Dear Alice,

Who is responsible for bringing the contraception: the man or the woman?

Dear Reader,

Either! Both! Anyone who engages in sexual activity is responsible for practicing safer sex. Communication and negotiation is key to determining what and who will be involved with bringing contraception. Although a commonly cited concern, pregnancy isn’t the only risk to consider when having sex — it’s also recommended that steps are taken to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The good news is that there are a number of options on the market to protect against pregnancy or STIs.

Because sexual activity usually involves one or more partners, it’s best to talk with them about what methods work best for your partnership. The first decision may be discussion about what the concerns are, be it pregnancy, STI transmission, feelings of safety, or other considerations, and then using this information to guide any choices moving forward. Once that decision has been made, it may be possible to negotiate who is responsible for bringing and paying for safer sex materials. Is it that partners alternate who is responsible for bringing the contraception? Perhaps the person who initiates the sexual activity is responsible. You may also want to have all partners be prepared and responsible for providing contraception so that way if someone forgets or one doesn't work as intended, there is backup. It may also be good to talk about how costs are split — is it divided evenly or does one person pay for contraception and the other person pays for the date? Hopefully communicating with partners about and sharing responsibility for contraception can pave the way for mutual pleasure and satisfaction (in the bedroom and in general).

To provide protection against both pregnancy and STIs, another consideration is some of the barrier methods that are on the market. What's great about barrier methods is that they’re easy for any partner to keep on hand (or near the bed). Some methods could include:  

  • Lubricated external condoms (for protection and comfort during penetrative sex)
  • Unlubricated external condoms (for oral sex performed on a penis or because some prefer to add their own lube)
  • Internal condoms (a latex-free barrier contraceptive method that thoscontrol)
  • Dental dams or a condom that’s been cut open (for safer oral sex performed on vulvas and anuses)
  • Lube(s) in varying textures, flavors, etc. (add a little inside of the condom before rolling it on, for added comfort to the wearer)
  • Medical grade, non-latex gloves (fisting and fingering made safer, especially if you have any cuts on your hands)

No matter what you and your partner(s) decide, it doesn’t hurt to keep some supplies on hand so you’re prepared no matter when the mood strikes.

Alice!

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