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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Importance of Contraception

When I first told my mum I was having sex she asked if I was trying to get pregnant. I said “of course not!” and then she proceeded to tell me that my 17-year libido was not due to how hot my German exchange-student boyfriend was, or how cool I’d recently decided I’d become, but really was just my body screaming “MAKE BABIES MAKE BABIES MAKE BABIES” as loudly as it could.

Back then using a mixture of condoms when I had them and withdrawal when I didn’t seemed like ‘good enough’ contraception. When I got to uni I went on the pill, but after a year I’d put on 5 kilos and was having terrible mood swings. It was probably just the first-year partying and junk food lifestyle, but nevertheless I wanted to try something new, so I went off the pill and got a copper (aka. standard) Intra Uterine Device (IUD). Copper IUDs are the most effective government-subsidised form of easily-reversible contraception, with a 99% effectiveness rating—for every 100 women using a copper IUD for 1 year, one will get pregnant. Unfortunately for me, I was that one.

I’ve come to understand that having heterosexual sex but not wanting to get pregnant is one big oxymoron. Whether or not you’ll get pregnant despite your efforts in either direction is a bit of a play-off, so you’ve got to decrease the odds as much as you can. For the highest chances of not getting pregnant there’s abstinence (…), otherwise use contraception, and use it well. Be practical about what is appropriate for your specific situation. Put condoms on properly, take your pill when you should, get an IUD, use a diaphragm. The Margaret Sparrow Family Planning Clinic on Victoria Street and the various Student Health centres are able to give information and advice on all the forms of contraception available to you in New Zealand, and they are very open-minded and understanding. In most cases they can supply you with the contraception itself, and for students / NZ residents under 22 / Community Services card holders it is either totally FREE, or very cheap (eg. $3 for 48 condoms).

It seems unfair that I didn’t get pregnant when I let some guy whose name I can’t remember withdraw from me twice in the backseat of my car in a parking lot on a school night, but I did in my 20s despite my 99% effective contraception. The absolute coincidence of it has made me realise how essential it is that as women are we aware of the power and potentials of our bodies and we do everything we can to understand and work with them.

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