I’m curious to know how long into a relationship do people wait to switch away from a barrier method to hormonal (the pill etc.).
Is it as soon as you know your partner doesn’t have an STI? Do you wait until you feel you can fully trust them to be monogamous or that they will use barrier protection with other partners? Or is more frustration with condoms?
And do you have that kind of conversation with your partner?
Ooooh, this is an interesting one. For me, it’s always been when we’ve had ‘the talk’ about whether we’re in an official relationship or not. Then I ask for both of us to get tested and go from there. No real time frame – just however that individual relationship is going I guess.
As a guy who has sex with guys, its not so much a switch to contraception as a decision of whether to keep using condoms in a relationship. In terms of HIV prevention, I learnt about a method of discussing it called the 4 T’s:
1. Test – an initial test to confirm you’re both HIV negative (and free of any other STIs too, of course)
2. Talk – talk to your partner about not wanting to use condoms, your ideas about monogamy and what you expect from your relationship, and make sure you’re both on the same page.
3. Test Again – after the three month window period for HIV to make absolutely sure you are both HIV negative
4. Trust – trust your partner and the agreement you’ve made, and that if they break your agreement they can tell you and you can go back to using condoms if necessary.
I feel like the HIV prevention is pressed upon gay guys and men who have sex with men more than the general population, but I feel like the 4 T’s are a pretty good outline for anyone who wants to be committed with a monogamous partner and have sex without using condoms. But there’s also PrEP for preventing HIV, which a lot of people referred to as “the pill for HIV”, so if people are taking that then I guess it’s just a matter of eliminating other STIs before choosing to not use condoms.
@MintMilano I love that – I’ve never heard of the 4 T’s before, but it seems like it’d work for everyone really. Thanks for sharing!
Interesting question indeed, @peachy. For me it’s been when I’ve known neither of us have STI’s and I’ve found a hormonal contraceptive I want to try.
I would be comfortable after waiting a few months and getting tested, just to err on the side of caution.
I didn’t really have much of a conversation with my partner as we were both one another’s firsts, but we did have a conversation about what we would do in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. We were initially using both condoms and the pill and wanted to make the switch to just the pill. It was nice to check in and know that we were on the same page before accepting a risk of slightly less protection (I’m a pretty good pill user, but far from perfect!)
Great discussion topic! I went on the pill way before I was sexually active to regulate my menstruation so the question for me isn’t when to switch methods but when to stop using condoms. Thinking back, the ‘let’s stop using condoms’ usually comes quite naturally after the ‘let’s see each other exclusively’ conversation. And then I will bring up testing before we ditch the condoms. Bear in mind I’d usually insist on two tests, the first one soon after we agree to test and then another about three months later before we actually stop using condoms. Does that make me too cautious…? Thoughts? Maybe… It’s not always an easy conversation, but I’ve always found it to reinforce open communication 🙂
@peachy my partner thought I was being a bit cautious, but I don’t think they could fault the reasons for me asking, especially given the context was us becoming exclusive and more intimate. It was definitely a bit awkward… but we also had the same discussion as @Aunt_Flo and surprisingly that was easier to talk about.
I think we often ignore or forget to talk about the less comfortable topics of sexual health with our partners. And just because it goes well with one partner doesn’t mean it will with another partner either…