Bad Catholic’s Grating Paternalism

I want to take a moment to address one more thing from Marc’s recent post on chastity and contraception, written as a rebuttal to one of my own posts:

I can think of quite a few other reasons contraception could be, at the very least, a contributing factor to marital dissolution, though I don’t have the studies to back me up. For instance, consider that the weight of contraception falls unfairly on women. Men have to wear a free condom. Women have to suppress their menstrual cycles with hundred-dollar pills. There is one contraceptive device for men, and it comes without health risks. There is no end to the contraceptive devices we’ve developed for women, no drop of ingenuity wasted on developing the plethora of caps, sponges, pills, IUDs, patches, rings, and female condoms that have become “a woman’s responsibility.” This gender inequality inherent to contraception would be bad enough even if most female contraceptives didn’t include health risks (like decreased sex drive. (4)(5)(6)(Not exactly a key to an easy marriage.)) So no, it’s not ridiculous to think contraception could be linked to a greater risk for divorce.

How does a couple using a birth control method like the pill or an IUD, which are taken by or inserted in women, lead to a higher risk of divorce? Even if we’re honestly concerned about the health risks artificial contraception poses to women (which are, by the way, far, far, far lower than the health risks of pregnancy), how does that lead to a greater risk of divorce? I’m seriously not seeing the mechanism here, and I’m not trying to be dense. I think the argument must be that women would end up resenting their husbands because they face health risks while their husbands don’t, but I think that’s something people like Marc must imagine happens, because I’ve never felt it and I’ve never seen it.

But if Marc really is worried about the burden of contraception falling on the woman, why is he pushing Natural Family Planning? Is he unaware of how much more work NFP is for a woman, or that the vast majority—vast, vast majority—of the effort of NFP falls on the woman? I have used NFP. I used it for the first four years of my marriage, actually. And in the end, I concluded that using NFP is like making your birth control into a hobby. That is how all-consuming it is. So I honestly don’t buy that Marc is actually concerned about the fact that the burden of contraception falls primarily on the woman. If he were, he would actually be advocating for male forms of contraception, or for making contraception even more effortless for women (spreading awareness of the effectiveness of IUDs, for instance) rather than advocating for NFP.

This whole thing about how contraception being designed for women being some sort of “gender inequality,” or that contraception somehow oppresses women is something Marc does this a lot. He frequently tries to turn feminist rhetoric back on itself, and it never works out well. In the past, for instance, Marc has tried to warn women about the health dangers of contraception, as though women don’t hear the litany of possible side effects from doctors and yet choose to take the pill anyway. It’s like Marc thinks we’re children who need hand holding, not big girls who know that contraception has health risks and yet choose to take it anyway for some reason Marc can’t comprehend (Hint: We like being able to have sex and not get pregnant—shocking, I know!).

I don’t see Marc running around warning women not to get pregnant because of all the health risks associated with pregnancy, or talking about what a problem it is that the burden of procreation falls on the woman and not on the man. The health risks of pregnancy are far higher than the health risks of contraception, but plenty of women run those risks anyway. It’s not that they don’t know the risks, it’s that they choose to face them anyway because they have decided the end result is worth it. And it’s the same with contraception. Similarly, with regards to Marc’s concern about the burden of contraception falling on the woman, would someone please remind Marc that all of the effort of pregnancy is on the woman? And pregnancy is not easy. Nor is labor. Is Marc concerned about the fact that all of that work falls on the woman, and about the “gender inequality” that represents? I highly, highly doubt it.

Now let me address Marc’s claim that (artificial) contraception lowers women’s sex drives (which, by the way, can be a side effect of some hormonal birth controls but is not always, and is not for every woman). What Marc seems oblivious to is that some women might be just fine with a lower sex drive if that’s the price they have to pay to choose when and if to become pregnant (once again, Marc’s paternalism comes into play as he assumes that women are children who are unaware of the trade-offs they may make when using birth control). He also seems oblivious to the fact that the risk of pregnancy might actually inhibit some women’s sex drives—or that having small children taking up time, attention, and energy might lower a woman’s sex drive.

I’ve written before about how, when I used NFP (and I used it for four full years), my fear of messing it up and getting pregnant severely inhibited my sex life and my enjoyment of sex. One way I could tell how strong this effect was that each time I got pregnant (both were planned) those first few months of pregnancy were an amazing haze of sexual bliss. All of a sudden my husband and I could have sex and enjoy it, without the constant worrying about pregnancy. The difference was incredibly, incredibly huge and undeniable. I’ve since gotten an IUD, and it’s the same sort of thing—I now don’t have to constantly worry about pregnancy, or to scan my chart over and over trying to decide whether to risk it or wait another day. And that’s mindblowingly amazing. (And for the record, my IUD has not caused me a single health problem.) And I’m not the only one who has had these experiences, either.

Look, if Marc is honestly concerned about the health risks of female contraception, and the relative dearth of male contraceptive methods, I am all for him starting a campaign for female contraceptives that have fewer health risks, and for greater variety in male contraceptives. These are both things I’m in favor of, too. But then, I suppose I shouldn’t have added that “too” there, because I seriously doubt Marc is actually in favor of either of these things. He’s a Catholic who totally embraces the Church’s ban on (artificial) contraception, so when he pulls out the bits about (artificial) contraception having health risks or about how there’s only contraception for women, he’s not doing that because he actually wants to fix those problems. He’s doing it because he wants to throw out (artificial) contraception altogether. And I suppose that’s why his twisting of feminist rhetoric makes me rather angry.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Sven2547

    Marc basically said that there’s a correlation between a lack of kids and divorce. Then he goes another step and says that since contraception is about preventing pregnancy, yada yada yada divorce.

    Conspicuously absent from this line of reasoning is whether there is a correlation between lack-of-sex and divorce. I suspect he would find that couples who are more sexually active with each-other are also significantly less likely to divorce.

    To me, it comes as no surprise that the Roman Catholic Church has shrouded sex in extra layers of mysticism and magic and symbolism and special-ness. All of their policymakers are celibate.

    • Hat Stealer

      “All of their policymakers are celibate.”

      What, do children not count now?

    • Basketcase

      Or at least MEANT to be celibate…

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Chill out, Libby. You’re probably only angry because it’s that time of the month. Ask Marc, I’m sure he’ll be happy to tell you all about it.

  • Niemand

    What a lot of silliness in one place. I have a couple of complaints to start with…

    1. There is more than one form of male contraception. The other is called a vasectomy. Men wishing to be sure that they do not have offspring or more offspring can use it. It is not risk free, but it is low risk. And, after evaluation to ensure that the procedure worked and no sperm are being ejaculated, it’s pretty sure.

    2. There are at least two options for women which have “condom” like characteristics (external, low risk, etc.) One is the “female condom” (which I am apparently nearly unique in liking). The other is the diaphragm.

    3. What is THE most dangerous form of contraception? None whatsoever. That’s right. Using no contraception puts a woman at greater risk than using ANY contraception. Pregnancy is dangerous.

    4. For that matter, condoms are not 100% risk free. Ever heard of latex allergy? It can kill. Embarrassingly, if your exposure was to a condom.

    5. I’m not sure if he’s saying that choice is a good thing or a bad one. First he laments the lack of choices for men–then the plethora of choices for women. Huh? Is he mad because for once women have more choices or what?

    6. Some OCP can reduce sex drive. True. But you know what? NFP forbids sex at the moment when women’s sex drive is at its peak. Does that make for a good, stable marriage?

    I could go on and probably will later, since the “the pill is bad for women’s health” statement is, shall we say, an unsophisticated one.

    • Jayn

      I’ve always found point #6 particularly perverted. I suppose having to abstain when you want something most is viewed by some as being more godly, but the whole thing is pretty tortured logic to begin with.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I do just want to point out that not every woman experiences a peak in sex drive during ovulation. Some women experience peaks at other times in their cycles and some women’s sex drives don’t seem to be tied to their cycles at all. I feel like it’s important to mention this to drive home the points that a) women’s bodies and minds don’t all work the same way and are not affected by hormones the same way, despite what conservatives think and b) this means that women aren’t all going to be affected by hormonal contraception the same way.

      • Niemand

        Good point. Sorry for the overgeneralization. You’d think I could have been more sensitive, especially given that I’m one of the women you describe whose sex drive is not where it is “supposed” to be. But I would still claim that forbidding sex when a lot of women (but not all) find it the most enjoyable is bad public policy.

      • Kate Monster

        But good policy if you WANT them to have the babies anyways.

      • Niemand

        And even better if you want it to be their own fault that they had babies when they didn’t want to. If they’d just exercised a little self-control they wouldn’t be in this situation, would they?

        It’s a double bind. If women don’t consent to sex with their husbands then they’re behaving selfishly and endangering the marriage and it’s their own fault if their husbands have affairs. if they have sex and get pregnant when they don’t want to, it’s their own fault for not exercising self control. Notice whose fault it never is?

      • alwr

        Except that hormonal birth control suppresses ovulation so that time no longer exists. You can’t have it both ways on this one. Incidentally, we are Catholic and use a barrier method of contraception. I would not advocate that hormonal birth control be inaccessible and I know from the experiences of women close to me that it has medicinal uses beyond contraception. However, I do not understand why in this age of “everything natural” liberal women react in such horror to the idea that completely altering normal physical function is perhaps not the healthiest choice. It is mind boggling. I know people who will not walk by non-organic fruit or take an antibiotic for an infection yet alter their natural body chemistry every day as a contraception method.

      • Kristen White

        It’s because many liberal women don’t generalize based on whether something is ‘natural’ or not. We research. I personally made the choice to use hormonal birth control, I found the side effects to be minor but frustrating, I switched to a different hormonal method, the side effects went away, and it was fine. I’m now using a copper IUD, and that’s even better. Hormonal birth control has been studied exhaustively and has been continually improved to lower the dose and reduce side effects. If your method works for you, that’s great, but I don’t understand why you are “boggled” that many women make a choice to take a medication that is very effective and has few side effects. Altering body chemistry is a scary-sounding phrase, but the human body is adaptable and resilient.

      • Eamon Knight

        People who behave as you describe are being inconsistent. “Natural” vs. “artificial” is a pet peeve of mine. Creating technology (including self-alteration) is what we humans “naturally” do — it’s what Dawkins calls our extended phenotype (other examples of the concept are beaver dams and honey combs). The natural/artificial dichotomy, when used in this value-laden way, is bogus — IMO a secularized, pseudo-scientific version of ritual purity/impurity. Rationally, there are only costs and benefits, to be recognized and traded off.

