Great Sex = Safe Sex
It’s unfortunate, but true, that responsible birth control often falls on women. While we’re getting closer on the male birth control pill front, we’re not quite there yet. Either way though, I believe that birth control is a personal responsibility: whether you’re male or female, if you don’t want to have a baby, it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re being safe.
The only surefire way to not get pregnant is to not have sex. But… sex is fun — obviously! — and there are plenty of effective, easy methods to protect against an unwanted pregnancy while still having great sex.
I’m A Big Fan of the Pill
My mom took me to my first gynecologist appointment when I was 17. We sat in the waiting room together and she filled out the medical forms, seeing as she knew all the relevant insurance information and such. I saw her flip the page over to the medical history section where she checked off a bunch of boxes in the “no” column: no allergies, no major surgeries, no pain, no problems. Then I saw the pen hover over the question, “Do you engage in sexual intercourse?”
She looked up at me, “No?”
I nodded. She checked off “no”.
But I wasn’t nodding in agreement. The correct answer was “yes”.
She took me to this appointment fully with the intention of getting me a prescription for birth control. I was almost done with high school and I had a boyfriend. She assumed if I wasn’t having sex yet, I would be soon, and she wanted me to have proper birth control because she had been a teenage mom herself.
When I entered the exam room, without my mom, the doctor looked over the forms. “You’re not having sexual intercourse?” she asked me.
“Well, yes, actually, I am…” I said, probably red-faced.
“Are you using anything for birth control now?” she asked.
“Just condoms,” I replied.
I’d been sexually active for about a year at that point. My boyfriend and I always used condoms. We did have one scare that freaked me out a bit, so it was a relief to me when my mom suggested it was about time I had my first gyno visit. The condom hadn’t broken, but my period was two weeks late — the first and only time that’d happened to me. Bodies are weird and, as a teenager, I guess mine was still adjusting, but those two late weeks were incredibly stressful.
I walked out of the appointment with a prescription in hand and began taking the pill as instructed on the first Sunday following the start of my next period.
Find What Works for You
Here I am, 31 years old, and I’m still on the pill. Well, not the same exact brand, but a different birth control pill. Over the years, I’ve tried 3 or 4 brands. That’s not so bad as far as the pill goes. Some women never find one they like. Some suffer all sorts of unpleasant side effects. Me? I can’t complain.
For me, it’s easy to remember to take it every day at the same time (when I wake up!) and once you get in the routine, it just becomes habit.
If I was less responsible about taking the pill properly, I’d definitely consider an IUD. I did some research on them in the past, but decided the pill was personally better for me.
And that’s the good part — here in 2016 we have so many birth control options: condoms, pills, hormonal IUDs, copper IUDs, implants, things like “the ring”, and probably more that I don’t even know about.
The point is, with so many options, there’s no reason to be irresponsible about birth control. If you try one method and it’s not working well for you, for whatever reason, try another. Then try again until you find what does work for you.
Let’s Talk Condoms for a Second, Shall We?
When I was single and dating, I took it upon myself to buy condoms and carry a couple in my purse. I think women often feel a stigma around buying and carrying condoms and we need to stop perpetuating that stigma. Having condoms doesn’t make you a slut, it makes you responsible. Besides, it’s so easy to buy condoms now! The internet takes all the discomfort out of going to a store and carrying the box to the counter. I mean, I’ve bought condoms on Amazon. It’s that easy.
I know we’ve all heard, or used, the “but sex doesn’t feel the same with a condom!” excuse. I don’t really know who these people are, but — from a woman’s perspective — sex isn’t really all that different, if at all, with a condom. Get thin ones. Use lube. It’ll be great. (Here’s a personal suggestion that I promise you feels good: Crown.)
Follow the Instructions
Now the thing about any birth control method is: user error is a point of failure. Basically, for best success, use as instructed! If you can’t (e.g. you forget to take the pill daily), try another method, again, until you find what works for you.
I really want to make this point:
Sex is fun.
(Everyone knows this).
Sex when you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant is even more fun.
Make the simple effort to be prepared beforehand, and you’ll be able to enjoy an active sex life — without the worry.