Sharing the Responsibility for Birth Control: Don’t Be Selfish, Guys!

by | Oct 8, 2018 | Abuse, Sex, Uncategorized | 61 comments

Birth Control should be a shared responsibility--your health matters as much as his pleasure.
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Birth control should be a shared responsibility. I’m worried that too often women feel pressured to do something that hurts their health in order to preserve their husband’s comfort.

And that’s not right.

I’m down in New Brunswick (right on the Quebec border, on the north shore) right now for Canadian Thanksgiving and Keith’s family reunion! The colours here are GORGEOUS. (I’ve been posting on Instagram about some hikes we’ve been doing; come on over and follow me there! And I’ve done a lot of Instagram stories, too). The girls aren’t with me, but two of Keith’s brothers and their wives are, along with my parents-in-law. Great weekend!

Anyway, I was supposed to post an Ask Sheila video today, but I totally forgot to upload it before I left, so that’s not going to work. But last week, when I posted my birth control round up, I started noticing a theme in some of the comments that concerned me. And so I just want to address something important today.

First, let’s reiterate one basic principle about contraception:

Some contraception methods work by actually changing your body, which can have side effects. Others are simple “barrier” methods that don’t affect health at all.

Some women sail by with hormonal birth control and love it (I’ve received many of those comments; I’ll post some in my in-depth look at The Pill on Wednesday). But other women are really impacted by hormonal birth control. I know I was. My mood seriously suffered (I got so angry and depressed). I gained 5 pounds in one month (another family member gained 30 pounds in 4 months after being the exact same weight for years). I lost my libido. I got blood clots. I got blood blisters. And that was on several kinds of pills.

Many women echoed my story. The Pill changes you. It is hormonal, so it is messing with your natural hormone levels to make sure that you don’t ovulate. That is going to have some repercussions. And those repercussions aren’t only when you’re having sex; you’re changing your health and your body 100% of the time for the sake of the time that you do have sex.

The condom, on the other hand, doesn’t do a thing to your bodies. It simply acts as a barrier when you’re having sex. When you’re not having sex, your body is perfectly normal.

Condoms are very high tech right now; they are extremely comfortable.

I have a friend who had infertility issues her whole life, and so she never used birth control because they always figured, if they got pregnant, they’d be happy.

Well, her husband is currently in chemo, and so they have to wear condoms to protect her from radiation. They weren’t looking forward to this at all, remembering what condoms had been like many years ago. But to their surprise, they’re not like that at all now! They’re much thinner. You can barely feel them. And they make clean up so much easier.

I’m going to be blunt here: Often when men don’t like wearing condoms, or find that they impede sensation too much, it’s because they’re wearing too much condom. They’re not wearing the size that fits. Many guys like to buy the “Xtra Large” size, and many guys are simply not extra large. That’s why condoms can feel like you’re wearing a balloon. And that’s when condoms are most likely to fall off. Get a condom that fits, and it’s great!

Now, does that mean that it doesn’t impede sensation at all? No, likely not. But it’s not like it makes sex terrible. It means that instead of 100% pleasure, there may be 90% pleasure. It’s not like it’s 0%! And hey–you can get ribbed ones, too!

When I hear women saying, “my husband won’t wear a condom, so I have to go on the Pill even though it makes me miserable”, then, I get very concerned.

What he is saying is that he thinks going from 100% pleasure to 90% pleasure is so absolutely terrible and awful that he would rather his wife take hormones into her body that change her mood and make her miserable.

Considering that one of the biggest side effects of the Pill is loss of libido, too (and with that for women often comes loss of ability to enjoy sex as much), he’s saying, again, that he thinks it’s fair for him to ask her to sacrifice her pleasure and her well-being for the sake of his 10% loss of pleasure.

This is just so wrong. Her pleasure, and her health, matter!

(Interestingly, researchers know how to make a male version of The Pill. It inhibits sperm production. In many ways, it’s better than the female Pill, where there’s always a chance you might ovulate or that it may stop implantation rather than conception. The problem? It has all the same side effects of the female pill (moodiness, weight gain, loss of libido, etc.), and so men won’t take it and they can’t market it. Women are willing to do this to our bodies; men, as a whole, aren’t as willing.)

Now, if The Pill works for you, and you don’t like condoms, more power to you. That’s fine! But I had so many women comment saying that they would rather not use hormonal birth control, but their husbands refused to wear condoms, so they didn’t have a choice. That’s when I get really concerned.

