Hey Go-To Girl:
My partner and I have just started to have sex without condoms, but I'm not on birth control. I'm
wondering what my options are, because I'd like to continue not using condoms, but am also under the impression that unless I want a baby that using nothing is about the dumbest thing EVER (any thoughts on that are appreciated, too, because for some reason he's not as worried about me getting pregnant...and I'm definitely open to the possibility that I just don't know too much about this).
Anyway, I'm really NOT wanting to use highly hormonal birthcontrol, and a midwife friend of mine mentioned a few weeks ago about a kind that is mild but effective, and that you insert/replace once a month.
Does that sound familiar?
Whatchu got for me gal?
Wants Total Freedom
You're right: using nothing is the dumbest thing ever. I won't address my feelings about your partner who seems unconcerned about you accidentally winding up pregnant (but where I come from, we have a word for a guy like that...) but here's the lowdown on condoms and nonhormonal methods.
a) Have you been vigilantly tracking your menstrual cycle for the past year and found that you have a predictable, regular cycle?
If the answer is "no," don't pretend that you understand the Rhythm Method and can decline to use condoms at certain times of the month. While the chances of getting pregnant during certain phases of the cycle are remote, finding out you're pregnant is a bad way to retrospectively predict when you ovulate.
b) Have you and the guy had the STD conversation?
If the answer is "no," you should be using condoms even if you're sure you can't get pregnant.
c) I hate condoms, too. A lot. That's why I got a ParaGard IUD.
The upside: It's nonhormonal and more effective than sterilization (seriously). It lasts 10 years (seriously). None of that weight gain/depression/moodiness/lack of libido/generally hating everything that you get with the Pill. It's the most popular contraceptive method both worldwide and among women OB/GYNs.
The downside: Cramps are worse, and my period lasts a bit longer. If you have bad cramps now, getting an IUD will make them worse, perhaps even debilitating. But if you don't (I had no cramps before my IUD) then it won't be that bad.
d) The once-a-month method your friend mentioned is the NuvaRing, which is a ring that you insert into the vagina each month. It releases a lower dose of hormones inside the body, so the side effects are supposed to be milder than with other hormonal methods. From people I know who have used it, they report high levels of satisfaction and nobody's partner has, um, felt it up in there. But if you're anti-hormones over all (as I am) then it's a no-go.
If you've used hormonal methods before, any side effects you experienced are likely to return. Some MDs are hesitant to give IUDs to women who haven't had children, but I've done the research and, trust me, if you're STD free you can get one.
If you have any STDs, you shouldn't get an IUD, because having an IUD and an STD can blow up your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility and death. But the IUD by itself DOES NOT cause PID or infertility. Nurse Midwives are also able to insert IUDs as long as they've been trained to do so and I prefer them for Gyn care in general.
To sum up: buy a box of condoms, and use them until you get your shit together. My favorite are Kimono MicroThin.