Adamo: Share the cost, guys

Guys, why aren’t you paying for birth control?

Even some of the most sexually literate men who sleep with women have limited understanding of hormonal contraception. Maybe we understand how a steady dose of synthetic estrogen and progesterone work to signal the body not to release an egg from the ovaries, or that to be most effective hormonal birth control taken orally must be taken at the same time every day, but hardly any of us understand what it is like to have to pay for birth control.

Why not? We’re splitting the bill on everything else these days. And I say it’s time that we start paying up for the pill.

For a long time I was frustrated by having to pay for condoms. I scoured drug stores to find those with the lowest cost, but I was still fretful about the fact that each sexual encounter was essentially costing me money. My discontent was bluntly put into perspective when a partner informed me she had paid well over $200 for about four months’ worth of hormonal birth control.

Last year many bemoaned a rapid and unexpected increase in the price of contraceptives due to an inadvertent technical error caused by the Federal Deficit Reduction Act in 2005. Though this cost hike will likely be undone with the introduction of the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, the price of hormonal contraception is a reality that is not made salient to the men still enjoying its benefits.

For a long time I wrestled with the idea of helping pay for the pill. The pill is now so readily accessible, and it seems everyone is using it already (even if only 38 percent of women in college actually are). We feel as though we’re contributing already by securing condoms, but the financial balance is skewed.

There is simply no legitimate reason for us males not to be contributing. Some guys may argue: Why do we have to if she was already on the pill before we started having sex? But this attitude is the same as that which stops you from helping out with the heating bill when you move in with someone, since they were already paying utilities before you got there. The claim just doesn’t hold up.

Our society still sees pregnancy as happening to women and not involving males. But the pill that she’s paying for is preventing you from being a daddy just as much as it’s keeping her from being a mommy. Shouldn’t you be putting in for this? Scrounging together some cash for contraceptives will be much less expensive for you than paying child support.

Other guys might see it as unfair for us to help pay for the pill because only she is receiving other benefits that occur as side effects. She may enjoy shorter and lighter periods, or reduced acne breakouts. I see these factors as favorable to your sexual relationship, but even if you see these as perks you don’t want to pay for, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pitch in somehow. Again, you’re still winning because of one simple fact: You don’t have a kid. That requires some cash.

But what about when the pill has unfavorable side effects for the women — perhaps unwanted weight gain or depression. In cases like these, when a woman is taking birth control to keep you two unworried about pregnancy but is also bearing the burden of a number of unwanted side effects, you had better be forking over.

The debate about who should pay on a first date will continue in a post-feminist dating culture. But with many couples coming to the agreement to “go dutch” after a few dates into the relationship, we should come to the same conclusion about contraception. This sort of mentality needs to be applied to the pill immediately. If you’re in a heterosexual sexual relationship, raise the issue, whether you’re a man or a woman, rich or poor. There is no justification for men to continue to shirk this responsibility any longer.

Even if the price for the pill isn’t sky-high for all women who chose to use it right now, or if it declines significantly for others in the future, we males have an ethical obligation to start splitting the cost.

Colin Adamo is a junior in Pierson College.

Comments

  • Yale 09

    In theory, the Pill reaches an effectiveness of over 99%, but in practice the rate is much lower. Between 1.9% and 18.1% of women will experience an unplanned pregnancy in the first year of using the Pill.

    Unpleasant Side Effects of the Pill:

    Irregular bleeding or spotting
    Blood Clots
    Increased Breast Cancer Risk
    Nausea
    Breast tenderness
    Weight gain and/or water retention
    Spotty darkening of the skin
    Mood changes
    Migraines
    Increased Suicide Rates
    Vaginal Infections
    Gall Bladder Disease
    Risk of Permanent Infertility

    Don't want to get pregnant?

    Don't do the deed.

    Simple.

  • Anonymous

    Wow dude. After this article, it'd be like you are paying her to sleep with other guys. Maybe all of you guys can get together and create a collective pot and pitch in all together. I mean, she is doing you a favor after all, right?

