contraception and birth control

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Abortion rates hit historic lows, according to new report

  • Once again, statistics suggest that abortion rates drop as access to contraception improves.
  • New data from the Guttmacher Institute show abortion rates are at their lowest point since 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, NPR reported Tuesday. 
  • The report shows that in 2014, 14.6 abortions were performed for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. 
  • That’s down from when abortion became legal in 1973, when the rate was 16.3 abortions for every 1,000 women.
  • Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards chalked up the dip to readily available contraception.
  • “It shows that we’re finally doing a better job of helping women get access to birth control that’s affordable and that’s high-quality,” Richards told NPR. Read more

Scientists just discovered a “universal contraceptive” made from chemical compounds

  • The birth control of the future has arrived.
  • Researchers at University of California, Berkeley recently figured out how to solve some of the most common problems posed by traditional birth control methods by targeting the mechanism that powers sperm’s “drilling” capabilities.
  • That mechanism — or “power kick” — as scientists like to call it, is known as Catsper, an ion channel that activates once sperm gets close to an egg.
  • According to Wired, UC Berkeley researchers tested over 50 chemical compounds to find a way to turn off sperm’s “power kick” and discovered two potential solutions: lupeol and pristimerin. Read more (5/17/17)

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The Trump administration’s top family planning official doesn’t think birth control works

  • Trump will reportedly be appointing not one but two vocal abortion opponents to the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • According to Politico, Teresa Manning — a law professor and anti-choice, anti-contraception activist — will be named deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Population Affairs, which delegates Title X funds to family planning initiatives. 
  • The appointment hasn’t been formally made yet, but according to Politico, “several sources” have confirmed it.
  • Manning, formerly Wagner, has worked both for the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council, and has written a book on the “pro-life movement." 
  • She has used her platform to prop up medically inaccurate claims about the purported link between breast cancer and abortion, which medical experts agree does not exist. 
  • She has also argued at length against emergency contraception. In a 2003 interview with WBUR Boston Manning said the above about contraception in general. Read more (5/1/17)

A birth control gel for men proved effective in preventing pregnancy — for monkeys

  • When tested on monkeys, Vasalgel — a long-lasting reversible contraceptive for men — proved entirely effective.
  • Vasalgel is a polymer gel that blocks sperm from swimming through the vas deferens, and may be effective for more than 10 years.
  • It doesn’t prevent ejaculation, but instead acts as a sort of sieve, separating sperm from seminal fluid.
  • In strictly scientific terms, it makes the male subject shoot blanks for as long as the gel remains in place. Read more

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Does peeing after sex keep you from getting pregnant?

Someone asked us:

I had intercourse and I am in my fertile days but I peed right after what are my chances of becoming pregnant

Peeing after you have sex doesn’t do anything to prevent pregnancy. When you pee, the liquid comes out of your urethra, not your vagina, so the pee doesn’t work to flush anything away.

It’s true that some semen might come out of your vagina if you pee (or even just stand up) after sex, but all it takes is a tiny little bit of sperm from semen or pre-cum left in your vagina or on your vulva to do its thing and fertilize an egg.

If semen or pre-cum get into your vagina or on your vulva and you aren’t already on birth control (like the pill, IUD, implant, or something else) and didn’t use a condom, then the best way to prevent pregnancy is to take emergency contraception as soon as possible.

Although it doesn’t prevent pregnancy, peeing after sex can help some people avoid a UTI (urinary tract infection).

-Emily at Planned Parenthood

A majority of men say they haven’t benefited from women’s access to birth control

  • It seems some men are having a hard time finding it in themselves to fight for women’s reproductive rights because, well, they’re having a hard time seeing how it makes their own lives better.
  • A new survey from public opinion research firm PerryUndem found that just 37% of men say they have personally benefited from women’s access to affordable birth control, while 52% say they’ve never reaped such benefits. Read more (3/23/17)

Successful male contraceptive gel trial brings new form of birth control closer

A male contraceptive gel has been found to work reliably in a trial in primates, bringing the prospect of an alternative form of birth control for humans closer.

