Wifey Wednesday: Which Birth Control Method is Best?

wifey wednesday

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

This week we’re also linking up to Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by We are THAT Family.

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails about s-e-x, I guess because I’m one of the few Christian bloggers who will talk about it openly. And quite a few of those emails have to do with birth control.

Here’s the scenario one mom wrote: she doesn’t like the pill, and so they haven’t used it. But she finds herself very nervous about sex because she doesn’t want to get pregnant again. And so her libido has nose dived!

What should she do?

Let’s start with some big picture issues, and then we’ll get to some specifics.

First, children are a blessing. If you get pregnant “by accident”, realize that it is never an accident. God planned that life, God knows that life, and God will help you provide for that life in every way.

Second, there really never is a “good time” to have a baby. We know that life is always busy. There is always one more course to finish, one more promotion to land, a little more money to save, or something. It’s always busy. But we have babies anyway. And if there isn’t a good time, then it follows that there isn’t a bad time, either. Sure, some may seem better than others, but God will always help you through.

I just want to put those two things out there before we start talking too much about birth control, because we need to remember that ultimately it is God who is in control. In fact, many Christian women feel so strongly about this that they don’t use birth control at all. Since children are a blessing, and since God is in control, we shouldn’t limit God.

Obviously not all agree with that, but I think it is a legitimate viewpoint. Other people say, “God has called me to other things, and I can’t fulfill that ministry, or be a good parent to the children I already have, if I have a baby right now.” And so they want to wait. I think that’s also a legitimate viewpoint. After all, few people want more than three kids. I would really prefer that we not get into a big debate in the comments on which viewpoint is “correct”, because I do think honest Christians who love Jesus fall on both sides of the spectrum, and I think we should respect each other.

And because I think both viewpoints are valid, I want to take a look at the different methods because it is a legitimate topic for discussion. So here goes:

Natural Family Planning

How it works:

The most common method of natural family planning is the Basal Body Temperature Method. Chart your cycle by taking your temperature every morning upon waking. Your temperature “spikes” during ovulation, so by taking your temperature, you can tell when you ovulate. When you collect data over a number of months, you can start to estimate this, and then you refrain from intercourse over the 4-6 day period around ovulation (different sites give different numbers). You can download charts to help you with this, and to explain this to you, right here. You can also do a variant of natural family planning by charting your cervical fluid. There’s more information on both of these methods here.

Pros: If done correctly, this does really work. You don’t have to use a barrier during intercourse, and you don’t have any hormones in your system.

Cons: It’s hard to use reliably if your cycle is not regular, because you have to stop intercourse a few days before ovulation (since sperm can survive and swim for several days). You also have to chart for a number of months to get an idea of when ovulation will occur, so it can’t be used on the spur of the moment. It also asks you to refrain from sex during your most fertile days, which also happen to be when your libido tends to be the highest. Thus, it’s likely that you may have a “moment of weakness”, and that’s how people end up parents!

UPDATE: A commenter notes that the method charting cervical mucous instead of temperature can be used even if your cycle isn’t regular! More info here. Another commenter notes that you can purchase a fertility monitor from a drug store, which tells you if you’re fertile from a urine test every morning. I have several friends who use this and find it very helpful. (I’m sorry I didn’t include it above, I just didn’t want to make the post 3000 words! But I think I’m doing that now, anyway!).

Condoms

A barrier that is unrolled over the penis to collect the sperm after ejaculation. If used consistently, it’s very unlikely that you will get pregnant (we used these for years, and we never had any “surprises”).

Pros: Easy to use. Cheap. You don’t need a prescription. Readily available.

Cons: There’s a barrier. Need I say more? Most couples don’t like the feeling, and thus there’s always the temptation, “let’s just not use it this time”. That’s how people become parents!

Many people use a combination of condoms and natural family planning. You only use the condoms in the week around ovulation, and you use nothing other than that. For many, this works well. This is normally called the Fertility Awareness Method (or FAM).

The Pill

A hormone mixture that you take everyday, at the same time, to stop your body from ovulating.

UPDATE: On Facebook people have noted that I’ve left out the other hormone methods, such as The Ring (inserted into the vagina and left in place for three weeks) or the needle. These methods may be preferable if you’re going to use a hormonal method, since they don’t require remembering to take a pill. But the Pros and Cons are pretty much the same, because they’re based on the same thing: preventing ovulation.

Pros: Your period is lighter. Your acne is better. Cramps are almost eliminated. You are regular, and always know when your period will come (and you can even manipulate it a bit so that you can avoid your period by a day or two if you need to). If taken everyday, it’s almost 100% effective.

Cons: There is some controversy about whether the pill really prevents ovulation or whether it prevents implantation (in other words, conception occurs, but then a miscarriage happens). You can gain weight. There may be a link to breast cancer, but this isn’t clear (it’s more likely that those who have fewer children and fewer months breast feeding have a higher chance of breast cancer, and those on the pill likely have fewer children). You are taking a hormone, and many women are uncomfortable with that.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for our discussion, in many women the hormone makes you really moody and kills libido, which sort of defeats the purpose. Many of my emailers reported being on the Pill and having to get off of it because they had no sex drive, but then they didn’t know what to use.

IUDs

An IUD is a device implanted in the cervix to prevent pregnancy. I DO NOT recomment it at all because much research shows that it does not prevent conception. It just prevents implantation.

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a barrier inserted over the cervix before intercourse. It isn’t as widely used anymore, but if you’re comfortable inserting it, you can try it.

Pros: If inserted correctly, it is fairly effective and does not provide a barrier the way a condom does.

Cons: You have to be fitted for it, so you can’t just buy it over the counter at the drug store. You have to be confident to insert it and to take it out. If you’re at all squeamish about this, don’t use it, because you’re unlikely to position it correctly. It also is more awkward to insert, and so this makes it less likely that you will use it, if you start making love in a heat of passion rather than just “let’s get it on tonight”.

Vasectomy/Tubal Ligation

If you’re sure you aren’t going to want any more children, many men go through with a vasectomy (or, in some cases, women get their tubes tied, although this is a far more invasive procedure).

Pros: Almost 100% effective. You never have to think about birth control again. You can be completely spontaneous.

Cons: How do you really know you don’t want any more kids? Often parents think this, but then five years later change their minds. Reversals rarely work. You don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline in your life. Choosing something permanent could easily lead to a lot of regret.

Wrap up

Nothing is perfect. No matter what method you choose, if you don’t stick to it 100%, it will have a failure rate. So try to think about how you are most likely to fail. Are you more likely to agree to sex without a condom because you don’t like the feeling of condoms, or are you more likely to forget a pill?

Above all, realize that sex was created partly to make children. As much as you can, come to terms with the fact that no matter what method you choose, it will never be 100% effective. So many women become scared of sex because they’re scared of getting pregnant again. You need to let this go and give it over to God. If God wants you to have a baby, He’s going to help you be a great mom. Your life will not be over if you have another baby. If you want to try to prevent it, fine, but you must come to peace with the fact that you could become a mom again, and that’s okay. If we could get over this fear, perhaps we wouldn’t have such problems with birth control!

So tell me, what have you tried? What has worked well for you? What hasn’t worked well? Let’s talk!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Comments

  1. Personally, I think it’s great that your willing to talk openly about sex. It’s part of the marriage relationship, is a gift from God, and important for a healthy relationship. Great post.
    Psst…btw…it’s still Tuesday ;)
    Kristine McGuire recently posted…In God’s Heart I Am PreciousMy Profile

    • Hi Kristine! I’m trying to publish it early so that people can link up Wifey Wednesday early. But it published too early, so I took it off again. Sigh. WordPress does wonky things with scheduling.

