How do you discuss this with someone you barely know?
We asked two writers — one male, one female — to sound in on one-night stand birth-control etiquette, answering such questions as: When to bring up contraception? How to talk about the potential of it failing? And, whose responsible for dealing with the consequences of contraception gone wrong? Here's what they had to say:
YourTango contributor, Amanda Green, says:
I've taken birth control pills for almost a decade, which makes me feel very responsible (and kinda old). It's part of the package. When you go out with me, you get all this, plus I probably won't get pregnant. And, I tell my sexual partners this at the same time we first discuss STD status and HIV testing — before we have sex. Always.
Sometimes semi-clothed. Sometimes, before we really know each other well. But always before we have sex, unlike Mindy (Rachel Boston) and Fred (Noah Bean) in the film The Pill. Yep, alcohol was involved, but still ... no excuse!
I no longer ask how many other partners a guy's had, but I figure we've both been around the block. We know how pregnancy works and that sex puts us both at risk. It's important to discuss.
If I were in a sexual situation with a guy who didn't ask if I'd been tested and if I use birth control, I probably wouldn't want to sleep with him. I mean, how can he be so reckless about his health or mine?
Most people I go out with either know or assume I'm pro-choice. Typically, this comes up before we get physical, especially during an election year. Just as I don't want to get diseased or pregnant, I also don't want to end up naked with someone who doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose. But, that's just me and my personal preferences.
I think the issue of paying for birth control depends on relationship status. If you're single and not in a committed sexual relationship, you can't really expect an occasional partner to front the cost of your contraceptive. If he sleeps with you once, why should he help finance an entire month of protection? That said, there's no problem with expecting the guy to supply the condom. You should be using these along with another contraceptive, if you're not in a monogamous relationship. So you're basically going dutch. (Yes, it sucks that condoms are cheaper than anything requiring a prescription.)
Which brings me to the big question: Who's held responsible if contraception fails, or if two people fail to use it at all? Both people! It takes two to tango, whether you do it once when you're drunk or you've been doing it for three years in a shared apartment. A man and a woman who aren't in a relationship should split the cost of the morning-after pill immediately, if they've had unprotected sex.
If they miss that window and a woman chooses to get an abortion, it's the same deal. Go halvsies. It's less expensive than having a child you're not ready for. You both needed each other to make this mistake. You can both do something to fix it.
YourTango's Tomfoolery blogger, Thomas Miller, says:
While my own experience with single-serving sex is exceptionally limited (they keep coming back, knowwhatI'msayin), I know some handsome dudes who chase down strange with some frequency. We all hate using condoms as much as the next guy, but do realize going raw dog on a one-night stand is bad news beers [sic].
However, a funny thing or two, sometimes, happens on the way to "BarrierMethodsBurg": She's OK with or insists on going bareback. At that point, because of the somewhat reduced pleasure of condom-y sex, most guys will agree. If she's ambivalent about prophylactic use and where his "issue" ends up, it's an unwritten social contract that she is proofed in some way against becoming impregnated, be it the Pill, some medical condition, or that ring thingy.
Smart? Nope. But when five to 12 minutes of intense pleasure are at stake, it's a little myopic to trust an intoxicated, turgid man in front of a naked lady to make the absolute best decisions.
However, if it's revealed that the previous assumption is proved false, most even remotely decent dudes are interested in helping toward a resolution using the calculus that a morning-after pill is less expensive than an abortion is less expensive than raising a child. Clearly, a condom is the cheapest thing, but see the previous statement regarding tumescent fellas and smart thinking.
In the history of one-night stands, very few dudes, to my knowledge, sit down to discuss the steps taken if it should result in a human life (or worse, a demon), but a thoughtful and sober-ish guy will, and should, and does ask about birth control.
Until a viable male birth control that doesn't involve needles is invented, it's incumbent on women to keep it honest and vocal regarding birth control. Tina Fey once reminded us "your mouth can't get pregnant." Maybe that's the best policy for one-night stands. It's smarter than my foolproof system of whispering, "you are so beautiful, please don't have my baby."
The consensus? Use protection, people! And, if it fails, you're both responsible for the consequences. The morning-after pill is sold over-the-counter in most pharmacies, and is most effective when used as soon as possible after unprotected sex. So, if you find yourself in a one-night stand oops, make like Mindy and Fred and get thee to the pharmacy, stat.