The product, called Vasalgel, is designed to be a reversible and less invasive form of vasectomy and in the latest study was 100% effective at preventing conception. A blob of the gel is injected into the sperm-carrying tube, known as the vas deferens, and acts as a long-lasting barrier.

Previous tests in smaller animals showed the procedure could be easily reversed by breaking up the gel using ultrasound.

Catherine VandeVoort, of the California National Primate Research Centre and the study’s lead author, said: “Men’s options for contraception have not changed much in decades. There’s vasectomy, which is poorly reversible, and condoms. If they knew they could get a reliable contraceptive that could also be reversed I think it would be appealing to them.”

A representation of how Vasalgel could block sperm in a human vas deferens. Photograph: Parsemus Foundation

Help the Filipino women

So in the Philippines, their Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on preventing the Department of Health and its agencies from going full blast on its family planning program. This puts a total ban on all contraceptives. This TRO, affects 13.4 million Filipino women. These are the 6.1 million presently using contraceptives, and the 7.3 millions more who have unmet need for family planning.

Not only are contraceptives essential for safe sex, but the oral kind, birth control pills are a necessity for women with PCOS. These pills actually DO MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE in the lives of those with PCOS. I can personally vouch from my experience of having irregular menstruation (I didn’t have my period for 2 years at some point) and then when I got checked up, I was given instruction to take birth control pills. I was skeptic at first but only because I wasn’t informed back then. To my surprise, my period started again. It was THAT EASY. Imagine that. I could have regular menstruation if I just took these kind of cheap but still safe pills! Having regular period did wonders to both my body and my self-esteem! No, it doesn’t make PCOS go away but it sure helps with mitigating the symptoms.

But with the TRO, my right to a normal functioning body is taken away. Me and millions of other women in this country will have to deal with the symptoms of PCOS even though it could be easily mitigated with the proper medication, aka birth control pils. And no, there is no alternative because this is the most effective way, all costs considering, of regulating hormones for those whose bodies cannot do otherwise. 

Please don’t let them take this right away from the many Filipino women who need them. Please help us win this fight. You can sign the petition here.

An actual argument that an anti-choicer is making in my messages (I’m paraphrasing, slightly): 

Having sex is a luxury only rich people can afford. Poor people seeking publicly-funded birth control/contraception is like me going to the French Riviera and expecting others to pay for it.

Anti-choicers are something else.

I’m going to smack some facts into you about birth control

1. Top tier birth control (as in, less than 1/1000 chance of being pregnant in a year with said birth control) can EASILY cost $1000+ in the USA without health insurance. The first time I got my nexplanon (which was right before the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, aka the ACA) cost me $600 out of pocket and my insurance paid $1200. Whenever it was time to renew it (it only lasts 3 years), it was when the ACA was put into place, I got it FREE because I had changed health insurances since then.

1b. I tried a few different things before settling on the nexplanon. I LOVED the patch (slap on a patch for 3 weeks, break for one, get a new packet of patches), but it cost me $110 PER MONTH (and you needed to buy a new pack every month), so this was just too expensive for me at the time!

2. Birth control, under all circumstances, does NOT cause abortions (even emergency contraception). If the sperm has touched egg, NOTHING HAPPENS. Nothing, at all! Plan B/the morning after pill DOES NOT CAUSE ABORTION! 

3. Birth control helps a LOT of things besides preventing pregnancies. It can help manage super bad menstrual cycle symptoms (as well as PMS symptoms), for example.

4. No, birth control does NOT raise your risk of breast cancer.

5. Studies have PROVEN without a shadow of a doubt, that when young women have access to affordable birth control, their likelihood of getting pregnant PLUMMETS as well as abortion rates. 

6. Nothing is 100% possible for preventing pregnancy, besides not having sex. You can use condoms, birth control, spermicide (which, raises your risks of STIs/STDs by the way, because it makes your vagina’s inners not as tough, basically), and the morning after pill and it still not be 100% effective.

7. None of your money in America EVER went to ‘help fund abortions’. Look at the Hyde amendment. This prevents tax money (yes, YOUR tax money) from funding abortions.

My Backwoods Abortion/The Scariest Day of my Life

When I was in high school I knew a girl who had an abortion at age 17. I remember thinking to myself ‘I will never do that’. What’s that saying? We make plans and God laughs? God must have been howling.

