Birth control

The Argument for Making Contraception a Man's Responsibility

For International Women's Day, men should pick up the mantle when it comes to birth control

Molly Cranna

If you’ve had sex with someone with a vulva, chances are you’ve heard them speak about birth control. You know the stats about depression and acne and migraines and perhaps felt a little bad. Maybe you’ve even read the study about how a male birth control pill was abandoned because the side effects—which are a fraction of women’s—were brutal. But the reality is that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to hearing about the negative effects of birth control, I can almost guarantee you’ve never gotten the truth.

And that’s because the truth is embarrassing. This stuff lives in women’s group texts, and it never sees the light of day. But I’m here to air it out in the open. I’m going tell you my personal war stories because you deserve to know what’s up. Buckle up, because this is not for the faint of heart.

For 12 years, the Pill also fucked up my GI tract so badly I had an asshole that looked like already-been-chewed grape bubblegum.

I’ve also dealt with a Pill-induced yeast infection so long (two years!) that when a guy sexted me he wanted to go down on me, I had “hope you like cottage cheese” as an autoreply from 2014 to 2016.

I had an IUD making my vagina smell like I’d been working out in the sun for six hours while wearing a wet bathing suit and using a dead raccoon as a pantyliner. I’ve developed painful whitehead-like specks on my nipples called Montgomery’s Tubercles, which sounds like the name of someone’s hipster dad from the 1800s I wouldn’t want to fuck because my libido was so low.

My IUD also landed me in the hospital after a ruptured ovarian cyst. Even after this happening two more times, I kept it in. Because the kicker is everything I’ve just described has been deemed normal by every health professional I’ve encountered. And so many women do this, suffering silently because they don’t want to have a kid right now.

Many women are sucking it up and dealing with the struggles of being on a pill or having a wishbone shoved in our pussies because we feel we can’t ask our partners to take on pregnancy prevention.

Again: All of this is normal. All of this is common. Your birth control-using partner might be sticking coconut oil-soaked tampons in overnight or pumping herself full of antibiotics or douching with hydrogen peroxide before you come over so you’re never the wiser, but trust me. Many, many women are sucking it up and dealing with the struggles of being on a pill or having a wishbone shoved in our pussies because we feel we can’t ask our partners to take on pregnancy prevention as their responsibility. Because we’ve been told all our lives that it’s our job.

Last week, I said enough. I had my IUD removed. Partly because I was tired of feeling like I had a package of gas station sushi in my underwear and partly because I had run some simple math.

I am able to get pregnant five days a month (technically only two, but semen can survive in the vaginal canal for up to five days) for a 40-year span of my life. My sex partners with penises can cause pregnancy 30 days a month… until they die. That means my body can cause pregnancy 16 percent of the time. My partners? You guessed it. 100 percent.

I read Gabrielle Blair’s viral Twitter thread—which should be required reading for every sexually active person—and my mind was blown. While condoms are more readily available (No prescription! No doctor’s appointments! No wait time!), less costly (pills and IUDs ain’t cheap), and as effective as women’s birth control (condoms are 98 percent when used correctly), most penis-havers don’t use them consistently because sex without them is slightly more pleasurable. Every unwanted pregnancy is the result of ejaculation inside a vagina. But slightly more pleasure trumps that, apparently.

Being able to experience that slight amount of more pleasure is more meaningful than the hellish physical and psychological side effects of birth control, the mental toll of pregnancy paranoia, and a potentially unplanned pregnancy that can wreak havoc on the body, brain, and overall life of the person who carries it.

The worst part? A woman’s orgasm isn’t necessary to conceive a child. Our pleasure isn’t even guaranteed. We can be doing all of this and not even having good sex to show for it.

While I absolutely believe birth control should be readily available to anyone who wants it (and some people actually need it to treat medical conditions like PCOS, endometriosis and painful periods)—let me be clear in saying I do not want birth control to be taken away—it’s important to note that the side effects are poorly studied, poorly understood, and incredibly disruptive to a person’s quality of life. And people are suffering all because their partner doesn’t want to wrap it up.

Today, so many cishet men are asking how to be better allies to women. Here’s your answer: It’s your turn to suck it up, deal with it, and make birth control your responsibility. Fuck diamonds being a girl’s best friend. A girl’s best friend is a ring that comes in a shiny gold wrapper.

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