I think we’ve established that the culture affects our relationships and our families. But does it also find its way into our bedrooms? You betcha!

Just recently I was talking with a delightful young couple. Their relationship is committed, and their communication and conflict resolution skills are excellent. They are both pleased and satisfied with their sex life. However, the woman, Ashley, is struggling with her birth control. She originally tried oral contraceptives, but developed one infection after another and had to stop. She has been using an IUD (intrauterine device) for awhile, but that has become painful and they are concerned with the infrequent but serious side effect of a perforated uterus.

So Ashley and her husband, Andrew, put the idea of condoms on the table. Andrew said he is fine with the idea. However, in talking about this a feeling of discomfort hung in the air. Ashley was worried that condoms were asking too much of her partner.

How can that be? Except perhaps when originally marketed, research indicates that condoms don’t significantly affect pleasure for either partner. It is the only form of contraception that doesn’t place the responsibility completely on the person with the uterus. Condoms also protect against STI’s.

Yet the myth persists that using a condom is just too much to ask of a man. In addition, sperm control or male hormonal contraception has been developed and proven just as effective as the Pill for women. So why isn’t male contraception more common? It seems that the Pill or injection for men results in side effects like mood swings & weight gain, very similar to the side effects in women. The difference is that men have generally refused to tolerate these side effects.

It’s possible that women tolerate these side effects and those of other contraceptive methods because they are the ones who could get pregnant. It’s also possible that they don’t feel as entitled as men do to refuse.

The time has – finally – come to question toxic hyper masculinity. Violence, verbal and sexual abuse, insensitivity, and authoritarianism are beginning to be seen as immaturity and weakness rather than strength. Perhaps it is also time for a fair and democratic approach to contraception.