I think that most sexual dynamics between men and women are deeply affected - and often damaged by - the fact that almost all birth control methods save the condom are undertaken by the woman and have negative affects on her whole physiology (even the diaphragm, which is non-hormonal, is suffocating to the cervix if you have a healthy libido - having to keep it on for six hours after sex means your cervix will be smothered in spermicide and plastic for much of your life if you happen to want to have sex every day or even every other day).
Also, external methods of birth control are products someone profits from - they imply that being fertile is something that is a nuisance that should be removed from conscious awareness with the most convenient possible means - something external to oneself. Of course, imperfect options are better than none. That said, what options are out there that aren’t marketed or shared because they don’t make anyone money and they rely on communication, body-awareness, and constant, conscious deliberation about what it means to be fertile?
I started a little 'zine a while back on sexual alchemy and i never finished it, but I did outline the partner-based birth control method that I have used successfully for over two years. This is what I wrote; hopefully it will be of interest:
SEXUAL ALCHEMY, THE RHYTHM METHOD, AND INTENTIONALITY: THE PERFECT FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL?
I’m totally excited about the possibilities of closer intimacy and greater sexual enjoyment through the use of what I call a “partner-based” birth control method - combining sexual alchemy, fertility awareness, changing of vaginal PH, and - most importantly - intentionality. This method of birth control is for a couple in a committed relationship who are both on a conscious spiritual path, are practicing non-ejaculatory sex, and who have the patience and interest to know their own bodies well. When we are tuned in, we can care for ourselves and others in a more effective way.
In Taoist Sexual Alchemy, the male doesn’t ejaculate and the woman doesn’t ovulate, unless they want to conceive. I think it’s clear that the simple act of the male choosing not to ejaculate is not sufficient as a method of birth control, and could be equivalent to withdrawal in effectiveness, particularly with a Ã¢â‚¬Å“drippyÃ¢â‚¬Â guy. Read Mantak ChiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s books Ã¢â‚¬Å“Healing Love Through the TaoÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Taoist Secrets of LoveÃ¢â‚¬Â for further instruction, and use a backup method of birth control during the Ã¢â‚¬Å“learning curve,Ã¢â‚¬Â until the man has mastered control over his impulse to ejaculate.
The focus is not exactly taken away from the groin area, but the groin is seen only as the central starting point from which you can energize your whole system. The basic Taoist observation is that there are different forms of chi, or life force, and one of the most potent forms of chi is the sexual chi, or jing chi, because it can create life. And if we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to create life every time we have sex (which most people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t), then itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s therefore a waste of chi to expend it externally through orgasm. This is a very controversial idea for most westerners. The idea, however, is not to surpress orgasm, but to channel it inwards rather than outwards. Both the male and the female recirculate the orgasmic jing chi back into your system to energize all of tjeir organs, and in that sense itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a form of health care.
Since it takes many years for a woman to stop menstruating through Taoist Alchemy and meditation, that’s clearly not an immediate possibility for birth control, especially for new practitioners of the art.
According to the Taoists, women lose their chi more drastically through menstruation than through orgasm. Ovulation and menstruation are the female equivalent of the male losing his seed. By doing the orbit meditation, women can actually eventually stop having their period altogether, since the life-creating energy is being internalized, rather than sent outwards. I haven’t ever had the goal of stopping my period, but my roommate, who introduced me to this and who has successfully used this as a form of birth control for three years, has succeeded in stopping her menstruation. Nuns in China called this “Slaying the Red Dragon.” Many people are horrified at this idea, even though many hormonal methods of birth control suppress ovulation as well, though not the bleeding. My periods have gotten much lighter and easier when I have been doing the meditation more diligently. Menstruation can be resumed when and if you want to conceive, by stopping the meditation.
Even if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not in a long-term, sexual relationship, you can develop your awareness of the energies in your body by doing the solo cultivation; it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily need to have anything to do with sexual relationship. This is just about being empowered and distributing the chi evenly throughout your body. You can learn that technique and use it for being energized, and then when you do get into a sexual relationship, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve developed that ability.
There are other, more accurate and less-tedious ways to gauge how fertile you are in your cycle besides taking your basal temperature. This method is only effective for detecting ovulation if the temperature is taken at the same time each day, something which was inconvenient for me.
