When are people like Mary Banecker from Planned Parenthood going to fess up on the best birth-control option available to women: the fertility-awareness method! It's not the rhythm method and isn't just for Catholics.
It is an empowering tool which provides women and their boy toys with the info they need, including when they are ovulating and fertile and when they are not, and are therefore able to have clean, natural, skin-to-skin sex without drugs, pills, rubbers, and all that other crap. It is perfect for women with regular periods, like Rubber Tired (if all other safe-sex requirements are met, of course: monogamy; HIV, gonorrhea, etc, -free). I've been using it successfully for ten years without any negative side effects.
The positive side effects: no more urinary-tract infections from irritating diaphragms, no more hemorrhoids from the pill, no more rubbers during infertile periods, a lot less lubricant consumption, a wealth of knowledge about my body and my fertility cycle. I have control over when I have children and when I don't, without taking drugs or damaging my body! I get really pissed when well-intentioned gals like Mary omit this option. When will professional family planners promote fertility awareness?
As for the counter-arguments: It doesn't work for everyone. True, but neither does the pill or latex rubbers. People can make mistakes (user failure). Well, gosh, that's true. I might even have to get an abortion if I don't use it right! But I had to get an abortion at age 19 because I didn't use a diaphragm right.
For more info about fertility awareness I recommend The Art of Natural Family Planning by John and Sheila Kippley, published by the Couple to Couple League.
"We don't promote one method of birth control over any other," Mary Banecker of Planned Parenthood told me when I called and shared your letter with her. "We offer information about all methods. Fertility awareness is in our all-method fact sheets; we have pamphlets about it right beside pamphlets about condoms and diaphragms. We let people decide what's the best birth-control option for them, and we give them the information they need to make that decision.
"As for fertility awareness, she's right that it shouldn't be confused with the rhythm method. The rhythm method was guesstimating when you were fertile and abstaining from sex, and it was not very effective. Fertility awareness is more complicated, more effective, and it takes some training and commitment. It includes looking at your cervix, your vaginal mucous, your temperature--all of which change during the menstrual cycle--and tracking all three of those things over a long enough period of time to gain an awareness of your fertility cycle," and then abstaining from vaginal intercourse or using a condom or some other latex contraption when you're dropping eggs. "Fertility awareness can be effective, but it is complicated and requires a lot of commitment."
The book Mary recommends on fertility awareness is the creatively titled Fertility Awareness by Katherine Whitlock and Regina Pfeiffer. And Mary wanted to emphasize that, so far as she knows, "the pill doesn't cause hemorrhoids." To find the Planned Parenthood office nearest you, call 800-230-PLAN.
I gotta throw my two cents in regarding vasectomy. I guess you'd have no direct experience getting your balls cut loose, and you spout the party line: No change at all! Good as new!
Check the fine print: As with any surgical procedure, a percentage do not get the desired results. For me, a breeder with two kids, I couldn't justify or afford more kids, and I knew there was some subconscious magic that would probably make a future accident likely. I made an appointment. The pain was bad enough, but there was a deep sense of loss I wasn't prepared for. Then the pain grew. Can you say granuloma? The offered remedies were ibuprofen (ruined my stomach and didn't help my balls) and opiates (not so good for sleep). I finally found some Chinese herbs that helped.
As far as quantity, consistency, and frequency of spunk output: Before getting cut, I was at ten-twelve orgasms/week. A year later I can manage four-five/week of one-fourth or one-half the volume, and the bang is nowhere as big. One possibility I haven't tried is reversal--the vasocasostomy. It supposedly helps a percentage of us unfortunates. I haven't yet been able to face going back to the doc. --RV
You might want to take your balls back to the doc. According to our ever-helpful friends at Planned Parenthood, sperm leaking from the snipped tubes can cause a small lump--granuloma--under the skin near the site of the operation in about 18 out of 100 cases. Sperm granuloma usually clear up by themselves. If not, surgical treatment can take care of that pain in your nuts.
As for your other symptoms--decreased sex drive and lower spunk output--that's about what's going on in your head, not what's leaking into your sack, that deep sense of loss you're struggling with. If shooting live rounds is important to your sense of sexual self-esteem, you probably shouldn't have had a vasectomy in the first place. Reversing a vasectomy is a much more expensive procedure and not always effective, but if shooting blanks is wrecking you--and you can afford it--you might want to have that vasocasostomy.
In a recent column you called lysine a "deadly poison." Could you please explain your statement in more detail? I've been taking lysine tablets for about 15 years, whenever I feel a herpes outbreak coming on. It's been very successful in suppressing or modifying my symptoms. I only take lysine occasionally, but would like to know about any potential dangers. --Concerned
I was kidding. A reader advised those suffering from canker sores to take lysine, and I wrote, "for all I know...L-Lysine is a deadly poison," not because it is a deadly poison, but to jokingly qualify that reader-generated advice. I wasn't endorsing lysine, because, for all I know...ha ha ha. Anyway, for the record, lysine is an essential amino acid that cannot be manufactured by our bods. The best food sources are lean meats, fish, potatoes, and milk. Some brainiac somewhere back in the 80s discovered that lysine helped control the herpes simplex-one virus, mouth blisters, and cold sores. Since then it has been shown to have broader immunity-enhancing effects.
Lysine deficiencies can impede immune function, make you crabby, make your hair fall out, and a whole bunch of other depressing crap. So eat yer taters and drink yer milk.
This is not a question, but an answer. You recently responded to someone who had a scat fantasy. You replied that you did not know of any clubs where he could find a partner. I don't know of any clubs per se, but for you and your reader's information, he can obtain hetero scat videos from S.W. Enterprises, Inc., PO Box 549, Kila, MT 59920.
No obligations, no scam, no shame.
Thank you for writing. That's what this column is all about: people helping people.
Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.