Last week I had my yearly “consult” to make sure I could continue on the Nuva Ring. I hadn’t been having any complications and I didn’t expect any problems. “How do you feel about condoms?” My doctor asked. “Fine, until I got pregnant with my daughter. Why?” She told me that my blood pressure was too high, I was a smoker and was at risk for a blood clot if I continued using the Nuva ring. I begged her to reconsider. I even (eek) offered to quit smoking, or at least cut back. She pulled down her glasses and rubbed her temples, already pink from the patients before me. “If you have 3 blood pressure readings within normal range this month and you quit smoking, I will rewrite the Nuva Ring prescription for another 3 months. Then you get to have another sit down with me. Understand?” I love my doctor. I couldn’t imagine what I would do without this form of birth control that took me 13 years to find.
Later that night, I was on the floor with my toddler and I noticed my right leg was swollen. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I kept checking it and comparing it with the other one. It was definitely bigger. I got nervous and called the nurse line. (I keep their phone number posted on the fridge. It comes in real handy.) She was asking me a ton of questions and said she thought it was a blood clot. I looked down at my now numb and blue leg wondering if they were going to have to amputate. (I’m an extremist, I know.) To make a long story short, it was not a blood clot. I had a ruptured cyst in my knee and all the fluid was causing the swelling. It wasn’t anything serious, but you better believe I swore off the Nuva Ring like it was the plague.
I started researching the new male contraceptive, due out in 5-7 years, and I’ve already told my husband he’s on it. It’s really amazing, compared to the limited number of options men have. The pill works by dropping the sperm count to zero, making it more effective than condoms and even more effective than the female pill. The main downsides are that it works like the female version (in the way that you have to take it every day) and it doesn’t protect against STDs or HIV (so please, be in a monogamous relationship), but it is reversible and cost-effective (it will cost about as much as us girls pay). It will feel better for guys, not having to use a condom, and the best part of all: no side effects. Aside from a small percentage of men who experienced slight weight gain, there were no side effects. Now we can stop worrying about mood swings, possible cancer and blood clots.
In addition to the male pill, there is a contraceptive implant. Tiny rods are placed under a man’s skin (in the arm), sending etonogestrel, a form of progestogen that blocks sperm production. Since the rods do not contain testosterone, injections of this hormone would be required every 4 – 6 weeks (the rods would only need to be replaced every 3 years, but could be removed at any time should you decide to discontinue this form of birth control).
After thousands of years of carrying the responsibility of birth control, it’s now time for women to pass the torch or should I say the pill.