Do You Have To Tell Him Your Real Number?

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girl with birth control pill
'Essence' Relationships Editor Charreah K. Jackson answers this sex question and more!

Despite the awkwardness that can come along with having "the talk" with your partner, weighing birth control options can go a long way in making you feel more empowered in the bedroom. For starters, taking charge of your sexuality is pretty sexy! Bedsider.org's goal is to provide medically accurate info that is honest and unbiased so women can find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively. 

Here, Essence Relationships Editor and Certified Family Life Educator Charreah K. Jackson makes the case for why forgoing intimidation when it comes to birth control and intimacy will be beneficial for you both in the long run. 

YourTango: Talking about birth control with your partner is awkward! What's the least cringe-worthy way to approach the topic?
Charreah K. Jackson: Talking about birth control doesn't have to be awkward. Have the conversation before you hit the sheets. Over dinner or on the phone, discuss sex, pleasure and contraception with your partner. Share what you both like, and also discuss your protection preferences. The best sex can occur when both partners feel comfortable and connected, and aren't stressed about unplanned outcomes. Check out 5 tips to talk with anyone about birth control.

YourTango: Do you recommend having the conversation prior to becoming intimate for the first time?
Charreah K. Jackson: Unless your partner is like this guy, contraceptive choices are often brought up by the woman. I absolutely recommend discussing contraception with a new partner before your first time together. Having sex with a new person can have both of you a little more nervous as you discover another person's body and desires. To bring up birth control in that moment can add unnecessary additional stress, so find a time to bring it up before entering the bedroom. You can also brush up your own knowledge on birth control options–you might be surprised how many there are! 

YourTango: Some guys are infamous for the "but using a condom doesn't feel as good" line. How do you respond?
Charreah K. Jackson: Condoms have evolved tremendously and can actually add to your sexual experience instead of taking anything away. When your partner complains about condoms, remind him there are many different kinds including some that you can barely feel like Lifestyles SKYN and Magnum Thin. There are also many textures, tastes and brands to discover through sites like condomjungle.com and luckybloke.com. Not only do condoms keep you safe, but they can also provide lubrication and a quick clean up if you decide to be more adventurous or get it on in the park this summer. And if size is his issue, remind him no guy is too big for a condom — you just have to find the right one! If your partner continues to complain about condoms after trying different ones, discuss your comfort level for other contraception, including the female condom (which also protects from STIs). If you decide to use a birth control option that does not protect from STIs, a monogamous commitment should be made and STI test results shared. Consider the exploration of birth control a part of your sexual journey as a couple and not just a means to an end. Discussing birth control with my boyfriend has produced many laughs and brought us closer.

YourTango: How much should you reveal about your sexual history to your current partner? Do you have to tell your real number?
Charreah K. Jackson: You don't have to reveal anything about your sexual history to a new partner that you don't want to share, unless there's a possibility it could impact that person's health in a negative way. You don't have to tell anyone how many people you have been sexually involved with in the past — but there's no reason to be ashamed, either. A partner who likes you for who you are shouldn't care. The number of partners you have had has no bearing on your worth or how you will be in a relationship. If someone does ask how many people have you been with, ask him or her why the information matters. The answer may tell you a lot about a person you are considering providing the pleasure of your body.

YourTango: If you've been treated for an STI in the past, should you share that information with your partner?
Charreah K. Jackson: If you are 100% clear of the infection and not at risk for passing on the STI, you do not have to tell your partner — but I would certainly encourage you to be up front with any contenders for a serious relationship. Honesty is a turn on early in the dating process and illustrates a level of trust when you reveal all of who you are to another person. Sharing your past experience also gives a perfect introduction to suggesting you both get tested together to ensure you both are STI-clear. You don't want to fall in love, get married and be at a doctor's appointment for your first baby to then have to share a past STI to your doctor in the presence of your partner. When partners discover each other's secrets after a long time together, they often wonder what else have you lied about.

YourTango: Do you recommend women carrying around a "just in case" condom in their purse?
Charreah K. Jackson: Yes! Carrying a condom shows you are in control of your life and protective of your body and your future. Just In Case Inc. has the cutest compacts that also have a condom storage slot. Many guys see it as a plus that a woman is prepared.

YourTango: A lot of women could think that talking about birth control isn't "sexy"  so they avoid it to make sure they don't spoil the mood. What would be your No. 1 tip for making birth control sexy?
Charreah K. Jackson: A woman is at her sexiest when she takes the reigns of her own life — and that includes her contraception. Make birth control simple and sultry by researching ahead of time on sites like Bedsider.org and talking to your gynecologist to see what methods are best for your body and lifestyle.  There are also many erotic ways a woman can put a condom on a partner, including using your mouth. Be your sexiest by not being stressed about unexpected outcomes and being empowered in your love life.

Charreah K. Jackson (@Charreah) is the Relationships Editor for ESSENCE Magazine and a Certified Family Life Educator. She provides workshops, keynote speeches and coaching for women to be empowered and smart in their personal and professional lives. Charreah has been featured on ABC News, VH1, CW, Sirius Radio and other media outlets.

Bedsider.org is passionate about helping women take an active role in their reproductive health by helping them find the method that's right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively. Their birth control support network offers incredible resources on how to find the right method and dispel common myths as well as provides a zip code search to find the nearest birth control provider. Visit their website at Bedsider.org to learn more about what they can do for you!

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