23 March 2012

Oops... I'm Pregnant Again!

Fairly recently an article caused a stir in the men’s rights community called “How to Get Pregnant Without Him Knowing.” The title alone highlights the objective to educate female readers on how they can trick a man into creating a baby without his consent. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how curious you are to read it) it’s been pulled down. I would guess this is because it drew a lot of attention, not least from MRAs, who discussed it in videos, forums and other online activity.

It was only when I sat down to write this article that I discovered it was gone (update: here it is). Therefore I am left feeling that it is even more essential that I complete my objective here, so men might be fully armed with the knowledge to combat ‘sperm theft’. The whole premise of this post may seem patronising. It might even seem ludicrous that an adult male may be unaware of details involving impregnation, but believe me it is far from either of these things.

Sperm theft is a very real problem in our present culture. According to a UK scientific review a median of 26.9% of men have been victims of paternity fraud, meaning that both father and alleged father have often been conned by a woman continuing her charade. Psychological studies also show that women hide their affairs far better than men. Still not convinced? How about the findings of a survey showing that 40% of 3000 pregnancies were unplanned? The BBC article states that:
"Of these, 62% blamed problems with the pill, 19% said it was due to a split condom, and 3% were too carried away to use contraception."
19% of unplanned pregnancies being down to a split condom is very high. It takes a lot to break a condom, especially if worn correctly. Personally I have never had a condom split. My own personal experiences make me feel that the likelihood of condoms splitting 7.6% of the time, which the survey would indicate occurred over 3000 pregnancies, is highly questionable. You would think that countless experiences of sexual intercourse with my wife with a condom would have garnered this result at least once. This is not the case.

Here is a list setting out the reliability of contraceptives across a wide variety of choices. You will immediately notice that the percentage chance to get pregnant after a year of sexual activity with any contraception increases significantly. The percentage chance of getting a woman pregnant with the condom after one year is 12%. This seems even higher than the survey, yet I have never experienced this occurring. After my wife gave birth to our daughter we both felt it would better to keep her body free of the effects of the contraceptive pill for the foreseeable future. The contraceptive pill dramatically affects the female menstrual cycle and hormone levels, so this is the reason for the decision. As such I have been using condoms now for almost two years. Again, no broken condoms, and no ‘bun in the oven’.

So how do we arrive at these questionable and somewhat meaningless figures? Unless we have far more observable conditions, for all 1200 cases of unplanned pregnancies in another survey, it’s hard to take someone’s word seriously. I’m sure we can also agree that creating a more observable survey would look more like a set to a new Jenna Jameson movie. So this isn’t likely to happen. Second, I think the pharmaceutical companies providing contraception have a vested interest in suggesting that the likelihood of contraception failing is actually much higher. That way companies can avoid being sued when things do occasionally fail to go according to plan. So something else is happening, and I’m sure we can guess that some people aren’t being completely honest.

The survey in the scientific article also suggests that 3% of unplanned pregnancies were from failure to put a condom on. Did the woman ‘convince’ the man that she was on the pill? Did she tell him that it would “be okay?” Of course men can whine about having sex with a condom, but is this common enough for 36 out of 1200 unplanned pregnancies to occur in this manner? One has to ask who was doing the convincing to ‘keep it off’?

Which leads us onto the biggest figure of unplanned pregnancies in the survey – the contraceptive pill. 62%, or 744 unplanned pregnancies occurred when the pill was unsuccessful. That’s a whopping 24.8% of the 3000 total pregnancies in the survey! Even according to the list of contraceptives 3% of women will become pregnant after one year of using the pill. This highlights a major discrepancy.

A BBC Talking Point poses the ironic question, “Would you trust a man to take the pill?” because apparently the male contraceptive pill could be available in 5 years. This was posted 12 years ago. So apart from the fact that a male pill will undoubtedly set men free from a lack of reproductive rights in the present climate, we also have to ask why on earth it’s taking so long to develop? In the meantime we can grow human ears on mice and send satellites into orbit around the earth. Call me paranoid, but it seems to me that too many people have a lot to gain from the financial servitude of men towards mothers.

But this is the least of men’s problems. We are supposed to believe that unplanned pregnancies are so common today that many simply accept it casually when we hear a woman say, “It was an accident.” I know two women who are presently pregnant 'by accident'. I also know another who recently had a baby when she accidentally became pregnant too. One basically admitted she lied. Anecdotal evidence yes, but are we truly naïve enough to believe the woman’s word every time, especially when relating to a reliable contraceptive like the pill?

Before my daughter was born, and before my wife and I were married, we relied on the contraceptive pill for around ten years. Not once in that time did my wife get pregnant. Not once did we need to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. One of the biggest reasons (or excuses) given for an unplanned pregnancy while on the pill is being on antibiotics. Really? To the extent that it’s such a common reason? To the point where as many as 24.8% of 3000 women in the survey got pregnant while on the pill? Besides, many doctors would let patients know about the risk of becoming pregnant due to this factor.

To truly understand why such high degrees of unplanned pregnancies are something to be sceptical about we need to understand the female menstrual cycle. This is broken up into the follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase. It’s during the fertile ovulation phase that the woman is most capable of conceiving.

Having sex as close to the start of ovulation as possible is best if pregnancy is the desired result. The newly formed egg will remain in the fallopian tube for around 3 days after being formed. If sperm are also in the fallopian tube during this 3 day period this will significantly increase the odds of fertilisation occurring.

After 3 days the egg will then travel down the fallopian tube and attach itself to the wall of the uterus, called the endometrium. If the egg is not fertilised it will eventually break off the wall of the uterus and slip away, taking a small amount of blood with it. At this point menstruation will begin anew.

In case you haven’t noticed this gives approximately 3 optimum days a month to get pregnant; the period when the egg is in the fallopian tube. This optimum period is not easy to calculate either, and as such women often use an ovulation calculator to figure out which part of the month this occurs in, which my wife used when we planned for the birth of our daughter. When this calculation is made it is possible to get pregnant remarkably quickly, if both the male and female are healthy of course. It took my wife and I six weeks of trying to succeed in getting her pregnant, though we were both armed with the correct information, and mutual determination to have a child.

What more, it’s highly unlikely that it would be so easy to get pregnant from missing the occasional pill here and there. The woman needs to terminate ingestion of the pill before the production of eggs from the ovaries begins to occur once more. This in itself poses the question of how many women aren’t taking the pill at all when they ‘accidentally’ fall pregnant?

Are the alarm bells ringing yet? The idea that getting a woman pregnant is a case of “wham bam thank you ma’am,” at any old time of day, is a myth. Yet here we are talking about ambiguous statistics of 40% of pregnancies being unplanned, condoms failing 12% of the time, which itself can result in women getting pregnant, and 24.8% of women getting pregnant on the pill! Not to mention that the morning after pill is always available for any unforeseen events. I think it’s time men woke up. It takes premeditated intent to get pregnant the vast majority of the time, especially given that women have never had it easier when it comes to controlling their bodies.

There certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near the amount of unplanned pregnancies that we are faced with in society today. My suggestion to men; wear a condom until you are ready to get a woman pregnant. It’s the only way to have peace of mind. And always remember that trust is a two-way street that takes time to build.