Birth control is unique among medical interventions, not least because the name directly says what it does – it controls childbirth by preventing pregnancy. However, there are many other things birth control can do as well. Some are great: hormonal birth control can cleanse the skin and better manage periods or endometriosis. Others, like the ability to cause weight changes or vaginal dryness, are less ideal.

If your partner is taking the pill, has an arm implant or an intrauterine device (IUD), is putting a NuvaRing in the vagina, or is relying on some other form of birth control, but your main concern is just to stay baby-free, it likely is you don’t know a lot about how it all works. And that would be fine, except if you are not aware of the side effects contraception can have on your partner, it can cause problems in your relationship.

Why birth control and what are the options?

Preventing pregnancy is a common reason to use birth control, but Dr. Meera Shah, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, told Lifehacker some others:

Many, many people use hormonal birth control to help with their menstrual symptoms such as cramps or [premenstrual syndrome]. I have provided hormonal birth control to patients to treat endometriosis and even acne. Methods like pills, the ring, and the patch can make periods easier, more predictable, and less painful. You can also use the pill, patch, and ring to safely skip your periods. Hormonal IUDs, the implant, and the shot can also relieve cramps and make periods lighter and shorter (or even stop them entirely). Although they are a little less predictable, some people have more irregular periods during these methods.

Most of the time, these methods use hormones to do their various jobs, but there is a copper IUD option that doesn’t. If you assumed this wasn’t going to have any side effects, think again: copper IUDs can cause heavier periods and more intense cramps.

It is not uncommon for a person to try a few different methods before deciding on the one that works best for them and has the fewest side effects.

“If you don’t have a partner who will respect what you need, you should probably find another partner.”

How birth control can affect a partner

Dr. Shah already mentioned one of the more undesirable side effects: irregular periods. Bleeding can be unpredictable, sporadic, or almost constant as everyone reacts differently to hormones. This bleeding can be annoying, but is “pretty easy to manage” once a doctor is told, she said.

However, there can be other problems too, such as vaginal dryness, nausea, changes in libido, or weight fluctuations. Sherry, a woman from Arizona, told Lifehacker that while using Depo-Provera, the hormonal injection, she gained weight and felt depressed – two effects that made each other worse.

“It was just a really bad combination of weight gain from birth control and all these other external factors that I just wasn’t happy with, and the weight gain certainly didn’t help. My self-image and body image were very bad, “she said. “There are just many parts of the shot that are mutually reinforcing. I wouldn’t say it was the shot in itself, but it certainly didn’t help. “

She quickly returned to the pill that she had originally taken off because she had not taken it very diligently. She said she’s a lot more responsible about it now, although she still gets particularly moody before her period starts.

Mood swings, increased bleeding, vaginal dryness, and weight changes are standard side effects, but also quite normal occurrences in people who do not have birth control. So you would be forgiven if you didn’t realize your partner was experiencing them because of their birth control. Other, much rarer, side effects are also possible.

Illustration for article titled How Your Partner's Birth Control Can Affect Your Sex Life (And What To Do About It)

Nicole, a Utah woman, told Lifehacker how her Nexplanon, a contraceptive implant, went through her arm muscle in 2015 and needed surgery to remove it. She’s still going to physical therapy to get the most out of her arm to this day, and like sherry, she’s back on the pill. To be clear, the chances that your partner’s birth control will wreak havoc on any of their limbs are slim, but the chances that birth control will affect you are not exactly zero.

How your birth control can affect you and how you can prepare

Simply put, if you’re a cisgender guy, it’s not uncommon to feel a partner’s NuvaRing or IUD strings during intercourse, but it’s quite rare. Your best bet, if you are one of the few who are feeling it, is to not focus on it and try to remind the sensation that soon you will no longer be a father. NuvaRings can be easily moved if a party is uncomfortable with the feeling. If you suddenly feel the difficult part of an IUD, not just the strings, it may have shifted and by the time your partner sees their doctor, use a secondary method of contraception to be sure.

Dr. Shah mentioned drought can affect you too. It is always good practice to have some lubricant on hand this practical guide looking for the best for your situation. On the other hand, if you have frequent or sudden bleeding, keep some damp cloth on deck, lay down a towel, and communicate clearly if the amount of blood you have is above your personal ick threshold. There are special products like menstrual sponges and soft cups that can be worn during sex and help with cleanliness issues. However, these do not differentiate between blood and other fluids. You will therefore need more lubricant to compensate for the moisture that you are losing. Here’s another handy guide on using sponges for period sex, although we recommend using sponges made for this purpose, not makeup applicators.

Illustration for article titled How Your Partner's Birth Control Can Affect Your Sex Life (And What To Do About It)

For example, suppose your partner’s mood swings or changes in weight affect how attracted you are to them. This goes into a more psychological area and isn’t exactly cool, but not judgments; This guide is designed to help. Please bring up the topic when it feels appropriate, and remember that your health is the number one priority, but your wellbeing is also important. It’s a good first step to show that you understand these changes are birth control related and that you are ready to counter them as you can if they want. In fact, caring and support will go a long way in alleviating any problems birth control may cause for you or you.

How to help someone with birth control

Nicole’s boyfriend helps her with her physical therapy and they talk openly and often about how they are preventing pregnancy and how their pills affect them. Not only does she not want to be a mother, but she couldn’t be for a while because she was on Accutane. The acne drug can cause serious birth defects, so her birth control was a requirement she spoke openly with her boyfriend about. She sees these conversations as a litmus test: “If you don’t have a partner who respects what you need, you should probably find another partner.”

Sherry says her new boyfriend is helpful too and makes her nightly pill routine a little funnier with inside jokes about it. Rachel, an Ohio woman who uses an IUD, is not currently a partner, but echoed Nicole’s approach, telling Lifehacker, “If you’re ever with someone who doesn’t want you for birth control and / or who you don’t like they can feel your NuvaRing [during intercourse]This is something you need to evaluate based on your priorities and what is going on in your relationship. “

In short, be open minded and listen to what your partner says about their experience. Let’s say they tell you that they are feeling moody or that their irregular bleeding has caused them not to want to have sex. If you’re not open and nice, you now have two problems to solve – and not only are you not laid, but you could also be dumped. To avoid these fates – and, as you know, to strengthen your relationship – you may need to bring the topic up yourself, but Dr. Shah points out why this might make her uncomfortable.

She notes, “Because of the stigma surrounding sex and the body, it can often be embarrassing when you see a side effect and you or your partner don’t respond properly – and that can be frustrating.”

So one solution is to show interest as early as possible.

You can both see the contraception options page below planned to see all options with benefits and possible side effects. You could take that too Birth control quiz together to get a feel for your best options. It is important to have open communication about birth control with your partner as it is part of basic health care. Almost all sexually active American cis women have used birth control at some point in their lives, and many trans and non-binary patients also use birth control. There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to birth control: the ability to plan, prevent, and plan pregnancies is directly related to benefits for all people – not just those who can get pregnant – including increased educational and economic opportunities , healthier babies, and more stable families. If you use contraception correctly, you and your partner can feel more comfortable and carefree during sex – with your sexual health under control and without worrying about the risk of unwanted pregnancy.

Oh, and that leads to another thing: if your partner is at risk of bleeding, weight changes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and even (rarely!) Loss of typical arm function, at least in part in the service of not becoming a parent, don’t forget To say thank you.