Similarly, I heard from many women who underwent tubal ligations because their husbands refused to have vasectomies.

Again, let’s look at the dichotomy: a vasectomy is a very minor procedure, done in a doctor’s office. A tubal ligation is an actual surgery. A tubal ligation can affect hormones and can have long term health effects (not always, but it can); a vasectomy has nothing like that. Vasectomies are far more minor; have far fewer risks; and have far fewer long term side effects.

For a husband to say, “you should be the one to get the surgery” means he’s saying that you should undergo a far more major, riskier procedure because he doesn’t want to go through a minor one.

That is not right and that is not fair.

So can I just ask you something right now, that I think gets to the heart of the problem?

Do you think that you “owe” your husband amazing sex?

I think we believe this, and THIS is the root of our problems when it comes to birth control. We feel that our duty is to provide him with amazing sex, and so if he thinks a condom won’t let him have amazing sex, then we have to figure out a way around it so that he can still have amazing sex. What we experience doesn’t seem nearly as important, because we grow up in the church hearing that a wife’s primary responsibility is to keep her husband satisfied sexually. His sexual needs matter most.

Likewise, if he’s afraid to have a doctor go near his private parts, then we have to have surgery ourselves, because his private parts matter most.

Our husband’s sexuality and comfort is more important than our health: is that honestly what we believe?

I completely believe in awesome sex! I completely believe that we women should be aiming for awesome, frequent sex. I’ve told you time and again that sex is a really important part of marriage, and that his needs do matter, and it’s not okay to just refuse sex.

But at the same time, sex is not for him. Sex is about both of you, together. It’s a deep knowing. As I explained in detail in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, it’s not like sex is for him and we’re the afterthought, who get the crumbs. Sex isn’t primarily physical. It’s emotional, spiritual, and physical, all wrapped up into one. And it only works if it’s a true intimacy where it’s two people being joined, not just one serving another forever. 

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Feel like something’s missing?

If you are in a marriage dynamic that says that your health needs matter less than his pleasure, that is not right.

That is when you say, “Honey, I’m not going to put drugs into my body because they affect me too much, so you’ll have to wear a condom or we can’t have sex.”

I don’t normally advise refusing sex at all. But this issue isn’t about sex. This is about marriage.

This is serious stuff. And if he thinks it’s okay to change the hormonal balance in your body against your wishes, even if you have negative side effects, because he doesn’t like condoms, that is just not okay. You do not have to sacrifice your health (and your libido and pleasure) just so that he enjoys sex marginally more. You do not have to feed his selfishness.

Again, I am not referring to relationships where you would rather use hormonal birth control, or where there’s a medical or other reason why you should be the one who should be sterilized instead of him. But when his comfort is the ONLY consideration when you’re deciding on birth control methods–that’s wrong.

(And if you’re having this issue in your marriage, maybe you should go back and read last month’s series on what submission really means!)

And today, I just wanted to say that.

Birth control should be a shared responsibility: His pleasure doesn't trump your health. Condoms vs. The Pill #contraception #birthcontrol

What do you think? How can we make birth control a shared responsibility? What are we doing wrong in the way we talk about it? Let’s talk in the comments!

SheilaSidebarAboutMe - The Gross Stuff I Deal with as a Female Marriage and Sex Blogger Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 27 years and happily married for 22! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature “Girl Talk” about sex and marriage. And she’s written 8 books. About sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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61 Comments

  1. Becky

    It seems to me that it’s a larger cultural issue as a whole. The perception is that it’s a woman’s responsibility to avoid getting pregnant, whereas men should be able to have sex with no responsibility whenever they feel like it. And when an unplanned pregnancy does occur, it’s the woman who has to deal with the consequences, physically, spiritually, and societal. It would be ideal if our culture started telling men that they also need to take responsibility for this, and that our bodies matter too. But it’s such a hot button issue right now with the MeToo movement that it’s more likely that many men will just dig in further to their stances on this.
    (Thankfully, I am one of the women with a husband who is willing to share the responsibility, and has been on board with me going non-hormonal from the beginning. All of those stories of less understanding husbands forcing their wives to wreck their health in the comments made me so sad.)

    Reply
    • Cambria

      I’m curious how the societal view of men’s responsibilities for unplanned pregnancy is connected to the MeToo movement?

