Birth Control Bingo: For a Person With a Penis, Not a Uterus

Part of Scarleteen's Birth Control Bingo. Need to go back a question?

On the previous page, you said that you cannot yourself become pregnant, but could potentially co-create a pregnancy⁠ and you and/or your partner⁠ do NOT want to do so right now. You want to find the best method for you understanding that even the most effective methods of contraception⁠ used properly may still leave a partner at some small risk of pregnancy and you can deal with those possible risks.

While there are currently a few methods of birth control⁠ for people with penises in the experimental and developmental phases, at this time, you just do not have many options when it comes to birth control that are entirely up to you.

Your current choices are:

  • to abstain from any sexual⁠ activities which pose pregnancy risks, or abstain from all partnered sex⁠ with people who can become pregnant
  • condoms
  • withdrawal
  • to have a vasectomy⁠ , and/or
  • to cooperate with your partner in whatever method or methods they are using.

I know that it can seem pretty unbalanced that folks with penises have so few options in birth control they themselves can use.

At the same time, most companies which create and market birth control methods are run by cisgender⁠ men. Men, the group of people most often with a penis⁠ , have not, as a group, been particularly cooperative with supporting and pushing for development of new methods. Plus, they are most typically a group of people who cannot themselves become pregnant. This means that they are not impacted with the same depth and sense of urgency by a pregnancy as people who can, themselves, become pregnant. That alone is a big part of why most of the focus for methods of birth control has been on methods for people who can, themselves, become pregnant.

Vasectomy -- sterilization -- is technically an option, but because it is costly and considered permanent because it is iffy to reverse, it's not often advised for younger people. Even for those who do strongly feel they do not ever want to reproduce, most doctors will not perform a vasectomy for a very young person.

So, if you're someone under 30 who wants to be sexually active⁠ and also try to prevent a pregnancy yourself, you're left with withdrawal⁠ , condoms or with choosing only to engage in sexual activities which don't pose a risk of pregnancy (or none), and either of those latter two options are very effective.

You also absolutely have the right to only choose to be sexual with partners who are also using a method of birth control on their own, if you don't feel comfortable using withdrawal or condoms alone. Just like someone who could become pregnant gets to only choose partners who are willing to use a method of birth control themselves, or like anyone gets to only choose partners who will participate in safer sex⁠ , the same goes here. If a partner or potential partner does not want to use the methods that make you comfortable and okay about engaging in sex that can create a pregnancy, that is their right, however it is also your right to nix sex for that reason.

If you'd like some information on ways to completely prevent pregnancy, or want to have an idea about what activities won't pose pregnancy risks, click here.

If you and your partner do want to engage in vaginal and/or anal intercourse⁠ , you do have condoms. Not just withdrawal, which can be difficult to use properly, or vasectomy, which can be permanent and hard for a young person to access.

Condoms are cheap, easy to find, easy to use, and while they do require a quick pause in the middle of the action, and do slightly reduce sensation, when you look at the effects of most methods of birth control, they are actually a method with some of the fewest side effects of any other method. They also allow you to share responsibility for reducing the risk of STIs and to protect yourself from those, as well.

If you'd like some basic information on condoms, instructions for using them, and some tips for making them feel best and finding the right condoms for you, click here.

Suffice it to say, I'd encourage you to cooperate with a partner in the use (or expense) of their method no matter what. That can include everything from helping your partner foot the bill (contraception can be expensive), to aiding them in insertion of some methods (even just by being sure to give them time to insert them properly) to just being aware of what side effects they might be dealing with when it comes to their method so that you can be understanding and sensitive when their method results in things like decreased sexual desire⁠ or vaginal lubrication, mood changes, tender breasts, weight gain or vaginal spotting. Your cooperation can often make not only a positive difference in your sex life and your relationship⁠ , but with some methods, can assure they're most effective.

If you want to know more about a method your partner is using, and how you can help use it properly and be supportive with use, you can find out⁠ all about it by clicking that method below: 

Don't forget: Statistically, sexually active young adults⁠ are as, if not more, likely to acquire a sexually transmitted infection⁠ ( STI⁠ ) as you are to become pregnant. Although 15-24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STIs each year, and of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year, 9.1 million (48%) occur among 15-24-year-olds (AGI). Often people have some funny ideas about who is most likely to get an STI, but the fact of the matter is that younger people -- of any sexual orientation⁠ , any economic class, any kind of relationship -- have been the highest risk group for some time now.

Condoms are the only method of birth control which also provide protection against STIs. It's pretty typical for younger people to ditch condoms if they have another method of birth control, so just remember that STIs are still a risk if you're using another method. You can read all about safer sex here -- Safe, Sound & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To -- but the rule of thumb most medical experts and prevention organizations suggest, which we also encourage at Scarleteen is six months of safer sex, six months of sexual monogamy, and then TWO full STI screenings for each partner -- once at the start of that six months, once at the end -- before ditching latex barriers.

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  • Heather Corinna

"Birth control" or "contraception" simply means any number of methods a person may or does use in order to try to prevent pregnancy. So, condoms are birth control. The pill is birth control. IUDs are birth control. The Depo-Provera shot is birth control. Withdrawal is birth control. If you choose…