      • I understand. Technology is great–except when it’s not! :)
        Kristine McGuire recently posted…Who’s Your Hero of the Faith?My Profile

      • Hi Sheila,

        I saw that you published it early and then took it off. I wanted to let you know that the “real” one hasn’t showed up in my RSS feed or GFC feed whatever you want to call it. I just decided to see if your post was up and happened to find it. Gotta love technology! Love your boldness and the love you shared between you and your husband last post was precious.

        Love,
        Lori

        • Oh, seriously? What a pain. I took it off because WordPress published it too early. I wonder how I fix the RSS? Sigh. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. Hi sheila, I love reading your blog, I am one of the many women in the US on the Pill and I know it has affected my libido. At the same time I am a SAHM with 3 kids under 5. I would love to get off the Pill but I feel I’m too busy to chart regularly every day. Please what advice do you have for me.

    Thanks

    P.s. I also want to hear your thoughts on how I can earn income at home. I am thinking of offering childcare from my home but I feel so scared.

    • Ollie, honestly, I’d say that if you think the Pill is affecting you, get off of it and go on condoms for a while. The thing is that enjoying great sex with your husband will make you feel less tired, less overwhelmed, and more connected. So I know you’re exhausted now, but part of that may also be that you’re not connecting sexually. If you can rev up your libido, even a little bit, you’d probably find it easier to get through your busy days.

      As for earning money at home, childcare is a good option. You can always start with just one child and see how it goes! I do have a post on how SAHMs can earn money. There’s a link on the sidebar under “Popular Posts”.

    • I used the pill from the day I got married until after my second child (using the mini pill while nursing both). It was when I was nursing my son that I started reading about it actually lessening libido. I honestly never really researched it much – that’s what all my friends used and we all got married around the same time – so that’s what I used. When using the mini pill for the second time, I started to notice my libido was actually doing pretty well and when reading about the pill, I decided that maybe we should start using condoms to see if it made a difference. That was 7 years ago and I’ve never been sorry we switched. We are really good about using them and have never “not” used them. If we are out, we just choose to not have intercourse and pleasure each other in different ways. I’ve been really happy with our choice. NFP is just too much work for me. We have to take advantage of every opportunity we have – which aren’t many.

      So, Ollie, I’d say try condoms. We have been totally fine with them. :) Good luck.

      • Thanks for that, Angel! You know, when I got married EVERYONE used the Pill, too. We didn’t really think about it. I think that’s changing, though.

    • Angel, I can tell you what we’ve done. When I found out the truth about the pill, I immediately got off of it, went to my OBGYN and asked what else can I do? I didn’t like his answers so I quit all of it and we went to condoms. We’ve been with that for almost 13 years and it’s worked great! I don’t get the spermicidal lubricated as I’ve read bad things about that also. I just get regular lube, with ribs! ;) They work great and help a lot with the feeling.

      Hope that helps,

      Janet
      Janet recently posted…The Anointing of the Holy SpiritMy Profile

  3. In was glad to see this post, because I am an avid user and teacher of FAM, the Fertility Awareness Method. It is similar to NFP, though there are a few differences. One thing that you didn’t mention (perhaps just didn’t know) is that even women with irregular cycles CAN successfully use FAM or NFP by observing their cervical fluid changes each month, which show a woman when she is most fertile.

    We used FAM personally for 2.5 years, successfully avoiding pregnancy. We also used FAM to help us get pregnant. It works great IF you follow the rules :)

    I am a moderator over at http://www.christianfamilyplanning.net, a great site where women can learn more about FAM, and ask questions or talk about anything from FAM to pregnancy/childbirth, parenting, sex, and beyond. We’d love to have you and your readers stop by!

    • Thanks so much for that, Jill! Yes, I did know about the cervical mucous changes, but I couldn’t mention everything! But thank you so much for mentioning it and for the link. I’ll update the post to include it so that people can learn more.

    • This is what we use as well. We successfully got pregnant twice, avoided pregnancy for over two years, had one night of forgetfulness and received our third blessing! We have been using it successfully since he has been born, and we really appreciate the accuracy of this method.

    • We use FAM combined with condoms. Our youngest is 4.5 and all is well. I like that there are no hormones or health risks, and also that we haven’t done anything permanent, so we can change our minds at any time.

      Before conceiving our first daughter I was on the Pill, but I didn’t want to stay on it for more than five years. So I started researching my options, and in the process I was completely turned off from the Pill, along with other hormonal methods. And surprisingly, it wasn’t by a religious text, but a document on a university’s website that just medically explained how the Pill worked in multiple ways (preventing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to block sperm, slowing down the fallopian villi so a fertilized egg won’t make it to the uterus, and finally thinning the uterine lining to prevent a successful implantation). I was really upset because my doctor had guaranteed me that all it did was block ovulation and would never be considered abortifacient… only later did I find out that doctors differ in their view of when conception takes place. :(

  4. There is a conservative Christian viewpoint laid out in the Mars Hill Church site (Mark Driscoll not Rob Bell) at http://marshill.com/media/religionsaves/birth-control

    I would like to add that the IUD does not prevent an ectopic pregnancy, and therefore, if it is important that you do not get pregnant for a time because you are recovering from either a c-section or some other abdominal surgery, then it might be best to consider some other method.

  5. Jill beat me to it :)
    I’m an avid reader/subscriber, and I love love love your blog! I know you had to “summarize” a great deal of information to condense this post into a readable format, so I just want to tack on some perspective.
    The research relating breast cancer to the birth control pill is actually quite staggering. Hormonal contraceptives have been implicated in outrageously high percentages of cancer in young women, especially those who take it for more than 4 years prior to having a live birth. Late last year there was an article calling the Pill a “molotov cocktail” for breast cancer, citing research that indicates the Pill increases the likelihood of breast cancer by 1000% if you take it before age 20. The article can be found here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/surgeon-birth-control-pill-a-molotov-cocktail-for-breast-cancer … and there is a LOT more where that came from, unfortunately. It is practically an epidemic, and yet nobody is telling women the truth.

    I for one see no contest when it comes to my body and my faith… Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), which is basically NFP with barriers during fertile times, is compatible with my views that life begins at conception (which the Pill does not prevent, even per its own literature) and my desire to be as kind to my body as possible. There are absolutely no side effects. It is natural. It is immediately reversible. I know more about my body, my cycles, my hormones, and my brain then ever! My husband loves it and agrees that it was one of the best decisions we made when we married 3.5 years ago. We have been avoiding pregnancy thus far, and I can’t even stress enough how remarkably EASY it is to use FAM. The 28-day cycle is almost completely myth, and my cycles are not the most regular yet it is still easy as pie.
    More importantly to me is that I want to spread the word to my brothers and sisters out there that you can plan your family with a clear conscience, without worrying about side effects or exponentially increased cancer risk, even if you have irregular cycles or even conditions that affect your cycles. And there is quite a large community out there ready to help you do it :)
    Thanks for talking about this important topic Sheila!

    • Thanks, Amanda! I think you hit on something very important: when you do use FAM, you really do become much more in tune with your body, which in turn is going to make sex better. All the research I’ve seen shows that the Pill makes sex worse. So, again, it kind of defeats the purpose.

      I’ve seen those studies on breast cancer, but the problem is that coming from a family of physicians, I’ve also seen tons of studies on the other side. So I don’t want to come down either way, so I’ll just say: you need to be very careful, and aware that there very well could be significant risks. And so you need to decide which risks are worth it.

