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He thinks condom + BCP is overkill


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My boyfriend of six months and I are edging towards sex. So far he's been patient and accommodating. He got tested for STDs at my insistence (and I'll be doing it too). I expressed my dissatisfaction with the typical condom efficiency of 90% and told him I'd be on the Pill (or an alternative) for sure.


Here's where we started talking past each other. I said: "It's an order of magnitude more effective with the Pill" meaning, .10 chance with condoms x .05 chance with Pill = 1/1000 chance of pregnancy together versus a bit more than 1/100 with either method alone. He heard: "I'd rather be on the Pill than have you use condoms." (This is why you should never talk all science-y to non-science people.) We were both happy.


This whole misunderstanding only came out over the phone yesterday (he's been asking friends about their birth control methods to aid in my research and said how his friend switched from condoms to the Pill after they got married and have been good on it for over half a decade). When he realized I'd been talking about condoms and the Pill TOGETHER all this time, he got all sulky. So, to break the conversation down:


He says I'm being paranoid and insistence on two methods is virginal hysteria and in committed relationships people only use one and his first girlfriend was on Depo Provera and it's so much better without condoms (a reversal from his earlier assertion of "I've always used a condom"...now I half want to wait for the HPV vaccine to come out) and we could've been using condoms all this time if I wanted him to use them anyways and finally ended with acquiescing to two methods at first, figuring that once I realized what it was all about and calmed down, I'd probably let him take the condom off (basing this on asking me if I'd never let it come off, knowing I never say "never").


It's infuriating because a lot of what he says is true. I am ridiculously overcautious. But he is a man, and I don't think he can fully understand the repercussions of me being pregnant (it's a discussion we haven't had yet). If I did, I would probably drop out of school, meaning my U.S. visa would be void and I'd leave to my support network in my home country and he couldn't follow. I know that even two methods of birth control together can fail, but using just one is folly if you're unprepared to deal with the possibility. I work with vanishingly small odds all the time at work; one of our mantras is "All you need is one" (of course, in that case we say it to make ourselves feel better, not worse). Add to this vague holdover feelings from childhood teachings of Why Not Wait Till Marriage and Good Catholics Don't and not being sure if I love him or not.... It would be far less trouble to not do it at all. But I'm not delusional about secular adult relationships.


Anyways, we definitely need a long face-to-face talk when he gets back in town. But until then, I know we're both right. The question is, who is MORE right? Am I hysterical, or does he need to get a clue?

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hmmm... I am in a similar situation as you. No method of birth control is 100%. I think for the pill, the failure rate is about 3%. I know several women who have gotten pregnant while on the pill, and they swore up and down they always took the pills when they were supposed to. 1 out of 30 ... that's not something to play with.


And yes, condoms break, tear, slip off, etc.


If you feel better having them both, I think you should do so. If you feel you won't be able to enjoy sex while on the pill (no condom) because you're going to be freaking out, then use both! You're not going to enjoy sex if you're freaking out about getting pregnant.


Some people take the 1-3% chance that they may get pregnant and deal with it. But, if you don't want to deal with it at all, tell your boyfriend how you feel about the pregnancy. He may understand better where you are coming from.

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I'll have to remember that he has serial anecdotes and ten extra years of life experience on his side and I have aggregate data and seven years of study on mine.


I know more biology. I know more biology. I know more biology. lol


I hope he's mostly acting up because it took so long for this misunderstanding to come to light, because otherwise he's getting a bit childish/selfish with this whole sensations over protection bit.


Thanks for your input.

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Well for one, I think you two SHOULD talk about the "what if" if you got pregnant. Explain exactly why it is a big deal, and what the repercussions are. This is something you should discuss anyway, since often it turns out both have different ideas of what you will do in a pregnancy.


He may be looking at it terms of the chances being "small" but they are only small until it IS you. With condoms and the pill, like you said, the chances of pregnancy are very minimal, but with the pill, the "realistic" failure rate (meaning factoring in issues like illness, individual bodies, timing, and so forth) is 5%. So while perfect lab studies have it at 99%+ effective, in REAL life it's 95%. And believe me when I can say I know many people whom have fallen in this 5%!


The fact he is comparing you two to his married friends is also totally different. Having an "oops we are pregnant!" during marriage is very different then having it when you are dating, and been together 6 months or whatever. Very different scenarios. Most of the time when people rely on pill or one method alone, it is because they are PREPARED if there is a failure.


I think you need to protect yourself. If this is a concern for you and you DON'T feel safe using the pill alone, then use condoms. How are you going to enjoy sex if you are also worried and stressing out every month? May be pleasure for him, but not for you! Shop around for ones that are more sensory if you have too. If he can't handle it, well, hon, then I would not give in to that. It just shows how he will consider other such concerns of yours in the future.

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i work as a community health worker and a medical assistant with colposcopy (where women go for abnormal paps).

They can't test men for HPV, only women, so he can have that and not know. Don't let him pressure you into not using condoms. Also women DO get pregnant with birth control or condoms, both together is a wise choice if you don't want to get pregnant. Also, do you trust him 100% to NEVER cheat on you, EVER, because once you don't use condoms it can be very hard to start using them without it just seeming like something in your relationship has changed and you've stopped trusting him. Plus, things like herpes and genital warts, they don't turn up sometimes for years, but they can turn up all of a sudden, and at a very inopportune time... Not to scare you, but it's true, it freaks me out.

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Don't worry Venus, you can't scare me more than I scare myself I was lecturing him on HPV (which he'd never heard of - !) a while back and he didn't believe there was no FDA-approved HPV test for men even AFTER I explained how they test for it in women and gay men. (I'm a virologist!) With recent revelations, now I kind of want the vaccine first...Merck said in Oct it would be out in a year so that's only what, ten months?


And RayKay, I tried to explain to him that married people are different than us and he was having trouble understanding. Guess I'll try again when he gets home He lives in this dream world where both condoms and pills are 99% effective (not that 99% is all that great IMO) and when I say it's more like 86% and 95%...you know what? he just lives in a dream world, period. I don't know how he could misunderstand me without some serious wishful thinking.


Anyways, thanks to all you gals for convincing me I'm careful, not crazy. My foot's coming down on this one.

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I doubt it. The plan is to widely dose people before they become sexually active and get exposed to the virus, so this would be young teens. However, I doubt they'd REFUSE the vaccine to other demographics. So while they may only be distributing it publicly at school clinics, I'm definitely going to be asking a doctor for it. It's in society's best interest if I get vaccinated! Hey, I'll pay for it if I have to! I mean, if I walked into a city from the top of a secluded mountain and said, "Measles? What's that?" someone would probably stick me even if I wasn't 1 or 14, the times when the vaccine is customarily given.


The last clinical trials were for 16-23 year olds with 0-3 sexual partners. I'm a bit too old - and not in Korea - but it's not like it wouldn't be effective in someone my age. For the trial, though, they wanted the cleanest data - everyone roughly the same age with roughly the same number of partners, unlikely to be exposed to the virus.


and re: men can't be tested, I visited this gender issues website where a bunch of men were claiming men weren't involved in the clinical trials because of oppression and that modern society values women over men. Uh, no.... And then they freaked out about not being included in the efficacy trials after saying they didn't want the vaccine anyways, men can't get cervical cancer (penile cancer didn't seem to be a concern). It hurt my head. Did they ever wonder why HPV prevelance studies are done in gay men but not straight men? Hmm?

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