In a society where sex, more often than not, is still considered taboo, it becomes tough to talk or have the most important sexual discussions – about birth control and consent.
There are several basic questions that you may have when navigating this new territory and here is a primary set of answers to allay some of your doubts and concerns.
1. What are my options for contraception?
Before you become sexually active, you must consider contraceptive options. There are a few temporary methods available which can be broadly grouped into the categories below.
• Long-acting reversible contraception – this is an implant or an intrauterine device which is inserted into the uterus and can be left there for about five years.
• Hormonal contraception – these include oral pills, contraceptive injection such as Depot Provera, birth control patches and so on.
• Barrier methods – these are primarily male and female condoms and options such as the diaphragm.
• Emergency contraception – these are pills that are to be taken after having unplanned, unprotected sex or in the case of a condom mishap.
2. Do I have to be sexually active to be on birth control?
Not necessarily. While you can choose to not be on birth control if you are not sexually active, a lot of women find birth control beneficial in regularizing periods, avoiding painful cramps, making symptoms of PMS and PMDD more manageable and even avoiding acne caused by hormonal imbalances. Discuss these issues with your gynecologist.
3. Pills vs Condoms. How do I decide?
This is a discussion for both parties in a relationship to have. If administered properly, both methods are effective but couples have their own reasons for choosing one over the other.
While birth control pills interfere with hormonal activity and may have side effects in the long run, they do not get in the way of sensitivity and pleasure. On the other hand, while condoms are considered safer since they don’t mess with the internal body systems, they do run a risk of breaking or slipping out. Some women are also allergic to latex.
For those who want the most effective, foolproof protection, employing both methods simultaneously is an almost guarantee of safety.
4. I don’t know my partner’s sexual history. Is this something I should be worried about?
Sharing sexual history and discussing sexual health are two different aspects that should not be confused with one another.
When couples talk to each other about past sexual encounters with former lovers, it often brings emotional closeness and trust. This also results in a strengthened physical connection. However, there could be reasons why one may not be willing to delve into these details of the past such as insecurities, jealousy, etc. and pushing for information could run a risk of a strain in the relationship. Therefore, whether couples disclose information is completely up to them.
Having said that, both of you must get your sexual health tested not only for your own safety but also to put your partner at ease. Openness to each other about your respective sexual health is a must.
5. Should I be discussing expectations?
Most certainly. Sexual compatibility allows you to have a balanced relationship and to achieve this, it is important to discuss how much each of you values physical intimacy, what are the kind of experiences both of you are looking to explore, views on sex toys, boundaries and so on. It is important to understand the needs of your partner and be on the same page about intimacy to have a healthy marriage.