Debate Magazine

Sexual Health Sunday: 3 Alternative Contraceptive Methods That Never Quite Made It

By Romelantoine
Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptive...

Image via Wikipedia

Before we get into the content of this post I want to start with a disclaimer. The following material is admittedly hetero-centric and not without reason. I chose to highlight contraception this week due to the continued battle to save Planned Parenthood. Two of the three methods I write about are not effective against HIV, STDs/STIs, and any other maladies that you might incur as a byproduct of having sex (in fact they fail entirely). In this vein, appreciate this post for what it is, an exploration of alternative contraceptive technology.

Traditional contraceptive methods such as condoms, IUDs, and birth control pills have been trusted as effective ways to impede baby-making. I’m sure that when these contraceptives were first introduced they underwent intense public scrutiny, disbelief, and generally slow adoption. Here are three ‘alternative’ contraceptive technologies that have been around for quite some time but haven’t been afforded wide public adoption.

1. Lemon Juice

This method which consists of mixing 4 parts water to 1 part lemon juice and finding a creative way to get it into your vagina right before intercourse has been around for decades. An Australian scientist found that this precise concoction is extremely effective at stopping sperm in their tracks. (What I want to know it how in the world he came up with this idea and who did he get to volunteer to test it!) I’m guessing that folks who use it do so because they’re trying to avoid hormonal imbalances, allergic reactions, medical conditions, or just because they don’t want to but I’d imagine that using this method would be relatively uncomfortable.

2. Female Condoms

Now before you start saying “Romel, there are lots of people who use female condoms!”, I’m talking about a very specific use for this contraceptive. Having worked with various communities, I’ve heard anecdotes about folks who, for one reason or another, decide to insert the device before a night of unpredictable events. (Aren’t all nights unpredictable?) When they stumble into bed with an insertive partner neither party has to think about putting on a condom. This method too sounds uncomfortable and might present some aesthetic anomalies…figure it out.

3. Withdrawal

I shouldn’t have to describe this method but for the sake of being thorough here goes. Withdrawal (aka Coitus Interruptus) is when the insertive partner removes his penis before ejaculation. I could never begin to use a number to represent the number of years that this practice has been used (that would depend on your estimation of how long people have existed).This method probably hasn’t gained public trust because it just doesn’t work very well. Pre-ejaculate contains some sperm which in turn could lead to unplanned pregnancy. Planned Parenthood estimates that 30 pregnancies occur per every 100 attempts. 30% is just too high! Use this method at your own risk.

With the government’s relentless attack on Planned Parenthood still on everyone’s tongue, I think I’m required to highlight the contraceptive methods we’d be using without them. To be sure, they didn’t invent contraception but they have helped to proliferate and raise awareness regarding useful and effective technology. Sexually active people are forever in their gratitude.


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