THE MOST COMMON METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION IN ARMENIA
BY KARINE EURDEKIAN
A note before reading: The pronouns used in this article correlate with the research available to us. Unfortunately, it is not all gender inclusive. There isn’t extensive research regarding sex-ed in Armenia, let alone inclusive research. We’re doing our best to present a clear article based off the information we have!
Logistically, the pull-out method entails keeping semen out of female reproductive organs by separating the penis and vagina before the penis ejaculates. Here’s a video if you want to learn more about how the pull-out works:
IS IT EFFECTIVE?
As contraception: For every fifty couples that pull out perfectly, two become pregnant. While the chances of avoiding pregnancy may seem legit, the key word here is perfectly. The pull-out is hardly ever executed perfectly. When the method’s margin of error is considered, one in five couples who regularly utilize it become pregnant. This is because most complications that accompany the pull out method occur during retraction, at the peak of male sexual pleasure. In Armenia, the method has an overall 21% failure rate.
For this method to be successful, one must abruptly halt sex before ejaculation. It is a responsibility that requires both in-the-moment awareness and action.
As an STI barrier: The pull-out method does not protect against STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Since it lacks barrier methods, it allows STIs to travel easily through bodily fluids and skin-to-skin contact.
WHY IS IT POPULAR IN ARMENIA?
In Armenia, unwritten cultural expectations dictate the pull-out method as the norm for married couples. After all, this method is the most utilized method in the country. The pull-out method takes root in the belief that unprotected sex is synonymous to loyalty. Because unprotected sex is tied to such a sacred ideal, it is less likely for couples to use other forms of contraception in the region. Unfortunately, this omits thorough consideration about sexual health risks.
THERE ARE STIs PRESENT IN ARMENIA EVEN IF PEOPLE DON’T TALK ABOUT THEM BC THEY’RE CONSIDERED “AMOT”
Researchers have concluded that STIs are entering Armenia at an accelerated pace due to recent increases in male migration. The research shows that men who work abroad contract STIs, return to their homeland, and transmit the contracted STIs to their wives. The study by Sevonyan and Agadjanian found that “there is a positive association between [male] migration and STD/symptoms among women. Women married to migrant laborers are more likely to be diagnosed with an STD or have an STD symptom, than their counterparts married to non-migrants.”
Regular use of the pull-out method only perpetuates the risk of transmission.
“SO ONLY WOMEN W/ CHEATING HUSBANDS CAN BE DIAGNOSED WITH STds?”
The fact is that STIs can stay dormant for long periods of time until they decide to wake up/show symptoms. It’s important to remember that infidelity is not the only way to get an STI, even though it is a culprit in Armenia. An STI that was acquired years ago can magically appear unannounced, even in the midst of a five year marriage. Detection simply depends on how often someone get’s tested and/or notices symptoms.
Regularly utilizing the pull-out method definitely plays into the transmission of STIs in Armenia and around the world. Sadly, exposure to STIs could be detrimental to Armenians who don’t regularly get checked.
Worse is that even if Armenians do get checked, a diagnosis like HIV can result in feelings of instant doom for locals. HIV is extremely taboo in Armenian culture. It’s 2019 and there are still doctors in Armenia that discriminate against patients with HIV by charging excess fees and treating them poorly. Many of these patients experience a complete abuse of human rights. It is especially troubling when you consider the fact that HIV- though chronic, has viable treatment options that can completely eliminate transmission. Modern medicine has provided us with valid treatments and care, but some doctors in Armenia have been resisting these new findings for quite a while as they continue to treat HIV positive patients while wearing HAZMAT jumpsuits.
Conclusively, recent cases of STIs in Armenia have been directly tied to male migration. In turn, Armenian women unknowingly contract STIs as a result of blatant negligence. Their sexual health is neglected by their partners and then they feel compromised in requesting treatment from doctors that deny them equal treatment.
All the stigma surrounding sex-ed and health care in the Armenian culture needs to change. Just because the pull-out method is traditional, doesn’t mean it is the most effective. Just because getting tested for STIs isn’t common in Armenia, doesn’t make it right to go long periods of time without check-ups. It’s important to consider potential outcomes of the pull-out method individually, and collectively- before putting it in and pulling out.
A LITTLE SEX-ED TIP:
With all this talk about STIs, I’d just like to remind all my kooyrigs (and yeghpayrs) to make sure that you’re well informed before hitting the sheets. This includes communicating with your partner regarding your sexual health histories. Honestly tell them your status, ask them when they last got checked, and respect their response! Don’t make faces if your partner tells you they’ve had/have an STI. You are entitled to your own decisions about who you engage with, but you are not entitled to criticize others for being honest about their sexual health.