Safe and easy access to contraception is something many of us take for granted in the UK. The combined pill became a popular method for women across the country in the mid to late 1970s, and since then many other contraception options such as the vaginal ring, IUS, implant and copper coil (IUD) have become widely accessible.
While some countries around the world have proudly offered sexual healthcare and contraception to patients free of charge for years, other governments have dragged their feet on making treatments more accessible and improving sexual education.
In recent years headway has even been made in trials working towards a pharmaceutical contraceptive option for men, meaning the responsibility of birth control could eventually be shared more fairly between heterosexual partners. This could certainly be a relief for women, but how will men react to the prospect of taking medication daily to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?
Here at Zava , we’ve carried out a survey across the UK and US, asking participants to discuss aspects of their sex life, contraceptive choices, gender roles within couples, and the availability and price of birth control in their country. To avoid a binary US/EU analysis, we also conducted in-depth research on varying approaches to contraception in 11 different countries, spread across six continents. We found the results thought-provoking and sometimes surprising.
When asked about the idea of a pharmaceutical male contraceptive, the US and the UK differed considerably. Men in the UK were less prepared to try the new male contraceptive, with only 26% saying they would be prepared to give the newfound medication a try, compared to a more robust 40% of Americans.
The subject of responsibility also proved telling, with some 89% of UK participants agreeing both partners needed to share the load when it came to remembering birth control, whereas only 75% of Americans felt the same way. In America, it seemed a certain age bracket was less confident than others that their partner could be trusted to take the pill daily. US women between the age of 33 and 44 were the least likely to trust their partner in this respect.
One noteworthy difference between the UK and the US is the 14-year head start North American women had over their British counterparts in getting hold of the contraceptive pill. While sexually active women in America could obtain this revolutionary oral birth control in 1960, it wasn’t available in the UK until 1974. Interestingly, the rubber condom has been available to British men for far longer than for their American brothers. While guys in the UK have been using them since way back in 1855, it took the US until 1920 to make them available.
What type of contraception suits you best, barrier or hormonal? You might opt for barrier birth control, such as condoms or the cervical cap, which stop sperm reaching the egg altogether. If that’s not for you, hormonal contraception like the pill or IUD alter your body’s chemicals so you can enjoy sex without the risk of pregnancy. With so many possibilities, you’re sure to find one that fits your lifestyle.
Could the progesterone injection work for you? This birth control method increases hormone levels in your bloodstream, keeping you protected from pregnancy for 12 weeks. The injection stops your ovaries from releasing their monthly egg and thins the lining of your uterus, making it less likely a fertilised egg to settle there. With one quick injection, renewed every 3 months, you can enjoy your sex life without the worry of becoming pregnant.