How to Talk to Your Partner About Birth Control

It’s no secret that healthy relationships are based on communication and trust. In 2022, Hana® ran their ‘Big Sex Survey’ and the most common piece of relationship advice suggested by participants was working on communication and listening to each other.

Whenever we’re faced with a problem in a relationship, regardless of what that relationship might be, the advice almost always includes ‘just talk to them!’ or ‘tell them how you feel!’. So why is it so hard to approach the subject of contraception? In the aforementioned Big Sex Survey*, 42% of people said their partners were somewhat interested in their choice of contraception.

How do I pick a contraceptive that works for me?

First things first: we recommend doing your research into the contraceptive options that are out there. There are quite a few, and certain contraceptives are better suited to different people. There are both hormonal and non-hormonal options – some to help protect you from STIs as well as unplanned pregnancies, and others that only do the latter. These can all be researched online. 

There is no one size fits all when it comes to contraception, and just because something worked for your friend or someone on the internet doesn’t mean it will be right for you, so you may need to trial a few methods before you settle on something which feels right. In this instance, if you’re opting for hormonal contraceptives, it might be worth giving it some time for the side effects to regulate before making your decision. Depending on the contraceptive in question, this can take a few months.

Does my partner have a say in the contraception I choose?

Your body, your rules! At the end of the day, what matters most is what feels good, right and healthy for YOUR body. Like we said, we are all unique and different things work for different bodies. It’s important to keep that at the forefront of your mind when choosing a contraceptive that you’ll be relying on long term.

Of course, there might be some need for bringing your partner into the conversation at this stage if you’re requesting that they trial using condoms or something similar. We think your partner should be someone who supports you at all times, and trialling and choosing a contraceptive that you get on with might be a lengthier or trickier process than you’d anticipated, so you might benefit from having someone beside you throughout.

On the other hand, you might already have found a contraceptive that works for you or one you’ve been happily and consistently taking for a while. It’s up to you, of course, but we think this might also benefit from a discussion with your partner – even if it’s just you introducing them to your preferred method, so they know what is going on and you’re both on the same page.

How do I start a conversation about birth control?

As with any important topic of conversation, we like to be prepared. Think about what you’d like to discuss with your partner and how you’d like the conversation to go. There’s nothing wrong with writing down some important discussion points! Set aside some time where you can talk uninterrupted and start from the beginning – why you want to make this decision in the first place. If you’re going into the conversation feeling awkward or uncomfortable, that’s OK. Try and communicate those feelings first and foremost so your partner knows where you’re coming from and can do their best to meet you on that level.

It’s important to keep this theme recurring – your feelings and thoughts matter and you should discuss them with your partner in this and any situation. And remember, you can only control what is going on with you; their reaction is on them and nothing for you to take personally.

You might end up having multiple conversations with the same person about contraception – and that’s OK! You might find various methods work better for you depending on your lifestyle at any given moment. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your contraception or lack thereof, so don’t let anyone else impose their views on you or pressure you into trying to get pregnant before you’re ready.

Is it worth doing this before we start having sex?

For the peace of mind for all parties, we’d definitely suggest having this conversation and looking at contraceptive options prior to actually doing the deed – otherwise you might find that in the heat of the moment, when everybody’s clothes are coming off at lightning speed, it’s the last thing you want to think about or discuss.

Talk about testing

We mentioned earlier that some contraceptive methods help to protect you from both unplanned pregnancies and STIs – these are called condoms. If you’re just starting out with a new partner – or you’re enjoying multiple partners at any one time – it’s wise to make sure everyone is getting tested regularly. Depending on what you’re testing for, symptoms and test results can show up after varying lengths of time. 

To be as safe as possible, we recommend getting tested a few weeks after every new partner and every few months going forward, and asking any partners to do the same. Some STIs are symptomless so the only way to know your status for sure is to get a test. If you don’t feel comfortable or sure about anyone’s status then you have every right to insist on condoms or not have sex with them.

What if I have unprotected sex?

Accidents can happen! Nobody is perfect and you’re only human after all. Sometimes when we’re in the moment a condom can break or we simply forget to use one. If you take the contraceptive pill, you might have forgotten a dose. If any of these happen, don’t panic! That’s where emergency contraception comes in. 

There are various types of emergency contraception, including morning after pills like ellaOne®. And did you know that ellaOne® can be bought online? In addition to this, ellaone® can be effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex (but is more effective the sooner you take it).

Having a conversation about emergency contraception might be a little more daunting than one about regular contraception. Emergency contraception is for emergency use, so by nature it’s not something you tend to plan for. It’s good to know what your options are in advance, however, so if you ever find yourself in that position then you can make an informed decision. If you’re not sure how to discuss emergency contraception with your partner, we urge you to follow the same advice as for birth control in general – sit your partner down and explain what is happening, how you’re feeling and open the discussion for potential solutions.

If you follow these steps in a calm and collected way (or as calm and collected a way as possible), you should end up with everyone on the same page and a decision you’re both comfortable with. Hopefully this can pre-empt a further discussion about how to avoid such situations in the future, or even what you might do differently if a similar situation were to arise again. Turns out having a back up contraceptive plan can be sexy, too!

Remember: despite what some people may think, the morning after pill is not an abortion pill. It doesn’t interrupt an existing pregnancy and it works by delaying ovulation. You don’t need anyone’s permission or knowledge to access emergency contraception as it’s your body, but it might feel good to share your experience with a partner so they can support you.


*Based on a 2022 survey of 2,000 18-54-year-old women, trans and non-binary people living in the UK.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.