For the past few weeks I’ve been telling people a story that ends with “and now her life is RUINED, thanks to …!” (I redacted names — it just seemed like a cautionary tale people had to hear.) As often happens with dramatic cautionary tales, I just found out the facts are wrong.
A lady I know (not a client) told me she’d been taking her 17-year-old daughter to get Depo-Provera birth control shots. Her daughter got pregnant anyway. And since she was on this supposedly foolproof method of birth control, she didn’t notice the early warning signs of pregnancy. They didn’t figure it out until she was 16 weeks pregnant. At that point, they considered it too late to terminate the pregnancy (you still can, but it’s a more complicated procedure). So now this high school student is stuck having a baby with a 21-year-old unemployed guy who lives with his parents.
You can see how this would agitate me. Not only did the shot not work, it caused detrimental reliance! And this was a high school student! I’m usually suspicious of claims that a pregnancy happened despite best efforts at birth control, but this one seemed credible. And it’s not like I could check it out on Snopes before passing it on.
Turns out the girl lied to her mom. Although her mom often took her for the shots, this time she’d said she’d go herself — and didn’t. She finally broke down and told her mother. She was trying to get pregnant.
Here’s the kicker: It was the guy’s idea. This is a planned pregnancy. A very lame plan, but still.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unwittingly slandering poor Depo-Provera for the past few weeks any time I could work it into a conversation. See, stories like this are why I suspect birth control in general is a lot more reliable than either anecdotal evidence or the figures indicate. I think it’s pretty common for people who have an unplanned (or poorly planned) pregnancy to claim they were using birth control to save face.
I particularly think condoms are a lot more reliable than they get credit for. In high school sex ed, they made it sound like no birth control method was substantially reliable except abstinence (except the Pill which had horrible, horrible side effects), but that using a condom was practically like using nothing. I’ve seen figures as low as 70 percent reliability. And I’ve known women who got pregnant who claimed they were using condoms — but then when I asked a few more questions, it turned out they weren’t always using them.