Hello everybody! I have actually talked about this on Patreon already, that post is older, and today I am going to be a little more thorough. Also, for this post I want to both talk about protection and health, and about pleasure and wellness: two equally important aspects of sex that both need to be considered, so let’s start with the health aspect (and what we can do to make it more sustainable)
The impact of condoms:
Condoms are primarily made from latex, but there are tons of other ingredients all depending on the brand and type. Condoms are not biodegradable, which in most cases is a bad thing, but it is really what you want from a condom. I always say that you should never feel bad about being safe and protecting yourself, this is the case for medicine, and it is also the case here, even if it creates trash. A condom is super essential to many people and should remain so, either if you’re having multiple partners or if you are in a relationship and wants to prevent pregnancy in a non-invasive way, and it’s about 85% effective on average, when used correctly there are 98% effective btw. But some condoms are better than others, some contain some not so ideal ingredients like:
- One of which is nonoxynol-9. It is spermicidal and while effective, the frequent use of nonoxynol-9 can cause inflammation of the cervix, vagina, and rectum.
- Many condoms also contain parabens. By penetrating intact skin, parabens can potentially accelerate the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers or even affect the quality and quantity of sperm production in men.
- It is very likely that you will also run into condoms containing glycerin. It is a sweet-tasting preservative classified as a sugar alcohol. It is commonly used in personal lubricants and flavored condoms to improve taste during oral sex. Exposure can cause nausea, headaches, excessive gas or dizziness
- For the longest time, I did not know this, but some condoms are not vegan. Many manufacturers will add a milk protein called casein to their latex condoms to make them smoother. This alone makes them problematic to the ethical vegan. Even if a person is non-vegan, there is a risk, albeit slight, of an allergic reaction in persons with a known milk allergy.
- Lastly, benzocaine is an anesthetic used in certain condoms to decrease sensitivity and increase comfort during intercourse, aka it has a slight numbing effect. The side effects of benzocaine can include localized inflammation, irritation, and dryness. Because benzocaine is absorbed through the skin, it can in some cases cause dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and breathing issues.
The success criteria are not finding a reusable or zero waste condom here, a disposable item in this scenario okay. However, it is important to dispose of it properly, because condoms won’t break down in the environment. There are also brands that do a better job than the average condom manufacturer, like
Today the birth control pill and its variations are one of the most widespread contraceptives in the world, and I won’t even begin to diminish how huge a role this pill has played in the fight for equality and feminism. Many of the people from my generation, who grew up with it don’t know how much a game changer it actually was. However, when we take a pill, any pill, our bodies don’t absorb all of it, on average 90% of the ingredients are actually flushed out of our bodies again. And when it comes to the birth control pill that means a whole lot of hormones end up in our water systems
Tracking your cycle:
Tracking your cycle as a method of birth control is called “fertility awareness method”, or FAM, it is also sometimes called “natural family planning”. This way you can track your body’s natura cycle and thus prevent pregnancies by avoiding sex during the days of ovulation, aka the dayes your are most likely to get pregnant. There are several apps that can help you with this, and several methods, one where you keep track by looking at your temperature, one where you track your cervical mucus, and one using calendar. It is generally recommended to combine all three. This method is 76-88% effective according to Planned Parenthood. It is not something I have had personal experience with, and overall it is not a method I would use if I know for a fact that I don’t want to get pregnant.
the IUD (what I have chosen):
It is important to note that whatever you feel comfortable which is okay, no matter if it creates waste or not. Health is always the number 1 priority and should always be regarded as such. Okay so I was on the pill for many years, since I was 16 or 17 I think, but 3 years ago I switched to an IUD instead. The main reason was actually that the pill really messed up my hormonal balance. I had migraines every week and my weight went up and down like a friggin yo-yo. I decided to research if I would safely have an IUD when I was also using a menstrual cup, but the internet really used gave me anecdotes of people have both good and bad experiences, so I went to my doctor and asked instead. They did not really seem to think it was an issue, which it also has not been. (pssst, if you do use a menstrual cup while having an IUD makes sure to relieve the vacuum before pulling out the cup, then you should be safe)
An IUD is a tiny device that’s put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy (now I say put, because it sounds nice, it is basically pierced, sorry.) It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. They either come with hormones or with a tiny copper string. The neat thing is that it can protect you for 3-7 years, depending on the type and brand. and thus works as a rather waste-free option compared to other alternatives. Of course, it only protects you from pregnancy and not STDs, so keep that in mind. I have had mine for 3 years this summer and never had any issues, I am going to have it taken out soon and have a new one put in. It is not the most pleasant experience to have it inserted, I know some people experience a lot of pain, I did too, but that was mostly because I have a tilted uterus and the doctor had to make 5 attempts to get the right placement. But I haven’t felt any pain since, so it is a rather worry-free experience, long-term.
Also be aware that IUDs can affect your period, a hormonal IUD can reduce or completely remove your period, while a copper IUD might increase it, but it is different for everybody.
For more info: if you want to know more about this method of birth control, Planned Parenthood has everything you need to know: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud
now this topic can look a million different ways, and if you need specific inspiration or education, I suggest check out Beducated, as they are much better equipped to have the pleasure-talk than I am. However, I want to highlight some element that can be made more sustainable, perhaps they apply to you. Let’s start out strong, you can buy thousands of different toys and accessories, leaches, handcuffs, blind folds, and obviously types of clothing. However most of these things are made with slave labour and in sweatshops, to keep prices cheap. For things like blindfolds or hand cuffs, use fabrics like scarves or belt that you either already own, or buy thrifted.
For other types of more invasive toys, they don’t need to be made from synthetic latex or plastic, some types are made from glass, which is extremely durable and safe (Crystal Delights is a brand that specialises in this area), 100% silicone is also better than plastic, not perfect, but also not the same. I also have a video about silicone if you want to know more about how it’s made and its impact. One of the good things with silicone is that it does not degrade into tiny small pieces like plastic in the environment, and that we definitely appreciate. You can also use vegetables, it is not an official recommendation, but like yeah you could.
Then there are battery operated devices. A vibrator may have the same sustainability issues as a many other types of electronics (they do however have fewer rare earth elements in them than cell phones and tablet, so that’s something), it contains petroleum-based plastic and electronic devices which both are hard and almost impossible to recycle. But there, of course, sustainable and good options when it comes to vibrators. But what I have found personally to have worked the best, yes now we are getting into the personal recommendation, is the Gaia vibrator. It is the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable vibrator made from a corn-starch based plastic. It requires 1 battery, for which I use a rechargeable battery, and it is amazing. Also, several experts recommend to remove batteries when the device is not in use, to avoid potential leaking from the batteries that can destroy your toy, also let them cool down after use
Package free shop sells it and has tons of great info about it and how to eventually dispose of it as well: https://packagefreeshop.com/products/eco-bullet-vibrator
there is literally no shame in using it, some people find it shameful that they need help, both with new partners and in a relationship, however it is so normal and completely okay. However many lubes contains animal products and are also often tested on animals. To avoid some such nonsense, check out:
Be mindful of what type of lube you use btw, if you are using condoms an oil-based lube will break down the latex in the condom and thus make them less reliable and effective, so if that’s the case, make sure to use a water-based lube.