      • J-Rex

        Actually you can have it both ways. My sex drive got higher when I started taking this brand of pills. Every woman is different and the hormones affect them in slightly different ways.
        A lower sex drive is a possibility, but it’s each woman’s decision. The point everyone is trying to make is that it’s unfair for him to talk about reduced sex drives on the pill while ignoring the fact that NFP requires a lot of abstinence during stages of higher sex drive for it to be effective. Not that it makes either method wrong (the couple should choose what works best for them), just that his logic is inconsistent.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Take me for example. Other than during my period, I want sex all the time. BC and mood stabilizers never had any effect on my drive.

      • LL

        On this board or The Friendly Atheist’s board, I once had a Catholic believe that he “checkmated” me, because I made the statement that some women don’t want sex when they’re infertile (I am one of those women), so regardless of how accurate her readings are, sex could range from uncomfortable to impossible (psychologically and physically) during infertile times. His exact (smug) reply to me was “And why do you think that might be?”

        Ummm, I know EXACTLY why that might be. I am not an idiot. He seriously believed that women shouldn’t be ALLOWED to enjoy sex unless they were willing to get pregnant. He was so smug about it, I was genuinely speechless. This is what they believe. A woman in my position should either have sex she doesn’t want or can’t physically or psychologically handle OR have a pregnancy she doesn’t want. Or never, ever have sex, I guess. Ugh. I’m still speechless. I don’t know how to respond to that still.

    • CarysBirch

      To add to your number two, cervical caps and sponges. The sponge adds spermicide, which some people are allergic to, but considering how many condoms are drenched in it too, I think it’s still a fair comparison. And they’re otc, just like condoms… (I like the sponge, heh.)

  • Stev84

    More Orwellian doublespeak from a religious fanatic. Freedom is slavery! Options are restrictions! Nothing new.

    • Sven2547

      “Sex is the ultimate bond between man and woman, allowing them to consummate their relationship in a loving and meaningful way. Therefore you should use NFP and have less sex.”

      Yeah, the doublespeak is quite strong among Catholic apologists. “Galileo wasn’t punished for Heliocentrism!” “We have always been at war with Eastasia!” And don’t even get me started on the “doctrine of double effect”.

      • smrnda

        I think this plays into the general tendency of religious people to believe that pleasures, particularly sexual ones, are good because of scarcity, kind of like the belief that suppressing your sex drive until marriage will make that *first time* absolutely amazing. It’s probably connected to an unhealthy tendency to view anything fun or pleasurable as morally suspect and a belief that deprivation for its own sake has value.

      • Kate Monster

        HA! I remember a theology teacher in high school telling us that Church didn’t punish Galileo because of heliocentrism–no, it was because they wanted him to move a little more slowly with announcing his findings, so that the public wouldn’t be too overwhelmed by the knowledge. The Church TOTALLY knew he was right, but they wanted to protect the populace. And Galileo was just to stubborn and proud. So, really, they had no choice.

        Out of all the things we were told at that school, this might have been the BSiest.

      • Stev84

        There is one apologist argument that actually has some truth to it. Galileo pissed off the Pope big time. They weren’t always enemies, but Urban VIII somewhat supported his work at the beginning. He didn’t outright ban it, but asked him to show “both sides of the controversy” (as Christians would say today). However in that book, the defender of geocentrism was easily seen as a stand-in for the pope and he was portrayed as a fool. This pissed off the Pope, as well some very influential cardinals who had supported and defended him before. If he had maintained their backing, he would never have been placed under house arrest. Most scholars agree that Galileo didn’t do this intentionally, but the way he acted did play a role in how he was treated.

      • Sven2547

        Yeah, the actual sentencing document starts with:

        Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were denounced to this Holy Office in 1615 for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world and motionless and the earth moves even with diurnal motion…

        It’s amazing some will continue to deny it.

      • Margaret

        Stev84 is correct. The church wanted Galileo to prove his findings before making them public, and he didn’t have the proof yet. In fact, essentially, he was incorrect. He claimed that the planets revolved in circles around the Sun and the church even pointed out a star that proved that this must be false. Had he instead argued that the planets were not moving in perfect circles and explained the phenomenon of the star, then the church may have been more receptive. However, instead of proving these things first, he simply began telling the world. I’m not saying the church was completely right in their treatment of him, but it’s true that he was also at fault.

  • Joykins

    Withdrawal is probably the most common method of birth control even today, globally speaking; depending on accuracy of use can be almost as effective as a condom; remains entirely under male control (or a burden to the man); and is a pain in the you-know-what.

    I don’t think the Catholic excuses for forbidding contraception are supposed to make sense in terms of logic. The real reason they teach against contraception is because the Catholic Church institutionally believes that not using contraception is the way to fulfill God’s commandment to be fruitful and multiply, and everything else is just sloppily made-up stuff to trot out to presumably show other beneficial side-effects. As others have observed, there are better people to make rules for married life than an organization run mostly by celibate men.

    And yeah, no doubt many marginal marriages are worked on rather than bailed on because of the motive to provide a stable home for the children. This has less to do with *using contraception* than *having children* though. Most people who have children also use contraception.

    • LL

      See, I would respect their position more (especially if they didn’t try to force non-Catholic women to comply with their positions) if they simply believed that couples shouldn’t use any form of birth control and multiply away. It’s a stupid belief, but whatever works for them. It’s their absurd arguments that NFP is fine while other forms of birth control are Evil. It is utter nonsense and nobody has an even remotely intelligent argument for it, but yet, it is Truth and we non-Catholics are incredibly stupid for just not seeing how obvious that Truth is. It is infuriating!

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I have been on the pill for more than 5 years. Here’s how it happened: I went to my doctor and told her I was interested in trying it. We had a long conversation in which I asked a lot of questions (because I am a grown-up) and she gave me detailed answers and asked me a lot of questions too (because I am a grown-up). She determined that, given my age, health and family history, the risks of the pill for me were extremely low. I do, however, have a history of depression and anxiety, conditions which can be exacerbated by some pills, so she told me that she would write me a prescription for one that had a very low risk of doing that. And she told me that, if I had any bad side effects of any kind that I could come back in and we could try a new one, or look at other options altogether if I wanted.

    This turned out to be unnecessary though because the pill had pretty much no side effects at all. It did not flare up my depression or anxiety and it had no effect on my sex drive, thank you very much. All that decreased were my tampon expenditures, because my periods became shorter and lighter–but I have some how found a way to cope with that horrible tragedy.

    Oh, and they don’t cost 100 dollars. Despite the best efforts of Marc’s church, my insurance covers it. The co-pays were always low but now I have no co-pays at all–also despite the best efforts of Marc’s church. So it’s mighty rich for him to pretend he gives a shit about the effect of birth control on women’s wallets.

    In short, if Marc wants to know about women’s experiences with contraception he can, you know, just ask women. Asking women about their lives is so much easier than speculating baselessly about them and making shit up, although you get might get answers that don’t fit quite so neatly with the Catholic Church’s take on The Way Things Are. Which is of course why he, like other conservative Catholic men, doesn’t ask.

    • mythbri

      Asking women about their lives is so much easier than speculating baselessly about them and making shit up

      It’s not “baseless speculation”, PP. It’s divine “reality” with which many women, Catholic or not, are not fully aligned. ;)

      My experience with getting started on the pill is almost exactly the same as yours. I have had no noticeable side effects, even when I had to switch prescriptions (my doctor is awesome!) so that I could have one that is completely covered by my insurance (despite the best efforts of Marc’s busybody church).

    • Arakasi

      Don’t you realize that you aren’t qualified to make decisions about your own life? You aren’t a trained theologian, so your opinion is irrelevant. The people who know best about your relationships are a group of celibate old men who have never met you.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        And, of course, celibate, (very) young men with blogs who have never met me who are in the pockets of the celibate old men who have never met me.

        And, yes you are so right! I mean, here I am telling a story about how I, a woman, went to consult with my doctor, also a woman, about the best choices to make for my sexual health. And not one celibate man weighed in on this whole process, no, not even one! Clearly, my experience is invalid.

      • Hat Stealer

        Why ask women when he can just ask his Pope?

    • Feminerd

      I wish I had no copays :( I’m using the NuvaRing because the last time I tried pills, I got permanent morning sickness, and I can’t swallow pills anyways. (yes, they’re tiny. yes, I gag on them anyways). That one has a $40 copay per month.

      • CarysBirch

        Tell me about it. :-( I’ll commiserate with you on that one. Mine’s only 35 per month but it still hurts.

        I had severe breakthrough bleeding on (several different types of) the pill, but nuva ring is great… If expensive.

      • coupdefoudre

        CarysBirch… please see my comment to Feminerd just above. As a bargain shopper, I can’t help but evangelize when I find a way to save some money!

    • ArachneS

      My experience was similar. I liked the pill well enough, but I still prefer not to think about my BC every day so when my prescription ran out and I went back to my doctor, I asked about other more long term options. Which is why I have an IUD, which I’ve had no problems with. If I had any problems, I would have dealt with them as an adult does when prescription or procedure doesn’t work and went back to change it.

      Somehow, this is not how he sees women dealing with their lives.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    What drives me most crazy about Marc’s attitude (from what I’ve read of his blog in the past) is that everything becomes one-size-fits-all. I would very much like to read Marc’s response to Libby Anne’s personal experience. Strip away all the statisics and all the theories and explain why she personally- a happily married mother who tried it his way for 4 years- should abandon what works for her and her husband and exchange it for what did not work for her or her husband.

  • Arakasi

    The reason the Catholic argument against artificial contraception is so convoluted is that it was developed from the conclusion, rather than the conclusion rising from the argument.

    John XXIII established the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control to study the issue, rather than addressing it as part of Vatican II. When John XXIII died & Paul VI became pope, he stacked the commission with theologians – possibly to ensure that the “correct” conclusion was reached.

    The Commission returned its report supporting the use of artificial birth control. 65 of the 72 members of the commission supported the conclusion.
    Paul VI tossed out the majority report in favor of a minority report supported by 4 dissenters whose main argument was: “If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 and in 1951.”
    In other words – if the church changed its stance now, then it would be admitting that it had been in error.
    So, with the conclusion determined, that birth control is intrinsically evil, an argument had to be made to support it. Thus Humanae Vitae

  • Arakasi

    Since HV is pretty much the most ignored encylical in the modern Catholic Church, I would be interested in learning what percentage of people leaving the Church did so in part because of it. Its depiction of sexuality is so contrary the typical experience*, it sets up a conflict in trying to apply the teaching to a relationship in which it is not well suited.
    I can see three ways to resolve this conflict: 1) Assume that your difficulties are simply another sacrifice that must be faced in order to live up to God’s will; 2) remain Catholic, but ignore this particular teaching (I know my parents did this); or 3) leave the Church entirely (which I did, for many reasons, but this was one of them)
    I wonder where the Catholic Church would be if John XXIII had lived for 3 more years to see the publication of Humanae Vitae under his influence.
    *Not to disregard those couples for whom it does work well. In my admittedly limited experience, this is a small minority, though

    • lara

      I left the church specifically because of this teaching.

