Taking (birth) control of the situation

This is Jeff Groat. He’s the Runner’s sex columnist. He has only one qualification for the job: his last name sounds like a dirty word. This week he talks about birth control.

By Jeff Groat [Lifestyle Bureau Chief]

Birth control is such a hot topic these days that even those cats in Parliament can’t go a session without discussing all the salacious details.

For some background, the sexy Canadian government wants to put maternal health at the top of the G8’s agenda, but is not including funding for contraception and abortion in the made-in-Canada proposition.

Add in some Liberal rhetoric, some Conservative double-speak and Jack Layton’s moustache and here we are with an insulting export of Conservative ideology.

So what are we talking about? What is this medical care that we take for granted (and enjoy) in our rich corner of the world?

In Canada, sex and pregnancy are two separate things and there are a variety of ways in which to keep it so, including the pill, condoms, and surgery, such as vasectomies.

Now the old cliche still rings true, despite being a little worn: the only method that works 100 per cent of the time is abstinence, but that’s not the point of this article or this column for that matter.

I’m going to assume that we are all consenting adults who have sex and enjoy having sex, and choose to do so in a responsible way.

So with saying “no, thank you” aside, there are a number of ways to enjoy safe sex.

Condoms, sponges, diaphragms and other “barrier” types of contraceptives all work on the same principle of “no sperm past this point,” although they all work in their own ways.

Keep in mind that condoms are an effective form of contraception, and they protect against the transfer of STI’s.

If you don’t like “placing” foreign objects between you and your partner, or if you prefer a more natural, intimate feel to your sex, then the pill is another means of birth control.

It’s very important to take it at the same time every day for it to be effective, but since it’s basically just a dose of female hormones, it can cause some bothersome side-effects to the woman taking them.

Side effects such as bloating, increased blood pressure, nausea, headaches and acne are all commonly experienced. Trust me.

Working in a similar way as the pill, shots can be taken for effective birth control for one to three months, but again, expect some side-effects from this one. There’s also the Nuva Ring which a woman inserts once a month. Or the IUD, which a doctor inserts in a woman once every five years. Do a little research, women, and see what’s best for you.

If pills and latex aren’t your kind of thing, you can always opt for the more invasive surgery.

Vasectomies and hysterectomies – or ‘tying the tubes” as they’re called – work to block the sperm from either leaving, or entering the parts of the body that are important for pregnancy.

Usually, these are common among monogamous or married couples who don’t want to have any more kids, rather than university students wanting to let loose.

No knives, please.

In a more unreliable vein, is the “don’t worry baby, I’ll pull out” method. Timing is everything.

Also worth noting is a University of Buffalo study that found that as marijuana use increased, male infertility followed, as levels of seminal fluid and sperm counts dropped the more a man smoked the green.

Although definitely not an effective means of birth control, it’s probably worth keeping in mind.

And since we’re fortunate enough to live in Canada, all of this can be discussed in great detail – and in private – with your doctor.