The Pill-Pushing Boyfriend

The Pill-Pushing Boyfriend

Question: Can I ask my girlfriend to go on the pill? We’ve been together a while now and it would be nice not have to wear condoms all the time, but I get the sense that she’s not crazy about the idea. I think it just makes sense at this point. 

Answer: You may certainly ask, but I can't promise she'll think it makes as much sense as you do. Hers is the body that will have to deal with any potential changes, not yours. What may be wildly sensical or convenient to you doesn't matter much if it's not ideal for her. 

See, when a woman takes an oral contraceptive, it has side effects. Some of those side effects are pleasant. The thwarting of unwanted babies, for instance, or an improved complexion. There are also unpleasant ones, like potential weight gain, blood pressure spikes or feeling like your hormones are on a roller coaster. Remembering to take a little pill every day is also harder than you might think, leading to decreased effectivity when you do forget. 

I understand where you're coming from. If I were a guy in a long-term relationship, I'd want to graduate from condoms to something easier too. And if I were the woman in this scenario, I would just get on some form of birth control. But that's because I, like many Americans, don't spend enough time thinking about the implications of taking a pill that's reached near Tylenol levels of acceptance. Let's not forget that it's a real medication, however. 

Your girlfriend sounds more thoughtful in this regard. She may have concerns about what taking the pill will do to her body. She may have bad health coverage, making her wary of the pharmacy bill. She may also want to keep condoms in the equation for a reason. Have you swapped histories and been tested recently? That needs to happen before any "let's just use the pill" discussion can take place. 

What makes sense at this point is for you to do less asking or suggesting and for the two of you to begin a shared dialogue. It sounds like you've put feelers out already. Time to start a conversation in earnest. 

Put everything on the table and decide what makes sense for her body first, then what makes sense for you as a couple. And word to the wise: Your anti-condom arguments will hold more sway if they focus more on mutual benefits (i.e. improved pregnancy protection) and less on how it feels for you personally. Men disliking the feel of condoms is neither a newsflash nor a sympathy-inducing plight. 

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