Sexual Health

Contraception: where and how do men fit in?

A few days back, a friend of mine went into full-fledged panic, over a possible pregnancy scare. Without going into the specifics, she was worried about getting pregnant and the possible implications (social, emotional and of course, moral) of it. It took her three pregnancy tests, a whole lot of reassuring and talking to convince, and ultimately conclusively prove, that she was not pregnant. All through this time, the obvious second link in the chain, the guy, was absent.
The incident got me thinking and more importantly, as a guy, talking about the whole deal with contraceptives. Now before I am judged seven ways to Heaven (or Hell) talking about an issue that has touched and singed many a raw nerve, I can say that it is primarily a guy’s responsibility to ensure that the woman’s needs related to contraception are met. In the modern world we stand at an interesting crossroads, which causes a crisis of faiths. There are the ‘pro-life’ and the ‘pro-choice’ camps. And I am not here to debate the moral high grounds of the ‘pro-life’ supporters but I do say with some surety, it is as important for the guy to be involved in the decision of using contraceptives.
The easiest option available, of course, is the condom. It is clean, efficient and usually has a 97 percent success rate. Oral contraceptives for women, IUDs, the morning-after pill are amongst some of the other options available for women. And while guys can argue on the merits of using those, against using a condom, to make the act of having sex more enjoyable, there are repercussions on the body of the woman which most guys are unaware of.
And in the modern world, to be unaware, automatically means to not care. So obviously before asking the girl to go on the pill, or even suggest sterilisation, take into account how the person feels about it.
On the other hand, far too often, women too, without understanding the long term effects, opt for a morning after pill rather than get the guy to use a condom – either out of sheer pressure or perhaps unawareness about the effects on the body.
Coming back to the real world, with the 8th amendment in Ireland still waiting to be repealed and President Trump announcing his intention to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, the balances are heavily skewed against women. And this is something that is absolutely unacceptable and in fact downright detrimental for the functioning of a healthy and prosperous society.
I mean, come on; the laws are not on the side of our women. The least we can do is be alongside them when it matters the most. Without sounding too philosophical or launching off into a rant about the imbalance of things, all that needs to be remembered is that dialogues open up channels for us to be sensitive to the needs of others.
And to be sensitive means to learn to start caring again.