In the early fall of 2009 I was 18. I was a freshman at Reinhardt College in North Georgia, which is affiliated with the Methodist church. I was an Psychology major with plans to become a therapist (again, God laughs). I lived on campus and was still working on making friends. I had been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for a little over a year and I was head over heels in love. We were sexually active and I was on birth control. Things were, overall, pretty good. I was struggling a little with my mental illness, but it was generally under control. And then it happened. On a clear day in September I realized I was 3 weeks late.

I called my best friend at the time in an all out panic. There’s no way, right?! I’m on birth control! So, I bought a 2 pack of pregnancy tests all while trying to convince myself that I was overreacting. I peed on the first stick and awaited the results for 5 minutes (longest 5 minutes of my life) and then I looked. 2 pink horizontal lines. I was in the doorway to my bathroom and I collapsed. I sat there in shock for a few minutes before I began sobbing. I called my best friend and took the second test while on the phone with her. Again, same result. In that moment on the dirty, cold, tile, bathroom floor I thought to myself “I can’t do this”. It was a defining moment in my life. On that beautiful fall day I went from being “pro life” to “pro choice”.

I called my boyfriend and gave him the news. He was shocked. “So, what do we do?” he asked. “I’m going to have an abortion” I responded. But first I was going to talk to the school nurse. I went to my SUPER LIBERAL RA and delivered the news. She went downstairs with me to talk to the nurse. With tears in my eyes and a shaky voice I told the nurse my dilemma. She listened to me and my decision, handed me some tissues, and then placed a little box in my hands. Inside the box was a tiny 1 inch baby on a bed of cotton balls. “This is what your baby looks like” she said. To which my RA responded “No. Her FETUS looks more like a semicolon” and then we walked out. I sobbed for a bit in my RAs room before heading back to mine.

Again, I called my best friend. She helped me find a clinic. There were only 2 options that we could find anywhere near my area and I called up the closest one, 45 minutes away. 2 hours after finding out I was pregnant I had an abortion scheduled for 3 days later. Some might view my decision as “hasty”, but I knew what was best for me. I was not emotionally, mentally, or financially stable enough to have a child. I was on life saving medications that would most likely cause serious birth defects or miscarriage. I didn’t want to drop out of college. When you know, you know. I have no regrets.

Three days later, on a murky and cool Friday, my boyfriend drove up to take me to the clinic. I signed in at the front desk. We paid up front and in cash so it wouldn’t show up on my insurance because I didn’t want my parents to know. We waited for roughly an hour before my name was called. I cannot stress this enough- it was the most terrifying experience of my life.

In the back, I was given a handful of pills to take before the procedure. I was given little explanation as to what the pills were, but MY GOD did they take effect quickly. I was then given forms to sign and, in my state, I could hardly hold the pen let alone read what was written. But, I signed them nonetheless. The nurse (or whoever the hell she was) told me to strip down and gave me one of those blue medical sheets to wrap myself in. She led me into the next room and sat me down on a red COUCH along with 3 other women. For the life of me I can’t remember what the other ladies were talking about, but I listened to them converse for 20 minutes before a different nurse ushered me into the procedure room. I was instructed to removed the sheet and lie on my back on the table. The nurse conducted an ultrasound and I can still hear her say “Do you want to see the baby”? I promptly slurred “NO!”. Moments later the doctor entered the room and the nurse put an IV in my arm. I don’t remember anything after that.

I don’t know how much time passed, but I woke up to my boyfriend rubbing my right shoulder. It was over. I was HEAVILY sedated so he had to help me put on my sweats and shoes. Upon leaving I was given a bottle of pain pills with a scrap of paper with dosage instructions. No number to call. No follow up appointment. My boyfriend more or less carried me to the car. He told me later there were protestors present. For some unknown reason I told him I wanted chicken nuggets so we drove to McDonalds. We were waiting in the drive thru line when I was overcome with pain and nausea. I opened the car door and leaned out as quickly as I could before throwing up bile for the next 10 minutes. I felt like my insides were falling out. It was completely terrifying. It is the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life and I had brain cancer as a kid so I’m no stranger to pain.

