How to feel more confident discussing contraception with a new partner
Learn some confidence boosting tips to help approach contraception conversations with a new partner!
Have you ever felt uncertain or awkward discussing contraception with a new partner?
If so, you’re not alone. Contraceptives are commonly prescribed in a fast and non-personalised manner, so you might not even feel comfortable discussing condoms versus the pill versus the implant with your doctor, let alone that person you’ve been seeing from Hinge for a while.
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable, but as we all know, contraception is one of those topics you’ve got to talk about, so it’s worth learning a few strategies that will help you feel more confident when discussing contraception with a new partner. At Dama Health, we’re about empowering you with the knowledge to make safe and personalised contraception decisions—and we also understand that communicating those decisions once you’ve made them may be essential.
Read on for our best tried-and-tested confidence boosting tips, including some advice from our community.
Come armed with knowledge
Confidence begins with knowledge. The more you know about the different contraceptive options, the better you’ll be able to answer any questions or concerns your partner has (spoiler: they are not too big for condoms. They come in multiple sizes for a reason). Talk to your doctor or visit a sexual health clinic to find out about your options. You’re not limited to condoms and the pill—ask about everything from IUDs and the implant, to diaphragms and the contraceptive patch, so you can start to work out what best suits you, your body and your lifestyle.
Know what your red lines are
Everyone’s different when it comes to contraception: some people are happy to forgo condoms in a long-term relationship once each partner has been tested for sexually transmitted infections, and a different contraceptive method has been agreed on. Others prefer to use both hormonal contraception and a barrier method to protect against STIs.
“Before having a conversation with a new partner, decide what is important to you, and how you define your own sexual health and well-being. I find this makes it easier to communicate your expectations around contraception because you have already reflected on your needs” says Beth, an online relationship educator based in Berlin. “Also, any reason that you land on is valid, whether it’s to prevent unplanned pregnancy, to practise safer sex, to use a barrier and not hormonal method to protect your body… the list goes on. You absolutely don’t have to justify your decision to want to use (a particular type of) contraception, but it’s helpful for you to really understand your own reasons so you can then work out the best route forwards with your partner.”
Practice what you want to say ahead of time
If you’re feeling a little nervous about bringing up the topic of contraception with your new partner, it might be worth practising ahead of time. You don’t need to do a full and dramatic speech in front of your bathroom mirror if that isn’t your thing, but noting down a few bullet points on a Post-It can help you get your thoughts straight. Better yet, write some prompts down in the Notes app on your phone, so you’ve got them handy during the conversation if you want to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
Consider asking a friend to help out, too: they can help lighten the atmosphere and share tips from their own experience. And if it doesn’t go well, you’ll have someone to debrief with afterwards (read on for what to do if your partner doesn’t respond the way you’ve hoped!).
Pick your moment wisely
You’ll ideally have a conversation about contraception before having sex with a new partner. If it comes up later, that’s fine too: the important thing is that you’re having the conversation at all.
Here are some pointers:
- Make sure you’re both in the right headspace and are sober. It’s tempting to broach a tricky topic if you’ve had a few drinks to bolster your confidence, but it’s an important conversation, and so you should both be as clear-headed as possible.
- Make sure you’re relaxed. It’s pretty obvious, but don’t bring up contraception during an argument or when you’re both feeling tense. Your best bet is starting the conversation when you’re chatting on the couch or over a meal—it’s a normal part of adult life, and once you’ve got over the initial awkwardness, it’s a straightforward conversation to have.
- Face-to-face is best: it’s easier to read the other person’s emotions, and you’re less likely to have any miscommunication than if you’re texting. That being said, if you really can’t face a chat about contraception with a new partner, messaging is better than avoiding the conversation altogether.
Remember it’s a two-way street
At the end of the day, contraception is the responsibility of both partners in the relationship. How your partner responds says a lot about them—and you can decide how you feel about continuing to be intimate with them accordingly. Honesty about your feelings goes a long way, too.
“Be honest and upfront about what suits you and your body. As someone who is AFAB (assigned female at birth), hormones can wreak havoc on my system, so condoms are the best method for me. I treat it like anything else I need them to know, like being asthmatic or having allergies,” says Liv, a community member based in London. “Ultimately if they don’t respond well and respectfully then they are not a person I want to be intimate with.”
Check out our frequently asked question guide to contraception for more information to help prepare yourself for conversations surrounding contraception.
Have more tips or still have questions? Start a conversation below!