*Family Planning in a Natural Disaster*
Or
A Condom is Easier to Change than a Diaper
By: BelindaJo
17 October 2006

Warning: This is a frank discussion on contraception and family planning with specific definitions for various methods. While clinical in nature, it is not intended for children. This article is intended as a general knowledge article and is NOT a substitute for sound medical advice.

It occurred to me as I put my two year old son down to sleep that a major natural disaster may not be the best time to procreate. Yet history shows that after wars, natural disasters, even black outs, there is a surge in population growth. Clearly, one of our more basic instincts after experiencing such a stressful situation is to reaffirm life, or recreational procreation, if you will.

There are so many factors that go into deciding whether to procreate, i.e. have I been exposed to any chemicals, agents or diseases that may affect the baby, do I have the resources to provide for this child, if a woman, what is my own physical health and ability to carry and birth a child without medical intervention, and if a man, do I have the knowledge and/or skills necessary to assist in a birth and if necessary, provide nourishment and nurture to the child if the mother is unable to. Given that nothing is certain during a time of crisis, a natural disaster or emergency is NOT the time to engage in unprotected sex, regardless if you are in a monogamous relationship or not.

In order to better prepare for a long term emergency, it is a good idea to stock basic contraceptive devices and also to be aware of alternative contraceptive practices if there are no devices available or if religious convictions prohibit the use of devices. Most of us learned sex-ed in high school, but here are the basics.

The best way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence. Period. Given that we as humans don't practice abstinence very well, there are other practical ways to prevent pregnancy. One method is to engage in alternative sexual practices that do not introduce seminal fluid in or around the vaginal area. The vaginal area is defined for the purpose of this method as below the bellybutton and above the knee all the way around. The reason this area is so large is that accidental contamination is possible otherwise. There should be no exposed vaginal surface when there is risk of seminal fluid exposure. Similarly all risk of seminal fluid exposure should be eliminated before the vagina is exposed.

For traditional sexual practices, the most practical method during a survival situation is using a barrier method. Barrier methods include condoms, cervical caps, sponges, diaphragms, and IUDs. The most effective method to prevent pregnancy and STDs is the use of condoms with spermicidal gel when used correctly and consistently. It is recommended that a person stock both latex and silicone condoms due to latex allergies that may arise at any time in either partner as well as different spermicidal gels for the same reason. One should also consider stocking personal lubricants as well. Please remember that there are expiration dates on these devices, so be realistic about your usage and needs and also rotate stock accordingly. Cervical caps and sponges have a failure rate of about 20% in a female that has not given birth and jump to a 40% for a female that has given birth and do not protect against STDs. An almost fifty percent of failure is NOT a good risk/reward ratio. Diaphragms are also not a good option alone for the survivalist because they do not protect against STDs, must be used with a separate spermicidal gel in order to be effective, have to be pre-fitted, and re-fitted with weight gain or loss, birth of a child or abdominal surgery and in a survival situation, you can expect a weight flux. An IUD, or inter-uterine device, must be inserted and removed by a licensed medical professional, but if already in place, is a great contraceptive method.

Another method is oral contraceptive use. Though it does not prevent STDs, if a woman has an adequate supply of pills, has been taking the pill an adequate amount of time beforehand, doesn't forget to take them, and takes them at the same time every day, this method is also very effective in preventing pregnancies. It is my personal recommendation also that every survivalist who is female or has a wife or daughter also stock emergency contraceptive pills to be used in cases of nonconsensual sexual assaults. If there is a true break down of society, rape is a very real possibility regardless of how well one prepares security wise against it. Seek medical advice before hand to assess any health risks one might have. Medications also have an expiration date, so stock may need to be rotated.

In a survival situation that might last several months to years or in case of religious convictions, it may become necessary to resort to, or choose, natural family planning. There are three main categories of natural family planning; the fertility awareness method, the sympto-thermal method, and coitus interuptus. Let us get the last one out of the way right now. Coitus interuptus, or the act of removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation occurs, is NOT a good contraceptive method. Because sperm is present in pre-ejaculation fluids, any direct contact with a penis to a vagina has the potential to introduce sperm into the vaginal fluids, and remember it only takes one to create life.

The other two methods require months to be effective, so abstinence or a barrier method must be used in the mean time, mostly due to the fact that they require the female participant to daily chart either her vaginal secretions (fertility awareness method) or her temperature and physical condition (sympto-thermal method). Because I am not a practitioner of either, I would suggest the following websites for more information: http://www.fertilityuk.org/nfps781.html for sympto-thermal and http://health.yahoo.com/topic/reproductive/symptoms/medicaltest/healthwise/h w214035;_ylt=Ap078JgvlIozlZl4Ffdm8aaQ7M8F for fertility awareness. I seriously recommend researching these methods and having the information available in your prep book in case the need should arise.

In summation, one must be prepared for all contingencies by stocking the proper contraceptive devices or implementing natural family planning ahead of time. After all, it is easier to change a condom than it is a diaper.
BelindaJo



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