Science of Sex: Birth Control

May 13th, 2017

Welcome to the third installment in a new feature on Of Sex and Love: Science of Sex. In this feature, I plan to discuss the science of sexuality in an easy-to-digest format that’s accessible to the casual reader. I will also follow up with some extended reading material for people who want to know more about the subject of each post.

Enjoy!

science of sex birth control

Barrier methods of birth control, including condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and the sponge block sperm from moving through the cervix to the uterus, where it would otherwise fertilize an egg. If the barrier becomes compromised, say, by a pinhole or friction, it’s less effective.

Barrier methods are sometimes combined with spermicide in the form of nonoxynol-9. As I mentioned in my previous Science of Sex post on lube, nonoxynol-9 is detrimental to sperm, but it can also have a caustic effect on your sensitive vaginal tissues and can even make it more likely to contract an STI.

Hormonal birth control varies, however. The regular birth control pill, which contains a combination of both estrogen and progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, estrogen peaks, signaling for her pituitary gland to release other hormones (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, to be specific). This leads to the release of an adult egg, which can be fertilized if sperm makes its way to the egg.

When a woman is on combination birth control, the hormones create a balance and that estrogen spike is prevented from occurring, so no egg is released. Progestin also makes a woman’s uterine lining less ideal for hosting a fertilized egg. Other hormonal birth control methods, including the patch and NuvaRing, work in a similar way.

However, not every form of hormonal birth control contains a combination of hormones. The progestin-only pill (called a POP or mini-pill) lacks estrogen as the name suggests. These pills are less effective than combination birth control. Because they have no estrogen, these forms of birth control may allow more breakthrough bleeding than combination birth control.

Progestin-only birth control may be prescribed to women who are breastfeeding (breastfeeding naturally prevents ovulation, but the mini-pill in addition to breastfeeding is more effective than breastfeeding alone) as well as those who suffer from migraines. Combination pills were once believed to contribute to migraine headaches; however, more recent science suggests that this may not be the case and that combination BC may even help prevent migraines. Nevertheless, taking combination birth control if you already experience migraines with auras might contribute toward strokes.

The Mirena and Skyla IUDs (in the form of levonorgestrel), Implanon, and Depo-Provera are progestin-only BC methods.

Most birth control falls into the category of barrier or hormonal methods, but copper IUDs alone take a different route. Copper IUDs (Paragard in the US) are sometimes known as just a copper-T or coil and work by releasing small amounts of copper into your blood stream. Copper is an effective spermicide without the side effects of nonoxynol-9, damaging sperm so to prevent fertilization. Copper IUDs may also prevent ovulation.

Further Reading

Did you enjoy the second installment of Science of Sex? Do you have further questions or suggestions for next month’s subject? Leave me a comment!

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My G-Spot Makes Me Cry

February 24th, 2017

Well, there you go with a sensational title. Sorry that the rest of this post will be logical and reasonable (sorry not sorry).

So the last time I masturbated (with a unicorn dildo, no less. It was pretty awesome), was the first time I’d experienced penetration in a while. A while might be quite the underwhelming way to describe it, in fact.

Regardless, it was the first time. And my body stretched and groaned against it, but it all worked out swimmingly. I enjoyed new toys and a few orgasms, and I squirted for the first time in (don’t say “a while”).. you-don’t-what-to-know-how-long.

It was altogether a pleasing experience if it was slightly less than toe-curling, but it was also followed/joined by an onslaught of tears. I posted about it on Twitter — briefly.

And discovered that I’m not alone, but I can only tell my story.

There’s a lot of hokey new-agey type stuff about the G-spot, but it certainly seems a quick button for catharsis. I’m certain it’s rooted in biology, and oxytocin specifically causes all sorts of emotions when it rushes through your veins.

But I temporarily forgot this. There wasn’t any way for me to be contained. I was both squirting and crying, and if this sounds like a bad thing.. it’s not. It was a cathartic cry like when you watch a chick flick, perhaps with ice cream, and just let it go.

It was primal and unedited and perhaps just what I needed. It was unexpected only because it’s inconsistent. But hindsight is 20/20, and why wouldn’t I have an intense reaction the first time I experience penetration in months?

And it’s not at all like crying and masturbation or sex don’t go hand in hand for me. When I was with my ex, I discovered that I would sometimes cry from sex. It was because of overwhelming feelings of love and connection, but it pushed the experience to an intensity that I desired. With more recent partners, I’ve achieved a similar intensity through rougher sex.

After I stopped having sex with The Bartender, my poor broken heart was unable to think of anything else when I jacked off, and this resulted in all sorts of crying as I came. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure, and it wasn’t always wanted. But it ushered in all sorts of feeling, and sex is one of the few times when I am relaxed enough, stripped bare enough and out of my head enough to just feel. To be.

It’s more difficult, of course, if I’m dealing with unresolved feelings in addition to hormones. Although, that wasn’t the case this time around. I was in a place where I could just notice and feel both amused and impressed with my physiology. It’s a pretty neat thing.

Sometimes my G-spot makes me cry, and that’s always okay even if it’s inconvenient.

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I’m PMSing

August 19th, 2010

This is exciting news. Except for everything that goes with the upcoming menstrual flow. But, you see, I’ve never been in a place where I was happy enough to even recognize PMS so being able to do so is kind of awesome in its own way. Plus, even though I’m not there yet, recognizing the emotional and mental symptoms gives me hope that I may be getting to know my boy a bit better. I really like the idea that my body may not always be a stranger whose boobs I love but whose signals are never loud enough to understand. Who ever thought I’d be happy about PMS?!

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