      Reply
  2. Kristin C

    I just have to throw this out there: when I was engaged our game plan was condoms+fertility tracking. I will forever be grateful to my doc that recommended a diaphragm to me instead. Since getting married we’ve tried both and the diaphragm is WAY better for both of us. There isn’t any difference for him, no need to pause in the middle of the fun to “suit up” and no crazy hormones for me (not advised or wanted due to medical reasons). Plus, it worked out a lot cheaper as a birth control method as well. I would 100% recommend it over a condom or the pill any day!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      The only problem with a diaphragm is that the condom has a 99% effectiveness rate, whereas the diaphragm has an 88-96%, depending on which studies you’re looking at. If you’re willing to take that risk, power to you! 🙂 But there is some misconception that the diaphragm is a replacement for a condom and no, it’s not–it’s a slightly less effective alternative. But the condom does work better, scientifically speaking! I’m glad it’s working for you–I just have heard people saying “It’s as effective as…” and no, frankly, it’s not. That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice by any means, but we need to be honest about the effectiveness so people can make an informed decision. 🙂

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know J from Hot, Holy & Humorous swears by her diaphragm, too! It does have a slightly lower effectiveness rate than condoms, but if you’re willing to live with that, I have heard that people who use one really do like it.

      Reply
  3. Erika

    Spot on! It definitely becomes a heart issue if your spouse won’t share his responsibility.
    Once hormonal birth control started to cause my hair to fall out I decided I was done with it. And once my husband and I decided TOGETHER that we were done having children it was either condoms or a vasectomy. And my husband himself said he would take a week of discomfort over having to wear a condom for the 40 years.
    I guess my question would be what’s so “scary” about a vasectomy to men? My husband took a Xanax, had the office procedure done and then got to play Xbox for a weekend while sitting on an ice pack. Where as I had three c sections and had to take care of a baby afterwards. 😆

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      🙂 Love it!

      Reply
    • AJ

      For the record, vasectomies aren’t always quick and easy. I had nagging pain in one of my centered in one of my testicles that radiated out down my thigh for almost a year. This made sex painful. It was so bad I limped when I walked. It resolved after about of year but I’ve known men who have pain for years after a vasectomy. Also, I had significant changes in the consistency of my ejaculate and less ejaculation control than before the vasectomy. Overall, it took about 2-years for all the issues from my vasectomy to normalize and resolve. Point being, vasectomies aren’t always as quick and easy as they are portrayed. Complications are more common than medical studies indicate.

      Reply
  4. Katy

    I am one of those commentors from the first article. I personally am not comfortable with only using barrier methods as contraception. Currently I am questioning the quality of the hormonal method I’ve been using for a year. As a result, I have been insisting on condoms. I am switching to an implant so that will be resolved soon. Unfortunately our 1st anniversary trip is before then, so my husband is reluctantly sacrificing and using condoms until things get resolved. To him, they are very uncomfortable. He would rather avoid the whole thing.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Katy, I’m sorry your husband isn’t really open to helping. That’s so difficult. I’m just wondering about what you’re not comfortable with about barrier methods? You mean that you’re worried they’re not effective?

      Reply
      • Katy

        That’s correct. Being a paranoid over thinker, I feel most comfortable bwith hormonal bc. Thankfully my issues will be resolved in a few weeks. He is willing to help short term, but both of us are not comfortable using barrier methods long term at this season in our lives. For him it’s a comfort issue, for me it’s an effectiveness issue.

        Reply
  5. Katy

    I should also add, my husband didn’t know until a few weeks ago that hormonal contraception for men didn’t exist. Lol. When I was complaining about my situation, he thought I was trying to get him to go on something. He already has medical issues,so henisnt always the most empathetic to me whining about birth control. Birth control for men is more difficult bc you have to kill millions of sperm each day, instead not preventing one egg each month.

