It’s no secret that different couples deal with life issues in a wide variety of ways—and that’s especially true when it comes to birth control. After all, there are so many options for how to go about handling the situation with your partner: Do you sit down together and have a conversation about what works best for both of you? Do you make all the decisions without consulting your man because it’s your body, your choice?
And then there’s the whole method factor. Which kind do you choose when the options are overwhelming AF? Do you go with the pill? An IUD? The ring? Condoms, even if you or your guy doesn’t ~love~ using them?
In the name of research, we sat down with three couples who handle birth control in wildly different ways. Read on to hear their stories...and raise your hand if you can relate.
JULIE, 33, AND ROB, 37
Birth Control Method: IUD
Julie and Rob first met in 2013, and at that time Julie already had a five-year low-dose hormonal IUD. She first got it in 2011 when she was a single law school student and knew there was no way she would possibly want a child in the next five years. “The IUD appealed to me back then because I liked how you didn’t even have to think about it once it was in. I didn’t want to have to remember [anything] when my brain was so fried from law school.”
Once she met Rob, she says, he didn’t have much input in her birth control because she already had the IUD. “Yes, it hurt so badly going in, like having a really bad cramp all at once, but I’m still so happy I got it because it’s just so easy—it sits right there and that’s it,” she says.
Rob was very happy with her choice too. His last girlfriend before Julie had the birth control ring and he had an allergic reaction to it. “When my ex told her gyno about our problem, the gyno asked my ex to pretend like she took it out, to see if my reaction was psychosomatic,” says Rob. Spoiler alert: It was not. “I can’t believe her gyno devised that plan.”
By the time Julie’s five-year IUD finished in 2016, she and Rob had gotten very serious; they were even talking about getting engaged. But even so, Julie’s gynecologist still recommended getting another five-year IUD in its place, and then just taking it out early if they wanted to start trying to conceive.
“She told me that my body had already adjusted to the five-year one, so it would be better to just get that one again and take it out early than have to deal with getting a new three-year one and having to readjust all over again,” Julie says.
That’s exactly what they did. Julie and Rob got married in April 2018, and she took out her IUD in March 2019. They’re currently using a bunch of apps that tell them when Julie is ovulating, though Julie’s quick to point out that they aren’t super accurate because she keeps forgetting to put in the daily data. “I need to get better at that,” she laughs. “It’s on my list.”
AMY, 34, AND RICH, 33*
Brooklyn, New York
Birth Control Method: The Pill
When Amy and Rich first started dating in 2014, Amy was already on the pill and had been for four years. She started taking it when she was 25, primarily as a way to help her deal with her adult acne. She’d been taking antibiotics for her skin since she was 21, but they weren’t helping, so her dermatologist suggested she double up and go for the antibiotics plus birth control pill combo.
Her skin did clear up a little bit, but it didn’t go away fully until her dermatologist suggested she replace the antibiotics with the medication Spironolactone, which can help fight an increase in the hormone aldosterone, while sticking with the pill. That did the trick! Her skin cleared up just around the time she turned 30 and started dating Rich. In fact, she stopped taking the Spiro when she was 32. Now, she’s only on birth control and her skin looks great.
“I know it sounds dramatic to say this, but having clear skin has completely changed my life. I was so ashamed of my skin throughout my twenties, and now, for the first time in my adult life, I can look people in the eye without wondering if they’re staring at my broken-out face. It’s revolutionary.”
That said, she’s a bit nervous as she looks toward the future. She and Rich got married a few months ago, and while they don’t want kids just yet, she’s already dreading the time when they start trying and she has to go off the pill.
“It’s funny because I was so against the pill at the beginning, but now, since the pill plus Spiro combo worked, I’m all for it. In fact, I’m petrified to stop taking it—what if my skin goes back to the way it was?” she says. “I just don’t know that I could handle going through that shame again. I’m so nervous about going off it; it’ll feel like I’ll be losing my safety net, my crutch. But I know that I will have to just deal with that when it happens.”
Meanwhile, Rich couldn’t be more supportive. “She’ll be beautiful no matter what happens to her skin,” he says, while acknowledging that it has to be Amy’s decision. “It’s her call in the end.”
KATIE, 34, AND DAVE, 40
Birth Control Method: Condoms
Katie and Dave have been married for five years, and have lived together for seven—and they’ve used condoms the entire time they’ve been together. They like that using condoms makes birth control a joint effort, whereas many of the other methods of birth control put all of the responsibility on the woman. “Honestly, I know that a lot of guys have problems with them, but I don’t mind using them—it’s not an issue for me,” he says.
“It’s nice to be able to call Dave and say, ‘Hey, did you pick up the condoms at the grocery store while you were shopping?’” Katie says. “It’s a team effort and definitely evens out the playing field, which I really like,” she says. Dave agrees: “I like to know that I’m not putting it all on her,” he says.
Katie and Dave also had their first child two years ago, and Katie says that using condoms as opposed to being on another method of birth control was actually quite helpful when they decided to start trying.
“Usually you have to wait a couple months after coming off of birth control to let your body adjust before you start trying for a kid, but with condoms, you don’t have to wait a certain amount of time,” she says. “It just feels like my body is doing what it is supposed to do naturally—it’s really quite freeing.”
*Not their real names.
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