      As for the 28 day cycle is a myth, let me just say: FOR 20 YEARS I WAS 30 DAYS, BANG ON. Then my girls hit puberty and now everything is completely shot. Sigh. I never know when anything’s coming anymore, and it’s all their fault. :)

  6. Sheila: I’d like to mention contraceptive monitors. I used the brand “Persona” for years, but there are probably others on the market. The monitor functions by measuring hormonal changes in the body to determine fertile/nonfertile days, through a morning urine test. This is a high-tech version of the sympto-thermal method you mention above. The accuracy is +/- 94%. During the time the monitor suggested abstaining,, we used condoms. I would like to say that for us it was 100% effective (and I’m as fertile as a rabbit!).

  7. My husband & I used FAM successfully for the first 9 months of marriage, then used it successfully to have our daughter. I love how it works to avoid babies and it works to make babies, because you know when to try! We tried 3 days :) My cycles are anything but regular but it works great for us, and we just use barriers during the fertile stage. Plus, it taught me sooooo much about my body! I would recommend this method to everyone! I used the pill for a few short months, but it made me sick, and then we did more research and realized it went against our beliefs about life.

    • Lois, your experience pretty much mirrors mine! I do think there’s a lot of benefit in really understanding your body!

  8. Whenever my friends are getting married, I always tell them about my experience with the Pill. I started the Pill when I was 15 (I was a virgin, but I was having stomach issues and they thought the Pill would help it, hah) so when I married my hubby at 19 i just decided to keep using the Pill. Worst idea ever! Being a virgin, I had no idea what to expect with all the technical bodily stuff. Looking back, I realize the Pill made me extremely dry (virtually no natural lubricant), so it made sex much more painful for me than normal. The Pill also made me a crazy hormonal monster! But because I had been on it for so long, I didn’t realize how crazy it made me. Fast forward to June of 2010, I decided to stop taking the Pill because I had just had 3 surgeries all within a year of each other and I just wanted to get my body back to normal. Oh my gosh, what a difference it has made!! Sex is SOO much more wonderful and amazing without it! Let’s just say as soon as I stopped the Pill, I was “in the mood” all the time! I was not dry anymore, and I felt wonderful. I always felt frustrated, stressed out, and negative when on the Pill, but now I really feel like a whole new person! So right now, my husband and I are hoping to wait to have kids until we’re done with school (just a little while longer!), so the only ‘prevention’ we use is the pull-out method. It’s kind of a bummer when he can’t climax while inside of me, but he says he’d rather pull-out than have me on the Pill again(apparently I was a crazy lady)! We tried condoms at first, but I realized that I have a sensitivity to condoms and lubricant (that was not a good experience for me). So I try to lovingly warn my engaged girlfriends about my experience (and how it’s a good idea to test out lubricant and condoms on your skin before the wedding night to make sure there’s no sensitivity, etc.) and hope they make the right decision based on what God leads them to do.
    I was curious about your thoughts on the pull-out method. I noticed you didn’t mention it in this post. Maybe it’s because it’s not considered a very effective preventive measure, haha. I want to try the NFP way, but my husband isn’t comfortable with that idea (he thinks I’m fertile-mertile all the time and would not be comfortable ejaculating inside me without a barrier). Maybe I’ll have to gather the facts and present it to him in a powerpoint (and then pray his mind changes, hah!).
    By the way, thank you for your blog! I love your insight!!

    • Sarah, I had a very similar experience with the Pill. And a teenager I know went on the Pill to regulate her periods, and ended up gaining 30 pounds! She was a thin little thing, and three months later she had ballooned. She went off of it and everything’s fine now.

      For many people, the Pill wrecks sex, and it also wrecks our moods. I think what you said about just not knowing that it was affecting you is so true.

      As for the withdrawal method, yes, I didn’t mention it because it really doesn’t work very well! :) Also, I don’t think it’s very fun, and so he’d probably rather use something else! I’d look up some of the FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) pages on the internet and show them to him. He probably doesn’t realize that you really are only fertile for a few days a month. And then if you want to use withdrawal during those days, like you’re doing now, and just have sex the regular way the other days, you’d probably be a lot happier! (Just remember, I’m not ADVOCATING the withdrawal method or saying it will work :) ).

      I think it’s great that you’re telling your friends about your experience. When my daughters get married, I’m going to recommend FAM because I think it’s good in a variety of ways. You get to know your body, and it is effective. And then they can use condoms on their fertile days. Right now, when they’re teens, I’m having them chart their cycles anyway so they can better plan when their periods are going to be, so they’re getting used to it already!

    • aspiringlady says:

      Sarah, we use withdrawal too. Successfully for over a decade now (only pregnant exactly when we want to be.) This year we added FAM and use withdrawal during fertile times. If you look at the statistics, withdrawal rivals condoms for effectiveness. You have to trust your partner, but it is a viable method for some people. We wouldn’t use anything else. Here is a chart from planned parenthood (as much as I hate to link to them…) http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-effectiveness-chart-22710.htm if you click on the different methods you can see their perfect effectiveness rate and their not-so-good effectiveness rate. Withdrawal gets a bad wrap, but it isn’t really deserved.

      • Aspiring Lady: I’m laughing again. Okay, you ladies are NOT going to get me to recommend withdrawal, but I’m glad you commented and gave your perspective so that YOU can recommend it. I just don’t want anyone coming back to me in a year saying, “you said it was okay and now I’m pregnant!” :) Talk to your husband, do what you both feel comfortable with, and come to peace with having a baby if you do get pregnant. Then everything will be fine! Thanks for adding your experience!

        • We have also used only withdrawal, and have only had planned pregnancies. The plain fact is that if no ejaculate gets in your vagina, you can not get pregnant. However, users must note that if you are going for round 2, it’s crucial that the man urinate between rounds to flush out any residual semen. Also be careful not to get any spilled juice near the critical point of entry! ;) I have to say that any accusations of ineffectiveness are undeserved. Like any other method, it works as long as you USE IT PROPERLY. (Pulling out after the fact doesn’t work, sorry.) Also, orgasm is just as pleasurable in or out.

          • Thanks, Sarah #2! Like I said, I still don’t want to be accused of PERSONALLY recommending it. :) But if people want to do so in the comments, then that is fine!

  9. Sadly, we opted for the tubal ligation after our 3rd baby. And ever since then, I’ve been plagued with one “female” issue after another – none of which I had before the tubal. Endometriosis, fibroids, excruciating pain and one ovary had its blood supply severed due to the ligation which in turn caused it to atrophy and fall out of place. I started going through menopause in my mid-20’s.

    Yes, I do regret this decision…every single month. I wish I could have more children and I wish I was “healthier” on the inside. But, be that as it may…if my experience can spare even ONE woman the same fate, read up on Post-Tubal Ligation Syndrome. Seriously. Doctors frown upon it in droves, but it exists. Trust me.
    Denise recently posted…New Blogger on the BlockMy Profile

    • Thank you for that, Denise. I’m sorry you’ve gone through that. That is really a burden. I’ve regretted our decisions, too, but we haven’t had the negative repercussions you have. That must be very difficult.

  10. I love that you’re not afraid to tackle the tough and controversial issues, Sheila!

    My husband had a vasectomy after our third child was born, and it was the best decision we ever made. I love not having to think about this anymore! (And because of our ages, we knew for sure we were done having kids.)

    The good news is that there are so many options out there for couples to find what works best for them.

