If you're a sexually active adult, chances are you use some kind of contraception. Modern medicine has provided us with a bevy of choices when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy, each with its own pros and cons.
But what is the most socially and environmentally responsible choice? The answer is somewhat complicated and depends very much on you, your partner or partners, your body, and your comfort level with each of the available options.
OPTIONS IN CONTRACEPTION
There are already a lot of useful blog posts on this subject from my fellow zero-waste bloggers. I found this one by Wasteland Rebel to be the most comprehensive analysis of all of the available methods, their benefits and drawbacks, and how much waste each one creates.
However, where WR and I part ways is that I know from past experience that I don't want to put any hormones in my body in order to keep from getting pregnant. For me, that rules out the pill, the patch, the ring, implants, hormonal IUDs, and injections as pregnancy prevention measures.
DRAWING A LINE
Why no hormones? After three years of taking various versions of the pill and struggling with mood swings and weight gain, not to mention never having a period (seriously, not once in three years), I decided that they weren't for me. No, I haven't tried other hormonal methods of contraception, but my gut tells me they're not right for me. It's a personal decision, and I know that there are a lot of women who feel the same way.
As far as copper IUD's are concerned (a hormone-free implant that prevents pregnancy), I'm not really up for implanting foreign objects in my body, due to the discomfort of the procedure and the risks involved, though I know many women who have them and love them. As I said, everyone is different.
MY PREFERRED METHOD
I happen to be married, and my husband has been my sole sexual partner for the last two years. I'm fortunate to be in a situation where I know I'm not at risk of contracting an STD. Since I'm not into hormones or foreign objects implanted into my body though, to avoid getting pregnant, we use a combination of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and condoms.
I use an app called Period Tracker to track my cycle. It lets me know when I'm ovulating and when I'm fertile. (This works well for me, because I have a very regular cycle, almost down to the hour.) When my hubby and I have sex during my fertile window, we use condoms. When done correctly, FAM can be a highly effective method of pregnancy prevention.
HOW TO RECONCILE CONDOM WASTE
So yes, we sometimes create waste when we have sex. But I look at it this way: better to use condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and keep from contributing to the already out of control world population than to have zero waste sex and a million babies.
And I will say this with absolute certainty: even if I was okay with hormonal contraception or IUDs, if I was not in a monogamous relationship, I would definitely still use condoms without a second thought to keep from getting STDs.
So there you have it. If you're like me and feel that condoms are a necessity, but you want to keep your condom use as socially responsible as possible, consider choosing an ethical condom brand. The Good Trade does a great roundup of 7 such brands.
I realize that everyone has different limits, comfort levels, and deal-breakers when it comes to contraception, and I pass no judgment on anyone else's preferences. I just wanted to offer my own perspective, as an environmentally-conscious, sexually active adult! I'd love to hear your thoughts...