    Reply
  6. Phil

    My Wife used the pill for years until yes she decided it was effecting her health and so while I didn’t refuse the condom I preferred withdrawal. AH DUH? Guess what? – that stat that was thrown out last week? Yep #3 came along, as well as that method doesn’t work that well because you have to have some really really really really good self discipline and well it turns out that antibiotics effect the cycle as well as thyroid and so now we have a Cole. Plus It was probably my fault anyway. We had agreed that if my wife had any surgical procedures during the last 2 of our pregnancies she would get the tubes tied but that never happened. We had been talking about me doing the big V and we were waiting for the right financial moment. LOL! Duh again! Do it now is all I can tell you. Take a loan do whatever it takes. It totally gives you piece of mind. AND SAVES YOU MILLIONS. It is a minor procedure and as long as you follow the doctors orders of proper support, DON’T DO ANYTHING for 3 days and DON’T LIFT ANYTHING for 2 weeks. You will be fine. Now – I paid a bit of a price cuz my Doc screwed up the procedure a bit. He did not hit the right side tube with lidocaine and well I about jumped off the table. So I can still feel the pain from my procedure but I would go back and do it again even with the screw up. It was so worth it. Also, now I don’t know if the Doc just got distracted or if the conversation ticked him off. We were talking about music while the thing was happening and I told him I didn’t like his favorite singer…I also told him my girlfriend was waiting for me in the waiting room (because I thought it was funny) but truly Grace was sitting out there waiting for me. lol. Maybe I got what was coming to me haha. I can tell you that also the follow up of checking to make sure you are sterile is not exactly sexy but it is EXTREMELY FUNNY. So go on Guys get er done. Best $750 I ever spent! Also on the condom – now call me weird ok…but hear me out. because I did the big V we don’t have to worry about the condom. But you know what? If you change your thinking – the condom gives you a different feel. Not a lesser feel and not a bad feel or even less stimulation. Be creative. Plus your a guy and from what I know it don’t take that much at some certain point for us anyway. Change your thinking.

    Reply
    • Phil

      I will also add – that in the US – state specific law for Vasectomy may require you to have your wife’s signature. In Pennsylvania where I had it done you are required to have your wife’s signature for the procedure if you are married. So they force the fact that birth control is for both of you on all sides of the fence on this topic in PA which I agree with.

      Reply
  7. jls

    I was on the Pill the first year of marriage and it killed my drive and all my emotions. My husband hated it. 🙂 So we switched to me tracking my cycle and using condoms when necessary, knowing that we didn’t want to mess with my hormones any more. When it came time that we were done having biological children, we looked at tubal ligation, hysterectomy or vasectomy. It was a pretty obvious choice for us. I gave birth, he could get snipped. 🙂 Knowing that it messes with your hormones and is considered major surgery nixed the permanent female birth control for us. And sex was & is so much nicer not worrying about birth control! All this to say, our reasoning basically lined up with what you said in your post.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Haha! I love that–“I gave birth, he could get snipped 🙂 ” Too funny.

      Reply
      • lydia purple

        This is exactly how we think too. My husband is taking his part with condoms for this season, he agrees about not messing with hormones and doesn’t mind the little discomfort (and I asked him… he is not suffering because of the condoms)
        If you think about it, it‘s not just that the wife gave birth, she also went through all the discomfort of pregnancy, possibly nursing and menstruation. So yeah, guys, give us a break and do your part when it comes to birth control. At least be willing to try your options and don‘t put it all on your wife.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great! And I totally went through all of that with The Pill, too.

      Reply
  8. Kayla R.

    I researched the Pill before marriage and decided I didn’t want to / couldn’t live with the potential side effects. I’m so thankful that hubby is ok with condoms, even if he would prefer to not use them. I also chart my cycle so we only have to use them during part of the month.

    Reply
  9. Heather

    I totally agree!! We agreed to start tracking my fertility and using condoms instead of using the ring that I was on (also hormonal) and we waited until just before we reached a year of marriage because we knew there was a risk of getting pregnant since I was still learning. My husband was on board with it because he saw how miserable I was. I begged him to make this switch with me. I was moody, I got depressed, I gained 20 lbs without changing anything in my diet or movement levels, but most upsetting to me was that I recognized I was having all the symptoms of being pregnant without the actual joy of being pregnant. Luckily I waited for my husband to be ready because I misread some signs and 2 months later we were pregnant 😉 but it was still the best choice I’ve ever made.
    Shelia will you be talking about spermicidal gels, etc. at all?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wasn’t going to do spermicidal gels. I was going to talk indepth about The Pill (and other hormonal methods) and then some of the natural family planning approaches. But maybe I’ll write more because I keep getting more questions! (I’m sorry about that 20 pound weight gain, though. I totally get it).