    • Ibis3

      My grandmother left the church because of it. Apparently, she had the temerity to think that six children were enough.

  • Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    Contraception is about mitigation. No method is perfect, and some of them will come with side effects. None of them are as dangerous as pregnancy. And it is flabbergasting that someone would make an argument about contraception being a burden on women (the poor things!) without acknowledging that the burden of pregnancy and childbirth rests on women alone.

    Fortunately there are better options for male-user reversible contraceptives on the horizon, which hopefully will come to fruition in the next few years. I would love it if my boyfriend could use a reversible, first tier contraceptive method. Until then–or until I have my first kid, probably–I’m going to stick with my IUD, because it’s my body, my health, and my informed decision. I would rather have cramps a couple days a month than a mistimed pregnancy. That’s the trade-off I’ve made.

    And NFP/fertility awareness is a method of contraception. If you’re taking steps to prevent pregnancy, you’re attempting to contracept. (Which apparently is now a verb?)

    • LL

      Their argument that NFP is NOT contraception, or that going through all of the work required to make NFP work in order to avoid conception ISN’T “contraceptive” in nature is total garbage and one of the most incredibly stupid arguments I’ve ever heard on the subject.

      The woman is working extremely hard to make sure that sex only occurs during infertile times so that she won’t conceive, therefore, Contraceptive Mentality. That’s all there is to it. They are having sex (and obsessing about the exact moment of sex) in order to avoid conception. Their BS line that because it is based on a woman’s natural cycle it is therefore *magically* not carried out with the same intention that, say, putting a condom on is, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s the most illogical, lame argument ever made, and yet Catholics stick to it like glue and have no trouble regurgitating that line over and over again as if it’s absolutely True and makes perfect sense. Maddening!

      • Anat

        With a copper IUD I have my natural cycle (with all its irregularities, but that’s me), I don’t have to think about contraception. So how is NFP supposed to be better for me?

      • CarysBirch

        Not to derail, Anat, but how’s that working for you? I am seriously considering going that route. Sex is never as good for me when I’m on hormones. I seem to be real sensitive or something…. But I hear horror stories about the copper iud.

      • Libby Anne

        I don’t know how sensitive you are, but I do know that the Mirena has a much lower dose of hormones than other hormonal methods. The reason is that it’s local, so it doesn’t have to push hormones through the whole body. Again, you may be too sensitive even for that, but I thought I’d mention it. It’s what I have and I love it. But of course, it’s the first hormonal method I’ve ever tried, so I don’t know the difference between it and the pill, at least not from direct experience.

      • Anat

        Working fine, all these years. Time for a replacement soon.

        I used to have the occasional spotting, nothing serious, but even that stopped years ago.

      • Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        I also have the copper IUD, and I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t recommend it if your periods are painful or very heavy, as it can increase flow and cramping. But if you had regular, generally painless periods before, I think it can be a really good option. Definitely not for people with copper allergies, though, and I think Paragard might contain nickel as well.

      • CarysBirch

        Thanks everyone, very helpful. I think I will ask about it next tune I am in. Libby, I use nuva ring now because it’s local and lower dose than must pills, but I still notice a difference with my sex drive. It’s nothing awful, just, you know, one wants it to be the best it can be. But maybe copper would be good for me. I have no children, but I’m over 30 and no plans to have any, so I shouldn’t have any trouble getting them to do it. And no problems with heavy periods (as long as I stay off the pill!)

      • Kristen White

        I loved my copper IUD. I used it for three years, from right after my son was born until just recently. We’re hoping to have another child, now. It did increase my menstrual flow a little bit, but I always had extremely light periods, so it didn’t bother me. It didn’t increase the length of my period, which would have bothered me more–I just went through an extra tampon a day. I will definitely use it again once I have another baby.

  • smrnda

    Yes, birth control is usually more work for the woman than the man, but as someone else already said, pregnancy is as well, and its a lot more work.

    Also, thinking of reasons and then saying “I don’t have studies to back me up” means he’s speculating out his ass based on assumptions he’s made about human nature which he’s assuming to be universal but which are not.

  • dubliner

    If Marc is really concerned about inequality in contraception how about campaigning for pharmaceutical research into male contraception. Right, I didn’t think so.

  • Katamaran

    I went and read the original piece, and it’s typical Catholic prevarication that sugars over its clear logical defects with all that fancy catechismal legalese. Catholicism is a religion that has survived for two millennia on the premise that its pronounced doctrines are sacrosanct in themselves and not subject to intelligent questioning, and it has also developed said doctrines about the half of the human population it excludes from any substantive participation in its policy-making (women)–that is, all the laity, but especially women, are to be governed down to the most intimate details of their lives by the words of men whose interaction with women was painfully scant (the most notable would be St. Thomas Aquinas, holed up in a monastery from age 12 onward). So of course they develop a logically dubious alternative to chemical contraception that betrays a stunning paucity of knowledge of how women actually operate!

    We can’t all set clocks by our ovulation cycles, jackass. Nor can all of us, with our frail girlish brains, comprehend what the actual, essential difference between chemically interfering with certain natural processes and aiming to avoid them altogether by abstaining is. How, precisely, are you not ‘rejecting someone’s fertility’ when you refuse to have sex with them at such-and-such time a month? Shouldn’t we ALWAYS be open to conception, the oh-so-sacred creation of new, blessed (but still stained with original sin and doomed to hellfire) human life? No Catholic has ever given me a genuinely intelligent answer to this and I suspect it’s because there isn’t one.

    Chemical contraception, or hell, even condoms, are dangerous because they give people–especially women–freedom. Because they take away the fear, anxiety, guilt, and frustration about sexuality that Holy Mother Church depends on to line its coffers. And, obviously, by threatening to stem the flow of new Catholics in the world, coerced at a young age into believing that the perfect woman was both virginal and fecund and that rubbing one out is a comparable sexual sin to rape.

    • Deird

      We can’t all set clocks by our ovulation cycles, jackass.


      I currently have a regular menstrual cycle. Why? Because I’m on the pill. Were I to go off it, I would once again have absolutely no way of predicting my period – and would have to abstain from sex pretty much always if I wanted to not get pregnant.

      • The_L1985

        This. One of the perks of being on the Pill is that I never have to deal with embarrassing stains from misjudging when my next period will start–and no, I never guessed right. If your monthly cycle is unpredictable, how do you know when you’re ovulating? (Unless your body is a total jerk, like mine was, and gives you a nice little mini-depressive episode every time.)

      • Anat

        I never knew, just carried supplies with me everywhere all the time.

      • The_L1985

        Likewise, but sometimes I still got a really nasty surprise when I headed to the ladies’ room. Ick.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Oh, god, this. I’m one of those women who can go a year without a period, have three in a row and then stop for another 5 months. It’s just wild. I hate it. And I never know what to expect. So if I were to try “Natural” Family Planning, I’d never have sex.

    • Stev84

      You hit the nail on the head at the very end. The Catholic business model largely depends on childhood indoctrination and thus high birth rates. This contrasts with many Protestant sects or the Mormons who rely on conversion instead.

      • Croquet_Player

        Well, Mormons have pretty high birth rates too.

      • Taryn Fox

        Mormons are basically dependent on high birth rates to maintain their numbers right now. Convert baptisms have flatlined in the first world, and their retention rates are abysmally low everywhere else.

    • B

      The Church cannot force people to heed her teachings or to “line her coffers” .Those Catholics who do so act of their own volition. Catholic women are not mindless ewe. I am one and have found immense freedom in choosing this way of life.

  • Shazzer

    When I got pregnant, the pregnancy itself made my sex drive plumet. I was so uncomfortable, sick, tired, etc that it was several months into the pregnancy before I even thought about sex. Then towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to have health problems that lead to bed rest and again no sex. It took about 6 months after my pregnancy before I was back to my normal levels of desire. This NEVER happened when I was on birth control and isn’t happening now that I have an IUD. I’ll take the artificial birth control any day, thank you very much!

  • Kate Monster

    It has always seemed to me that a lot of the reasoning brought up with regards to theological teachings on sexuality (Catholic in particular; I did twelve years in the Catholic school system before I was eligible for parole into college) is trying to add logic to something that is non-logical.

    If you truly believe that contraception is sinful, that should be enough for you. But it isn’t enough for a lot of people–a lot of people have evaluated the morality/decisions involved and come away thinking that there’s no sin in preventing pregnancy. And instead of letting that go and saying, “Those people believe differently than I do,” Catholic teaching tries to back up a theological assertion with real (or tweaked) statistics or plain-old-lies (condoms are basically worthless and help give you AIDS, NFP is more effective than any other type of birth control, birth control makes adultery more easy and attractive (?), the Pill is a one-way ticket to all the cancer, etc).

    Imagine for a second you’re the sex-ed person at a religious school or venue. You’re under the burden of convincing a roomful of horny students/audience members that they should 1) not have sex til someone puts a ring on it 2) only have approved heterosexual sex that ends with ejaculation in a lawfully-wedded vagina and 3) always–regardless of their situation–have sex that is open to the possibility of pregnancy. That is a pretty big pill to swallow, particularly if the only real reason to do so is “My theological interpretation of God’s word says that this is the the only way to go.”

    So you spice things up with whatever is at hand. You get attractive families with lots of kids to talk about how holy NFP makes them feel. You find studies–who cares if they’re good science or not?–that say birth control weakens marriages or causes terrible illnesses or leads to future infertility. You tell people that condoms won’t protect them at all, from either pregnancy or disease. You show them adorable babies and say, “Don’t you want one of these?” You tell them anything and everything you can to make it seem like it really is your way or the highway (to hell).

    But the thing is, none of that is actually relevant to the Catholic position. The Catholic position is that marriage is, in a large part, about creating a family, and that trying to avoid having a family is immoral and contrary to God’s plan, full stop. No rationalization or reasoning or stats or any of that: it’s about faith. If you believe that God is anti-contraception, that’s what you believe. If the audience doesn’t share that belief, the Church (or the abstinence lecturer, or the priest, or the blogger) shouldn’t feel like they should/have to force it using other means. Just let it go: faith is faith. Because someone doesn’t share yours doesn’t mean you get to bury them in scare quotes until they give in, it means you say “Agree to disagree” and go get a drink.

