prescribed a generic brand so that I could get it. I still ended up missing a whole month while I was running around. But at this point in my life, it’s better than having kids.”
What About a Permanent Solution? Would You Consider It?
Davis treads lightly. “I would consider it if other forms didn’t work. I wouldn’t have surgery unless it was absolutely necessary.”
Brandi’s future is too uncertain to consider a permanent birth control solution. “No I would not. I am happy with the tracking and pull out. I want children at some point.”
Lynn talks about her choice. “YES! When I was 39, I simply didn’t stop bleeding ever, the pain was bad literally every day. I was in New Jersey and one day I simply passed out, I went to GYN who said, ‘you know, you don’t have to feel this way’ and I literally begged for a hysterectomy, and that was exactly what he was suggesting and was appalled by my former doctors’ reactions about some permanent solution. I then called my moms who by that time had each had hysterectomies and both felt tremendous afterward, as though they had their lives for their own finally! And that is exactly how I feel. And I finally feel in charge of my own sexuality. My choice, my time, no more worrying or planning. So, yes, I am very happy with my permanent solution.”
“I have not determined whether or not I would like to have children at this point,” Mandy says thoughtfully. “I absolutely think if I decided not to that I would absolutely consider tubal ligation. I think it is important that women have options when deciding what method of birth control would work best for them.”
Maria has also made up her mind. “Vasectomy. I think if I didn’t have a partner I might consider tubal ligation, but probably not. It is major surgery and there are side effects once you enter into menopause. Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately 3 minutes in and out and has no side effects.”
Joy says, “When I was done having children, and like, knowing I was done having children, then yeah. I’d think about it.”
Women are aware of the choices available to them, and many have tried different birth control methods to find the most convenient and healthy for their lifestyle. While reminders, cost, and risks might cause women to think about a more permanent solution, the decision is highly personal. Understanding a women’s individuality, full lives, and endless choices are why we strive to make access to birth control one less thing you have to worry about.