    • Thanks, Llama Momma! Maybe I would have felt differently if I were older. I just feel like I should have waited. We were only 28, and we did the vasectomy thing assuming that we would adopt, after two very stressful pregnancies, one child death, and one miscarriage. I wasn’t emotionally ready to think about more kids. But several years later I was! So I wish we hadn’t done it, but if we had done it at 38, perhaps it would be different.

  11. IUD’s do prevent conception. The copper in a copper IUD(nova-t) changes the cervical mucus so that the sperm is killed before it even gets through the cervix. The hormonal IUD contains horomones that prevent ovulation and can even result in no period for some women(like the needle). The hormones in the hormonal IUD(Merina), are much lighter than that of the pill or needle, but still work because they are inside the body and constant. Both meathods also make it physically difficult for the sperm to get to the uterus. The prevention of implantation is considered to be more of a secondary, potential effect and isn’t even a guaranteed effect. That secondary effect is known for both the needle and the pill(I’ve been on all three and it is mentioned in the package inserts for all three).

    You forgot to mention that the pill and the needle have been PROVEN to cause blood clots and cysts…including cancerous cysts. I speak from personal experience about cysts and I have been told by more than one doctor that I should not use hormonal birth control. I have a daughter that who is proof that her parents cannot be trusted to use NFP and the barrier meathod, so I use a copper IUD.

    • Thanks for that, Rachel. I have seen so much conflicting research on the IUD from Christian gynecologists that I’m reluctant to recommend it. But it sounds like you’ve done your research, too, so I’d suggest that if women are interested, they look into it and see what they ultimately think.

      Your last paragraph made me laugh. Isn’t that the truth: kids are proof not that the methods don’t work, but that the parents can’t be trusted!

    • Had baby #5 4 1/2 month’s ago after having an IUD in for 2 years. Tried pull out, and FAM and where blessed with our first two and then we tried the IUD for a break. It worked and a month after it was removed 2 years later got pregnant with number 3 and then we went for number 4. After that I wanted another break but didn’t want anything permanent so I had another IUD put in and it worked for 2 1/2 years and I was starting to really consider something more permanent when we found out we where expecting again. I really struggled after our first two unplanned children but pull out, and FAM didn’t work for our spontaneous style. I had read the controversial information on the pill and IUD’s but emotionally I was sprialling into depression about the first two unplanned and felt that God would understand. It’s funny how God works. I was worried God wouldn’t understand my using an IUD because it could cause miscarriage. Then He proved He was still in control of things by letting me get pregnant with the IUD in and blessing us with child #5. Well my Mr. Incredible went into get snipped but we are not sure about our decision…. but feel God knows what He is doing with our lives and pray we made the right decision.

  12. too shy to put my name says:

    I had 6 babies inside of 8 years of marriage when we were in a place in our faith of not using any birth control. We came to a place of feeling ok with “some” birth control, and settled on using a diaphragm. We tried condoms, and they “worked” but we are pretty spontaneous and don’t like bothering with details like that. :) We didn’t want to try any hormonal methods, because of the conception/implantation thing, not to mention the horror stories of crazy ladies and cancer, and had been using NFP (correctly I promise!!) ever since we got married. It does NOT “work” for everyone. My midwife and gyno agreed that my body was so wonked out from being pregnant so often and exclusively nursing every baby (yep, nursing round the clock on demand didn’t “work” either! :) ) that the NFP signals it was sending weren’t reliable, even though I knew what I was looking for. With the diaphragm, I wash and reinsert it each morning and evening, essentially wearing it 24 hours, which keeps our spontaneity always available. I do not use any spermicide, because I don’t feel comfortable “killing” the sperm, and because I don’t like using chemicals. My last baby is almost 1 1/2 and I’m still not pregnant. Usually I already have another baby by now. Learning to insert it and check that it was “right” wasn’t hard, and I can’t feel if I have it in or not. Hubby can *sometimes* tell, but not always. Just thought some of that might be helpful for someone trying to decide.

    • That’s great that you’ve found a method that works for you that doesn’t involve the hormones that you were worried about. If you can insert it and it still provides spontanaeity, that’s awesome. Maybe some women reading this will try that, too!

  13. We don’t prevent anymore, but there was a time when I was on the pill, and we did try using condoms for a while. For me the pill did not do anything for my cramps, and after a few years, it stopped regulating my cycle. Those were not the reasons I went off it, but I think it’s worth noting. It also seemed like a waste of money. The breakdown was about $2 a pill–including the placebos–to prevent something that can only happen a limited number of times resulting from an activity that only happens a certain number of times in the year. In other words, I have to use it even when I’m not going to have sex, and even when conception would not occur anyway.

    With the condom, we didn’t like it, not because of the presence of a barrier, but because it hurt me a lot–even with lube. Another issue is that most condoms have spermicide on them, just in case there’s a leak. My mother and I are both allergic to the most common spermicide, so that’s something else to think about.

    I would also like to note that I think there is an important difference between the pill and the shot. This is purely anecdotal, but I’ve known several women who tried the shot and had trouble getting their cycle back afterwards. Some of them never started ovulating again. From what I’ve seen and read, it seems to be less reliably temporary than the pill, ring, or patch. Other women find that the shot messes with their moods more than other hormonal options too. I considered the shot at one point (before I knew anyone who had problems with it), and I also really didn’t like that it limited menstruation to 4 times per year. While that makes life more convenient, I prefer to have a more frequent indicator as to whether my contraception is working. In other words, if there were an oops with the shot, it would be possible not to know for a couple of months.

    All that said, we ultimately realized that, if we wanted the opportunity to have a big family (and we do), preventing is kind of silly. We also discovered that we really like the intimacy of knowing that each of our “encounters” when I’m not pregnant holds possibility.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Rachel, thanks for your helpful comment! I have heard similar things about the “shot”. I really would not recommend it for responsible, married people. There’s no need, and other methods are available.

  14. So glad to see that FAM has other people convinced as well! My hubby and I have four kids, now aged 9 -17 yrs. I think we’ve used almost all the options (other than IUD) for birth control…

    We used the pill initially, but I did not tolerate it well (recurrent yeast infections, dryness) and sex was no fun. So, we tried condoms, which DH *really* did not like…and the “Today” sponge, which resulted in son #1, and after that pregnancy, breastfed for a while, and kept an eye on my cycle…but I’m one of those lucky gals who occasionally ovulates twice in a cycle…so one month, when DS #1 was five or six months old, ovulation happened, and we thought “yes, we’re safe again”…and we weren’t. DS #2 made his appearance, and at my six week checkup I asked for the Depo shot…after doing more research (advent of the WWW made that easier), decided a low-dose pill might be a better idea…started lactating again 3 mos after weaning, so switched to the diaphragm, which was OK as long as I put it in every night at bedtime and took it out in the AM…un-preparedness would not be an issue that way…and got really, really tired of it.

    Read Toni Weschler’s book about FAM, used that successfully (with diaphragm, as above, only in fertile times) for four years and that worked beautifully for the timing of our two daughters.

    We were pretty sure we were done after #4 (well, my hubby was pretty sure after #2, but that is a whole other story about God’s grace) and we made the decision that he would have a vasectomy, because I was only 31. The reasoning behind it was: if something happened to DH and I eventually remarried someone who wanted to have kids, I’d be open to that. Lest you think that is a very strange thing to think at 31, my father died at 32 y/o, and mom was 29. So, I know that sort of thing *can* happen. Since DH was resolute about not having more kids (no matter what), he volunteered to do the deed.

