All couples participating in sexual intercourse need to recognize the possibility of facing an unintended pregnancy and/or the transmission of STD/HIV. With the exception of abstinence, no single birth control method is 100 percent effective even when used consistently and correctly. Your choice of a contraceptive method depends on several factors such as efficacy, safety, personal preference, cost and noncontraceptive benefits. The contraceptive methods are divided into two categories: hormonal contraceptives and nonhormonal contraceptives.
A couple should always share the responsibility of using birth control because both partners are responsible if an unintended pregnancy occurs. This fact alone is an important reason to discuss birth control. Although it is important to discuss birth control before having sex, many individuals are embarrassed or feel awkward doing so. Partners who are sexual intermittently or first time partners may not discuss birth control before sex because they fear spoiling a romantic mood. Talking about contraception implies that sex is going to take place, which may force an individual to face internal conflicts about engaging in sex. Many individuals subscribe to the myth that good sex can only be spontaneous if unplanned and so do not discuss sex and birth control. However, taking care of the details first can enhance spontaneity.
The best time to discuss birth control is before sexual intercourse begins. A partner can say something like, "I would really like to make love (have sex) with you, and I want to be sure we’re protected." That kind of introduction can be followed by a statement of preference and personal responsibility, such as, "I prefer to use condoms" or "I’m on the pill" or, using a question, such as, "What birth control method do you prefer?" or "What are we going to do about birth control?"
Because many contraceptives are designed for use by the woman, many couples believe that birth control is not the male partner’s responsibility. Even if the man is concerned about preventing an unintended pregnancy, he may not ask about birth control, fearing embarrassment or appearing ignorant. Many women, however, welcome a man initiating a discussion of birth control.
Contraception is most effective when the responsibility for birth control is shared. Couples can read and discuss information about the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods, and they can try various methods to find out which are best suited for them. They can share financial costs of their chosen method(s). They can share the responsibility for their chosen method. A man can learn how a diaphragm is used, a woman can learn about the condom, and they can incorporate this into their lovemaking.