      Reply
  10. Natalie

    Thank you for saying this, Sheila! “I don’t normally advise refusing sex at all. But this issue isn’t about sex. This is about marriage.” If my husband was ever this selfish, refusing sex until he stopped assuming birth control was only my responsibility would be my immediate reply (me being the very type A, dominant, lay-down-the-law, strong-willed, first-born spouse in our marriage lol). And I’m sure later I’d feel guilty and like I was doing an ungodly thing or being a bad wife for refusing him. But you’re absolutely right, it’s a marriage thing not a sex thing.
    If the husband is expecting his wife to be solely responsible for them not getting pregnant, not only is that INCREDIBLY childish, immature and selfish, but it’s basically the polar opposite of the husband treating his wife as Christ loves the church (which he is COMMANDED by God to do as a married man). Are his actions being loving and caring? How about sacrificial? Nope! They’re being selfish and self-serving. There’s no room for that in a Christian marriage. Christ literally died for his bride/church. It’s really not that much of a sacrifice for a man to wear a rubber. I mean, c’mon! Grow up! Especially when it’s so much more of a sacrifice for a woman to deal with birth control in any of the female forms.
    My husband has a lot of issues and many places he needs to improve in his spiritual, physical and sexual life (and of course I’m not perfect either), but I’m extraordinarily thankful that he’s at least thoughtful, patient, and caring of me and my body. That’s called being a gentleman, which is something all husbands should be (if to no one else than at least to their wives of all people!).

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen, Natalie!

      Reply
  11. Natalie

    Also, I got a good laugh about the XL condoms. Hahaha. My husband’s always bought those (gold Trojan wrappers/magnums… haha, talk about an ego-boosting name – “Magnum” hahaha. Good marketing). He is rather girthy, but I really do wonder if he actually does need that size. How does one even go about measuring themselves for condom sizes? Probably something I should Google (or maybe not… who knows what vulgar things could pop up lol).

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Honestly, I think that when it comes to “measuring” you don’t actually pull out the tape measure or anything–I think the best way is to try the normal/smaller ones and if they’re too small or uncomfortable, you move up until it’s snug but not constrictive (i.e., no purple willy). But I think a lot of guys go for the magnums and think “Yeah, doesn’t fall off when I shake it, we good” but no, not quite…
      If a condom is too small, it’s obvious. Not so obvious when it’s too big. So better to ask “is this too small” than “is this too big.”

      Reply
      • Phil

        Ladies – Its really not that hard LOL. Sorry for the bad pun lol. It really isn’t. I think they put XL on them for marketing purposes anyway. Seriously. It is not that difficult to size a condom. Let’s see – how do I put this…. Me and my brother and my Cousin and I were out on Lake Ontario fishing years ago and we were talking about our large families that we have. My Cousin said: Well – Our family doesn’t exactly have the largest set of family jewels in our gene pool but we certainly know how to use it. This is a funny conversation. Suffice it to say even the XL are small. That being said They have a lot of stretch in them – I don’t see this as much of an issue. I can recall one time we had some that were too small and we threw them out and started over. NO I DID NOT RETURN THEM. LOL

        Reply
    • Mb

      There are measurements in millimeters on the boxes of condoms! We measured by trying one brand and finding it too tight, I looked at all the boxes to find the next size up. They go up by 2-4 mm per box so there are a LOT of different sizes to try. But that was the fastest way to get the right fit for us.

      Reply
    • Molly

      Regular condoms are too small for my husband. I would say it’s trial and error. Regular condoms left a ring the base. Magnums for just fine.
      I haven’t been on the pill since high school and my husband won’t let me. I was a mess. High blood pressure. Excessive weight gain. And i think it caused my pcos. So condoms it is.

      Reply
  12. Krystal

    3 kids in and we decided on a vasectomy. My husband had no issues with it. I had used my body to carry and birth our children for our family. He was okay with altering his for our family (in a half hour doctor appointment and a few days of soreness).
    You know what the largest kickback was when we did share the vasectomy decision/procedure?? Numerous people saying “it’s the woman’s responsibility to take care of it” and “YOU TOOK AWAY WHAT MAKES YOU A MAN”. To believe a man is only a man because he has sperm is disheartening.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Yeah, that would be really insulting and disheartening to my brother who can’t have children because he has no live sperm. We are praying for a surprise baby.

