h102.jpg bar Title: A Guy Thing: How To Be a Man Without Becoming a Father
Author: A. Banks
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: February 2007
Catalog Number: H102

..Setting The Stage

You're a reasonably cool, caring, responsible guy, but don't quite see yourself as Father of the Year material -- at least, not for a while yet, anyway. And probably not nine months from now, either. No problem -- just don't have sex.

Impossible? Impractical? No fun?

Then you'd better be using a reliable method of birth control.

That means (gasp!) that birth control is something you need to think about. Not only that, it's something you need to think about before you really need to think about it.

Because sometimes, thinking too late is as bad (or as useless) as not thinking at all. And remembering after the fact that women get pregnant when birth control gets forgotten is a perfect example of useless thinking.

So read on. In this pamphlet, we'll talk about some of the main methods you might want to try if you want to be responsible about your love-making.

That way, you can make sure that sex begins and ends a pleasure for exactly as long as you want it to.

..'Voodoo' Birth Control

Men have been trying to prevent conception almost as long as women have been trying to prevent conception.

Centuries ago, we thought fertility had to do with the mood swings of the local gods, and did almost everything we could think of to appease the Big Guys up there who supposedly made pregnancies come and go.

Thankfully, things are a lot more -- well, scientific, today.

Still, a lot of guys continue to approach sex as a sort of voodoo -- where you get lucky by using a little charm and repeating a few magic words.

Then (if you do get lucky) you get to keep your fingers crossed until the end of the month when you find out just how fortunate you really were.

That's one way of doing it.

Still, voodoo or not, that method leaves an awful lot to chance -- much more than most guys (and almost all girls) would like.

If you're thinking there has to be a better way, you're right. There is -- there are several, in fact.

..'Safe Sex' & Withdrawal

So what alternatives are there? Well, there's always the "safe sex" option, where all you have to say "no" to is the actual act of intercourse.

Safe sex can include everything from massage to mutual masturbation, and has gotten a lot of publicity lately as an effective way to protect yourself against HIV infection.

We're not going to knock safe sex, because it is a foolproof approach to pregnancy prevention -- and it helps control AIDS in the bargain.

But since new-fangled non-intercourse intercourse can easily lead to old-fashioned intercourse intercourse, it's probably wise to be knowledgeable about other forms of birth control.

Like what? Well, let's begin with the oldest form of male birth control: withdrawal.

Withdrawal means just what it says -- withdrawing the penis from the vagina just before the moment of truth and the instant of ejaculation.

In principle it sounds good (since it's impossible to fertilize an egg without sperm), but in practice it's another story.

For one thing, withdrawal is hard to do. For another, it's easy to forget to pull out at the last moment.

It's also practically impossible to be sure that no sperm are released inside your lady's vagina if your penis is in there. Sperm cells are awfully tiny -- and awfully tricky -- and some may be able to find their way to the Promised Land even before you feel yourself ejaculate.

For this reason, withdrawal should only be considered a feeble, last-ditch, probably-doomed attempt at contraception. And then it should be employed only if nothing else is available -- and only if you're willing to risk a lifetime tour of duty as an unprepared dad as a trade-off for a couple of minutes of sexual gratification.

Luckily, there are more reliable methods that require only a little more premeditation.

..Condom Sense

Take condoms, for example. They're one of the oldest and simplest measures of precaution.

When used correctly, condoms are more than 95 percent effective, without the side effects often associated with other forms of birth control, like the pill or IUD.

Latex condoms also provide protection against AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, which is reason enough for most people today.

Although putting on a condom may seem pretty obvious, you should put it on only after the penis is hard, and before it gets near the female genital area.

There are a couple of other things you ought to keep in mind when it comes to the gentlemanly art of dressing in a condom:

  • As you roll the condom on, leave a little extra space at the tip. This helps prevent a too-tight fit and leakage when you come.
  • Never use Vaseline or an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom. Oils can make the rubber stretch and break.
  • After ejaculation, grasp the condom at the base of your penis and pull out from the female.
  • For more protection, use a contraceptive foam along with a condom for nearly 100-percent effectiveness.

Remember, though, that a new condom must be used with each act of intercourse.

Their simplicity and effectiveness make condoms an attractive birth control option -- and anything that stops AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases is looking better all the time.

Still, some guys resist, thinking that wearing a condom isn't "macho," or that it interferes with spontaneity.

Others (mostly people who don't use them-or who don't use them right) say that condoms decrease sensitivity.

Solution? Couples can overcome the interruption by making the use of a condom part of the sex act itself, and guys can overcome most of the desensitizing effects by using pre-lubricated condoms and by carefully squeezing out any air when putting on the condom.

Natural membrane condoms (skins) can also be used for greater sensitivity, although they don't offer the same degree of protection as latex or polyurethane condoms against HIV.

..Other Options

If a vasectomy isn't for you, and you won't use a condom, there's still a way to be responsible in the area of birth control -- and, in the eyes of your chosen, an all-around Swell Guy to boot.

It's called thinking.

Never assume that your partner is using a reliable method of birth control.

If you're not sure, ask her. And if neither of you is sure which method is best for both of you, educate yourselves now.

Visit your local Planned Parenthood center or health clinic to find out what you need to know about other contraceptive options.

Then, once you choose a method that's right for you, use it every time. Because the one time you forget to think about contraception can be the one time that's necessary to create a pregnancy you don't want or need.

..The 'Voodoo' That You Do

If you choose a method that's "her responsibility," and if you don't want your girlfriend or lover to quickly become your wife and the mother of your child (or at least become your ex-girlfriend or ex-lover), remember to remind her to put in her diaphragm or take her birth control pills.

If you don't have a full-time girlfriend or lover and you're sexually active, keep a supply of condoms around, just in case.

Because the fact of the matter is that making babies is the easy part of sex.

The tough part is making life worthwhile -- for yourself and the people you're committed to, including the children you father if you're not responsible about your sexuality.

Don't make life harder for the people you love. Be responsible about sex. Because making babies doesn't make you a man.

Being responsible makes you a man.

..Sidebar | Vasectomy: Cutting The Odds (Permanently)

In a stable relationship and don't like the idea of condoms? There are always vasectomies.

A vasectomy is a minor 20- to 30-minute surgical operation which can be performed in a doctor's office or clinic under local anesthetic.

In performing a vasectomy, a physician makes two small incisions in the scrotum and cuts the vas deferens (the tiny tubes which carries sperm from the testicles to the prostate gland).

This neatly prevents sperm from mixing with a) seminal fluid and b) egg cells manufactured inside your wife, lover, or girlfriend.

Deemed "safe, effective and legal" by the American Medical Association, vasectomies are a reliable method of contraception which don't affect spontaneity or sensitivity. Still, there are drawbacks.

Although there have been exceptions, the operation is still considered irreversible. That means that a decision to have a vasectomy should be preceded by a lot of soul-searching and plenty of careful thought.

If you haven't yet fathered children or if you're otherwise unsure about the permanency of a vasectomy, you probably shouldn't have one.

And if you're sexually active, you should keep in mind that a vasectomy doesn't offer a bit of protection against HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

This is one in a series of publications on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation.
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