How to Talk to Your Partner About Birth Control and Sex

Happy couple talking

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If you are in a relationship with somebody, have made the personal decision that you do not wish to remain abstinent, and are considering deepening the relationship by having sex, it is time to talk to your partner about birth control. To be honest with you, talking about birth control may be difficult, but it is important (if you are in a serious relationship) to make these decisions together. If you are feeling that you cannot talk to your partner about contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual histories, then you should rethink if you are ready for a sexual relationship with this person. Here are some tips to help make this discussion as relaxed and productive as possible.

Talking to Your Partner About Sex

  1. First, prepare yourself ahead of time. Find out about the different contraceptive methods available and do your research. Try to figure out which is the best method for you as it will be easier to have this discussion with your partner if you are feeling confident and educated in your decision. If you feel comfortable, you can seek ideas from close friends who may have already been through this. Just be careful that you are receiving accurate information because there are many misconceptions and myths about contraception. Try to envision how you would like this conversation to go. The more honest, calm, and clear you are, the more at ease your partner will feel and increases the likelihood that your partner will respond to you the same way.
  2. Familiarize yourself with what the contraceptive looks like. If you have already chosen a method and have access to it (such as a condom or sponge), it may help to overcome some of the embarrassment that you may be feeling by familiarizing yourself with the look and feel of the contraceptive.
  3. Prepare yourself before you have “The Talk.” You could plan for this discussion by coming up with and practicing your opening lines. It may also be helpful to think about potential responses to any objections that you believe your partner might make. Plan what it is you want to say and practice saying it out loud. It is much wiser to talk about contraception before having sex or while in the middle of a sexual encounter. When people are caught up in the heat of the moment, they may find that they are more likely to be pressured into doing something that they may regret later.
  4. Plan a time and a place that is comfortable for both of you. Try to make sure that you will have ample privacy, will not be interrupted, and will not feel rushed. Consider taking a walk, where you can still have some physical contact such as holding hands. This can provide you the opportunity to talk while being side by side and not having to maintain direct eye contact (which may make the conversation less stressful) or find it easier to have this conversation on the telephone.
  5. Decide what you want to include in your discussion. This is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Here are some suggestions about what you should try to talk about:
    1. Talk about why birth control is important. The more you both know about the contraceptive method you choose and why you should use contraception, the more likely you will both take some responsibility to make it work.
    2. Talk about pleasure. You can explain to your partner that when you are both feeling protected, sex between you will be more relaxed and enjoyable. Having this talk shouldn't ruin things between the two of you, yet not having it can affect your lives forever should a pregnancy occur. You can also assure your partner that using contraception will not take away from sexual pleasure; the two of you could discuss ways of making it part of your lovemaking routine (like helping one another put on a condom or insert diaphragm — gals, you can even learn how to put a condom on using your mouth!) — this can even deepen the bond between the two of you and make you feel closer to one another.
    3. Talk about your relationship. You both need to discuss your sexual histories and whether or not either of you has ever been exposed to an STD. The two of you should talk about the status of your relationship — will you be exclusive to each other or do either of you plan to be sexually involved with other people? The more sexual partners you have, the greater the risk of catching an STD; so, if you or your partner are having sexual relations with other people, it increases the risk for both of you. Your type of relationship may dictate the kind of contraception you use since only some birth control methods also protect against STDs.
    4. Talk about “What If…” If you are in a heterosexual relationship, before you have sex, it is important to discuss what you would do if your birth control failed. Make sure that the two of you are in agreement with a contingency plan should a pregnancy occur. Would you both be okay with having an abortion? Would you be willing to accept the responsibilities of becoming parents? How do you each feel about the option of adoption? You both need to be clear and in agreement about this. Having this discussion ahead of time will make it a little more comforting in the event that your birth control fails you.
    5. Talk about the different birth control methods available. Share the information that you learned about the various contraceptive methods. If you have already made your decision, discuss it with your partner and explain why you have chosen this method (perhaps, your doctor suggested you use a particular hormonal contraceptive due to some non-contraceptive advantages it offers). If you want to make this decision together, talk about the pros and cons of each method. Try to settle on a method that you both feel comfortable with. Ask your partner about what he/she may be thinking or feeling. Having this discussion and sharing your questions with each other can help bring you closer as a couple.
  6. Agree to disagree for awhile. If the two of you cannot agree upon a birth control method, then promise one another that you will each do some more research and thinking about it. Then, make a plan to talk about it again.
  7. Make it clear that you will NOT have sex without using contraception. Talking about birth control and using it shows you care about yourself as well as your partner. If your partner does not show a willingness to discuss or use birth control, it may be time to end this relationship. If this is the case, you could tell your partner that you will not have sex with someone who does not respect you or themselves enough to use contraception.


  1. Remember to point out that condoms (male latex condoms or polyurethane condoms and female condoms) can offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
  2. Stay focused on the topic, clear, and honest about your feelings. Do not feel that you need to compromise on your values or morals.
  3. Be respectful to your partner's wishes. If you disagree, listen to what he/she may have to say and be open to hearing your partner's suggestions and reasons behind them.
  4. The more you know about contraception, how it works, how effective it is, the pros and cons of each method and how pregnancy can occur, the better prepared you will be for this conversation.
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