    One thing to note about IUD’s… if you are not finished having kids, it was pointed out to me that the risks (albeit small numbers) associated with IUD’s (beyond pregnancy) could render a woman infertile – so that is just one more reason to think about all the angles. Not too many other birth control methods have side effects rivaling that in severity.

    • Kristy, thanks for that! I don’t think you’re weird about that reasoning about death at all. One member of my family had a vasectomy in his twenties, and then was left alone in his thirties. He remarried, but now he can’t have kids with his new wife.

      Very good point about IUDs. I have heard that as well. Again, I don’t think they’re a great idea, although they are making new kinds all the time. Just DO YOUR RESEARCH before you choose something invasive like that!

  15. Husband and I are going to use natural family planing. Both of us refuse to alter our bodies in any way and I had an IUD for 3 years and believe it is the direct cause of the two miscarriages I had during the past 2 Mother’s Days in a row. I ended up with horrible side effects. We both also know if more kids happen we are fine with it. The more the merrier!!
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  16. My name is Carrie and I just started using the pill. I actually tried when my husband and I first got married but the hormones made me a emotional wreck so we decided against it. I have 3 children ages 7, 5 and 3 and we are doing missionary work in Nicaragua so I DO NOT want to have another child…especially since I had to start homeschooling when we moved here. I love children and I really do think they are an amazing blessing from God…I think he’s blessed me ssssooooo much I don’t really want anymore blessing right now. I’m not one of those people who absolutely LOVE the pill, but I’m allergic to latex and our options are few here in the way of birth control. I’m scared to not use anything since ALL 3 of my pregnancies happened the first time…there is no trying in my family, all my husband has to do is look at me and I wind up pregnant! In the US we used non-latex condoms which seemed to do the job, unfortunately, we don’t have that option here. Anyway, I can’t get one of those body measuring thermometers or I might try the natural way…any ideas?
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    • Carrie, what an adventure you’re on! I remember seeing you on Twitter, I think, yesterday. You are in a unique position, so I understand wanting to try the Pill. I think when you’re on furlough, or if you could have someone ship you one of those super thermometers, you probably could do the FAM. I’m really fertile, too. I’ve been pregnant 4 times and we only tried 4 times. So it feels like he just looks at me and it happens! But at the same time, I know that this is just my percpetion. Scientifically, pregnancy can’t happen unless it’s around ovulation, so a thermometer where you can track it should help. You’d still be stuck with the problem during the fertile period of not being able to use condoms, and I don’t have a good solution for that (since I refuse to recommend withdrawal, though others can recommend it if they want! :) ).

    • Hi Carrie! Just wanted to let you know that I use a $3 battery operated digital thermometer that I got from Wal-Mart. Nothing fancy for us, and it works just fine.

  17. We used spermicide gel successfully for many years, and didn’t find it much of a hindrance to spontaneity either, for those who think that may be a problem.
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  18. Jeannette says:

    I used the Pill our first year of marriage. That was enough. It totally killed my moods- not just libido, that too- but all my moods. After that I sort of kept track of my cycle (I’m usually pretty predictable) and we used condoms if there was any doubt. It only resulted in 2 children in 7 years so it worked fairly well. :) I completely agree with you that children are a gift from God and if God wants you to have them, you will have them. Both of our children were surprises and theoretically we were doing everything “right” to prevent a pregnancy. But we love them. After our last was born my husband wanted a vasectomy. And now it really is great that we don’t have to think once or twice about pregnancies.[FWIW, my husband was 30 when he had his vasectomy. He just was done having biological children. He figures if we ever want more children we can adopt- we have already adopted one, so it isn't an entirely naive statement.]

  19. This is the first time I’ve been to this website, but as somebody who belongs to a traditional Lutheran church there isn’t a lot of openness in this area (I do have non-Christian or non-churchgoing friends, too – but they are always on a different wave-legnth). I believe that a lot of women in my church probably practice a variety of birth controls, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them trust in the Lord that He will provide if they are blessed with an “unplanned” pregnancy. I, however, have a birth defect called a unicornuate uterus-basically 1/2 of a uterus & one noncommunicating tube– and require c-sections with each of my pregnancies (and a higher risk of miscarriage/ectopic). I have two girls (ages 4 and 15 months) and my husband and I have decided that we would like to be done having children. Partly because we look forward to raising the girls as they grow older and giving them all of our attention rather than having to divide that time with other babies. Another reason we think we’re done is because we both just have a comfortable and solid feeling that these two precious gifts are enough. Lastly, because of my hightened risk, I just could not live with myself if something happened to me and I would leave two or even three children and a husband behind. I BELIEVE that we would be OK if these things happened, but I also chose to take this particular stance of “we’re done”. Now, onto the issue of birth control…. I am on the patch (ortho evra). I cannot say, however, that I would recommend this for everybody because of the clotting issues and the pure annoyance of having a patch on your body all the time (except for the “off week”). But if works for me. I had a thorough look-over and I do not have any risks for the blood-clotting and the higher hormone doesn’t seem to be an issue for me (I also could NOT remember to take the pill on time and I want to be able to be intimate with my husband whenever we feel moved to be intimiate without restriction). I feel like the extra hormone actually boosts my libido (our marriage is stronger than ever, in all respects, to be honest). I do plan to have my ‘tubes tied’ in my thirties (I’m 27) & would like to hear more about what other moms/wives think of that option. The information on this site has been helpful and interesting..so, basically I wanted to just introduce myself and put in my 2 cents because I didn’t see anybody else mention the patch. Thanks for your blog, I look forward to reading it regularly.

    • Thanks, Missy! I just want to say that I don’t mean to bash the surgical options completely. I think when you have issues like you do, it may be a very good idea. I just want people to be absolutely sure, because I wasn’t, and I think it was a mistake. But in your case, I can totally see that.

      I’m glad you have something that works for you. I have also spoken to people who say that the hormonal methods work better in terms of libido, and I think that has to do with the fact that the fear about becoming pregnant is gone. For some people, that fear is enough to make their libido low. So to not be afraid is great! Nice to meet you. Thanks for commenting!

  20. Nurse Bee says:

    Not sure if someone already said this, but Fertility Awareness Method or FAM is actually what it is called when a barrier method is used with temperature charting for BC. And the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” is great for learning how to use FAM/NFP. I’ve used it for BC and also to help conceive my babies. I have no moral objections to hormonal forms of BC, but I didn’t like the side effects.

    • Yes, thank you, Nurse Bee. I personally think this is the best method, but I didn’t want to say it in the post! I was kinda a fraidy cat. But since that seems to be the most popular one from what people are saying, maybe I should have admitted it right out there!

  21. Great post Sheila! :D

    Thanks for giving FAM a push, and thanks for adding the link to my ministry (the Christian Family Planning Network) to your blog. I appreciate it!

    Stephanie

  22. Very interesting, including the comments. As one of the older gals here, I, too, am on the pill and honestly just plan to stay on it as my “hormone therapy” as I go through menopause. I will say, as you have mentioned so many problems with it, it has made a world of difference (in a good way) in my teenage daughter’s life. She was losing a day of her life every month — throwing up and being in horrific pain from cramps and being on the pill has helped her get back to some semblance of a normal life the week of her period. Also, about whether or not you ovulate or whether implantation does or doesn’t occur — it depends on which pill you are on. I go to a doctor that understands my commitment to sanctity of life (and, actually, he has his own commitment — he doesn’t prescribe the pills that prevent implantation). Just ask about your particular pill if that is an option for you. Always love the open discussions here!
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    • Thanks for that, Sarah! There definitely is no “one size fits all” approach, and if that works for you, and you’ve looked into the health concerns, that’s great! I sure feel for your daughter. My cramps were TERRIBLE as a teen, as were my daughter’s. But I knew one teenage girl who gained 30 pounds on the Pill within 4 months, and then promptly lost it when she went off of it. She says she’ll take the cramps. I think the truth is that when it comes to hormones, all of us are so individual and it reacts differently with each of us. I sure am glad your daughter can function, though, because that truly sounds awful!

