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Male Contraception — What You Need To Know

Guy deference of contraceptive decisions could be chalked up to fear, laziness or indeed self-absorbtion. But wait! We endure crippling social ignorance when it comes to active roles guys play in contraception.

Sean Christopher

I’m calling, “Bullshit!” The social media post went like this,

“In the whole history of contraceptives, isn’t the total number of contraceptives developed for men equal to…well, ONE?”

A Facebook poster

Lacking any significant self-control, I suck at social media. Had I responded, I would have written 1400 words ranting about how screwed up we are with respect to conversation surrounding contraception and that people accept the aforementioned post as true. People with penises have been disempowered for more than a century because the only role they are granted in issues surrounding conception involves no dialog and only a seven-second ejaculation. And in posts like this, these same penis-owners are chastised for disinvolvement in contraception.

Why Should I Care About Male Contraception Methods?

In a sex-educator world, there is one diagnostic question that we ask a patient considering pregnancy options: Do you want to parent? I’ve always thought that this should also be a question posed when considering contraception because the answer to this question is even more relevant at this earlier juncture. If you don’t want to parent, and you wish to have penis-in-vagina sex, then it follows that you consider carefully how you would like to prevent pregnancy. It’s not a big deal. We make it a big deal.

In spite of the big deal, there remains one indisputable fact: Just as two keys are required to open a safe deposit box at the bank, two components are required to make a pregnancy. A female body produces an ovum and a male body produces a sperm. The fact remains that if these two are not present, fertilization is impossible. As baffling as it seems, folk still think that guys have very little — a contemptible condom — to bring to the conversation.

Betwixt sex partners, far more possibilities exist even than what you need. In fact, the contraceptive methods in which guys play an active role, promise far more than just pregnancy protection. What’s possible is enhanced sexual skill, honest sexual conversation with partners, and a liberating departure from a sexual rut.

But have the conversation you must, and if you’re the one bringing the penis to penis-in-vagina sex, you may feel confident that you have at least five contraceptive methods to contribute. Here they are:

Insertive Condoms

I list male (insertive) condoms for two reasons. First, it’s the only contraceptive method used during penis-in-vagina sex that also helps protect again sexually transmitted infections. That’s good to keep in mind especially because you can use condoms concurrently with any other methods if you want both stellar contraception along with some STI protection.

The second reason is that insertive condoms differ from the other methods in that you can bring a uniquely male contraception method with little or no discussion or even previous relationship with your partner. You can be prepared with contraception regardless of your partner’s contraceptive readiness or preference. Have condoms, will travel.

Vasectomy

Male sterilization or vasectomy is near-perfect contraception where guys can enjoy exclusive decision-making agency. Most often, though, couples make this decision together while seeking a sex life free of pregnancy potential. That’s not to say that guys wouldn’t also independently make a decision in favor of vasectomy simply because they want any future sexual relationship to be free of pregnancy concerns themselves. To date, vasectomy is the one contraceptive procedure a guy chooses for their own body. You should never be coerced into this decision.

Abstinence

Naw! You say. Abstinence isn’t contraception. It’s just not having sex, right?

Wrong.

Abstinence is a male contraceptive method because it requires a sex partner with a penis. If you have a penis, you get to choose if you prefer not to participate in penetrative sex. You get the idea that this method requires a significant level of agreement and cooperation on the part of both partners. Feelings can be strong, but here, you can choose to design a unique experience among lovers.

Abstinence can be whatever you and your partner want it to be. Most people think of abstinence as refraining from all sexual interaction. And that may be true for moral reasons or observance of religious practice for example. Abstinence, however, absolutely tolerates and rewards a much more dynamic approach. Partners can choose to refrain from penis-in-vagina sex play simply to avoid pregnancy or for any other reason yet still engage in a host of creative sexual relating. For example, oral sex, anal sex any other sex that doesn’t involve vaginal penetration with a penis should achieve pregnancy-free sex play.

Withdrawal

Many sex educators refer to the withdrawal method of contraception by the cringe-worthy term, “pulling out”. While this is indeed the appropriate action involved in the withdrawal method, it certainly indicates a lack of appreciation of some sophisticated sexual skill on the part of the player with the penis. This is why withdrawal is strictly a male contraceptive method as only a male feels and knows when the time is right to withdraw.

A misunderstanding of the withdrawal method is that one withdraws the penis during intercourse only at precisely the moment immediately preceding ejaculation. This is probably why the withdrawal method results in pregnancies in about 22 percent of those using it in one year. Yet, don’t be hasty to discard withdrawal as an option just for this reason. Amazingly, the perfect use of the withdrawal method works about 96% of the time. Condoms are only slightly better when used perfectly.

A better understanding and more perfect use of withdrawal involve not only sexual skill but sexual communication with your partner. One needn’t wait till the cusp of the point-of-no-return to withdraw. In fact, withdraw long before the point of ejaculatory inevitability. That’s where the skill is involved. A couple mindful that withdrawal is part of their sex play and that ejaculation is saved for another phase of non-penetrative play can anticipate a high level of pregnancy avoidance and possibly a high level of sexual enjoyment.

Karezza — Sexual Continence

At first blush, Karezza appears to be a lot like the withdrawal method, but it couldn’t be more different. Withdrawal is primarily a behavioral contraceptive method while Karezza is a philosophy and practice of penetrative lovemaking. It also functions as a contraceptive method as Karezza by definition does not involve ejaculation at all — not during intercourse or any time during sex. Hence, the expression sexual continence.

Sex educator literature doesn’t provide us with any statistics on karezza as an effective contraceptive method. Since the practice doesn’t involve ejaculation, if we compare it to withdrawal we can likely assume somewhere between 78% and 96% effectiveness as contraception. Given the ejaculatory control required for Karezza, we can definitely think of it as an essentially male practice.

The practice became better known in the early 20th century through Alice Bunker Stockham’s book by the same name, Karezza. While many espouse spiritual benefits of the slower, more mindful style of sexual intercourse, one needn’t ascribe to it any more lofty benefits than longer, more profound enjoyment of penis-in-vagina sex.

Karezza is a behavioral practice and therefore a high level of communication and agreement is needed between partners. Karezza definitely takes some patience, but once achieved, longer intercourse and no ejaculation can surely transform an experience.

Unlisted Contraception Methods

There’s no mistaking that a lot of folk dismiss the male role in contraception. The last three methods discussed here are most frequently absent from lists of contraception methods. No surprise. To some people, it’s just too much work because it involves a little skill and self-adjustment and more importantly, discussion between partners. A small amount of effort, though, promises a lot of fun.

Abstinence, withdrawal and karezza are uniquely male because they essentially depend on the behavior of the partner with a penis. Another unique factor is that at least some dialog and agreement is needed for these methods to work. This partner dialog and agreement, though, leads to a huge sexual and relational benefit — the scope and depth of the experience offers potentially deeper pleasure and sexual dynamic simply because partners are talking about what they hope to sexually do together.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

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