    • Lucreza Borgia

      It’s kinda like how YEC’s are so intent on proving that evolution isn’t real and that geology is a silly hobby. If you need proof for your faith, then it isn’t faith.

  • Nancy Shrew

    “Women have to suppress their menstrual cycles with hundred-dollar pills.”

    Not if you have decent insurance. Still, even without insurance contraception is cheap compared to how much it would cost to raise a child.

    ETA: Also, not all contraceptive methods suppress the menstrual cycle.

    • smrnda

      I thought that was common knowledge that most birth control pills don’t stop menstruation. This guy must know *nothing* about female anatomy/biology.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well, to be fair, he said “menstrual cycle” not “menstruation” which are different things.

      • smrnda

        Agreed, I was wrong. Though I guess in that case, hormonal contraception often makes menstrual cycles more regular, which still seems like more a plus than a minus.

      • Søren Kongstad

        technically you don’t menstruate while on the pill, since menstruation is the discharge of an egg. You have regularly menstrual like bleeding. If you continue on the pill you will not experience these menstruation like events, which is why there is hormonal contraception which offers longer periods between menstruation like events.

      • Søren Kongstad

        See “the well timed period” for a more detailed description:

      • The_L1985

        A lot of them only don’t stop menstruation because you take a few days’ worth of placebos, though. If I skipped my placebo week and just started taking the next month’s batch of hormones, I wouldn’t bleed for months.

    • RowanVT

      I hate having a period. Being able to suppress that would be a *feature* not a bug. It would have been particularly great when I was a teen/into my early twenties when my cycle was 8 days of heavy bleeding and cramps bad enough to have me on the bathroom floor vomiting all day.

      • The_L1985

        I was so relieved to discover that that sort of bleeding isn’t normal and doesn’t have to happen. I’d figured that everybody had the same level of pain I did, and were just better at gritting and bearing it.

      • RowanVT

        I knew I was unusual, because I overheard some classmates when I was 14 complaining that their period was five days long. -_-

        The only ‘good’ thing about that time was that there were always exactly 33 days between the end of my period and the start of my next, so I could pretty much plot it out for the entire year and plan activities accordingly. Now I’m between 22 and 26 days between. -_-

      • lucifermourning

        that’s one of the things i love about my IUD – i very rarely have a period at all and when i do it’s extremely light. which is amazing.

      • sylvia_rachel

        OMG yes!! I went through a couple of different BCP prescriptions before finding one that didn’t have nasty side effects, but WOW was it ever great to have regular periods that lasted less than a week and only one day’s worth of horrible debilitating cramps!!

  • Zizka

    Marc and I were good friends when we were in high school. He’s a disingenuous asshole who swallows what the Vatican tells him, then clings to any rationalization he can think of. He is the exact opposite of a bad Catholic.

    • John Alexander Harman

      He’s not a bad Catholic, just a bad human being — which is a more-or-less inevitable consequence of being a good Catholic.

  • MyOwnPerson

    From what I’ve seen, men speaking against artificial contraception at all doesn’t end well.

  • Christine

    Hold on a sec here. Unless you’re lucky enough to get the right prescription for the pill the first time, or you have a doctor who actually understands that you need to try different versions, taking oral contraceptives, taking the pill is a huge PITA. It’s more work than NFP, and it’s less pleasant than early stages of pregnancy. And that’s without the mood swings. I can see that being a factor in divorce.

    That said, if you’re lucky enough to get a prescription that works for your chemistry the logic falls apart completely. (Protip: go somewhere off-campus to find a doctor to get your prescriptions if you’re a student. At least until you find out what kind you can take that will actually be better than the alternatives.)

    • Anat

      I wonder how many women have difficulties with the pill. Over the course of the 9 years I was on it I used 4 different versions, all of which worked fine with no side effects. (I switched because a manufacturer changed the formulation, later went out of business, and then again due to differences in availability in different countries.)

      But IUDs rule. (If you don’t have problems with the insertion.) Simplify life in a very good way.

      • victoria

        My experience (I was on the pill for ovarian cysts for about four months) was bad enough that I wasn’t even willing to try another version. That said, one going theory right now is that some of the pregnancy & postpartum complications I had are linked to progesterone or estrogen hypersensitivity, so that’s my unifying hypothesis.

    • Feminerd

      For sure! The on-campus people only usually have one type they prescribe/carry, and if that doesn’t work, you’re SOL.

      • Christine

        Ok, I wasn’t that badly off (although my SIL had trouble, because the insurance at her university was bad enough that they probably shouldn’t have been making students pay for it, and it only covered one formulation). But it was only my second or third prescription that prompted a “you know, we might not find a version that works for you”, which gave me incentive to find ways to make the pill work. Annoyingly enough, going back a prescription or two might have worked better (once I found the tricks that let my body tolerate taking it), but the doctor had been hard enough to convince in the first place.

    • The_L1985

      I was definitely lucky. I’m one of those folks who can take a dirt-cheap generic ($10 before Obamacare) with no issues, and it got rid of the mood swings I’d been having before.

      No one birth control method is going to be right for everyone, because our bodies are all a tiny bit different.

    • ArachneS

      Taking a pill every day was not more of a PITA than NFP was for me. Believe me I’ve done both. I guess I’m one of the “lucky” ones who can handle even the generic $10 copay version. (I wasn’t under the impression that the majority of people couldn’t take the generic version or else how would the generic version sellers stay in business? correct me if I’m wrong).

      All I had to do on the pill was make sure I took it at the same time every day. NFP, in order to work for us, meant that I had to take my basal temp after a certain number of hours slept, and chart that later in the day, remember to check for mucus if I took a shower that day(didn’t always happen) and put that on the chart. I was the one who had to say no to sex that we both wanted when it was likely to get me pregnant(no matter what, my husband did not want to read my chart every day). And on top of all that, I was working night shifts as a waitress because we were hard up for money. So irregular sleeping times(bad temps) + barely getting evening time with my husband anyway + having to abstain when I was afraid I might get pregnant= long bouts of sexless marriage that really did strain our relationship. That stress about whether or not you’re going to get your period while you’re taking care of a toddler and a baby? Wouldn’t do that again ever.

      • Christine

        I’ve never known any real generic/brand name difference. Maybe I should have tried to pay the difference out-of-pocket, and tried to get the brand name that I was prescribed. It was simply that there were different formulations. When I got prescribed Alesse, for example, it wasn’t necessarily Alesse I got, but that prescription meant that I was getting something different then when I was prescribed Yasmin. I know I got generics most (if not all) of the time, and I had different problems each time.

        Serena must teach a much easier version of how to chart, because I was only told that I had to have had a good night’s sleep, measure at the same time each morning, and I needed to have been asleep for at least a solid hour before taking my temperature. Mucus charting was easy – just when I used the toilet. And I was fortunate – my husband took a strong interest in my chart, and without delving too deeply into TMI territory, we manage without needing to worry about fertility too often. (And yes, I’m aware that the Catholic Church completely disapproves of that too.)

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Huh? How is taking a pill every day more work than NFP?

      And I guess I’m “lucky” too because I also do just fine on a generic. Although most of the bad pill experiences I’ve heard (from both my sister and my cousin, among others) have involved Yaz, which is not generic. (And now there are lawsuits over it…)

      • Christine

        It’s not precisely more work, it’s just that it fits so much less well into a daily schedule. With taking my temperature I can go to bed early if I want to, I don’t need to keep an eye on the clock all the time, and I don’t need to carry anything around with me. It’s also feasible to go back to sleep after I take my temperature, which is more difficult (unless I’m really short on sleep) than when I was trying to take the pill in the morning – and it’s not because I have never found a prescription that I can manage in the morning, because the nausea never kicked in right away, it’s that waking up enough to take the pill made getting back to sleep impossible.

      • Libby Anne

        Huh? I didn’t find this to be true, actually. You have to take your temperature at the same time every day, and it has to be right at waking, so you can’t sleep in or get up early, at least not without worrying it’ll throw it off. My sister takes her pill at 8 pm every day, which avoids that. Also, you do have to carry something around — a thermometer. And then there are the added mucus and cervix checks.

      • Christine

        Maybe it’s just that I’m that disorganized. I found trying to pay attention to the time of day to be a big problem. I used to take my pill 15-20 minutes late fairly regularly. At home I can use my alarm clock to bring me close enough to consciousness to take my temperature (a analogue thermometer would really make things a lot harder). I really only sleep at home unless I’m packing a vacation bag to travel, so I’ve never had to carry a thermometer with me, and as I mentioned in the other comment that I currently can’t find, the method I was taught is a lot simpler – mucus checks are just when I used the washroom and there’s one cervix check before bed.

      • Anat

        Was it a progesteron-only pill? Those have a very narrow window in which you have to take them. But an estrogen-progesteron combination pill should have a wider window.

      • Christine

        I know I sound like the worst person ever, but I honestly can’t remember. I’m fairly sure I got more details than just “we were going for the ones that are lowest impact”, but it was years ago, and I was not only in undergrad, but on-campus at the time, so I was a little distracted. It never occurred to me that my difficulties in taking the pill on time might have contributed to the problems I had in tolerating it.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I don’t think it did. I think Anat was talking about the effectiveness of the pill, not how well it is tolerated. The progesterone-only pill has a much smaller window in which it can be taken and still reliably “contracept”*. You really need to be very precise. With a combination pill, plus or minus 20 minutes should really not make a difference. I think that’s what Anat was asking you about–if you were so concerned about those few minutes because you were taking a type of pill that was less forgiving of minor time adjustments. If you were taking a mixed pill, you were probably protected just fine against pregnancy but, of course, that has no bearing on whether or not you like being on the pill, which is what matters.

        *Who the hell decided this is a word? If you must make it a verb, wouldn’t it technically be “contraceive?” Conception/contraception, conceive/contraceive? Just because you make up all kinds of other dumb shit doesn’t mean you have to make up words, Conservative Catholics.

      • LL

        I feel exactly the same way about “Contraceptive Mentality,” but now that I’ve seen/heard the phrase so much, I can’t stop using it to make arguments :D.

      • Christine

        The overlap between me being married and me taking the pill was so small that I wasn’t ever really worried about its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, just about not messing up my hormone levels further. Especially not since I was taking it in the evening by then (and didn’t have any night classes in that window), so my husband was able to help me take it at a much more consistent time. (We’ll ignore the time that I went out to a wedding and forgot my pills, because I wasn’t married by then. And even though I was 2 hours late, 1 missed pill isn’t supposed to have too strong an effect).

