Beyond food and water, get these…
“A mother continues to labor long after the baby is born” – Lisa Jo Baker.
One prep you should consider stocking in your inventory that is often overlooked but is crucial if the grid were to go down is contraception. Even if you don’t need it, others will, so it can be a highly traded commodity in a prolonged grid-down situation. Contraception is part of one’s health, especially in a situation where medical care may no longer be available. Even in a grid-down situation, people will still be having sexual relations. In some scenarios, as we have seen in the Russinan Ukrainian war and around the world, every day, some of those sexual encounters are sometimes violent and criminal.
Please know that this blog is purposefully short compared to some of the others on this site because our goal here is to simply get to the point of sharing information that could be helpful for some in this community if we experience a prolonged disaster. We spent a decent amount of time during my undergraduate studies focusing on human anatomy and reproduction was something we studied extensively. We have tried to stick with the facts focusing on the most practical, longest shelf-life, prescription-free methods we could find. So let’s jump in…
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CONTRACEPTION AFTER A DISASTER
After a disaster, civil unrest and lawlessness are a real possibility. The truth is that we live in a world right now where charities are working to deliver emergency contraception into Ukrainian hospitals as reports of sexual assault rise. Unwelcome sexual encounters are highly probable in such a lawless environment. In a prolonged grid-down situation, preventing pregnancy will be a priority for many. In a world absent of stable medical facilities and professionals, the risk of overwhelming complications from childbirth like eclampsia, cardiomyopathy, sepsis, embolism, transfusions, heart attack, respiratory distress, ectopic pregnancies, and shock can all lead to death. Postpartum depression can still affect nearly 30 percent of women, and that’s statistically a real consequence in a post-SHTF world. If the disaster is ongoing and the world is in a prolonged state of chaos for months or years, there are more than enough reasons to intentionally plan pregnancies and avoid accidental pregnancies.
You can imagine that in an environment filled with polluted water or where you live under the threat of challenges to your safety, the birthing and care of infants and mothers present evident problems. Absent medical facilities, giving birth in the aftermath of a prolonged disaster can threaten both the life of the mother and the child. Even after a successful delivery, the mortality rate for infants is exponentially higher during or in the aftermath of any disaster.
For survival groups, consider adding a midwife and or lactation consultant into your survival group. You should already have someone with medical knowledge about birthing babies, but adding a more specialized individual will be helpful. Having someone knowledgeable about prenatal care will be beneficial, as well. Any community building, of course, starts with babies. When those babies are born is important. This is where contraception comes into play.
Contraception is the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy due to sexual intercourse. The primary forms of artificial contraception are barrier methods, of which the most common is the condom; the contraceptive pill, which contains synthetic sex hormones that prevent ovulation in the female; intrauterine devices (IUDs), which prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting in the uterus.
Here are the primary, non-prescription requiring options you should consider storing in your preparedness inventory. Whichever is best for you and your circumstances will depend entirely upon your possible needs and whatever beliefs you hold.
Condoms have been used for thousands of years. Modern technology results in two effective compositions– one made of latex and one without latex. Latex condom usage will also prevent many sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In a post-disaster world where food and water should be your priorities, you don’t want finding medicine to treat an STI to be a higher priority. Condoms do have an expiration date. Latex and polyurethane condoms expire after five years, but condoms packaged with spermicide can expire in just two years. Storing them correctly can extend the shelf life, but expired condoms are still more likely to tear and become ineffective than non-expired condoms.
We list condoms first because they also have multiple additional uses in a survival situation, something we may cover in a breakout video, so it never hurts to have a few of these well stored in your prepping supplies.
A less frequently but readily available method today is spermicides. These are not as effective on their own but are readily available. Spermicides have a long track record, are effective at prevention, and safe to actually be used in a human body. Spermicide acts like a sperm disabler. It works in two ways: blocking the entrance to the cervix so sperm can’t get to the egg and stopping sperm from moving well enough to swim to the egg. The price starts at around $10 and goes up from there. Expiration dates will vary based upon the ingredients used, but it averages to about a two-year shelf-life for most. Expired spermicidal won’t harm a person, but they would be less effective past their expiration date.
Spermicides will not prevent STIs, and they are only 70% effective in preventing pregnancies on their own. It’s one of the least effective methods of birth control when used by itself. If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, you should combine it with another form of birth control like a condom or diaphragm. Still, if that’s all you have after SHTF, 70% may be better than nothing.
DIAPHRAGMS, IUDs, & THE PILL
We put these together even though they are very different and work by different processes. A diaphragm would require a fitting by a doctor to be effective, and an IUD is implanted by a medical professional in a procedure- so both require some preplanning and medical consultation. We are not a doctor, so we will let others do research on how they work and the effectiveness of each. A diaphragm is a flexible cup covering a woman’s cervix and is much more effective when used with spermicide. IUDs are typically medically placed in the body and contain either copper or synthetic hormones that prevent sperm from getting to an egg. It may also make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
For our purposes, they may be an option for women who anticipate a prolonged period of societal collapse. When used correctly, diaphragms are 92-96% effective and IUDs are 99% effective for preventing impregnation. These are more long-term options, and the IUD can have some complications. Both require planning, good medical advice, and attention. IUDs implanted by a doctor can remain effective for 5-7 years. With proper care, a diaphragm should last between 2 and 10 years.
When it comes to the need for medical attention for fitting a diaphragm or placing or removing an IUD, they have obvious drawbacks to methods you can store on your shelves. The pill is another that has to be put into this category of “medical requirements precluding their ongoing usage”. The pill requires a prescription given by a doctor for usually a year. However, insurance providers don’t supply you with a year of pills upfront. More often than not, a woman can obtain no more than a 3-6 month supply. Obviously, having a 3-month supply after a disaster is optimal, but what to do after a catastrophe that stretches beyond a year or more. So, these medically dependent methods, while vastly more effective, may prove to be challenging in any disaster that stretches on for too long.
Plan B is a form of emergency contraception that prevents pregnancies after unprotected sex. Plan B is most effective when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex and works to prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation. Plan B contains only progestin, levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone used in birth control pills for over 35 years. When taken within the first three days after a sexual encounter, Plan B’s effectiveness ranges from 75 percent to 89 percent. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, or ovulation. It may prevent the union of sperm and egg, or fertilization. If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb, or implantation. If a fertilized egg is implanted before taking Plan B, Plan B will not work. Plan B has an expiration date of about four years. Taking expired Plan B is not dangerous, but it may be less effective in preventing pregnancy. To prolong the life of Plan B, keep the pill away from humid, hot, or bright environments.
Plan B has an effective lifespan of 4 years. Currently, 19 countries allow emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter, and 76 countries require a prescription from a pharmacist. In the US, it is available at most pharmacies or online. There is no prescription or ID required to purchase Plan B in any U.S. state, and there is no age restriction. However, some stores may require you to obtain it from behind the counter. It ranges in price from $10 to $50.
There are other options beyond the few that we have listed here, but many of those require a prescription or a medical professional. If we’re living through a chaotic situation, it isn’t likely you will find a medical professional to assist you. If you are at risk of unintended pregnancy, have a wife or daughter who one day may be, or may be around others who may be at risk of becoming pregnant, consider a place in your preps for one of these contraceptive means.
If you’re concerned about a major collapse and the potential of becoming pregnant at the same time, consider adding one or more of the contraception methods discussed in this video. If that’s possible for others in your group, do them a favor and consider stocking one of these methods.
As always, stay safe out there.