Monday, March 19, 2007

Yeah, yeah, I know

Alright, I know: perhaps I announced my return prematurely. I had every intention of writing more often, believe me. Let me see, there must be something I can blame. My job? Hmm, maybe - I sort-of decided a few months back that I wouldn't use valuable time at work to write on the old blog. For one, I was unsure about the job status, and I didn't want to give my employer any reason to believe I was goofing off at work. (For those keeping score, the news is decidedly good on the job front. Hell, the HR woman today was telling me about the pension plan I can opt into. I never thought I'd be in a job where a pension was offered. It seems so ... I don't know, 1950s.) I no longer feel comfortable posting while at work. And the new computer set-up at home - in my bedroom, largely because of a major apartment reorg that also revealed a faulty phone jack - is not working out. I just can't seem to summon the requisite energy to hang out in my bedroom to work away on the computer.

Still, here I am tonight. Feeling a mite emotional (for reasons I don't wish to divulge at this point), but prepared to post at least something. So what do I decide to write about in my return?

Condoms. Or, in my vernacular, safes.

I was throwing away a (thankfully empty) box of condoms today (part of a larger cleaning effort) when I noticed the "instructions." I know one is not supposed to use things without first checking out the instructions, but I figure safes are pretty self explanatory. Still, I love the double-sided "how to" sheet! After all, how often does one get to see a drawing of an erect penis? But there it is, in the first of five panels. (It's accompanying instruction is: "Put the condom on after the penis is erect, before there is any contact between the penis and your partner's body." Check.)

But what I found even more interesting was the section entitled Pregnancy Rates for Birth Control Methods. It comes with an accompanying table, sort-of like PowerPoint, which (I will again quote) "provides estimates of the percent of women likely to become pregnant while using a particular contraceptive method for one year." (It adds the estimates are "based on on a variety of studies." As someone that works in an academic environment, I'd like to see some footnotes.) I was actually rather surprised at the results. Statistically, there's not much difference between using a safe and ye ol' withdrawal method. For "typical use" (ie., was not used correctly or not used with every act), the rate with a safe is 14%, with withdrawal at 19%. In terms of "lowest expected" (method was always used correctly but failed anyway) it's even closer: 3% (safes) vs 4% (withdrawal). I don't know, this strikes me as odd. But a friend of mine tells me that he and his partner always use withdrawal, so maybe I shouldn't be that surprised (since she's never been pregnant).

So there you go, my first post of the month, and I'm writing about birth control.