      Reply
  13. Amanda Rychtarik

    My husband was adamant about not having anymore children after our 2nd baby. After she was born, I went on the pill for “convenience”, but I was miserable. Every time I would bring up not taking the pill, my husband would balk at taking any responsibility. Flash forward 5 years & my pastor’s wife got very aggressive stage 4 breast cancer. Her oncologist told her it was because she was still on birth control at the age of 50. My husband got a good dose of reality that day as we’re very close to our church family. I told my husband then & there I was going off the pill. He could go pay $30 office copay to get his vasectomy in our doctor’s office, or buy a bunch of condoms. (I’m allergic to latex by the way.) After the second time using condoms, he said he wasn’t doing this forever & HE called to set up his vasectomy appointment. Everything went smoothly & we’ve not regretted that decision.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I really do think that a lot of guys are just completely unaware of what they’re asking their wives to do. Like your husband–when he realized the risks, he did a 180.

      Reply
      • Amanda Rychtarik

        Exactly!!

        Reply
  14. Cambria

    I have to say, in the very beginning of our marriage I took the approach that it was my responsibility. As time went on we had more open discussions and I realized he was willing to share it. Ultimately I got a tubal during my 3rd csection, but we discussed a v and he was freaked out but willing.
    It is societal. It is belittling to women. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sounds like your husband is a great guy!

      Reply
  15. Matt

    Like many of the folks here, my wife & I had a discussion about how to handle birth control after we had the family we both wanted, and a vasectomy was the obvious choice.
    We actually stayed on the pill few years after our youngest son was born just to make sure. When we were sure in 2016, I made the appointment, got the consult, and even drove myself to & from the appointment.
    It all went as advertised; fairly quick procedure, minimal discomfort, a weekend of sitting around more/less being waited on.
    Initially…after the healing…things got “back to normal.” But within 6-8 months after the procedure, I just didn’t have the desire for sex anymore. Poof. Gone. Put it on a milk carton.
    I’d love to tell you it was a just a momentary speed bump in our marriage, but the truth is since 2017 we’ve only been physically intimate less than 5 times (as I’ve been reminded many times).
    I’ve had multiple testosterone checks and all have come back well within normal ranges. I’ve actually lost weight since the vasectomy and managed to get myself off of a medication I’d been on for more than 15 years. Porn isn’t in my repertoire; I never really understood the appeal even before I got serious with God. We’re good about staying in our family budget. All of the go-to explanations don’t seem to apply.
    As you can imagine, there have been very emotional and awkward conversations/attempts. I’ve “played my part” where I could, but we both know it’s just me going thru the motions or sometimes just “playing a supporting role” as a means to an end. I’m fine with it if it avoids an argument. It all just ended up feeling/being awkward and a one-sided event.
    In spite of all of that, I don’t regret having the vasectomy in the least; my wife and I are both 44 and have the family we wanted. Staying on the pill long-term wasn’t a viable option for her or us, and as others have noted…there was a health risk involved.
    Knowing what I know now, I might’ve waited a while longer…but it’s something that all men should consider when they reach a certain juncture in their marriage; they just need to u derstand that there may be a much-dismissed but all-to-real side effect to it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      First, Matt, I’m so sorry–truly sorry. And second, that’s really interesting (and scary). I’ve never heard of a side effect like that to vasectomy, but I’m going to look it up now, too. I do get a little worried about the “permanent” solutions, but I also understand not wanting to use condoms forever, either.

      Reply
      • Matt

        Thanks..,I’ve done the same, and conventional wisdom/western medicine would say that it’s all in my head if the other culprits don’t apply. That was certainly the opinion of the Drs I’ve spoken to about this.
        If that’s true, it’s true on a way, way, way subconscious level. It’s worth noting that I agreed to the vasectomy because it was the best thing for us at this stage of our marriage, not out of pressure or a guilt trip.
        A few of the guys from my men’s group know about this and have shared their suggestions. While I appreciate their concern, I’ve told them all that it’s like having a fully functioning kitchen, but you’re just never hungry.

        Reply
        • Kristina G

          Matt, just to clarify, do you experience no desire ever, or do you experience some once you and your wife get going with foreplay?

          Reply
          • Matt

            Hi Kristina! Best answer would probably be “virtually none.”
            Before the vasectomy, I was the “once a month & I’m good” guy. If it went longer than that, I wouldn’t complain. I’ve never been much of the initiator anyway…my drive has always been lower.
            Since the vasectomy, though, it’s been virtually non-existent; if I’m being 100% transparent…it just never comes to mind any more, and that translates to the physical part; in the moments we’ve had, there’s not much of any physical response from me to speak of (ashamedly).

