Contraception is an extremely important tool that is not compulsory when it comes to getting intimate with a partner. It is something that has been briefly spoken about as early as RSE in primary school. I think it was first brought to my attention in 5th class, it came after the brief talks on puberty and was thrown in with the topic of intercourse.
At 12/13 years old I did not have an interest in listening to these classes. I found it uncomfortable, and the person teaching it appeared to be equally as awkward. From what I remember it was not informative or presented in an effective manner. As I got older my hormones continued to change. Friends started talking about romantic interests, the media I engaged with started to show more sex scenes and I naturally became more curious.
I myself knew there were numerous risks when it came to sex such as STIs and as a cis woman, pregnancy. When it came to ‘protecting’ myself I was aware of condoms and dental dams, but at the same time, I also thought that doubling up (putting a condom on top of another condom) would be better at preventing an unwanted pregnancy or STI. Upon further research online I figured that it was quite the opposite and could lead to a failure in contraception.
Years went by and I never found myself in the position of having to worry about contraception until I met my current partner. I found myself dating them for a good year without participating in sex due to insecurities and of course the fear of falling pregnant if contraception had failed. I knew I did not want to fall pregnant in the future when we started having sex so contraception was always in the back of my mind.
Talking with my partner
About a year after we started dating due to other health issues I found myself in my GP’s office talking about contraception. I think it was down to the fact that my doctor had asked me if I was in a relationship and as I had said yes she immediately assumed we were being intimate. She ran through the different types of contraception available for me and I opted for the contraceptive pill. I started taking it at the same time every day. I set an alarm on my phone which really helped to remind me.
When it came to sexual intimacy with my partner we had previous conversations about contraception but they also saw me regularly taking my pill so they were aware that I was taking oral contraception.
Each time before we had sex he would ask me if I had been taking it consistently, at the same time every day to ensure it was working effectively and they would then wear a condom too as not only another form of birth control but also to protect each other against STIs.
I cannot say that these conversations were never awkward at the beginning but for both of us, it gave us peace of mind knowing that we were both collectively doing everything we could to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
This piece is part of ‘Under the Sheets‘, the National Action Panel’s Voices campaign to raise awareness of the importance of unbiased fact-based inclusive sex education for all young people. Access more information and supports for sexual health.
Illustrations by Ezra Pinkerton.
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