Psychological Effects of Contraceptive Use on Relationship Satisfaction


For most sexually involved couples, contraception is an integral part of their relationship. It impacts reproductive choices and family planning goals and takes into account health considerations involved with sexual activities. 

Contraception plays a key role in the partners’ overall relationship satisfaction and emotional well-being. Therefore, understanding its use and impact is important in improving romantic relationships. 

This article will discuss how contraception influences romantic relationships, explore its impact on relationship dynamics, and help in navigating contraceptive choices in relationships. 

Keep reading to learn how the psychological implications of contraceptive use can make your relationships healthier.

Understanding contraceptive use in relationships

There are plenty of contraceptive options to choose from, depending on your lifestyle, goals, and convenience.

Choosing the best type of birth control method has many benefits. It helps you avoid unwanted pregnancies, manage menstrual symptoms, and prevent any health-related concerns such as sexually transmitted infections.

Being responsible in your contraceptive use also indirectly benefits your relationship; with fewer worries about unwanted pregnancy or diseases, couples can have a better sexual connection. Plus, contraception choices make one feel responsible for your important life decisions. 

When choosing a type of contraception for yourself or your partner, you’ll come across a variety of different options, both hormonal and physical. Hormonal options raise women’s hormone levels, “fooling” their bodies into stopping the ovulation cycle and making pregnancy near-impossible. Some examples are:

  • Implants. These tiny rods under your skin release hormones to prevent pregnancy for a few years.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs). These are small devices inserted into the uterus that release hormones to prevent pregnancy for several years, although non-hormonal options are also available.
  • Contraceptive pills. Daily tablets that you take to keep hormones in check and prevent pregnancy.
  • Vaginal rings. These are flexible rings you place inside the vagina that release hormones to prevent pregnancy, usually changed monthly.

There are also physical options, which serve more like a barrier. These include: 

  • Condoms. Thin, stretchy covers you put on a penis or inside the vagina to block sperm and prevent pregnancy and STDs.
  • Diaphragm. A shallow, dome-shaped cup you insert into the vagina to cover the cervix and block sperm.
  • Cervical cap. Similar to a diaphragm but smaller, this cap fits snugly over the cervix to keep sperm out.
  • Non-hormonal IUDs. There are also non-hormonal IUDs, which use the natural properties of the material to immobilize sperm cells and prevent pregnancy. 

Of course, it’s essential to understand that whatever option you decide depends on your relationship goals and personal preferences, so this should be discussed with your partner in detail. 

Contraceptive decisions emphasize the importance of informed choices in relationships. When partners in healthy relationships feel comfortable communicating openly, they are more likely to engage in discussions about contraception and make informed decisions together. These decisions play an important role in shaping relationship dynamics and contributing to the overall well-being of the relationship. 

Although most of the contraceptive options are safe to use, they may have some side effects that you may want to look out for. 

Psychological effects of contraception

Most contraceptives are generally safe. However, this may sound a little alarming, but some of them can be linked to psychological disorders. These are primarily hormonal contraceptives as they can alter the hormonal balance in the body.

Keep reading to learn how these changes can impact emotional well-being, intimacy, and expectations and what that means for individuals and their relationships.

Impact on emotional well-being

There is no doubt that contraception can provide couples with a sense of security and reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies as well. However, in most cases, contraception can be a source of some mental disorders as well that can impact the relationship. 

Hormonal methods of contraception have been reported to have effects on mood. Although hormonal contraceptives have a high efficacy rate in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted illnesses, women have reported undesirable side effects such as mood swings, depression, and anxiety. 

This can occur because some contraceptives can interfere with the hormone balance in the body. In some cases, they can also be stressful because of the uncertainty about their efficacy and use. 

Intimacy and communication

While contraception is an effective measure to consider in a sexually active relationship, research has shown that using hormonal contraceptives can actually dampen sex drive for some people. As a result, this can influence intimacy levels, communication, and overall relationship satisfaction.