  16. Greg

    I haven’t read the full breadth of comments here, but this—like last week’s—has inspired a robust conversation.
    In our case, my bride and I have settled on condoms. She was on birth control pills prior to our having children. In hindsight, I regret that: it was only after she flushed them from her system as we prepped to have kids that we realized how awfully they treated her emotionally; that is, we discovered she was far less hostile and easily aggravated once off the hormones.
    We considered vasectomy—I even went in for an initial consultation—and it was actually my bride who asked that I don’t go through with it, just in case we did want to try from one more child.
    As Sheila notes, condom technology has advanced greatly. I’ve actually discovered a brand that is thin, comfortable, pleasure dotted (do women actually feel this, anyway?), natural product based, vegan-certified and PETA-approved. Who knew?
    There is a pause to have to—as I think poster Natalie wrote—”suit up” (great phrase), but I welcome it as a moment to drink in my bride with my eyes. I do miss the skin-to-skin contact at times, but there’ll be plenty of time for that.

    Reply
  17. Flo

    Just a small note: even though I am post-menopause, we use condom, because it makes it much less likely that I get UTI. A thing to consider for women who easily get UTI.

    Reply
    • Greg

      Thank you for this info, Flo. I was looking forward to abandoning condoms once my bride goes through menopause, but this is something I’ll keep in mind. Thanks for the insight.

      Reply
  18. Lynn

    Be aware that a vasectomy does not mean a man stops making sperm! They just don’t get where they need to go to make a baby, lol. A man’s body is not accustomed to absorbing unused sperm–wet dreams get them out of the body if a man is not otherwise ejaculating. Cutting the vas deferens means the sperm are released into the body, and for about two-thirds of men this will result in an autoimmune response to cells the body knows aren’t supposed to be there. We really don’t know what effect it can have on a man, that his body is chronically exposed to something his immune system is now tuned to fight, but for men who are genetically predisposed to autoimmune disorders, it’s certainly something to consider before assuming it will be a simple procedure with no after-effects.

    Reply
    • Cara

      Lynn, my father-in-law experienced this very thing! His vasectomy triggered an auto-immune disorder that has ravaged his body. My husband was terrified to get a vasectomy, so I’ve never pushed him for one. He did finally decide on his own to have it done about a year ago and so far so good. It was a tough decision for him. It’s important to really research side effects.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’ve never heard of this at all. That is scary! I’ll look it up.

        Reply
  19. Courtney Kearby

    My husband using condoms adds intimacy. I have hyperemesis (constant vomiting, and weight loss, and I require medicine and iv fluids occasionally) pregnancies that make me a glorified couch potato for 9 months and hormonal birth control makes me sick. Keeping me from getting pregnant provides security. It takes me 3 years at least to recover from a pregnancy and we have 2 kids,4 and 1, and are undecided on a third. By keeping our family small we can better provide them our attention and opportunities. Our oldest is autistic so that also affects how we parent and what we can do.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great way of looking at it, Courtney!

      Reply
  20. Tom M

    It’s been 27 years since we decided to go the vasectomy route. I can’t remember all the details of why but I do know that it made perfect sense, and still does. Don’t be afraid!

    Reply
  21. Cat

    Wow all I know is I wish I would have realised 40 years ago what my bc pills were doing to me. O did not realise that it could kill my libido but knowing all this now I am sure it did. Guess I just thought it was not that important but I ended up in a sexless marriage because of it.I am certain some other factors contributed to it but it’s one of the reasons I follow these blogs. We were able to put our sex life back on track after years of none. So thank you for the blog all of this info is invaluable. I wish that all this technology was around years ago.

    Reply
  22. Sarah

    I know that I am late to the party, but I find the “cultural” reasoning a little strange. See, I am in the South and back in the early 2000s one of my salt-of-the-earth, male, public school teachers (he was part of the future farmers of America group) told the whole class while we were studying spaying and neutering in dogs that “if you love your wife you will not put her through a tubal. Unless there’s some medical reason otherwise you guys should be the ones to get your tubes tied. If you make her go through that just because you don’t want to use birth control, you’re not only a bad husband, but you’re not even a MAN.”
    He apparently felt very strongly about it as he glared down at the awkwardly giggling 9th and 10th graders. No one has said it as forcefully to me since, but most of the people I know who have ever talked about it hold that view here.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great teacher, there! And I’ve never been in a subculture where the men would ask that of the women, either.