I’ve started to gauge where I am in my cycle by the position of my cervix in the vaginal canal, and the wideness of the opening to the cervix (the os) along with the hardness of the cervix. As ovulation nears, the os opens up, there is a slippery liquid at the opening, and the whole cervix itself rises higher and higher in the vaginal canal as ovulation approaches. After ovulation, the cervix begins to descend again, grows firmer (like pressing the end of your nose) and the os, or opening to the cervix, becomes smaller again. Go to www.sisterzeus.com/cervob.htm for more info and photos of the cervix at different times of the month.
To find out more about fertility awareness though mucus observation, visit: www.sisterzeus.com/mucob.htm .
CHANGING OF VAGINAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S PH
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve read of whores in Mexico who insert a coke bottle in their vagina to change the ph and make it less hospitable to sperm. I myself have used a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of high quality apple cider vinegar to a cup of water. After engaging in sex in which my partner does not ejaculate in me, I wash out my vagina with this solution using my fingers. The acidity should kill any lingering sperm. This is the part of the birth control method that could use the most improvement. The vagina is a delicate environment, and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to throw it off balance. The vagina is normally acidic, becoming less so as ovulation nears. Vinegar is also a good antidote to candida infections, so I feel this douche is not harmful. However, it would be nice to discover other natural spermicides.
Even fairly radical hippies I’ve spoken with, who’ve tried a lot of things, have been wary of this method as I have described it to them, especially the intentionality aspect. So many of them have experienced negative results from the rhythm method. Also, though they may believe that one’s intentions directly influence one’s life, they would be hard-pressed to use intentionality as a form of birth control. I am not advocating the use of any one of these systems alone as a form of birth control - but, used together, they have been effective for me and others using this method for years.
In this method, both partners state their intentions not to conceive out loud to each other at the end of every menstrual cycle, and before having sex. This aspect of the birth control is very powerful, because both people communicate their desire to each other not to conceive, and in so doing, communicate to any souls waiting at the door who may be waiting for any slightest opening.
The couple gives reasons for not wanting to start a family. While they may already know as individuals that they don’t want to conceive, the stating and sharing of the intention out loud as a couple is significant, and part of the spiritual practice.
Part of this practice is also to acknowledge any feelings either person has had to conceive. This feeling is not repressed, and if the couple sees this desire but still feels it is not the right time, they state more firmly their reasons for not wanting to conceive (obviously if they decide they DO want to conceive, this is an option too!). The couple also states their intentions for the whole relationship, and reflects on their interactions and intimacy over the past month, becoming more aware and deliberate in how they want to relate as partners.
PARTNER-BASED BIRTH CONTROL & SPIRITUALITY
Since the majority of contraceptive methods are designed for women’s use, sex can be infected with the fear of pregnancy and the resulting resentment that the man doesn’t have to shoulder much responsibility in preventing conception. This resentment and fear naturally affects the woman’s overall desire. To be freed from anxiety, fear, and resentment is so huge. Underneath those feelings lie the woman’s natural desire and love of sex, which easily equals or surpasses that of man’s.
This partner-based birth control method is a spiritual practice. It is radically different than other forms available, in that this is not an external method, where you rely on the condom or rely on the pill to prevent getting pregnant - you rely on each other, and that requires being in tune continually Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with your own body and with your partner. It takes sensitivity, time, and communication to accomplish this method, and can be very rich, enjoyable, and valuable as a result. It’s a joy to be in tune because that’s why two people come together - because they like each other. It’s not like it’s a hassle to tune in; that’s part of the spiritual practice. It requires self-discipline, self-awareness. It’s the opposite of the consumerist approach to sex and birth control.
Spirituality acknowledges the human capacity to direct energy in a highly evolved way. So the relation of this method to spirituality lies not only in the power of choosing how to expend sexual energy; it also provides a map and understanding of the pathways that energy flows in the body, through the organs. And because each organ in Chinese medicine is associated with certain emotions, an organ with depleted chi is going to result in negative emotions. The reverse also happens, where negative emotions deplete that organ, and this in turn effects the glands associated with each organ, and their capacity to produce the drugs and hormones necessary for balanced functioning and therefore for happiness. A sexual practice that incorporates focused, directed chi in an intentional effort to energize and heal the loved one is very beneficial, because it is through generosity and selflessness that we tap into our true spiritual power.
I think that the spiritual impulse is basically the impulse to examine how one seeks to live oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life, and to try to find a way to live that is harmonious, energized, and peaceful. Being fertile is a very powerful capacity, so applying our awareness and intention to how we interact as fertile beings is not only important, but crucial to our own feeling of completion as sexual human beings.