But of course, that doesn’t mean you stop engaging in sexual activities or, worse, stop taking contraceptives. Intimacy levels and communication can be affected at any point in a relationship, but the key is to build trust and understanding and discuss concerns and options openly. If hormonal contraceptives do not work for you, you can always discuss them with your partner and opt for barrier methods, such as condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps.

Open and honest communication regarding your wants and preferences will help you overcome barriers and make an informed decision together. 

Read more: Communication in Relationships and Their Impact on Mental Health 

Role of misconceptions

There’s no denying that when it comes to contraceptives, you’re going to come across many misconceptions that hinder your decision process. These misconceptions and any prior beliefs may lead to discontent and disappointment.

Therefore, it’s important to address your and your partner’s concerns. It’s better to have similar beliefs and realistic expectations when it comes to contraceptives for greater relationship satisfaction and overall harmony in your relationship. 

Read more: Managing Realistic Expectations in Relationships for Lasting Happiness 

Making sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to contraceptive choices may require consistent and open communication.

Navigating contraceptive choices in relationships

Talking about contraception is tricky as it requires a lot of adaptability and flexibility with your partner’s expectations and needs, lots of communication, and may also require professional guidance. The key aspect of discussing contraceptives is having open communication with your partner. 

Open communication

Communicating openly with your partner is the number one rule in navigating this challenge. Start discussing contraception options and potential impacts before making any decisions, and have regular discussions about how you’re feeling, both physically and emotionally. 

Good communication can help you articulate your needs and expectations and enable both partners to assess their fertility goals and how to meet them. It also keeps your partner in the loop about your concerns regarding contraception so they can help monitor any changes that may be required. 

Communicating about contraceptive use ensures that both you and your partner are on the same page about your choices. This reduces any misunderstandings and conflicts and sets the proper expectations.

Seeking professional guidance

Consulting a healthcare provider can help you list down your contraceptive options and choose what is best for your relationship and fertility goals. During your consultation, openly discuss any past mental health issues or current emotional well-being concerns. This helps the healthcare professional to offer personalized advice based on your health, preferences, and lifestyle, helping you and your partner find the perfect fit. 

Remember, a healthcare professional helps you find the right contraceptive option and gives advice in case you or your partner experiences any discomfort. Therefore, it is advised to plan regular follow-up appointments to monitor any side effects early. 

Professional counselors can also provide valuable education on contraceptive methods, efficacy, and potential side effects. They can debunk misconceptions and clear up worries, making the whole process less stressful.

Flexibility and adaptability 

Lastly, a flexible approach to contraceptive options can also help you adjust over time, allowing room for growth and evolution. This involves being open to trying different methods or changing contraceptives based on your relationship’s changing dynamics and circumstances. 

This approach will allow you to understand that it may take time to find the best contraceptive method, and you will need to be patient with yourself and your body during this process.

Remember to be prepared to make adjustments as a team. This could involve changing contraceptive methods or modifying other aspects of your relationship to support emotional well-being. 

When you’re open to trying different methods and adjusting, you’re better equipped to find what works best for you as a couple. It allows you to switch things up if one method isn’t quite hitting the mark, keeping you in control of your contraceptive journey. 

In conclusion

Choosing the right contraceptive option in a relationship is important, as it directly impacts not only physical health but also psychological well-being.

It involves considering the efficacy, side effects, and your and your partner’s preferences. By prioritizing emotional well-being and mutual understanding in a relationship, you can easily navigate these decisions with empathy, respect, and shared goals for the relationship.

Remember that as complex as it may be, open communication, seeking professional guidance, and remaining flexible in your approach can help you choose the best for your relationship and fertility goals.

So take charge of your contraceptive choices and prioritize your relationship’s well-being. Have a conversation with your partner and visit a healthcare provider to discuss your options.

If you would like to see more resources on contraception, check out the Relationships Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Relationships Science Labs today.

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