      • Mary C

        So you have to think about and do something three times per day – temp taken before you get out of bed, a mucous check during the day, and a cervix check before bed – and somehow that is EASIER than remembering to take one pill once a day? Especially if you are disorganized? Honestly I don’t get that logic. If you can keep a thermometer at bedside and do that upon waking, why isn’t it just as possible to keep the pill container and a bottled water at bedside and take it upon waking?

        And as far as it being easy to remember take that basal temp upon waking at the same time each day? I’m guessing you don’t have a baby or toddler waking you on their own schedule (sometimes multiple times throughout the night) that might make it more difficult to remember to get a basal temp before you jump out of bed to answer his or her cries? It complicates things immensely. Especially if you are trying to keep a crying baby from waking your partner or other children.

      • Christine

        I find things that are organized based on what I’m doing (rather than on the clock) to be a lot easier. I don’t have to remember all the time, only when my other activities cue what I’m doing. And back when I was trying to take a pill in the morning I did manage to keep a bottle of water beside the bed most of the time, but I never had as much luck getting back to sleep afterwards as I do now. It could be because I was taking the pill later in the morning (most days I was up by then), it could be because I’m significantly more sleep deprived now – toddlers do that to you.

        And honestly, the only reason that I wasn’t taking my temperature when the toddler was still in our room was because my @#($&% thermometer beeps every 4 seconds. I can’t just muffle it, because I won’t hear the “done” beep. We kept her in our room longer than average (stuff happened around her birthday that made moving her on the regular schedule a problem), so she was indeed sleeping most of the night by the time that I was able to start taking my temperature. If she wakes me up before my alarm does, I let her wait the minute it takes for me to get my temperature and it can be adjusted. Again, using an analogue thermometer would probably mean that this would be impossible for me.

      • Kristen White

        Hey, if it works for you and it fits in better with your schedule and your body, that’s great. I think that’s sort of the point of what Libby was saying–women know their bodies and should be free to make the best decision for themselves. I think it’s probably true that most women find the pill to be easier, though.

      • Jayn

        For me taking BCP wasn’t a huge hassle because I already take a pill every morning–if anything one made my use of the other more regular (without BCP I tend to take my medication at more randomised times, and sometimes forget it entirely, though I’ve been getting a bit better about the last part). What fits into your schedule can vary, and for me an extra pill is very easy to work in. While I had my problems with it, inconvenience wasn’t one of them.

    • Niemand

      If the pill isn’t working for you, you should probably find a different method of birth control. There are a number of them. If NFP works for you, that’s great, I see no reason why you should change if you’re happy with it. But at least acknowledge that this isn’t true for every woman. Some women find OCP easy to take. Some take them for their secondary effects including everything from lighter periods* to decreasing their ovarian cancer risk. One size does not fit all.

      *And I should also point out that “heavy periods” can be life threatening. Women with bad fibroids and/or vWD can end up with life threatening bleeding from menses and OCP can be life and (sometimes) fertility saving in such situations.

    • Christine

      How many of the people who had such good experiences with every time they tried a version of the pill were only taking it for contraception? I had always assumed that the reason that subset of people taking the pill had better experiences was that they had no reason to keep soldiering on through a series of bad formulations, but I’m wondering if there might be a correlation between having hormonal problems which cause menstrual problems and hormonal problems which cause trouble with OC’s. (This makes it even more disturbing that this isn’t something which gets you referred to a gynecologist every time. Because I don’t know if I’ve ever had GP who knows that IUDs can work like the pill. I never had one recommend it to me, so I get the impression that they know the standard “may cause cramps and heavier periods” line like I did.)

      • Anat

        Copper-IUDs – may cause heavier periods. Hormonal IUDs – lighter-to-non-existent periods. I first heard of hormonal IUDs in the very late 1990s, and only recently learned that IUDs of both kinds can be inserted in nulli-parous women.

        As for your first query – I was taking the pill for contraception only, though without it my periods were extremely irregular (not extremely heavy, stopped being extremely painful on their own when I turned 19).

    • Baby_Raptor

      Are you kidding? I’d rather have to try different prescriptions a couple times over a short period and maybe have one or two long Q&A sessions than go through what NPF requires monthly for the rest of my life. There’s no argument at all that finding the right BC is easier and less a hassle in my mind.

      Never claim to speak for everyone. You just make yourself look dumb, and it’s nearly always a transparent attempt to silence people who disagree with you.

      • Christine

        I’m glad that you have the mental health to know that you’d recognise that depression was coming from an outside source, and that you have the financial resources to deal with needing a special diet, and that you’re able to find a prescription that works. That’s you. You’re one of the ones who is lucky. Should I pretend that no one ever fails a term because of their prescription, because these are your preferences? It’s a small group, but I fail to see how pretending that the people who are completely screwed over by the pill is any better than if I was pretending that everyone was.

      • Baby_Raptor

        I think this comment was meant in response to someone else? I don’t see how it connects to what I said.

        Either way, nobody here is claiming to be omniscient. And no, nobody here is saying that you should pretend issues don’t exist. What we’re pointing out is that you’re wording things like your experience is the only experience anyone ever has. You’re not writing so as to make it known that you’re only speaking for yourself. You sound as though you’re trying to claim your views as the only real ones.

        And that’s bad. Lots of people have opinions that differ to yours, and we have the right to make our own choices as well. When you use broad terms, you erase everyone who has/had a different experience.

      • Christine

        It wasn’t just you, you’re correct, I’m sorry. I tried to post a comment pointing out that there isn’t a need to look at co-correlations before you can get significance. I explicitly stated that there were people who weren’t going to have these problems. And I got a bunch of “how on earth can you find NFP easier than OCs”.

        Charting actually only takes me the alleged 5 minutes a day. When I manage to find a birth control method I will consider myself incredibly lucky if that’s all that’s involved, but clearly I’m crazy to think that charting would be easier if it could work for people, I should stop saying stupid stuff like that.

      • Jayn

        “Charting actually only takes me the alleged 5 minutes a day.”

        While it’s clear you have other reasons for choosing NFP over the pill (and I do sympathise, my own experience was bad enough to shy me away from ANY hormonal method, and I’ve heard worse tales), I don’t think this really makes your case. I’m not saying that you don’t find it easy enough–though some women have reported otherwise–but the pill took me all of 5 seconds. And what you initially said wasn’t that it was easier–I believe you that for you it is–but that it was less work. And I’m have a really hard time believing that that is true for anyone.

        (And boy do I hope I’m not splitting hairs here, but ‘easier’ and ‘less work’ do have different connotations to me)

      • Christine

        Oh, I know there are worse, I only threw up once a month at most once I got the wrinkles ironed out, and I never had depression or anxiety severe enough to be certain that the pill was causing it (until I went off.)

        I am the last person to say that asking for clarification of nuances. When I said “less work” I was more meaning the emotional work (which was less about the constant clock-watching and more about having to psych myself up to do it). And honestly, if you managed to keep taking the pill down to 5 seconds a day, you are super-organized. I agree that most people aren’t going to need 5 minutes to take the pill (if I didn’t, you’re almost certain to not), but the time I listed was to point out how little extra time was involved, assuming of course that you are bootlegging your own charts, otherwise the half hour every 6 months to get more is going to negate the half hour ever 12 weeks to get more pills.

      • Captain Cassidy

        There are a great variety of birth control methods that don’t mess with your hormones. Every one of them takes less than 5 minutes to use. Taking a pill takes about 5 seconds a day and for most women that’s all the fuss there is about it (I was on it for years and didn’t experience any side effects beyond a bit of weight gain). Later I did Depo-Provera, which is a shot every few months–want to average out what a 30-minute doctor’s appointment is over 90 days, over the 5ish years I was on it? Later still I got sterilized, which settled things for once and for all. That’s been about 15 years, and it took I guess all told a few days out of my life–what kind of time per day might that be?

        Your experience doesn’t speak for all women, and that your ignorance of other methods doesn’t constitute any sort of imperative on anybody else’s part to take your experience as authoritative. Please talk to your OB/GYN or Planned Parenthood if you want to know more about what methods of family planning are out there. Personally, I think the idea of having to screw around with charts and mucus every day and become my own gynecologist just so I can have sex without (quite as much) terror sounds horrifying.

      • Christine

        Honestly, if Planned Parenthood is hiding methods of contraception that they don’t make public unless you live somewhere that you can find a clinic, I’m not about to use them as a good source of information. The standard list of about a dozen (including some very unreliable ones) is widely enough distributed, and contains all of two options I can use. I notice that, like most of my friends who didn’t need to be on the pill and were only using it for contraception, you also decided that it was a PITA, and switched to better methods, despite it apparently being easy.

        And what are people doing that they can take their pills in 5 seconds? Everyone is listing that number, and it takes me more than that to get my pills out, let alone figure out which one I’m supposed to take. What am I missing here?

      • Jayn

        Speaking personally, I already take daily medication, so it was a very minor routine change. I can’t speak for anyone else though.

      • Captain Cassidy

        It’s a super-easy little box of pills that fits in all but the tiniest of purses or pockets. You get it out, open it, pop one out, and take it. There’s nothing to figure out and no guesswork about doses. It really just takes seconds to take one. i was on the Pill for most of my fertile teenaged years thanks to my realistic Catholic mother and nobody around me even suspected even though I did my fair share of sleepovers and camping trips with other people. I’m surprised you feel qualified to even speak about birth control methods if you’re not aware of entry-level information like this, but if you find it so incredibly difficult and time-consuming to take medications, maybe it’s best you’re not on the Pill.

        Which brings me to my other observation. I notice you’re not addressing the even easier use of the other birth control methods I’ve listed. If five minutes every single day to do your own gynecological exam sounds “easy,” and frankly I seriously doubt it’s just five minutes and that you’re exaggerating just like you think we are, how does “getting a single shot and so you don’t have to fuss with birth control *at all* for three months” grab you? Or the various five-year methods, as they work out to even less time of fuss averaged per day?

        I think if you’ve found a method that works for you, that’s great, but mischaracterizing other methods and accusing other people of bad faith argument isn’t going to bolster your position that everybody should use it too. It makes me (at least) seriously doubt you’ve done any homework on this subject at all and it makes me distrust your information about it even more.

      • Christine

        I’m amazed that you needed to fit your pills into your purse, mine always fit into my wallet (although I had to remove the packaging and just put the foil one). That doesn’t make it a practical method for birth control, in and of itself, even if no one had side effects. It’s something that needs to be done every day (whether or not you’re having sex), and requires either purchasing other tools, or constant attention to do properly. Neither of those things would be acceptable if this was a workplace scenario, and this was something necessary for safety. Why are they considered ok for birth control?

