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Well, dinner last night was lovely, both the company and the food. I… - Sally's Journal
September 9th, 2004
12:59 pm

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Well, dinner last night was lovely, both the company and the food. I felt a little guilty that I hadn't been waiting at home for M to phone, but then he hadn't phoned last night, and he did ring my mobile when he wanted to speak to me (which had been deliberately turned dutifully on). Was a little shocked to discover it was 1am and I was still babbling on though! At least I didn't have to get up this morning (untill the boiler man came and banged on the door at 9.30, which was a very early "before lunch") Rest of the morning has been gently sorting things: somewhere for me and M to go away this weekend, stray bits of admin for the PhD, and the never ending laundry. Not the worlds most productive day :-) I ache all over too, I can't believe it's just because I ran to the doctors from Bateman Street and did some pruning. Must try and do some engineering reading this afternoon.



Have just listened to Case Notes on contraception, which on the whole was fairly good, at least in that it mentioned all the methods I've come across, and I've dug pretty deeply. Sadly it was on radio 4, so the odds of it being usefully heard by the target market of unaware 21 year olds are rather slim. It also had the unfortunate slant that "the ability to control ones periods" was presented as being of far greater importance to young women than effectiveness, convenience, and long term health and fertility risks. As for moral questions, it just didn't go there. This is science after all, darling... (but I didn't think I was the only freak in the world with a hang up over pre-fertalisation and post-fertalisation contraception and it would have been nice to have the difference made clear. Maybe it is only me and catholic monks who care nowadays...)

In the middle of it all was the curious statistic that "there are 40,000 babies born to girls under 18 and nearly as many abortions". I can't pin my finger on what I think about that. Obviously, the pro-lifers will jump up and down and say that it's great that the majority of teenage girls are doing the "right" thing, but it worries me... I can't think that all 40,000 of them didn't want children, but are morally highbrow and selfless enough to put their unborn childs life before their own. It just doesn't fit my own opinions... if I got pregnant I wouldn't want to have a baby right now, but I'd like to think I'd be brave / stupid / principled enough not to have an abortion. In the crunch I'm not sure if this would hold as I'm very selfish, and I think most teenagers are too. So the worrying conclusion that I feel that statistic might show is that over half of teenage pregnancies are girls who want to have a baby. In which case advertising contraception isn't going to change a thing :-(

I was very amused that I didn't fit into any of their four catagories of women. I'm no longer a young thing constantly changing partners who needs to be sent away with the pill and condoms, and their next age group up was described as "now in a stable relationship so doesn't really care if contraception fails and shouldn't be given the injection as might want to start a family in the next 6 months". I mean, what!?! There is a stage between sleeping around and wanting to produce babies!* And if you want to produce babies its a big enough thing that having 6 months to plan and think about it isn't a bad thing! Then it went onto old women who already have familys but might want more, and then old women who really don't want more, with a very depressing view of marriage (and stereotypical view of who cheats and who gets to keep the kids) thrown in: "well, ok, you have a 45 year old couple with lots of kids who don't want more. It's easier physically for the man to have his tubes tied, but if they spilt up the woman wouldn't want more kids as she has a family, but the man could want to sire children on a younger new woman so it makes more sense to steralise the woman". I can't decide if this should be a "oh yes, how sensible" response, or just the blind Boggle that it is.

They stunningly failed to mention that you can go to GU clinics and get free testing for STDs, as far as I heard. Ok, it's slightly off the topic of "contraception", but as soon as you start talking about non-barrier methods, it should be there being talked about, surely?

The depressing thing that the program was right about was how much you have to push if you want to get any sort of contraception other than the pill, and how only the intelligent well educated young professional women have the tuits to find out about the best contraception for them and the ability to talk their GP into prescribing it. So the ones most likely to forget the pill are the ones most likely to end up on it. I found myself fighting through such a mass of ill educated nurses, misinformation, and having to go all round town to GPs, family planning, and chemists, and it is a lot of effort. We've got free contraception, now we should work on "easy".

That's about it, except for the cheery news that we might have male contraception by exactly the point where I won't need it to exist anymore... Shame about the side effects, wonder if eventually you'll end up with women chasing after spotty men with small testicles because they'll know they're the responsible type?





