By Toni Brannagan
Talking about sex gets a bad rap.
Talking about sex requires a vulnerability a lot of us aren’t super-stoked to show, and okay, whatever, one could argue that it’s just not that *sexy*. But even if you consider it a chore, there are some conversations that you really shouldn’t skip.
It doesn’t matter if you met 10 years ago in some storybook encounter, or half-an-hour ago in a bar — if you engage in sexual encounters where pregnancy is a possibility, you *need* to think about birth control.
One thing I can say for sure is that talking about sex gets a whole lot easier once you start doing it. (No, like, literally doing it, not ~doing it~. C’mon, stick with me for a sec!) Learning the vocabulary to properly express your desires comes with practice, and while I’d reason that open dialogue makes for *better* sex, it’s most important that you’re practicing *safe* sex.
Conversations about consent, and your likes and dislikes in general, are obviously necessary, but dipping your toes into “the talk” with your partner about good ole’ birth control is an essential start.
Here are some tips for getting that chat going:
start the conversation outside of the bedroom
Sex talk without any sex can feel uncomfortable or awkward (even though it shoooouuuldn’t!), but that’s why it’s key to have the birth control talk *before*, when you’re less likely to become distracted, or skip the convo entirely.
This might seem more difficult to do during casual hook-ups, but in those cases, make sure you’re prepared beforehand. For women especially, keeping condoms handy can be stigmatized, but that is BULLSH*T and lol, pls don’t allow people who shame you inside your body. *Ahem*.
Anyway, condoms are an ideal choice for hook-ups or new partners, because even if you’re on a hormonal birth control like the pill or the shot, condoms also protect you from STIs. Before having any unprotected sex, you and your partner should get tested. Using a hormonal birth control, like an IUD that you can “set-and-forget,” will also provide further protection in the case of any mistakes or broken condoms (knock-on-wood).
Pro-tip: Let’s stop forgetting that sex is *not* limited to heteronormative P-in-V. There are *many* things that can keep you busy without risking an unwanted pregnancy. Use your imagination.
bring ideas to the table
It might seem obvious, but having an idea of what birth control works for you and your needs before you talk to a new partner will make the conversation easier and quicker. I’m not saying you should write out note cards, but it never hurts to chat with your doctor during your annual about potential options, even if you don’t choose one right then.
Unfortunately, access to birth control other than condoms can get a little difficult depending on your situation and healthcare coverage. There’s co-pays, multiple doctor visits, sometimes you have to wait a couple days for the effectiveness to kick-in, and in general, figuring out what birth control works for your body (re: with the *least* intrusive side effects) can be more difficult than you might think.
Having a game plan can alleviate some of the pressure when you’re ready.
don’t forget about the “what ifs”
A crucial part of having an adult discussion about birth control is talking about what your plan would be if your birth control fails.
No matter what, you have the final say about what goes on with your body, but knowing where your partner stands is important info to have. It can be a heavy convo, but you *definitely* want to know whether the person you’re with would support you and your choices.
stick to your guns
Hopefully you’re never in a sitch where the person you’re speaking to tries to pressure you out of using contraception, but let’s be real — people be trippin’.
Arguably, if you’re faced with a sexual partner who is putting up a fight over using birth control, you should just straight-up leave. But if you have the patience to continue the conversation (godspeed), don’t allow yourself to cave to pressure.
Make it clear, from the beginning, that you’re having a discussion about choosing a method of contraception, and that using birth control in general is not up for debate. Remember, you’re not obligated to do anything you don’t want to, and if they continue resisting after you give ~the talk~ your best try, you really should consider getting out of there.
There are plenty of other fish in the sea (typing that just gave me hives, it’s fine), that will enthusiastically wrap it up.
When do you think is the right time to have the birth control talk? How do you handle that conversation with new partners? Share your stories with us in the comments!