        And I’m not addressing other methods of birth control because I don’t know of any problems that could result in them contributing to a correlation (without looking at co-correlations). I’ve never known anyone who had trouble bad enough to make them quit with other methods of birth control, and the readily available information suggests that they’re actually (mostly) well-suited to the job they do. I was specificially talking about people on the pill in my original post, and did not at any point use generic terms. A confusingly large percentage of the population takes the pill (probably due on part to doctors thinking it’s the only preventative treatment for dysmenorrhea). Even there weren’t that many people on it, I want you to think back to your statistics classes. How small a part of the population needs to have an effect (especially with a binary one) before it’s “significant”?

      • Captain Cassidy

        And every one of the shortcomings you describe apply more to NFP than to the Pill. It’s time-consuming, must be done every day regardless of whether or not you have sex, and requires its practitioner to have specialized knowledge and perform specific procedures to do. And it takes a lot longer than taking a pill and is nowhere near as effective. I took my pills just fine at work, incidentally, and never found taking them to be in the slightest bit inconvenient (which is not something I could say about NFP). That you even bring it up and try so hard to make the Pill sound inconvenient and dangerous–when not a single study ever supports these claims and what you’re saying contradicts the direct experience of so many people–just makes me doubt the other elements of your claims. Ever hear that old saying “quit while you’re behind”? That’s my advice for you.

        A “tu cocque” fallacy doesn’t make NFP anything but yet another birth control method, and a shit one at that. “I know you are but what am I?” doesn’t fly here. You’re also totally moving goalposts. Now that I and others have thoroughly refuted your claim that the Pill is sooooooooo much more inconvenient than NFP, you’re moving on to studies and statistics of safety. Tsk tsk. Talk about yet another reason to doubt you. Got any other fallacies you want to trot out? Because look, I don’t care if you like NFP for yourself. I don’t even care if you happen to think that NFP is the best possible method of preventing pregnancy for you. Just stop fibbing about it, that’s all, and stop thinking that every woman ever would agree if you just found the magic formula spell to incant at us. We’re not stupid. We all get the lecture from our doctors about the possible dangers of taking the Pill (which pale in comparison to the hundreds of side effects and lethal risks of pregnancy), and we all get the package inserts. You’re wrong, that’s all, and the more you struggle against facts, the worse your position looks.

      • Christine

        I’m not defending NFP. I’m saying that, rather than just assume that co-correlations are entirely to blame for this (alleged) statistic, we should look and see if there’s another reason. I’m glad to hear that NFP suddenly works for me. Please explain how, because I’d love to have a method of birth control that I could actually use. I’m not trying to claim that it’s easy. I’m not trying to claim that it’s even effective for most women – the 98% (and the 89% probably) is based on women who are able to use it in the first place.

        My original comment stated that the pill could be a factor in divorce. Having problems is common enough that doctors expect it when they’re prescribed – it’s why you have to take the first three months before they’ll switch your prescription, because problems in the first few months are normal. But, apparently, because no one here had problems, the pill cannot possibly ever be a factor. Therefore I am clearly trying to push NFP. Because there are only two ways to interpret claims of a correlation – either they’re completely bogus, or else they mean that all contraception is bad. Let’s skip the analysis, because that only means you’re trying to push NFP.

      • Anat

        Seriously? Problems are now *expected* with the pill? See Birth Control Pills. It’s a page intended for med students. They claim 90% of women do well on any low-dose combination pill for typical regular use, and 80% have no side effects with consecutive use to delay a period. Some women have side effects. The majority do not. That’s why the pills have been so popular for decades.

        Though I am glad that long-term non-permanent contraception is becoming more readily available, because not having to worry about contraception at all is even better.

      • Christine

        Interesting. I never saw those numbers. I think there’s really only one list that goes around here (everyone uses the same one), and it’s phrased more along the lines of “don’t worry, they go away”, than saying that only a few women get them. I guess they don’t want to discourage the women who get side effects.

      • Anat

        Interesting that you think of the pill-taking population mainly in the context of dysmenorrhea whereas I think of it mainly in the context of contraception. And there are women who take the pill temporarily, just for a few weeks at a time, in order to control the timing of a specific period.

        Part of your difficulty with the pill seems to have been the result of misinformation (your insistence on taking it within a very narrow time window). Without that unnecessary limit, taking a daily pill is not a big deal. Not that much attention is needed. Lots of people take daily medications. Yes, it costs money, but so does pretty much anything needed to manage one’s health, and whether women should pay for BCP is part of the larger matter of paying for medications and health-services in general.

      • Christine

        The reason I tend to see the pill as being related to dysmenorrhea is due to two main factors: a) I’m still in my twenties, and so my friends are all either in the having kids stage or not in a long term relationship b) it’s how they’re marketed. There’s a much larger market for the pills for dysmenorrhea – not only will the users start in their teens and get used to taking the pill, but I can’t see the number of fertile women in long-term mutually monogamous relationships, who want to have children in the future, but not now, and who haven’t just had a child is as high as the number of women with dysmenorrhea (1 in 3 is the number I normally hear).

        I’m wondering if the instructions for how to take the pill have changed in either the last two(ish) years, or in the past 10, because it wasn’t just online reproductive health sources that said it was important to take it at the same time each day, it was also the inserts for my pills. And I read them through with each new formulation, because I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw anything up.

      • Anat

        I already gave you the quote from Planned Parenthood. The reason for taking them around the same time is because it makes it easier to remember, not because it is crucial for the pill to work. It is not a big deal to skip one or two non-consecutive pills, just take the missed pill when you remember and go on, so it doesn’t make sense for the normal time to be critical.

        Add to the women on the pill for contraception the women not in long term relationships who can’t afford an IUD (and don’t have coverage for one) and who don’t trust barrier methods alone.

        I think of the pill in the context of contraception because that was how it was spoken of in my days. There wasn’t all that much marketing of medications in general (Israel, 1980-1990s). The way we learned it, if you are just becoming sexually active, use a condom. If you are sexually active more regularly, use the pill. If you are done having kids, use an IUD. Even after AIDS was known, Israel still had low infection rates that barrier methods weren’t emphasized as much as they are here.

      • Christine

        Sex ed here isn’t great – it’s really heavily STI focused. It’s not that they don’t talk about other methods of birth control, but condoms are really played up. This might well be why the public information here isn’t as good – most of it is aimed at teens or at new mothers, so there wasn’t a lot of incentive to do anything more than just quote the pharmaceutical companies on the pill. There’s also the possibility that the discipline required was played up to prevent the “oh, I want to have sex today, I should take my pill” problem. (It doesn’t explain why the doctor would lie to me about expected value of side effects, but that’s neither here nor there.)

        There’s also the fact that some methods of sterilization are partially covered here. (And I don’t think that anything else is, unless you have private insurance). I think that IUDs are partially covered, but only the insertion. Tubal litigation can be done (whether actually, or OBs are just nice about doing it anyhow) if you’re having a C-section, and since we have a high rate of C-sections that’s going to be fairly common. So the idea that an IUD is for after you have kids isn’t as big here. Dad gets snipped. (Or, if he’s a jerk, mom has surgery).

        And you make a very good point about the disconnect between “you have to take this at the same time” and “this will still work unless you miss two pills in the same pack”. I never noticed that – all I cared about was taking it well enough to get my period regularly. (After I got married my husband helped, so it was only a once-a-day thing for me to worry about, and it got a lot easier to actually follow the directions).

      • The_L1985

        Sex-ed in most parts of the US is pretty shoddy nowadays, especially with the push toward abstinence-only.

        I once had a boyfriend who was a virgin and decided I would be a good choice for his first time. When we were ready, he got out a condom and said, “I’m not really sure how to use this.” I said, “It’s actually pretty easy. Just follow the instructions on the box.”

        “There were instructions on the box?”
        “You already threw the box away, didn’t you? OK, here’s how to use a condom…”

      • The_L1985

        Because of my work schedule, I’ve taken the Pill at 6AM one day, and noon the next. No ill-efffects. The timing thing is only to make sure you’re actually taking a pill every day.

      • Christine

        I suspect that they over-emphasize the timing to be more conservative. I guess it prevents someone who ends up skipping a day, but it would be nice if they didn’t make it sound like the timing was crucial. It would have made it so much easier to take my pills.

      • The_L1985

        “I’ve never known anyone who had trouble bad enough to make them quit with other methods of birth control.”

        Latex allergies. Most condoms are made of latex, so if you’re allergic you either have to pay more for latex-free ones, not have sex, or suffer some embarrassing and possibly life-threatening allergy symptoms. I’ve also known of men who were much too massive for any off-the-shelf condoms to be comfortable. They would complain that if they wanted sex, their only options were either wearing a much-too-tiny Magnum, or custom-ordering a properly-fitting condom for $70 each.

        Obviously this doesn’t mean that condoms themselves are a problem, but “I have issues with a common method of birth control” isn’t limited to the Pill.

        “A confusingly large percentage of the population takes the pill (probably due on part to doctors thinking it’s the only preventative treatment for dysmenorrhea)”

        I saw an OB/GYN specifically about this. I explained my situation, and she agreed that it was the most cost-effective way to treat my PMDD. Birth control pills cost a lot less than other medications that affect the female reproductive system.

      • The_L1985

        I always have my pills in the same spot in my bathroom. When I get up to walk the dog, I generally have to go to the bathroom anyway, so while I’m in there I find the first unused “blister” in the pack, pop the pill out, take it right then without water, and put the pill so that the end closer to tomorrow’s pill is facing OUT. After 3 years, all of this has become automatic.

    • Libby Anne

      Wait, how is taking a pill more work than NFP? I did NFP, and my sister takes the pill, and we compared notes, and in our experience the opposite is true by far. Also, how is taking the pill less pleasant than the early stages of pregnancy? I’ve done pregnancy twice, and the morning sickness and food aversions are far worse than anything I’ve seen my sister experience on the pill. And I know lots of people for whom the pill is no bother at all, no side effects, nothing. I can’t say the same for pregnancy.

      • Eamon Knight

        OTOH, my wife had mild nausea from the Pill, which she never really found a remedy for. However, we had our first child (planned and deliberate) about four years into our marriage, our second two years later, then I got a vasectomy. Problem solved. (I know: really selfish of us only wanting two, and then wanting to enjoy sex without having to worry about another pregnancy + 20-year commitment).