    • Sarah, I’d be interested to know which pill(s) do not have an effect on implantation in any way…
      I’ve yet to come across any! Thanks!

      • Unfortunately Kari, this is my experience as well… With the so-called “mini pill” being the worst offender at not preventing ovulation. I try to stay up on the latest pills and things, so I would love to get my hands on more information :)

        • I don’t want to weigh in either way since I’m not actually a physician, but let me just say that it would be very good for people to research this thoroughly! Physicians don’t always know, by the way. So look up sites, especially journal articles and medical articles.

  23. Great post! I’ve been thinking about birth control for the future… Right now I’m pregnant (with Baby #2) and my husband is deployed, so I have a little time to consider. :) We started our marriage with me on the patch (Ortho Evra) and within 3 months I was fed up with it. Square rashes on my skin that didn’t fade for two-three weeks, non-stop yeast infections, plus a migraine cycle that was far more intense than what I experienced without the hormones were all very convincing! We have used condoms, but my husband really really hates them and I hate being the one to ‘police’ their use. We’ve used the withdrawal ‘method’ but my goodness that’s not fun, even afterward when you wonder for a month if a tiny bit got in there anyway! I’m pretty comfortable with my body, so I am planning to be fitted for a diaphragm after this baby is born and hope that will be a good solution. We’d love to have more babies, but our first two will be less than 16 months apart and I think it will be time for a little break!

    Thanks especially to you and the other commenters who expressed regret on making permanent surgical decisions – it’s good to hear what you’ve felt about it in the long-term.

    • Ells, it sounds like other commenters have had great success with the diaphragm, so I hope that works for you, too! Thanks for the comment!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Funny this post would come up this week, as my husband just went for a vasectomy on Monday! I’m 30 and he’s 31, and we have three kids four and under. We’d LOVE to have more kids, but I have a serious health condition that is not likely to improve too much, and I already require someone to be with me and the kids whenever they are awake. We felt it just wouldn’t be responsible to add more kids to the mix since we already can’t handle our three kids on our own. The other major factor that came into play is the heavy duty medications I am/will be taking. I could not, under any circumstance, be pregnant while taking them without putting the baby at serious risk…and since we get pregnant really, really easily, we prayerfully decided a permanent fix is the right one for us. it was a very major decision for us, and it took us about a year and a half to both be at peace with it.

    I will mention, too that I know many women who took the pill and had an extremely difficult time getting pregnant afterwards. I also know women who had the shot, and still wound up pregnant! :) i would definitely encourage anyone looking into hormonal birth control to take a close look at whether it prevents implantation (or makes the uterus “inhospitable”)…most doctors will say that conception can’t take place, but the number of women who get pregnant each year might beg to differ. Randy Alcorn has some excellent information on this point – it’s an important thing to earnestly seek God about if you believe the Christian worldview that life begins at conception.

    • Thanks for commenting, and for the suggestion about Randy Alcorn (his novels are my favourite, by the way!). I think, given your circumstances, a vasectomy is totally reasonable. I completely understand that. Your poor hubby must be in pain! Be nice to him for a bit…. :)

  25. I’ll add my experience to these comments as well. I took the pill for a while, but twice had issues with depression from messing with my hormones. As soon as I got off the oral contraception, voila! felt so much better. We used condoms a few times, but I hate them because I enjoy skin-to-skin contact.

    I LOVED THE DIAPHRAGM!!!! When I got off the pill, I turned to the diaphragm and spermicide. The first few times I used it, it took a couple of minutes to put it in. But pretty soon, I could say, “Wait,” and pop that thing in within seconds. I wished I had used that method all along. Overall, I think each couple needs to look at their options and see what works for them.

    By the way, Sheila, I’m THRILLED that you were clear about IUDs. I am concerned at times when I hear someone who I know is pro-life say that they use an IUD. Did they research it? Did their doctor explain? It does not prevent conception; it merely stops a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
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    • Thanks for that perspective, J! I find the implantation vs. ovulation problem with a lot of different methods, and the problem is the research isn’t always clear. I’ve even spoken to Christian gynecologists and they don’t all agree. So I would rather err on the side of caution myself!

  26. If I may add another con for vasectomies: the scrotum is a small snug space and a minor slip of the scalpel can cause serious complications. My husband was one of the unlucky ones who had a scalpel go in a little too far and sever an artery during the course of his operation. He lost a lot of blood but thankfully everything was able to be repaired though at first it looked as if he’d lose a testicle. We knew this risk prior to my husband’s procedure but have been shocked to learn just how many people do not appreciate the seriousness of this ‘simple’ operation. Quite a few people thought my husband was joking or being a wimp when he was given four weeks of convalescent leave to recover from the botched operation as opposed to the standard three days. Whatever could go wrong during a procedure so ‘safe’ that is can routinely be performed in a clinic or doctors office seemed to be the thought. A lot I assure you, a whole lot.

    After our experience I cannot urge others enough to be extremely vigilant in which medical professional they choose for a vasectomy and to be well aware of the risks. The leydig cells contained within the testicles are a man’s primary means for testosterone production so the possible loss of a testicle is a serious consideration. They do far more for the male body than solely the production of sperm.
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    • Wow, Daisy, thank you for that tip. I am so glad that things worked out for you, but what a horrible thing to go through!

  27. So many comments, I didn’t read them all! I look forward to the summary post. I used FAM to make sure I wasn’t ovulating while taking the pill. Yep, took my temp each morning to be sure. I didn’t ovulate.

    But, I think it was the pill that wonked out my system. We tried for 3 years before getting pregnant, and that took a single round on clomid. We now have a beautiful baby boy. I won’t go near hormonal birthcontrol again. And, while I”m nursing, I’m checking cervical fluid and such to try and determine when my fertility returns (we want to try for #2 on the sooner side, but not too soon!). No temps, as my wake time isn’t consistent (nursing baby).

    We have used a diaphram. It was the most tasteful of the barrier methods, we though.

    If one is using a method to prevent ovulation (which prevents conception — no egg, no baby), and wants to make sure, use FAM as a “check up”. “Take Charge of Your Fertility” is the book I used to figure it out and learn. She is a good author, easy to read, informative, and up front.

    And Ladies, don’t get squimish about your own body. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and knowing what is going on when is apart of understanding and appreciating what God has created!

