Whether you’re in a new relationship, or have been with your partner for years but want to switch birth control methods, feeling comfortable talking about contraception with your partner is a sign that you trust each other to have open and honest conversations.
Although all partners should be responsible for doing what they can to reduce the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, in the United States women shoulder most of the physical, financial, and emotional burden of birth control, according to the Journal of Sex Research. Some research finds that women are responsible for birth control 90% of the time, even when it involves using condoms.
And yet, birth control benefits everyone in the relationship. Whether you’re not ready to have a baby (or don’t want one), or are trying to prevent an STI, it should be a team effort.
Having a conversation about birth control with your partner is the first step in ensuring you’re both doing what you can to look after yourselves and each other.
Why it’s important to talk about birth control with your partner
Talking about birth control with your partner might not feel sexy, but it will benefit you in the long run.
Research shows that couples who skirt difficult subjects end up being less happy over time. Having a conversation about birth control might be awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it can strengthen a sense of intimacy and trust.
Increased communication and intimacy within relationships are also positively associated with birth control use. Studies show an increased use of birth control in relationships where women feel more at ease communicating with male partners.
It’s also important for couples to communicate about birth control because contraception needs vary from person to person, and from one relationship to another.
Your health and medical history, preferences, lifestyle, and whether or not you want children (now or in the future) all impact what type of birth control will suit you or your partner should be on.
Some forms of contraception are also more accessible and affordable than others, so that will also depend on your income and whether you have health insurance.
Who is responsible for contraception in a relationship?
While it’s true that women are the ones who can get pregnant — and use birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancy — they can’t get pregnant alone. It takes two to tango!
Straight couples in exclusive, committed relationships are less likely to use condoms and instead rely on the female partner using hormonal or long-acting methods of birth control. However, research finds that condom use was higher in couples where partners played a strong role in the sexual decision-making in their relationship. Condoms are also the only form of contraception that reduces the risk of both STIs and unplanned pregnancies.
Many forms of hormonal birth control — such as the pill, coil, or implant — can also have unpleasant side effects (mood swings, depression, and weight gain, to name a few) that can seriously impact a person’s quality of life.
The cost can be significant, too. According to Planned Parenthood, IUDs can cost up to $1,300 and hormonal pills can cost up to $600 a year. When you factor in the cost of regular OB-GYN visits, the cost is even higher.
Partners who aren’t on birth control can check in with their wives or girlfriends and recognize the emotional and physical sacrifice they’re making for the benefit of the relationship. Discuss how birth control is affecting them, and how you can contribute to something that’s benefiting both of you.
The burden of birth control is a big one, so it’s only right that couples foster a safe space where a partner can bring up how taking birth control is affecting them — physically, mentally, or financially.
Talking openly about birth control allows partners to communicate how birth control is taking a toll on them, and share some of that pressure.