      • Christine

        NFP wasn’t a lot of work for me. Reading what people have said here, I think that Serena teaches a fairly easy version. It only ever took me the 5 minutes that was claimed. If you’re able to take your pill in the morning I can see it being less work (once you’re out of school – it was awkward in addition to making me more ill), but if you’re taking it in the evening you have to keep a constant eye on the time. Having to constantly be aware of the date and time is a lot of work for me – I do a lot of things at a conscious level that most people (I think) are able to do at an unconscious level, and I think that goes beyond just basic non-verbal communication.

        I think the big difference between throwing up and food aversions with the pill and with pregnancy is that you can’t get medication to stop the nausea with the pill. (Or if you can, no one told me about it). There are probably also hormonal things at play. Knowing that there will (hopefully) be a baby at the end of it (and that there’s a definite time frame as opposed to the indefinite span of taking the pill) also makes it easier to put up with. Closing your eyes to go around corners isn’t that hard to deal with when you know it’s only for a few months. Closing your eyes to go around corners is a bit more of an imposition when it’s supposed to be your new normal. And you also get a lot more support. “I’m sorry, I’m having morning sickness, I can only eat meat” goes over a lot better than “The pill is making me nauseous, I can only eat meat”.

      • victoria

        My experience was the opposite. I had some nausea and other problems when I was on the Pill for medical reasons. The fact that it made me feel pretty unhinged was the reason I was so glad to be off it when the medical reasons cleared up, but the physical problems I had with the Pill were manageable.

        But when I was pregnant I threw up as much as 50 times an hour. Not exaggerating. It was like having the worst case of Norovirus or food poisoning you’ve ever had for months on end. I vomited blood. I broke ribs. I was on the drugs they give chemo patients to stop them from vomiting. They didn’t work. I literally didn’t take a shower for three months because if I stood up for that long I would faint. When I was six months pregnant I was in a smaller size clothing than I wore as an eleven-year-old.

        I believe that the issues I had with BCP were ultimately harbingers of the issues I had during the pregnancy and after, but it’s not a given that your body will respond in the same way to each of them.

      • Anat

        Regarding timing of BCP, see Timing of Birth Control Pills. It’s a Planned Parenthood page, and they say with combination estrogen-progesteron pills timing is not important, as long as you take them roughly one a day.


        Combination pills, on the other hand, give you a little more leeway.
        It’s only essential that you take the pill every day. But taking the
        pill at the same time every day can still make it more effective. That’s
        because most people are more likely to remember to take the pill if
        they make it a regular part of their routine.

        I took mine at night, whether it was 22:00 or 24:00, or something thereabouts.

        As for anti-nausea medication, I really don’t see why not to take it. But it was never a question for me.

      • Anat

        Re: anti-nausea medication – I’m wondering if what happened was that your doctor decided that instead of having you take BCP that gave you nausea plus anti-nausea medication it made more sense to find BCP that did not give you nausea. And to see if the new BCP gives you nausea or not you obviously can’t be taking anti-emetics. But this still doesn’t explain why not to give you anti-emetics while you complete the cycle with the existing BCP. (I’m assuming the doctor had you complete a cycle before starting with a different formulation?)

      • Christine

        My doctor didn’t even tell me that there were anti-nausea medications formulated to counter the bcp. I didn’t have a lot of menstrual problems until high school, and they didn’t happen until later – I never threw up at all until grade 10, and then it didn’t really happen again until the end of grade 12, at which point I figured I’d wait until university, because I didn’t want to move in the middle of figuring out what was wrong. I didn’t realise that Health Services would be so horrible. I’m just lucky I got someone else when my bloodwork came back, or I may never have been sent to a gynecologist (the problem was subtle).

        The doctor was so used to people fishing for illness notes that he didn’t take me seriously. And yes, I was there partially to have a paper trail if I needed a note for missing part of an exam. But after the second or third prescription he told me that I needed to accept that the pill doesn’t work for everyone. At that point I didn’t dare come back and say I was still having problems. Nor was I willing to take less than the “proper” three packs, because I couldn’t afford to not be on hormonal contraceptives (it was more controlable and predictable than my cycle).

        If the anti-nausea medication is just the pregnancy ones, it could be that he didn’t mention it because it’s actually kind of expensive, and the student health plan doesn’t cover it. (I was on a regular one, but he wouldn’t have known that).

      • victoria

        Actually it probably would’ve been cheaper for you.

        Anti-nausea medications by and large aren’t closely related to the agent that’s causing the nausea; they generally work by targeting cell receptors that are related to nausea and vomiting. Some do work with receptors in the gut as opposed to the brain, but they all work on a variety of conditions.

        The reason the medication that’s prescribed for hardcore pregnancy puking is so expensive is that most antiemetics are not considered safe for use during pregnancy (or at least they weren’t when I was pregnant), so they generally will prescribe one of the few that’s considered class A or B.

      • The_L1985

        I think it’s disgusting that young girls aren’t universally told, “Here are some things you can expect to happen when you start having periods. Some of them are annoying, but you’re in good company. Other, nastier things, like dizziness, vomiting, and extreme pain, aren’t normal.”

      • Christine

        Unfortunately that probably wouldn’t have helped me. I’m the one who needed Newman’s ointment, and will probably have some permanent scarring because I didn’t realise that the problems on my nipples were just “cracking”, so I didn’t say anything to the midwife. I knew that vomiting and dizziness weren’t normal, but I didn’t think that having to spend half a day in bed, thinking that the ibuprofen would eventually kick in, was extreme pain. (Look, I wasn’t the brightest kid.)

        What would have helped me is someone saying “if you completely soak a heavy-flow pad/fill your cup to where it leaks when you take it out no matter what every hour or two, that’s unusually heavy flow”. Because sure, I knew that they could do something for unusually heavy flow. But I had no idea what that entailed.

  • Monika Tillsley

    I was on the pill for about 16 years with no problems at all.

    I had a lot more problems with post natal depression actually which I think you will find was caused more by my pregnancy not the pill I stopped taking to get pregnant.

    Four years later I have experienced a loss of sex drive and I was worried it might be due to the pill because people talk about that so much. Sadly I stopped taking the pill in Feb and I am yet to have sex or want it three months later.

    • Sgaile-beairt

      talk to your doctor….you may have thyroid or other biochem imbalance….dont risk it on the assumptn that its pill related!!

    • LL

      I agree with Sgaile-beairt. My hormones went completely haywire after becoming ill with mono. My sex drive went from 100% on all the time to Nada. Now I have some, but only during fertile times. I’m working on my hormones right now. My thyroid also took a dump when I became ill, so it’s probably related. Pregnancy could have had similar affects on your glands and hormones, so it’s worth investigating! Good luck.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Lack of a sex drive can be based on a myriad of different issues. Besides what Sgaile mentioned; stress, big diet changes, disruptions to a long-held sleep schedule and a bunch of other things can cause a nosedive.

      Sex drives disappearing is also a common sign of relationship issues.

      Not that I’m trying to project any of these onto you. Just giving you an idea of how many things it could possibly be.

  • Sophie

    “I can think of quite a few other reasons contraception could be, at the very least, a contributing factor to marital dissolution, though I don’t have the studies to back me up. For instance, consider that the weight of contraception falls unfairly on women…So no, it’s not ridiculous to think contraception could be linked to a greater risk for divorce.”

    Or you could have a proper adult relationship in which you and your partner have a discussion about what you want out of your contraception and then make the decision together. 

    For example when I got together with my partner 7 years ago I was already on the pill for period related reasons, but we made the decision that we would use condoms until we both got a clean STI tests. When I began my nursing training in 2008 taking the pill became very inconvenient, I talked to my doctor about the options and then my partner and I made the decision that the Depo injection seemed best. 

    This year after me being in a wheelchair for a year and post two operations that failed to cure my Chronic Back Pain, we decided that we needed to do something that would stop me getting pregnant in the long-term. We discussed sterilisation for me and for him and made the decision that we weren’t there yet but that a Mirena IUD was the way to go. My partner came with me to my fitting appointment and held my hand while I endured one of the most painful 45 minute periods of my life (and I take a high dose of opiates every day for the excruciating pain in my back and pelvis). He then took me home and put me to bed with a hot water bottle and a tub of Ben&Jerry’s Cookie Dough!

    My point being that contraception doesn’t just fall to the woman, whilst I was the one taking the pill, having the injection and have the IUD fitted, my partner was involved in those decisions and he supported me in my choice to do those things. And if there were hormonal contraceptives available for men I know that he would use them because we have discussed that possibility.

  • Plutosdad

    His is one of the sites on patheos I truly can’t stand. There are a few others, and even one of the atheist sites here that I just feel like the person writing is so completely out of touch, without any empathy, and full of assumptions about other people that reading it even a little makes me very angry. I just shake my head and think “do you ever get OUT? are you married? do you know what it’s like? what life is like for other people?”

    I also am amazed when reading Catholic and Libertarian blogs how little any of them know about hormonal birth control. Sure I only know what I do from my wife, but I also didn’t go around telling women what is good for them. If my wife didn’t have choices of different pills paid for by insurance (not just the one cheap generic pill) she would be having a very hard time just to feel normal (being perimenopausal and hypothyroidal, she is having a tough time).

  • Scott_In_OH

    He frequently tries to turn feminist rhetoric back on itself, and it never works out well.

    I know what you mean, and I agree with it, but there’s an important way in which it can work out very well for him: its effect on its intended audience (which is not you!). He wants Catholics with a feminist streak to be OK with the Church’s teachings on artificial birth control.

    • The_L1985

      Yeah, that backfires. I went from being a Catholic with a feminist streak, to somebody who wasn’t OK with being a Catholic anymore.

  • Ismenia

    I have had a lot of problems with hormonal contraception. I finally decided to stop using an IUS (hormonal coil) when mine came loose unexpectedly. I’ve felt a lot better since it went. When I was younger I was presecribed the pill for heavy periods and that also had unpleasant side effects (I tried 5 different brands).

    Now my point isn’t that women shouldn’t use hormonal contraception. I knew the risks, I found that I didn’t respond well to it. Nothing diabolical happened. I also react badly to anti-histamines but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think anyone else should use them. My point is that this didn’t make me want to get divorced.

    For some strange reason I did not blame my husband for my incompatibility with hormonal contraception. It was me that decided what to use. He felt bad that all of the burden was on me but I have had to point out to him that it is not his fault that women have babies. In the time that I used the coil (5 years) I did not get pregnant.

    My husband said that if there was a pill for men he would take it. According to my doctor they are trying to develop hormonal treatments for men but so far it’s at the experimenting on mice stage and thus not imminent.