      Reply
  23. Jenn

    No one has mentioned this, but here is my concern: what if my husband has a vasectomy, but then outlives me and remarries? Maybe he would want to have children. I feel would feel selfish expecting him to do that. If I no longer want to go through a pregnancy, it makes more sense to me to have the surgery. Is it really terrible to have your tubes tied?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Jenn, That’s a really important consideration, and one that we talked about, too. I wanted to know that if Keith remarried, he could have kids and really bond with the woman, because my own kids would need to feel like they were in a close family again.
      I think you do get to an age when that is unlikely to happen, and with my husband, he just wanted to adopt in that situation. But I do get that concern.

      Reply
      • Jennifer

        Thank you for your thoughtful response, Sheila.

        Reply
  24. Rachel

    Reading this post made me so angry that some husbands think that birth control (of any kind) is just the wife’s responsibility. Are you in this marriage or what?! This reminds me of the attitude of guys who sleep around and don’t think twice of the possibility that their sexual partners are at the risk of pregnancy. In marriage the mentality should be different!
    I was on the pill for around 6 months (started a couple months before we got married) and I didn’t have a good experience. My husband always complained about discomfort of condoms, so I loosely tracked my cycle and withdrew when we thought there would be a higher risk.
    We’ve had one “surprise” baby 😉 and he doesn’t want more, but I do; but I’m thankful because the ONLY option he has ever mentioned is a vascectomy, when we decide the time is right.
    My view is that the woman goes through menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, recovery………….. the husband should absolutely take this one thing on his shoulders!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Rachel, I know. I was so mad when I started reading all the comments, too. I don’t know why some men think that this should all be on the wife, but that’s why we need to speak up more, even in our churches, and talk about this more! It is important.

      Reply
  25. Heidi

    It’s also lame that in the United States tubal ligation is basically free under Obamacare, but a vasectomy is covered by our insurance, but still have to pay copays, deductibles, etc.

    Reply
  26. Megan

    I’m really struggling with this right now. My husband and have been married for 10 years and just had our third son. We both have agreed we are done having children. I’m 35, he’s 46, so yeah, we’re DONE. I can’t tolerate hormonal birth control and my husband is refusing to get a vasectomy.
    For 10 years I have carried all the burden of fertility. I charted for 10 YEARS using NFP, dealt with morning sickness, dietary restrictions, a painful 2nd trimester miscarriage, 3 deliveries with no epidural, swelling, weight gain, stretch marks, invasive exams, stitches in my lady parts, and breastfeeding. Haven’t I sacrificed enough?
    I’m so hurt over his refusal to do a simple outpatient procedure that I am sleeping in a separate bedroom. I’ve never believed in withholding sex, but I just can’t get there right now. His unwillingness to do this for our family has made me feel worthless and unloved. I keep thinking that a husband who loves his wife (and watched her suffer as much as I have to have our children) would get the vasectomy in a heartbeat. We’ve always had a great friendship and marriage, but his refusal has made me question the very foundation of our relationship. The title of your article nailed it. He is being incredibly selfish.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Megan, I am so sorry that is so difficult.
      I have two thoughts on this. First of all, refusing to get a vasectomy is not a bad thing if you are willing to help with contraceptive by using a condom or something. It is an outpatient procedure, but it is invasive and quite scary to be honest, for many guys.
      However, if he’s refusing to have protected sex at all, that’s another problem.
      Honestly, if that’s the case, I would just draw boundaries. Buy a box of condoms, put them by the bed, and if he wants sex, make him wrap it up. You’re not refusing sex, you’re refusing to put yourself in the position of getting pregnant again. If he doesn’t want to have sex with condoms, that is his choice because he can get a vasectomy. You’re not saying you won’t have sex, you’re saying you won’t have selfish sex.
      You do not have to put yourself in a position you are not comfortable with. And this is a solution that isn’t manipulative, isn’t unfair, and allows him to still have a choice.
      I hope this helps. And I hope that he starts to see how his refusal to help in this area is affecting you.

      Reply
      • Megan

        He is resistant to condoms, but I think you’re right. That’s the only solution that doesn’t put all the responsibility on me. A friend of mine suggested an IUD, but I’m hesitant because it puts me in the position of having YET ANOTHER painful and embarrassing procedure (to save him from the very same). It’s his turn to be the grown up.
        He has backed me into a corner, and I feel I don’t have any choice but to insist on condoms. Maybe a few month of that will change his mind. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my comment. I found your article very encouraging. <3

        Reply

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