    I think you’ve inspired another book review!
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  28. Thanks for talking about this subject, it’s never an easy one.
    Deciding when and if you should have children is so often an emotionally charged subject. When my husband and I first married, we used the pill..because it was “easy” and everyone used it. But I became pretty convicted that it wasn’t right for us. We used condoms for awhile as I learned to chart.
    Many (female) family members commented that this wouldn’t work for us because of my “irregular” cycles and made bets on how long it would take for us to get pregnant… Ha!
    But my husband and I have found FAM to be such a blessing to our marriage. It keeps us communicating with each other about our feelings on children, the when and how many. Each time we come together as husband and wife, we decide if we are going to use a barrier (actually we have used withdrawal quite effectively during my fertile phase, but it does require a lot of self control) or not.
    While we are currently avoiding pregnancy for various reasons, number one right now is our beautiful 8 month old boy, we always keep in mind that God is in control. We have given him control of this area because it really keeps the burden off of us! A couple can avoid all they want, but God can create life whenever he wants! We even kept this in the front of our minds when we decided to stop avoiding and be open to a child. We knew God could say no. Thankfully, he did not!
    I think the pill, or shot, IUD, etc often help women forget that God is in control, they adopt a sense of security and are often blindsided when a pregnancy happens. And I have seen marriages suffer from this, because the communication about children/family size was not open.
    Yes, FAM is “harder” in the sense that you are required to think about things above popping a pill, but way more worth it in the end!

    • Thanks, Nadine! I’m glad to know it works with those with irregular cycles.

      • FAM will likely work best with an irregular cycle. Often, those irregular cycles have a reason, and FAM will help you figure out the reason. Is it stress? Is it hormones? Perhaps there is something just wonky in your cycle. Or perhaps you have mis-identified something.

        Using FAM helped me figure it that I wasn’t getting pregnant, very likely, due to hormonal reasons. I could very clearly see that my luteal phase was wonky (the part after ovulation before your period starts).

        Anyhoo, yes, I feel strongly on this topic of knowing what your body is doing when.
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  29. When I was a teen I had extreme pain during my cycles and was diagnosed with endometriosis, The doctors advise was the pill. It so messed with my emotions that I had to get off of it. I began an alternative medicine regimen for the endometriosis instead. When I got married, I told my husband that I refused to take the pill. We tried condoms a couple of times, but he really did not like them. I must not be very fertile because we really have not “planned” any of our children. They naturally came about 2 years apart. Since then I have done some research on the pill and am glad for more than one reason we chose another route.
    A good book to check out is Randy Alcorn’s “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortion?” A woman cannot know how often the pill is preventing ovulation or if it is preventing implantation. It’s like randomly shooting a gun and hoping you don’t kill anyone.
    I know this is a very touchy subject, and I personally know a lot of women that would rather not know the facts because they like the convenience.

    • Thanks, Nancy! You’re the second one to recommend that book. I know what you mean about wreaking havoc with your emotions!

  30. Apparently you have no Catholic readers. The failure of (otherwise) traditional-minded Protestants to recognize the inextricable link between contraception and abortion, to ackowledge what all Christians of all stripes recognized as irreformable teaching on the subject up to 1930, has been the greatest and sadest failure in our (ostensibly) shared struggle for a Culture of Life. There is one huge difference between not having sex to avoid pregnancy and having sex while trying to avoid pregnancy. I’ll leave the derivation of that difference as an exercise to the reader.

    • Steve, thanks for commenting and for your perspective. I believe that I tried, in my post, to leave room for both perspectives, saying that they were both valid (which I believe they are). I did not intentionally avoid the Catholic doctrine, but since people are looking for birth control options, I do believe it is good to point to those which are the most beneficial and the least harmful (meaning they don’t prevent implantation vs. conception), then to mention none at all. I want to be a blog that is helpful to those women who are asking real questions.

  31. So here’s my story..I have 4 children.
    I never wanted hormones in my body so I never did the pill. When we got married, we just let nature take its course and I had baby#1 a year later. Then I tried various methods and ended up with babies 2 and 3. I did have a fear of getting pregnant every time I had sex and I didn’t want that; I never gave that over to God. My mother had 9 and I/we did not want to have 9.
    After #3 the only thing that worked was the IUD, and I was quite happy with that for 10 years. Prior to baby #4, I had an accident and was seeing various doctors for a diagnosis. I went to a gynecologist and he inadvertently loosened the string of the IUD (but I did not know) and ultimately removed it…By the time I realized it, I was pregnant with baby #4. After this my husband had a vasectomy and that has been one of the best things we ever did.
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    • one more thing..i never wanted to tie my tubes; its major surgery and the only time i’m in the hospital is for childbirth….
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    • It’s interesting, Nylse, but I find that the people who come from large families rarely want them. I know a ton of kids from very big families, and few of them want a ton of kids. Whereas I know kids from small families who want a bunch. I think growing up in a very chaotic house has made some of my young friends want a simpler adulthood!

  32. Thanks for encouraging discussion of this important topic!

    I was raised Unitarian with no moral qualms about any method of contraception, but when I first read about how the Pill works (around 11 years old) I was horrified; it just did not sound healthy. Then I had very long cycles, so doctors pressured me to take the Pill to “regulate” me, but I resisted for years. When I finally did try it, it was horrible–lots of physical and psychological side effects. So I quit!

    I had a cervical cap for many years–similar to a diaphragm but smaller and worn higher. It was great! Unfortunately they stopped making it while I was pregnant. There is a different one on the market now called FemCap, but with my postpartum body it did not work well.

    I learned about FAM/NFP when trying to conceive, which took almost 2 years because of my long cycles. I really wish I had learned it earlier because it is so informative! I was a flop at temperature charting, but I’m doing very well just paying attention to mucus, cramping (I’m one of those lucky women who can feel ovulation if I’m paying attention), and this certain kind of breast tingling/itching that starts a week before ovulation. It took me quite a while to realize that that last one meant anything, but it turns out to be very reliable, for me anyway. My son is almost 7 now, and we haven’t conceived again. (We would welcome another child if we happen to have one, but we don’t INTEND to have more.) A great bonus is knowing exactly when to expect my period.

    Another tool I found useful when I was learning to recognize ovulation is the saliva fertility monitor which is reusable and pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

    We have other forms of sex at fertile times. That is much more reliable than using a barrier method or withdrawal. Think about it: The effectiveness rates for those methods are based on couples using them throughout the cycle. Of course, the only time they can fail is when an egg is present. So if you ONLY use these methods when an egg is present, you can expect a higher rate of failure than “advertised.”

    Check out this great article about NFP!
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  33. Just stumbled onto this but I’ll chime in even though my story is pretty similar to the ones already here. A month before we got married my parents told me “go get a prescription for the pill” so I did. It threw me into a horrid depression, seriously screwed with my moods, and made my libido less than nothing. I lasted 3 months on the pill then quit when I realized I only felt like myself during the placebo week. 7 years later we are still dealing with some of the aftereffects of those 3 months (mostly mental attitudes that stemmed from the low libido). When we quit that we decided to do NFP instead. I had researched it before marriage and even charted a little so I knew the basics already. After a year or so of that we added condoms into the mix since deciding when to abstain or not got dicey. I discovered you can get much better prices on them online than at the drugstore.
    After about another year of that we decided we were ready to just let God do His thing and we stopped charting altogether. 4 years later (I think my math is right) we decided to actively try to get pregnant. A year later we found out that there are issues (his) that make it highly unlikely without help. If I could go back in time 4 years I would rather have known this information THEN than be dealing with it now but I assumed no doctor would talk with us until we had been actively trying for at least a year. 4 years of “not preventing” didn’t count for anything.
    As far as methods, I’m obviously in favor of some sort of charting, with or without a barrier during fertile times. It can work with irregular cycles in most cases and is pretty effective so long as you don’t cheat. I have plenty of Christian friends who have gotten married and I always advise them to think twice about the Pill although I know many who choose that method anyways.