*At least, really wanting to produce babies right now. I'll admit I get a little bit broody sometimes ;-)

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From:aldabra
Date:September 9th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC)
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Ahem. Don't usually think of myself as an old woman (though it does feel like that sometimes...).
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 05:59 am (UTC)
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To quote "The older women - she's had some children but she's not quite sure she's finished having her family so she wants a reversable method". Don't shoot the messanger - just complain to radio four ;-) Or are you happier now it has an "er" on the end?
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From:enismirdal
Date:September 9th, 2004 06:10 am (UTC)
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*grumbles cos her ISP lost the last comment* Just wanted to say I had no problem at all convincing my GP to give me the depo shot, thankfully. I was done that same appoinment.

I might have gone for the implant if the local surgery did it, but it didn't so I'm happy; now I don't need to worry if the condom breaks, and I don't have to trust my sieve-like brain to remind me to take pills. And since the side-effects so far have been expected and minor, I will be going back for the next shot in October.
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 06:11 am (UTC)
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But did you have to ask? Was it a "I've heard of depo and I'd rather be on this than on the pill" or was it just suggested to you as what you'd most likely like to do?
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From:lisekit
Date:September 9th, 2004 07:06 am (UTC)
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"now in a stable relationship so doesn't really care if contraception fails and shouldn't be given the injection as might want to start a family in the next 6 months".

Reading between these lines, I guess there's a population of women who are in a stable relationship but who don't want to start a family, who therefore would suit the injection (or implant).
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC)
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Yes, but this potential group (of which I'd like to think I'm one) was completely overlooked by the program, which only considered the "four main groups of women". I'm not that much of a minority, am I?
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From:ex_lark_asc
Date:September 9th, 2004 07:06 am (UTC)
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I do recall getting a lot of hassle when I first decided I wanted a coil. It took a go on the mini-Pill which I never rememebred to take before they'd believe me. I only got one after a couple of goes on the morning after pill..
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 07:09 am (UTC)
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Yes... it all seems a bit broken to me. My cynical side thinks it's all cost cutting, with IUS's and implants at about £100 a shot to the NHS it's far cheaper to have everyone except the really pushy people on the pill.
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From:rmc28
Date:September 9th, 2004 08:27 am (UTC)
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With the teen pregnancies and abortions: there's quite a jump between 'will use contraception' and 'will get an abortion'. I'm quite cheerful about contraception, even morning-after pill, but (thankfully) have never had to make 'the abortion decision'. Regardless of high moral ideals, it's physically more difficult, harder to arrange, and your body conspires against you by pumping you full of hormones that make you think being pregnant is a great plan.

So I do think you could bring both pregnancy and abortion rates down a lot by raising use of contraception, especially if they really did start encouraging use of long-term contraceptives in the most vulnerable groups.

Oh, and yes, it is depressing about who wants tubes tied and who doesn't. But sadly, couples *do* break up, and men *do* have a wider 'parenting' window than women and usually the mother *does* get to keep the kids. Not to mention widows/widowers.

I know 4 people personally who have had vasectomies/female sterilisations. Only one of them seems to be overall happy about it, and that's Keith and he's only had it a couple of years yet. I'm quite twitchy about vasectomies/sterilisations for these reasons, because people do change their minds/situations and because there are (now) reasonably good long-term but reversible alternatives.
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
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Luckilly, the more we get things like Mirana the less we have to face the sterilisation question. I think naaths stance is very bold, and would love to be able to fast forward 40 years and see if she still thinks she was right.

How many of the 40,000 do you think are "don't want this baby, but really don't believe in abortion and so am prepaired to make sacrifices" and how many are "want the baby, even if won't admit it publicly"? That's the thing that worries me, (especially as lots of britain is quite tolerant and permissive, and in a way public opinion has changed from the "religious" "abortions are wrong" stance to the political "having a baby when you have no money and abortions are freely available is wrong".)
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From:naath
Date:September 9th, 2004 11:01 am (UTC)
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Well, when I was 17 I went and asked for the pill - because I specifically wanted to have more regular, less heavy periods. When I asked the nurse if I could have something more long-term she sent me off with info and 'you have to see the doctor' - which, as she is in Cambridge and I am not, I have yet to do - she didn't seem to be against the IUS/Implant - but I did have to bring it up.

I am shocked beyond beliefe that radio 4 (who I thought were generally sane) thinks everyone who's given up on 'shag anything that moves' wants *baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyybies* that to have a relationship you need to breed with the person 'what if he remaries - he'll want kids with her' - NO YOU STUPID BBC people do not all want sprogs. And they certainly don't all want them *now* indeed if I thought tomorrow 'I want a baby' I'd want at least a year to get used to the idea, stock up on money, get a suitable house... does anyone really go to their doctor and *complain* that they can't get preggers for 6 months because they had Depo and have, 2 weeks after getting it, changed their mind - does anyone even change their mind with that sort of speed?

