July 12, 2005

I quit birth control... on a whim?

I’m convinced it is impossible to make any logical decisions about birth control. I quit taking birth control pills a week ago, after chickening out on an attempted quit 5 weeks ago. Despite being, overall, an analytical sort of person, I find I base my contraceptive choices on arbitrary gut feelings.

How can a person evaluate, say, a 10% decrease in the risk of pregnancy versus a 7% increase in the risk of breast cancer? That is worse than apples and oranges. How does the creepiness of slight, synthetic personality change compare to the seemingly natural relief of naked sex?

Birth control effects and side effects are very difficult to keep in perspective. When I was first considering pills, a doctor told me that the risks associated with modern birth control pills were less significant than the health risks associated with pregnancy. How does a person calculate that?

I think risks have to be evaluated in the context of potential rewards, and I doubt that doctor had gone to the trouble of quantifying the average risk:reward ratio of spawning (for 100 couples over a 12 month period, in both perfect and real-world conditions). That ratio has to drift over a lifetime.

At this point, my only concrete reason to stop taking pills is economics, and really minor. I started taking the pill when boy and I tended to have sex 80 times a day, and an unlimited use plan like the pill represented a significant discount from a pay per use system like condoms. Now, six years later, condoms would be the cheaper option, but this is not a deciding factor since we can easily afford the pills.

I think I’m just tired of thinking about fake hormones, side effects, and whether I’m afraid of my normal period. I have drug fatigue.

It’s time to wear out the welcome of some other method.

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