What do they have in common??
All are forms of “girl” contraception. Some use hormones, some act as a barrier, some make the sperm-journey to the fallopian tubes a trip from hell, but they all work in preventing pregnancy. And they all require either a vagina, cervix, or uterus in order to function properly.
Quick! Name a form of “guy” contraception! Did you say vasectomy!? You got it! One. Simple. Answer.
However, there is a method of contraception that is shared: condoms. Those amazing, inexpensive little tubes of synthetic material also prevent STI’s. Score one for condoms!
Does something seem a little off-balance to you? Like….maybe….the females have to carry the burden of unintended pregnancy prevention? Well, you would be correct.
But, what if the situation were reversed? Check out this hysterical Buzz Feed Video called What if Buying Condoms Was Like Buying Birth Control?
Yes, we can laugh – I totally cracked up – but watch it again and imagine if it were a young woman approaching her parent. It becomes a serious issue, doesn’t it? We don’t realize just how unbalanced this situation is until we understand how our societal norms dictate to women that they are solely responsible for their reproductive health, yet society also makes it difficult for women to follow through with those choices. Women need to have final say in the method they use – it is their body, and they are the ones who become pregnant – not much we can do about that biological fact. But the fact remains that there are barriers for women when it comes to actually obtaining birth control.
- Feeling shamed. If a young woman carries condoms in her purse or is on the pill, whispers of the woman’s questionable morality might become apparent. Instead, the focus should be on her sense of responsibility.
- Difficult to obtain. In order to receive a hormonal method of birth control, a young woman must visit their healthcare provider, undergo a physical exam, receive a prescription, then go to the pharmacy for pick-up. How long does that process take? An entire day? What if there are no health centers near her residence? What if she does not drive?
- Corporations dictating what their insurance policies will cover. There is active debate simmering about who can determine the reproductive health choices of a woman; the woman? Businesses? Bosses? I don’t know about you, but I just as soon make my own health choices, thank you very much.
- Cost. For individuals who are struggling financially, obtaining hormonal birth control can be a huge problem.
That, my friend, is a reality many young women have to endure to be responsible, safe, and healthy.
An example of the ridiculousness women sometimes have to go through to get protection is an anecdote shared in a recent conversation with a fellow educator. He relayed an experience in which a young woman tried to purchase condoms at a pharmacy but was refused. Why? Well, she’s a woman, of course. Why does she need a (male) condom?
She walked away empty-handed, putting herself and her partner at risk for an STI and/or unintended pregnancy.
That. Story. Blew. My. Mind.
How fortunate that MOST places are happy to sell preventive sexual health products to consumers who care for their bodies. Thankfully this story illustrates a rare event, however it is eye-opening to realize what some women go through to keep themselves and their partners healthy.
So, what can we do?
As parents we can help raise a new generation of responsible, safe, and healthy young people by being available for conversation about reproductive health for both males and females and every gender in between.
Someday there will be a way for men to prevent pregnancy with options other than condoms or vasectomy (You want to cut WHERE????). In the meantime, teach your sons to be proactive in their partner’s reproductive health. How?? What about these suggestions…
- Do a little research on contraception and be informed about different options.
- Discuss various methods of birth control with their partner.
- Accompanying their partner to the clinic.
- Help pay for the birth control.
- Remind their partner to take the pill or whichever method is chosen.
- Be responsible for the STI component – the barrier method (i.e.condoms).
- Respect their partner’s choice of contraception.
Just because the ovary-owners have to worry about carrying a baby for nine months, doesn’t mean the testes-owners are not accountable as well.
And if your child is in a same-sex relationship, this conversation should still take place. Pregnancy may not be an issue, however STI’s are. The responsibility of reproductive health should be shared.
Remember the Seinfeld episode when Elaine was in a panic because sponges were no longer sold?
Check out the differences in how George and Elaine handled their birth control options. George said no to condoms regardless how his partner felt (see how important education and instruction are?). However, Elaine painstakingly evaluated her potential partner in which both individuals were in agreement with the method.
Someone I’m very fond of (my husband…) commented after watching this Seinfeld episode, “See! It’s hard for men, too! We have to open the package!” Um, yeah. Maybe there IS a reason women are primarily responsible for contraception…….
Bottom line. Even though women are ultimately responsible for contraception, that is no excuse for it to be a woman’s issue. All genders have a vested interest in contraception and should be part of the conversation.