My saint of an RA let my boyfriend stay in my dorm room for the weekend (I had a private room), which was 100% unacceptable at Reinhardt. He heaved me up onto my lofted twin sized bed and I quickly fell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up I thought I was dying. I took some pain medication and then made my way to the bathroom to throw it all up. Slumped down beside the toilet, I beat my knuckles bloody against the white cinderblock wall. I was in complete agony and petrified. As I was given little information at the clinic, I did not know what to expect. But, I was sure that something had gone terribly wrong.

My boyfriend and RA took care of me while I recovered and by Monday afternoon I was myself again. I remember eating a lot of Easy Mac and chewy chocolate chip granola bars during that time. Life went back to normal and my boyfriend and I never really brought it up again. But, you remember how I said I thought something must have gone wrong? For 2 years after the abortion I refused to have a vaginal exam. I was convinced I was “broken”. Thankfully, I can tell you that I eventually did have an examination and everything is in working order.

About 2 months after my abortion that clinic was shut down due to unsafe conditions and expired licenses of both nurses and doctors. There were multiple arrests.

I tell you my story because there is a president in the White House who is trying to make abortion illegal. He wants to take away a woman’s right to abortion which is considered by the UN to be a basic human right. Outlawing abortion will not stop it, but it will make it unsafe. My backwoods and unsanitary abortion will, in many ways, become a fairytale story. Do you know how abortions were preformed before Roe V Wade was passed? Women shoved coat hangers and sewing needles up their vaginas. They used bleach or turpentine douches. While it may not go back to those extremes, the procedures will not be regulated. Any random Joe who puts “Dr.” in front of his name could perform an abortion.

Our president wants to defund Planned Parenthood because PP assists women with abortion. Fun fact: Under Title X, PLANNED PARENTHOOD RECEIVES NO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR ABORTION SERVICES. What will happen is women and men will lose access to a myriad of healthcare services including affordable prescribed birth control and other contraceptives, cancer screenings, assistance with rape and sexual assault, HIV/AIDS and other STD testing, high blood pressure screenings, thyroid screenings, anemia screenings, pap tests, and more. Only 3% of women who go to PP are seeking abortion services.

Having access to affordable birth control and honest sexual education (enough of that abstinence nonsense) reduces the rate of abortions. As access to these services has increased, the abortion rate has decreased. The rate of abortions has decreased drastically since the 1980s.

If you have religious concerns regarding abortion, I completely respect that. That is you right as an American. But, America is not a religious entity. That whole separation of church and State thing is a thing (although it’s gotten completely out of hand). While I am not a Christian, I am a daughter of a Lutheran minister. I was raised to believe in the love and compassion of a savior with the authority to absolve all sins. I was taught that I was saved my God’s grace and His grace alone. I was taught to hate the sin and not the sinner. If you believe abortion is a sin, OK. But, spreading hatred based on your religious convictions just adds fuel to the Devil’s fire. Jesus broke bread and drank wine with the untouchables of the world and instructed His followers to love our neighbor as we love ourself. If you are a Christian, you believe that Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Through his struggle we are forgiven of all sins. We are loved unconditionally. What’s that slogan? What would Jesus do? Remember that the next time you judge others that “sin” differently than you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So, that’s it. That’s the story of the scariest day of my life. I invite you to share your own stories because it’s time to speak up if you can. In the meantime, I will continue to be open about my experiences and struggles because I know there are people out there who share my pain in silence. I will not go out without a fight and I’ve got enough passion to last me till the bitter end.

Thanks for reading!

time.com
Access to Most Effective Birth Control Could Save $12 Billion a Year: Study
In recent decades the U.S. has seen a drop in the rate of unintended pregnancies, thanks in part to women using more effective and long-acting…
By Alexandra Sifferlin

“The Child Trends researchers used those findings to simulate what would happen if all American women had the same access to highly effective contraceptives. They found if women used the most effective forms of contraception there would be a 64% drop in unintended pregnancies, a 63% drop in unintended births, a 67% drops in abortions, and a savings of $12 billion a year in public health care costs.”