  • Semipermeable

    “I can think of quite a few other reasons contraception could be, at the very least, a contributing factor to marital dissolution, though I don’t have the studies to back me up……”

    I’ma going to stop him right there. If your thesis statement is that you don’t have any actual, real world evidence for what you are about to say, even though the subject you are discussing is very will studied, then what comes next was probably pulled right out of your ass.
    Upon reading further, I find that I am not disappointed. Apparently my IUD, my well loved set it and forget it, will cause the breakup of my relationship.

    Hmm, nope, we’re still together.

  • Alexandra

    One of the most deliciously ironic things I’ve ever seen on Marc’s blog was a comment from his girlfriend that mentioned the fact that Marc smokes cigarettes. He writes these incredibly patronizing blog posts to inform women about how stupid they are to be using hormonal birth control because it’s so bad for them, and he’s a smoker.

    He’s such an asshole. Completely lacking in self awareness and super sexist. Even his loyal readership have called him out on his sexism when he wrote a post about how cougars are inherently disgusting because post-menopausal women are not supposed to be sexual because it goes against nature.

  • Captain Cassidy

    You and me both, sister. It’s been a long time since I seriously thought about becoming a nun in the RCC, and even so my mind boggles at how insulting and paternalistic–not to mention deceptive–that blog is. As someone’s said, we’re not especially the target audience, though; Catholic women overwhelmingly don’t buy the RCC’s rhetoric about contraception, and for good reason: it’s complete nonsense. I’m just wondering why Marc has chosen this fight as his focus when his church is absolutely hemorrhaging numbers. It seems like it’s just putting the cart before the horse. Women aren’t stupid, and treating us like we’re stupid, slutty toddlers isn’t going to do anything but further alienate the few Catholic women who might otherwise be open to the idea of looking at NFP and further convince everybody else that his kind of Catholicism is downright toxic. I’m willing to bet none of Marc’s rhetoric is going to change anybody’s mind in favor of his position, but he might well get some Catholic women to re-examine just why they’re in a religion that embraces this kind of behavior, especially when Marc’s words are challenged and rebutted as consistently and as thoroughly as they have been here. Thanks for writing these pieces.

    • The_L1985

      On the plus side, he’s doing an excellent job of driving folks away from that form of Catholicism. Keep up the good work of making heretics, Marc!

  • OneSmallStep

    **I’ve written before about how, when I used NFP (and I used it for four full years), my fear of messing it up and getting pregnant severely inhibited my sex life and my enjoyment of sex. One way I could tell how strong this effect was that each time I got pregnant (both were planned) those first few months of pregnancy were an amazing haze of sexual bliss.**

    I made this comment on the other post, but wouldn’t part of “giving yourself fully” also include the mental aspect? Being able to focus on your partner, and on the act itself? Because in this circumstance, if you’re that afraid of messing it up and getting pregnant, then how can you give yourself fully to your partner when you are too internally focused on the fear of pregnancy? Aren’t you holding a part of yourself back?

    I’m sure the Catholic response to this would be the whole “openness to life” aspect, but that doesn’t solve the issue. How can you fully give yourself to your partner when the fear of pregnancy is that strong? Doesn’t that defeat the whole logic of giving oneself fully?

  • John Alexander Harman

    You have a stronger stomach than I do, Libby; reading the [Self-Righteous, Arrogant, Smarmy, Willfully Ignorant, Extremely] Bad [Person Who Happens To Be] Catholic makes me want to puke.

  • Taryn Fox

    “Natural family planning” is artificial contraception. If anything, it sounds — from your description — far more contrived and unnatural than just using an IUD or the pill.

    “Natural” is a word that’s fraught with complexity, and usually means whatever the speaker wants it to mean. Just because it doesn’t involve a device or a chemical doesn’t mean it’s any more “natural,” or allows you to behave more “naturally.” Although I guess if he believes the intricate rituals of Catholicism are natural, he would say the same thing about this complicated don’t-get-pregnant dance.

  • Randy Gritter

    Grating paternalism? You are beaten logically so you decide to play the “I am offended” card? Whatever?

    I can think of about 100 ways contraception causes divorce. You can’t think of any? Really? The most obvious one is adultery. If contraception is the norm then cheating gets a lot safer. More cheating. More divorce. Is that so hard to imagine?

    If you were trying NFP and stressing out about pregnancy every time you had sex then you were not really doing it right. The concept is that you are OK with the possibility of getting pregnant. Yes, you might reduce that risk for various reasons but it is a risk you choose to take and take joyfully. If you were not comfortable with the risks you were taking that is something you need to work out with your husband.

    My wife and I had times when we were willing to accept the 1 in 1000 risk of getting pregnant while on NFP. We also had times when we were not. We had a special needs child. She was so unable to face the prospect of another baby she freaked out when she was 2 days late. So we decided to abstain completely for a few months. No more stress.

    We learned again how to be intimate without involving our genitals. With contraception you are never forced to do that. From dating on sex is just there. But do you love your spouse or do you just love the sex? Periods of abstinence can clarify that.

    • BringTheNoise

      Grating paternalism? You are beaten logically so you decide to play the “I am offended” card

      Beaten logically, by an internally inconsistent argument. That’s a good one.

      We learned again how to be intimate without involving our genitals. With contraception you are never forced to do that.

      And some of us are grown ups who can choose not to have sex without requiring fear of pregnancy hanging over our heads to force us. Or are able to separate those different feelings using our brains. Just a thought.

      • Randy Gritter

        Internally inconsistent? By playing the hurt feelings game she admits her argument loses.

        I actually feel the phrase “grating paternalism” is very sad. Who associates fatherhood with such negativity?

        You may feel you mange your sex life perfectly and infallibly. That you maximize the long term health of you relationship without being distracted in the slightest by short term physical pleasures. I am distracted by such pleasure and I would not want it any other way! Still I do find the periods of abstinence and periods of indulgence helpful and not hurtful.

      • LL

        People who use contraception still abstain, because, you know, the relationship is between two adults. Sometimes, these two adults actually love each other as people, and take the other person’s feelings into consideration. Shocking, I know! Some people go through hard periods in their life where sex is unwanted or unrealistic. I was ill for many, many years, and we had one long, 7-month stint of abstinence because I was in a lot of pain, physically and psychologically. And, oh, my god, we loved each other as much then as we did when we were having sex all of the time. Any mature adult in a mature adult relationship can abstain if they have to. Not just NFPers.

        NFP doesn’t magically make a couple love each other more than a couple using contraception. Or less, for that matter. That idea is simply childish. Nobody here is arguing that NFP isn’t good for you or for other couples. If it works for you and makes you two happy, then that is something to be celebrated. But discrediting what other couples go through or invalidating their love for each other, because they are not just like you is infantile, arrogant, narcissistic and just stupid.

      • The_L1985

        Gee, I can remember two full years of taking the Pill without having sex even once during that time. Clearly I must have been oh, so distracted by sex that I didn’t even manage to rush out and start having it willy-nilly!

        Also, paternalism =/= being a father. “Paternalism” is a word very commonly used to describe a particular form of condescension, namely “You don’t know any better, so I’m making rules for your own good.” Paternalism is good for stopping small children from running out into a busy street. However, adults should not be treated in such a way.

    • Mogg

      Is it really so hard to imagine the possibility that a divorce due to cheating is due to, shock horror, the cheating? Contraception is a peripheral issue to that, and not particularly relevant. It’s the deception and emotional betrayal that would upset me, and cheating is hard work due to all the lies that have to be kept straight, so the issue of contraception is not going to make it noticeably easier. Since history began cheating has happened, and lack of contraception didn’t stop it – just read a few of the Greek legends if you don’t believe me. Cheaters are generally going to cheat no matter what. So no, I can’t think of any way that contraception could be a cause of divorce, or of cheating, and the solutions to cheating are nothing to do with contraception.

      Good for you, if NFP and periodic abstinence works for you. That’s perfectly fine. As it happens, I may or may not have the same outlook on sex and contraception as you, or may not wish or be able to use NFP. The only thing that matters to me is that the choice which suits me is not put out of my reach solely because Catholics don’t like it.

      • Randy Gritter

        Contraception increases the instance of casual sex. You don’t think cheating is ever casual sex? Weird.

        Catholics have no plan to put contraceptives out of reach of anyone. People have access to them now and I have seen no proposal to change that. Feminists are simply lying about that.

      • Mogg

        Cheating can sometimes be casual sex, but again, that has nothing to do with contraception. And again, it’s not the casual factor which is the problem, but the cheating factor. There’s nothing inherently wrong with casual sex, but there is something wrong with cheating.

        How do you explain Catholic employers’ opposition to providing health insurance that covers contraceptives, then? Not to mention their opposition to education on contraception and family planning in third world countries and majority-Catholic countries.

      • The_L1985

        “Contraception increases the instance of casual sex.”

        And again, look at me, a Pill user, and all the one-night stands that I’m not having.

    • LL

      If the only thing standing in the way of you cheating on your wife is contraception, then you have a massive problem.

      This extends to anybody who has the same stupid idea.

      • LL

        I should have said “lack of contraception.”

      • Randy Gritter

        Is that the best you can do? Do you think jail sentences reduce the crime rate? Yet most people would not say a jail sentence is the only thing preventing them from murder or robbery. The truth is you remove one major impediment to something then it happens more.

      • LL

        Ok, fine. You’ve made the assertion. You’ve expertly declared that contraception causes cheating. Now prove it before you run off.

        I can’t wait to see all of the research and facts you have waiting in the wings.

        But my opinion is exactly the same:

        Any man who only keeps himself from cheating on his wife because of a lack of contraception is absolutely an asshole and has a problem. Period. I don’t care if you go your entire life without cheating. If not being able to find a condom is the only thing that keeps it from happening, then you don’t really love your wife and you’re a creep. You don’t deserve her. There are men that are swimming in condoms around women swimming in pills and still don’t cheat.

        And no, I believe that jail sentences do not reduce the crime rate to any significant degree at all. Crime is a very deep-seeded, societal and culture problem that is extraordinarily hard to deal with and must be analyzed and fixed at the root of the problem (usually severe poverty rooted in racism and classism) in order to be fixed. And some people are just violent and horrible and will commit crimes NO MATTER WHAT.

      • The_L1985

        Actually, the thing preventing me from murder, arson, and robbery is that they harm other people. Jail has nothing to do with it.

  • sbaldw2

    This may have already been said in the comments… According to my Catholic mother, who got this from the tape series “Contraception, Why Not?” and made me listen to them as part of my homeschooling curriculum, the pill increases the risk of divorce because it gives women the freedom to have affairs. Once a woman stops fearing that she may get pregnant all hell breaks loose. NOT ONLY is artificial contraception the root cause of divorce, but also single parents, poverty, crime, abortion… the list goes on and on.