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Weekly Alibi Safe Sex in Cyberspace

Birth control on the WWW.

By Devin D. O'Leary

NOVEMBER 24, 1997:  Listen to your government representatives and you'd believe that the Internet is crawling with sex. ... Well, it is. But contrary to what many conservatives would have you believe, much of it is safe sex. There are thousands of sites out there discussing safe methods of disease prevention and birth control. The fact is, if you're trying to figure out what method of birth control is the one for you, there's a wealth of detailed information on the Web. Of course, some people--like our smart-ass Calendars Editor Noah Masterson--would argue that the Internet is birth control, but that's not quite what we had in mind.

Ann Rose's Ultimate Birth Control Links (gynpages.com/ultimate/)--Ann Rose has been a women's health and family educator for 20 years. Here, she has compiled a handy list of links for just about any method of birth control available--from abstinence to hormonal injections to IUDs to vasectomies. There isn't any actual info on this page, but the links are quite extensive and well-organized. Punch up the contraceptive sponge, for example, and you'll get a half-dozen sites that discuss pros, cons, reliability or ordering information (pretty handy since the device is no longer available in the United States). Ann Rose has also included links to several people you shouldn't listen to regarding contraception, including the Pope, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.

History of Contraception (rtt.colorado.edu/~mcck/Home.html)--Maybe we need to get a little perspective before we dive head on into choosing the method that's right for us. Perhaps a little history would be in order. This small site offers short historical perspectives on several popular methods of birth control, including pessaries (which date back to ancient Egypt, don't ya know), plants, intrauterine devices, condoms, pills and barriers. Did you know that some of the first condoms were made from snakeskin? There's a photo to prove it! Of course, many of these methods have long since fallen by the wayside (and, as the author warns, there's probably a good reason for that).

Hall of Contraception (desires.com/1.6/Sex/Museum/museum1.html)--Believe it or not, there's actually a museum in Toronto dedicated entirely to the history of contraception. The Internet Sex Museum has a page dedicated to it. This site is pretty small--it's basically a short description and history of the museum. There are some pretty artistic pictures of bygone birth control devices to go along with the snappy text, though.

Condomania (www.condomania.com/)--Of course, even history will prove that the good old condom is the most popular and enduring method of birth control. This site is dedicated to the world's largest retailer of condoms and condom-related products (some enlightened cities are even blessed with Condomania retail stores). If you're in the market, you can order all kinds of rubbers (ribbed, feathered, colored) right here at the click of a button. You can even call upon the "Condom Wizard" to help you with your plastics needs (What size should I get? What shape do I need?). Lots of colorful pictures (you really get to see what your buying) and festive icons make your condom shopping experience as friendly and homogenized as a trip to WalMart. I just wish the designers hadn't bogged this site down by making you click on a little condom every two seconds. You'll wear out your mouse finger clicking around this site.

BirthControl.Com (www.birthcontrol.com)--If the traditional methods of birth control just aren't cutting it for you, you could always check out this Canadian site, which offers "innovative technology for the sexually active woman." Actually they're hawking three types of "contraceptive computers." These hand-held monitors calculate a woman's fertility cycle by computing a monthly basal temperature profile. Get the right temperature, and (theoretically) you can have sex all you want without getting pregnant. Although the literature claims that the BirthControl method only fails in 0.6 percent of the cases, this seems like an odd method of birth control. Basically, if your temperature isn't optimum, you can't have sex. According to the folks at BirthControl, these $619-$804 devices "may seem relatively expensive, but they're really a tiny fraction of the cost in tears, emotional trauma and expense of having an unwanted child."

--Devin D. O'Leary

devin@alibi.com


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