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Author Topic: Charting (kind of) and condoms
LadyLuck77
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I have a question in regards to what I plan to do as a back-up method of birth control.

My cycle, for the past four or five years, has been a "textbook" 28 days. Sure, every now and then I have ovulated early and had an early period, but generally this only happens once a year.

Do you think I would be offered an almost perfect degree of protection if I abstained from sexual intercourse on days 7-14 of my cycle, and then used condoms for each and every act of intercourse outside of that?

I also wanted to ask: how long does sperm REALLY live in the reproductive tract? You hear anything from 2-7 days. Would seven days be highly unusual? How do they determine this, anyway?

Thanks, as always.

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Heather
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That's a really excellent combined method, actually, One of my favorites. The only important facets are that you are really good about truly charting -- at least cervical mucus, and daily -- and that you are with a partner or partners who support that. Frankly, we see so many women having obligatory intercourse, or having that be the mainstay of the whole of the sex life, that any method that doesn't enable those things gets extra points in my book. Plus, since you always have the condoms around any, as condoms used properly are very reliable, if at a given time you don't want to abstain, you're still covered w/condoms.

To my understanding, sperm can last around five days. So, if you're combining charting with condoms, once, via cervical mucus charting, you get to know when your most fertile days are, you'd want to abstain from intercourse from five to seven days before your most fertile time through one or two days after.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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One more suggestion for you, by the way, since I know you're really concerned about using condoms alone.

You may also want to take a look at Lea's Shield. Unlike diaphragms and cervical caps, you don't need a fitting, but the mode of operation is the same, and you can combine this with condoms as well, in case you wind up feeling funny about the charting or that turns out to be a pain for you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LadyLuck77
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I personally like condoms. I just cannot get away from these horror stories of people (usually on the internet, Yahoo answers, hahaha) saying, "I got pregnant using a condom properly and have no idea how it happened." And they seem so genuinely confused. [Smile]

See, the thing is, I didn't want to have to chart mucus and temperature. I just want to basically abstain on "more" fertile days and use a reliable method (condoms) on the remaining days. Is it considered back-up to not track cervical mucus and just sort of count days in conjunction with additional contraception?

[ 02-06-2007, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: LadyLuck77 ]

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Heather
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Really, if you've never charted your cervical mucus, you earnestly can't know when you're most fertile.

Without actually charting, you can't use "charting" as a method. Counting days, otherwise known as the rhythm method, isn't reliable natural family planning, since not everyone is fertile on the same days, and just like it's common for any of us to have menstrual cycle shifts over time, the same goes with ovulation. I have to say, it strikes me as a bit odd to get paranoid about anecdotal condom failure reports, but to not worry about half-arsing charting, you know?

To know when your fertile days are, you've got to chart. It's not that big of a deal to do, by the by: every day, you run a finger around your vaginal opening, see what the mucus sitch is, make a note about it. Over time, you don't even have to make notes, you just begin to understand the nuances and know.

[ 02-06-2007, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LadyLuck77
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I guess that really does fall under the parameters of the rhythm method.

How does one really chart mucus? I know that close to or during ovulation, mucus has the consistency of egg whites and is slippery, stretchy and wet. And at other times, it is thicker and more dry. But relying on that doesn't seem sound. Would I have to invest in a kit of sorts? Or does a website or book have the best answers on how to do this?

Thank you!

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LadyLuck77
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And I AM a bit odd about my paranoia, yes. I tend to overthink and overanalyze things. [Smile] Can you tell? [Smile] But I am truly trying to get around that by being safe in an additional way.

I just assumed that if counting days while abstaining didn't work, the condoms would work when I chose not to abstain. I would NEVER just count days and not use protection, even if I was kind of paranoid about the protection.

I'll do some research and try the mucus. You're right, it's probably not too terribly time-consuming.

[ 02-06-2007, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: LadyLuck77 ]

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Heather
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Your head's in a twist again: relying on counting, which is notoriously seemed sound to you, but now doing it the reliable way seems unsound?

It's really not. Obviously, as a sole method, it can be iffy, but as a combined method, you have room for the margin of error here you might make. All the same charting mucus is really not difficult to do and is reliable per having sound ideas about when you're fertile once you get the hang of it.

There's a great book on this, which is by Toni Weschler, called "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." I'd suggest picking it up.

The abbreviated version of charting is this: during ovulation, just before and just after, you've got it on the mucus that indicated fertility. Same for during those other times. No kit is needed: for the first few months before you'd use it as a secondary method, you chart every day, you take notes of when you menstruate, when your thick mucus, dry mucus and fertile mucus days are, and then in a few months, you sit down and look at what the pattern is, as in, let's say that your most fertile days appear to be between day 11 and day 14. You keep charting, but you can use what you already learned to estimate when fertility is most likely to happen to you in your cycle.

But again, if this is just too much for you to do, you can also easily obtain a secondary barrier method to use with condoms: cervical cap, diaphragm, Lea's Shield. All three of those methods are no-brainers. You only have to use them when you're going to have intercourse, you can put them in beforehand or at the time of intercourse (like putting a condom on), and unless you're sensitive to the spermicide used with them, you're looking at pretty much zero in terms of side effects as well as really reasonable cost.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Per the time-issue with charting, while I don't use charting for birth control now, I still do it anyway, and all I've always done is just do a swipe when I urinate in the morning. Takes two seconds.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LadyLuck77
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I'm about to head to the bookstore anyway, so thanks for the recommendation! I'll pick it up tonight.

I only meant by checking mucus not being "sound" is that I didn't want to rely on MY scanty knowledge of mucus for protection. I thought there was probably more to it than I knew.

Thank you for the help. You are an incredibly fast responder, too!

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