Stupid I tell you.

Allso, it seems that most of the less incredably Catholic pro-lifers seem to think that to be pregnant you have to well, be *pregnant* not just have a fertilised egg and that it has to implant. Indeed (apparently) more than 1/2 of fertilised eggs don't implant spontaneously (one reason why most people don't get preggers the first month that they are 'trying to') - which I forget the source of. So you are in an increasingly small minority of people who dislike the idea of contraception that acts as an implantation inhibitor and yes, you are in there with all the Catholics. Of course, they are your principles - feel free to have them - and doctors should certainly *know* what the contraception they are giveing you *does*...

On the teen pregnancy stats - we seriously need EDUCATION - get on the pill you morons! Get depo! Get an IUD! Use condoms! Why the fuck are they preganant in the first place? I mean, that sort of numbers don't come from the failure rate of correctly used contraception. I don't thing any 17 year old is ready to bring up babies... so clearlly, that would be their mothers doing all the work then! Gah.

Of course there was a story on the BBC site a wile ago of 14 year olds who were going to *fertility clinics* because they hadn't managed to get themselves knocked up! So clearlly some of them *wanted* to be pregnant. At 14. Morons.
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From:atreic
Date:September 9th, 2004 11:32 am (UTC)
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you are in an increasingly small minority of people who dislike the idea of contraception that acts as an implantation inhibitor and yes, you are in there with all the Catholics.

I'm not sure I am. I think my main point is that I'm not sure. If an egg and a sperm together are needed to make a (natural, at any rate) life, then it's obvious that if they haven't actually met then I'm covered. If there was only things like the coil available, I might have decided to use them. But if you don't want to kill a Foo accidently, and to make a live Foo you need an A and a B, and you might need a C, (as no-one is quite sure when Foos become alive or not - they're definitely alive with an A, B, C, D and E, and definitely not if you never had an A) it makes much more sense to do the thing that stops the A rather than the thing that stops the C. It may well be the case that if you didn't have the C then you'd never have had an alive Foo to kill, but if you're not sure, then you can take the sure option of no A *without having to develop an opinion over whether C is good or bad*.


Besides more than 1/2 of fertilised eggs don't implant spontaneously isn't a good argument for then not being alive. Quite a large percentage of babies would die if we weren't living in the 21st century, and this doesn't mean that we should be allowed to kill them!
From:yrieithydd
Date:September 9th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC)
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It also had the unfortunate slant that "the ability to control ones periods" was presented as being of far greater importance to young women than effectiveness, convenience, and long term health and fertility risks.

Yes, I heard the 'young women won't want X because they don't want to be unable to predict/control their periods' and boggled. But then again, I had 11 years of utterly unpredictable periods so am not used to the idea of predictability!
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From:rjw76
Date:September 9th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)
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I was about to say that...
I've certainly been put off the pill because my natural cycle varies between 35 and 40 days and... well, that's convenient, and I don't really want it to be 28 days long thanks.
There is also some evidence that the Pill works less well on women with long cycles.

Are woman particularly concerned about exactly when their periods arrive, especially when pregnancy tests can be got for free?
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From:ex_robhu
Date:September 10th, 2004 11:26 am (UTC)
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but I didn't think I was the only freak in the world with a hang up over pre-fertalisation and post-fertalisation contraception and it would have been nice to have the difference made clear. Maybe it is only me and catholic monks who care nowadays...
It's not just you :0) I'm an atheist and I think there is probably an important difference.
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From:flats
Date:September 15th, 2004 04:04 am (UTC)
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how come doctors know so goddamn little about contraception? they generally seem to know less than most females on LJ, at least in all the discussions like this i've seen, or of course maybe us LJers are just more outspoken. but you never hear about a doc saying, "well, this'll probably do this, but different people react differently and so we can't be certain. oh, so you've had problems with depo? well, in that case..."

at some point i need to go and sort all this out for myself. 'cept depo fucked with my head and i don't lead a predictable enough life to manage pills. like naath i reckon i'm one of these hardcore surgical "cut my tubes now, bitch!" types that the NHS won't countenance listening to.
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From:atreic
Date:September 15th, 2004 05:28 am (UTC)
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Well, if depo was bad, don't use the implant in the arm, because it's the same hormones. But if you could bear having it put in the new mirana coils use far fewer hormones in a much more localised way and last for aaaages. Or there is a patch that's just like the pill only it works like a nicoteen patch on your arm and you only need to remember to change it once a week.

I'm just appalled at how it seems the only way to get contraception other than the pill is to go in knowing what you want and all about it already.
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