How to talk to your partner about birth control

How to Talk to Your Partner About Birth Control in a Post-Roe America

Sex is often easier to have than to talk about. But regardless of the nature of your relationship, clarifying what type of birth control you use with your partner, how your chosen method of birth control works, and what your plan of action is if it fails should be a shared responsibility.

If you have penis-in-vagina sex in the United States, the stakes around that conversation are now exponentially higher with the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

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Currently, there is no contraceptive method on the market that is 100% effective. In states where abortion is banned, this means that women risk their physical health and well-being, their social, occupational and economic status, and in some cases their lives every time they have sex with a fertile male partner.

It may sound shocking, but pregnancy is a big deal that can completely alter the course of a person’s life and in rare cases can lead to serious health complications that can lead to death.

But if you want to strengthen your sexual relationship in post-Roe America, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some expert tips on how to navigate the birth control conversation with a partner who can get pregnant with empathy and understanding.

Why Women Are Upset About the Overthrow of Roe v. wade

While cis women aren’t the only ones who can get pregnant — trans men and non-binary or genderqueer people with wombs can too — they make up the overwhelming majority of those directly affected by the recent Supreme Court ruling. .

Either way, most fertile people in the United States weren’t alive before Roe v. Wade in 1973, who spoke out in favor of protecting access to abortion. As Heather M. Garner, LCSW-C, CST explains, no matter where you live in the United States, having the country you live in have your federal rights revoked is a traumatic experience.

“It is important for male partners to understand that for a whole generation of women, this is the first time in their lives that they have not had full bodily autonomy and the first time since the founding of SCOTUS that they have taken rights to a group of rather than handing them over,” she explains. “So emotions are likely to be heightened at this time. Women are scared, angry, overwhelmed and feel helpless.”

Birth control and the management of unwanted pregnancies have long been the responsibility of women. Condoms remain the only “male birth control” option on the market, but if this method fails – and some statistics show that even when used correctly, condoms fail 3% of the time, or about 1 in 33 times. – it is always the partner with a uterus who has to go through the mental and physical work of terminating the pregnancy.

How to talk about contraception with your partner

Talking about birth control and aligning not just with a birth control method, but also with an action plan on what to do if it fails is a difficult but incredibly important conversation for men in relationships with birth control. people who can get pregnant. Here are some tips on how to approach it – and what to avoid.

Find a time that works for you both

Whether you’re having sex with your partner for the first time or have already lost count, it’s essential to have that conversation before you commit to the act. Garner says this conversation can take a while depending on where your partner is currently mourning the loss of their reproductive rights.

“Remember not to take it personally if your female partner is more reactive, emotional, or unwilling to talk to you about it,” she says. “Be patient and listen. Let him know you’re part of his team.”

Listen to your partner with empathy

This conversation is incredibly difficult because there is no cis male equivalent to being forced into childbirth. Garner says our best way to close the gender understanding gap is to practice empathy.

“Empathy is the practice of putting yourself in another person’s shoes for a moment and allowing yourself to feel (or imagine) what the other is feeling,” she explains. “Empathy doesn’t require us to have been through the same situation. It requires us to listen, stay out of a place of judgment, and recognize that we’ve probably felt the emotion the other is feeling.”

Don’t minimize his feelings

Don’t try to play devil’s advocate or cheer him up by saying things like, “It’s still legal in our state,” “It’s definitely going to be canceled,” or “We’re just going to travel to a state where it is legal. ”

It may be true that your partner still has access to abortion in her state, or that her abortion needs will be light enough that she will have time to travel to a state where the procedure is legal. before his condition became life-threatening. (That’s assuming she has the financial means and the free time to do it, which many people don’t.)

RELATED: How to Use ‘Solve Languages’ to Improve Your Relationship

But comments like these not only invalidate your partner’s feelings, but normalize and justify a reality where women should simply circumvent their country’s decision to revoke their right to bodily autonomy.

Validate your partner

When your partner is upset, your automatic reaction may be to assure them that everything will be fine. In this case, women aren’t looking for reassurance or a solution to the problem – they want their partner to validate their feelings and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.

“Validation expresses that you respect and accept the other person’s point of view or emotional experience as understandable, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it,” says Garner.

Discuss birth control options

Let your partner know you’re in the same boat and discuss birth control options as a united front.

“Do your homework on the methods that you, as a male partner, can prevent an unwanted pregnancy,” Garner says. “Be educated and know the effectiveness of ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy.”

RELATED: The Guy’s Guide to Birth Control

In particular, take the time to understand the health risks associated with your female partner: “While many men report that they find condoms uncomfortable or reduce pleasure, understand that many female birth control methods have side effects. , including death,” Garner said.

Make a plan if birth control fails

An unwanted pregnancy shouldn’t be your partner’s problem to solve. It took your involvement to cause the problem, and it takes your input to fix it. Talk to your partner about what she thinks of her options if birth control fails and create a plan in which you play an active role.

RELATED: What you need to know about vasectomies

For people who can get pregnant in the United States, sex can no longer be a fun, spontaneous act. Even the birth control options with the highest success rates have margins of failure that are simply too great to risk in a post-Roe world.

Preventative conversations about birth control and what will happen if it fails are now a necessary line of defense for women who choose to have sex with cis men. Even then, placing that kind of trust in a male partner isn’t necessarily going to be done lightly.

What can men do to help? “Listen with empathy. Check your defensiveness. Be compassionate,” Garner says. “Enter the conversation as a teammate and recognize that preventing an unwanted pregnancy is the responsibility of both partners.”

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