Many people think of birth control as primarily an issue for women, but female birth control affects men too. Even so, studies show that most men know next to nothing about the steps women must take to prevent pregnancy – and that is bad news for both genders.
It takes two to tango, as they say, so both partners need to take responsibility for smart family planning. At the very least, every man should know about the various birth control options for women, from contraceptive implants and IUDs to shots, diaphragms, sponges and the pill.
Men should also be familiar with how each of these options works – how often it must be taken, how it should best be used and how reliable or unreliable it is. After all, the man will be impacted by an unwanted pregnancy just as much as the woman.
Given the importance of the subject, the gap in male knowledge of female birth control is nothing short of astonishing. BuzzFeed recently asked a group of random males how much they know about birth control, and they got answers from across the board.
According to the survey, some men simply knew little more than birth control controls birth, something that is pretty obvious from the name. Others claimed to know more than most but less than some, while others said they knew more than they would like because of previous close calls.
Still others were more honest, saying that they knew absolutely nothing about birth control. In the end, the BuzzFeed survey found significant gaps in male knowledge of female birth control, with an average score of just 40% correct answers on the specific questions asked.
Bedsider asked a set of similar questions to see how guys feel about birth control. Not surprisingly, they found that most men love the idea of birth control, at least when the women in their lives are taking care of it. The men surveyed in the Bedsider study reported that they enjoy the peace of mind that birth control provides. They also reported that they respect the women in their lives for using it – and for taking the lead in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies.
We conducted our own survey by asking men in our community questions similar to those asked by BuzzFeed and Bedsider. Only about half were able to muster up the meaning of IUD (Intrauterine device) and what is needed to obtain hormonal birth control pills in the U.S. (a prescription). However, the majority could identify various forms of birth control and were knowledgeable when it came to their partners’ use of contraceptives. Most of the men we interviewed were hesitant about the idea of personally using hormonal birth control, but many decided they would give it a try if it were available.
Interestingly enough, most men expect women to bring up the topic of birth control and feel encouraged when their partners do so, according to findings from the Bedsider survey. At the same time, most men are willing to bring up birth control if they need to. For some men, this inclination to discuss birth control is the result of past pregnancy scares. For other guys, it is simply a matter of responsibility. No matter what the reason, it is time for men to educate themselves about female options for birth control and how both partners can protect themselves going forward.