  34. Much like many of you, I too, am thinking about changing our method of birth control. I married at 20 and went on the pill, and took it until I wanted to get pregnant with my first child at 24. The first month of trying, we got pregnant. I went on the mini-pill while I was nursing my daughter, and then went off when she was 9 months old because hubby and I were open to having another one soon. Bam! Next month I was pregnant with my second daughter :) I nursed my first daughter until one month before giving birth to my second daughter. Fast forward a few months….I took the mini-pill while nursing my second daughter and didn’t realize how consistently you needed to take the pill…within an hour or so of the same time everyday…woopsies…baby number 3 was conceived :) I now have my 4 month old little boy, who is such a blessing and I wouldn’t change a thing. However, I have 3 kids age 3 and under…and I would really like to space it out a bit more for the next one :) I am currently taking the mini-pill and breastfeeding exclusively, but have had a lot of issues with lack of sex drive. We are having sex, but it just hasn’t been as enjoyable and I haven’t been “in the mood” very often. I am wondering if FAM would be a good method. Is FAM effective while breastfeeding? I breastfeed my kids until they are about 18 months. My cycle regularity is well non-existent since I have only had about 2 in the past 4 years! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    By the way, Sheila, love, love, love this blog! Thank you so much for your candidness and honesty! I wish I had read it when I was first married!!! How many arguments, difficulties, it could have saved :)

  35. I am neither Protestant ( though i was for 33 years) nor Roman Catholic, but the issues mentioned here have been a source of constant struggle my entire 20 year marriage. I knew fairly early on the side effects and back door mechanisms of he pill, and we were embedded in a sector of Christianity that promoted trusting God with our fertility. So after 4 years of court battles for our first dd, God opened my womb-repeatedly. I have 8 children. We have used the pill, condoms which dont always work and make me feel like a hooker, spermacide (reaction both partners), NFP ( two instructors quit on us as I ov more than once a mo) charting myself (same issues when you ov more than once) avoidance of sex, pull out, interruption. You name it. I recently used a natural progesterone cream to help with endometriosis treatment, guess who is in the 1% o reproductive women who ov BECAUSE of progesterone? I now have a 5mo baby looking at me grinning! Good news is that pregnancy can heal endometriosis. The fact is dh doesn’t trust me NOT to get preggers, because I am so uber talented at it- and despite apnea he has higher counts than 3 men. This makes sex something it shouldn’t end up being-something to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom to these people. Its just that the stories of God’s provision for what he makes never materialized for this family. We have a profoundly disabled child whose anti convulsants take up one entire 2 week paycheck’s worth just to keep her alive. That disease and what happened to our oldest years ago has robbed us of a future or life together. There aren’t enough groceries to go around, textbooks fell by the wayside this year and its a struggle to clothe these people at all ( i shop consignment, cook from scratch and homeschool)
    So while i cannot change what I know about hormonal BC or my beliefs against it, we are at a loss. While my infertile friends look at me and say “I wish I was you”, i debate opening my cupboards or showing them the state of my 15 year old suburban before I say they do not wish such. It is unbearable to not be able to provide, not Nike’s or trips to the beach once in a while, but a geometry tutor and groceries are nice! Instead i just smile and say nothing, because I am not the Holy Spirit in anyone’s life.
    How do you make sex a priority when pregnancy is all but a given and reality hits you full in the face with every seizure your child has in your arms? Her disease isn’t inherited, its random and can strike anyone- so I don’t worry in that sense. And as many times as I am up nursing or tending seizures, that makes cervical mucous and basal temp charting pointless. Dh would point out exactly which children were conceived with that method!
    Frustrated, we both end up feeling disconnected and overwhelmed.

  36. Hi Rebecca. :) Hubby and I use NFP but with one difference – we use condoms during my fertile week. I prefer this because I don’t have to worry about charting my temp or being obsessive. One thought while I was reading your comment – you said God hasn’t really provided for your family, but you’re all still here right? He may not have given you the kind of wealth the Duggars have, but you’re still here. The cupboard is sparse at times and the food often second-rate, but it’s still food. Having a child with disabilities would be devastating and a challenge for everyone. I’m sure the grief and exhaustion you feel is a daily burden. Again, God has sustained you. Jesus said, “In this world you will face many trials and tribulations. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” Your sufferings are temporary. Every day that you lovingly sacrifice for your children, you are being the hands and feet of Christ. Great is your reward in heaven! Take heart, friend. God is with you, even when the cupboards are bare. This world is not our home! “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” The day will come when your cupboards will never be bare again and your child will be fully healed. :) God bless you!

    If anyone is interested, here’s why I personally felt convicted to give up the Pill: http://www.bekahferguson.com/content/view/26/32/

  37. Hi ladies! I will get married very soon, I would like to know waht do you think about the anticonception injection.
    THANKS,

    • Laura, the injection is basically the Pill, but as an injection. So it’s hormonal. I think the problems with it would be what has already been mentioned in this post and in this follow up post: it can interfere with libido, and there’s some evidence that it doesn’t just prevent conception, but may allow conception and prevent implantation, which has some ethical problems. On the other hand, many women swear by it. I’d suggest you do a lot of reading on it and then pray about it. It’s always a difficult decision, so it’s best to know everything there is to know so you can make an informed decision.

  38. Thank you for this post. I am in shock and in tears though, about the information I’ve read on IUD’s in the comments. I had an IUD in for just under a year and told the doctor I was pro-life and that I needed something that would not cause an abortion. I was assured that the BC they were going to give me was fine, but now reading through the comments I feel confused. I had a low hormone one in (mirena) and thought I had done my research. My husband and I had it taken out 10 months ago in hopes of starting a family. We’ve had a miscarriage and I’m still trying to wait for my cycles to go back to normal. I’m not a happy woman now :( Thanks for opening up this subject. I really do think it’s great when woman feel open to talk about sex and birth control and wish more people would have talked about it before we got married.

  39. I learnt NFP before I got married, as well as stocking up on condoms. It’s really interesting to find out how my body works! The temperatures also provide motivation for me to TRY to sleep at sensible times. My family were betting on how long it would take me to get pregnant, with the longest bet being 9 months. I’m a honeymoon baby, and obviously that means that I’ll get pregnant shortly after saying “I do.” I’ve been married 3 years, and for 2 of those I’ve been wishing the FAM were a bit less effective. It’s pretty tough sometimes when Hubs asks whether we “need” a condom. I’m learning patience though. Recently I told him that the fertile time would start at roughly midnight on a given day. He asked if I’d like to push it. We both laughed at the obviousness of my response :)

    Whatever you do, and whatever you want, all of us need to acknowledge the One who’s really in control.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] for all your comments on which birth control method is best yesterday! I’m going to put together a post summarizing what people said in the near [...]

  2. [...] had one of the most popular discussions on this blog about the Christian view of birth control and what form of birth control is best. I had to keep updating the post throughout the day because people left such great comments, and I [...]

  3. [...] there was her post Which Birth Control Method Is Best?.  Then she followed it up with Christian Birth Control Round-Up [...]

  4. [...] about the effects of birth control Sheila Gregoire with To Love, Honor & Vacuum talks about the range of birth control options and what is best. Hot, Holy & Humorous writes Want to Rave about Your Birth [...]

  5. […] of oral contraception on women’s sexual satisfaction, while Sheila’s post provided a great summary of the range of birth control options available to married couples. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage also added her take on this birth control […]

  6. […] Now let’s talk about effective and healthy natural birth control methods. Before reading further down about my pornographic and quite descriptive options, please take your time to read this more academic and pertinent post about alternative birth control methods, written by Sheila Wray Gregoire: Wifey Wednesday: Which Birth Control Method is Best?. […]

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