Sharing Responsibility and Choosing a Birth Control Method
Each birth control method has its advantages and disadvantages. An individual or a couple might find that one method suits a certain situation best (Gordon & Pitts, 2012). Sharing the responsibility enhances a particular method’s use.
It Takes Two
Research shows that more couples share contraceptive decision making now than in the past (Grady et al., 2000). Sharing the responsibility of contraception can enhance a relationship and can be a good way to initiate discussing personal and sexual topics. Couples who do talk openly about sex and birth control are more likely to use contraception (Durex, 2008; Manlove et al., 2007). Failing to talk about birth control can cause women to resent men for putting the entire responsibility on them. Furthermore, it is foolish for a man to assume that a woman has "taken care of herself.” As one male student asked,
If you have sex with a girl and she tells you she’s on the pill, how do you know if she’s telling the truth? (Authors’ files)
Many women do not regularly practice birth control, and some use methods inconsistently or incorrectly (Wilson & Koo, 2008). Not using contraception can negatively affect both partners’ sexual experience and general feelings of well-being, and dealing with an unwanted pregnancy is difficult. It is in the best interests of both partners to be actively involved in choosing and using contraception (Montgomery et al., 2008).
The first step in sharing contraceptive responsibility may be for one partner to ask the other about birth control before having intercourse for the first time. Both male and female college students need to develop skills to discuss contraception. Women need to become effective in obtaining contraceptives, and men need to learn to be assertive about refusing to engage in intercourse without effective contraception. Openness to using condoms or to engaging in noncoital sexual activities, whether as the contraceptive method of choice or as a backup or temporary method, is another way for partners to share responsibility for birth control.