If a person wants to have sex with a partner, they should talk with them about birth control first. This ensures that everyone involved is happy with the method they use and understands how it works and what the potential risks are.

Some birth control methods are more effective than others. Additionally, not all of them prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Discussing the options allows people to work together to find the best type for them.

Unplanned pregnancies can have a significant impact on anyone, but in the United States, the responsibility for preventing them often falls on women. Females also take on significant physical risks, as pregnancy and certain STIs can have a unique impact on their health.

By taking an active role in discussions about birth control, a partner can show that they care and that they are willing to share in this responsibility.

Keep reading to learn more about discussing birth control with a boyfriend or partner, including who should be responsible for it, the effect it may have on the relationship, and how to talk about it.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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If a person is in a safe, healthy relationship and wants to have sex with their partner, then yes, they should discuss birth control with them.

There are numerous benefits to doing this, including:

Open communication

Talking about birth control fosters open communication within the relationship, allowing people to voice opinions and concerns.

Risk reduction

All types of birth control still have some risk of pregnancy, and only some types protect against STIs. Talking about this can help people decide which birth control method to use.

If there are some methods they need to avoid, they can find alternatives. For example, females who cannot use hormonal birth control may need a male partner to use condoms.


Even if only one partner will be using the birth control, having a discussion about it first allows people in a relationship to work as a team. They can also decide who will get the birth control, where from, and how to pay for it.

Empathy and understanding

Some types of birth control can cause side effects. Talking about this can help partners understand the effects that birth control may have on the other person.

It is the responsibility of both partners to think about how they will prevent unplanned pregnancies. This is because both partners will benefit from birth control, and both could experience consequences if they do not use it.

However, this does not necessarily mean all partners will be equally involved in every step of the process. Sometimes this is impossible, as many methods of contraception are for females.

This situation becomes more fair when both people take on the mental work of thinking about and discussing birth control, even if only one person obtains or uses it.

For example, if a heterosexual couple in a long-term relationship decides they do not want to have children but might want to in the future, the female partner might consider getting a birth control implant.

The male partner cannot take equal part in this, but he can learn what it involves, how it works, and what side effects it may have. He can also talk through the decision with her and provide support before or after the procedure. The same approach can apply to any other form of contraception.

What happens if one person takes responsibility?

When a person assumes that their partner will organize the birth control, it means that only one person bears the financial cost, time demands, and mental load of preventing pregnancy.

It also means one person stays uninformed about what their level of protection is, and this prevents them from taking useful actions if anything goes wrong.

Birth control, in itself, should not directly affect a healthy relationship. However, the side effects of certain types of birth control could affect a relationship. For example, a person may experience changes to their libido.

Discussing birth control may also bring up differences in opinion. It may even reveal problems, such as:

  • a lack of knowledge about birth control or sex
  • anxiety or worries
  • hostility toward discussing or using birth control
  • sexist attitudes toward birth control and who is responsible for it

People should try to work out these concerns before they have sex.

Talking about birth control may feel uncomfortable, but it is important for well-being. To start the conversation, it may help to set aside time when both people can give the discussion their full attention, well in advance of having sex.

A person could open the conversation with a statement or question such as:

  • “Before our relationship goes any further, I would like to talk about birth control.”
  • “I want us both to be safe. What are your thoughts on birth control?”
  • “I think getting protection would be a good idea. What birth control do you usually use?”

Some people may find that starting the conversation over online messenger, text, or email is easier than talking in person. Partners can then discuss:

  • which methods they need or prefer
  • which ones they do and do not feel comfortable using
  • who will arrange it

It is important to note that barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are the only way to prevent STI transmission. If either partner has not recently undergone testing for STIs, they should always use barrier methods when having sex.

Things to avoid, for all partners, include:

  • talking about birth control right before having sex, leaving no time to arrange it
  • telling a partner what to do
  • being dismissive or judgmental

When talking about birth control with a partner, it is important to keep certain boundaries in mind.


Make it clear that sex without birth control is not an option. A partner who cares will not want to have sex until they can do so safely and without worry.


While birth control can be a joint decision, each person should be able to decide what happens to their own body. This is known as bodily autonomy.

For example, if a person does not want to take the contraceptive pill, they can say “no” and discuss alternatives.


People need to be accountable for their actions. For example, if a person does not want to use birth control or forgets to buy it, they need to discuss this with their partner. They may also need to abstain from sex until they find a solution.


It is not OK for someone to tamper with birth control without telling their partner. In some cases, this can be illegal.

For example, secretly removing a condom without telling a partner and then having sex is known as “stealthing.” It is a form of sexual assault, and in many places it is a crime.

Demanding, harassing, or intimidating a person into having sex without birth control is coercion, and it is a type of abuse.

Learn more about abusive relationships.

It can be hard to find neutral and accurate advice about sex and birth control. Places to seek additional guidance include:

It is best to talk about birth control with a boyfriend or partner before having sex. It may feel strange at first, especially for people who have never done it before. But it is an opportunity to practice open communication and can ensure a healthy, safe sexual experience.

No one communicates perfectly, and it can take practice to get it right. Start the discussion before having sex, and agree on a plan. If a partner becomes pushy or unkind or refuses to discuss it, this may be a sign that they are not ready for this step.