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3 Couples Get Real About Their Experiences With Contraception

We learn how it has done more for their relationships than avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
3 Couples Talk About Their Journey With Contraception
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In the days before contraception became widespread, women wanting to engage in cis-het penetrative sex, and not find themselves pregnant, went to greatand often dangerous lengthsto do so. Considering that the contraceptive pill was introduced in the UK only 60 years agoand even then, only for married womenit’s easy to see the impact this moment had on people's sex lives.

These days, women have so much more control over their bodies thanks to a variety of different contraceptive methods on the market. Until recently, over a third of women reported being unable to access contraception locally. The contraceptive pill was only available via prescription, which presented a barrier to womenperhaps it was difficult to get an appointment or they couldn't find the necessary childcare to allow them to go to a clinic.

But a recent landmark approval by the UK's regulatory body has enabled people of child-bearing age to access the contraceptive pill over the counter without a prescription (following a consultation with the pharmacist). The impact this has on access, as well as the potential to destigmatize this very important medication, is nothing short of revolutionary.

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To find out more about the positive impact contraception can have on our sex lives, we spoke to three couples about their own experiences, plus how effective contraception has done much more for their relationships than simply avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

The implant

Beth (24) and Harry (27) have been together for four years

"I've had the implant since I was 14," says Beth. "I think I'm on my third or fourth one now. Other than that, I've only used a condom a handful of times at the beginning of relationships and on one-night stands."

"I really like us using the implant because it's effective (no babies!) and I struggle with condoms because of a traumatic experience in the past," adds Harry. Beth has also found condoms difficult to use: "I have vaginismus [the body's automatic reaction to the fear of some or all types of vaginal penetration], so the implant is a solid option for me."

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Both say they like the implant because of its ease of use. "You get it inserted and then you don't have to think about it for three years," says Beth. "It also has very few side effects (for me, at least) so we forget it's there."

For Beth and Harry, the implant is the ideal contraceptive option for a long-term relationship such as theirs (they're due to get married next year) and say that not having to think about their contraception means they can focus on enjoying sex, which makes the whole experience much more pleasurable.

The pill

Helen (26) and Chinedu (26) have been together for two and a half years

"I'm on the pill and have been since I was 17, aside from a three-year break," says Helen. "The convenience and the peace of mind that comes with not freaking out about being pregnant every month was enough to put me back on. With the pill, my periods are regular and I do not have to take monthly tests, which is a stress (and an expense) I do not miss."

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Helen says that the contraceptive pill has improved her sex life because there's less precautions to consider in a long-term, monogamous relationship like hers. "I know a lot of people struggle with remembering to take a daily pill, but it's become part of my routine iron tablet, pill, stretch! Once that part is done, I can just focus on enjoying the sex!" she says.

Chinedu agrees, saying "the pill allows us to stay in the moment without having to worry about other precautions, such as fumbling around to find a condom or whether you even have one in the first place."

contraception
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Chinedu says that not having to worry about unplanned pregnancies is a relief for both of them. "No contraception is 100 percent effective," he says, "but I have had condoms split in the past, which brings me anxiety if they are the sole contraception being used. Knowing Helen is on the pill reduces that fear." Beyond that, Chinedu says there has been another unexpected bonus: "Due to the regularity of Helen's cycle [on the pill] we are now more in tune with our libidos."

The combined condom

Anne Marie (32) and Alex (30) have been together for three and a half years

"I had a hormonal IUD for nine years," explains Anne Marie. "I really liked being on the IUD, as I didn't experience any major symptoms and loved not having periods." Just after she turned 30, Anne Marie and Alex started thinking about whether or not to have children, and used an app to see which days she would be fertile.

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"We've been using this combined method for about a year," Anne Marie says. "We check my cycle on the app and now use condoms for about a week every month, which isn't a major deal. I send Alex a screenshot at the start of 'red days' (use condoms) or 'green days' (go wild), which makes it a shared project."

For Alex, it's helped him understand the whole fertility process better, which is a plus.

Whatever your choice, stay safe and enjoy your sex life!

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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