  • goldie '08

    why did you pay for condoms? they are free everywhere

  • Big Sis'

    Such a great idea, and one that my now fiance and I had a few years ago when our relationship became officially serious. We share the cost of living (entertainment, food, bills, etc.) why not birth control?
    By the way "Anonymous" I think that's what he's talking about, having a serious conversation about sharing costs in a relationship. Not throwing 5 bucks at a girl after a one-night stand so she can put it towards her monthly birth control expenses.
    I also think it should go without saying that the shared expenses should go towards whatever birth control method she chooses, pill, ring, patch and shot alike.

  • To Yale 09

    To Yale 09

    I am on the pill and have experienced none of those side effects. In fact, I've experienced multiple positive side effects. If you look at the warnings on almost any drug you will find that there are rare risks…that does not mean that no one should ever take medication.

    If your purported rates of unplanned pregnancies are true (which I highly doubt), it is due to improper use of the pill, not the effectiveness of the pill itself.

    If you want to argue for abstinence, fine go ahead. But don't claim that abstinence is necessary because there aren't safe and effective birth control options, because this is undeniably false.

  • Anonymous

    This was a great article. My boyfriend and I split the cost and I just assumed that most other couples do the same.

  • Yale 09

    Really?

    You can prove that you aren't "experiencing" a high risk of breast cancer?

    Good luck with your first pregnancy!

  • Re: goldie

    Because there are better condoms out there than the free ones they give out.

    Also, Yale09: show some evidence or shut your mouth. Trying to scare women into not having sex is a lowbrow move.

  • To Yale 09 again

    To Yale 09 again

    I specifically agreed that there are risks to the pill as there are with most medications. So no, I was not trying to deny that there may be an increased risk of certain diseases. I was simply stating that since I began using the pill I have noticed no negative side effects on my body.

    Secondly, the evidence that the pill can cause an increase in breast cancer risk is inconclusive. Some studies have shown an increased risk, others have shown none. Furthermore, the pill may increase your risk of some cancers, including cervical and liver, but may decrease your risk for others, including ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.

    My mother used different forms of contraceptives for many years and then had three healthy children. So no, I'm not worried about my first pregnancy. By the way, thanks for assuming that because I'm a woman I automatically want to have children.

  • Yale 09

    If you're having sex, I'm assuming you want children.

    Guess what? I'm a woman, and I consider myself a Yale Feminist.

    Did I just blow your mind?

    I will never use the Pill- I'm worth more than what it promises:

    emotionally distant sex, my objectification, false security against pregnancy, an atomic bomb of hormonal problems.

    But ooooo wow! I could have less acne? Oh, that's worth it.

    Guess what? The Sexual Revolution Lied to Us.

  • Anonymous

    Yale 09-

    Using the slang term "the pill" often misleads people into thinking that there is only one kind of oral contraceptive. In fact, there are several different kinds, with different hormones at different doses. Just because a woman experiences depression or weight-gain on one form of "the pill" does not mean that all forms will make her react that way. Moreover, your suggestion that the pill causes permanent infertility is simply a lie. A whole entire generation of women who used the pill when it first came out--like my mother--grew up and had healthy children. And the pills they used contained massive amounts of hormones compared to the pills women take today. In fact, the forms of oral contraceptives available right now are the safest that have ever been available, and, like most newer medications, they will only keep getting safer. Another thing that helps is that doctors have been able to isolate some of the factors that contribute to some of the scarier of these side effects. For example, the risk of blood-clots (which is almost non-existent for younger women anyway) is greatly reduced if you don't smoke while using the pill. Some of the lesser side-effects, such as nausea or breakthrough bleeding, often go away after a month or two of use. Many women also find it helpful to take the pill with food in order to eliminate nausea.

    Moreover, for every one of the negative side-effects you mentioned there is a possible positive side effect. It DOES make some women moodier or more depressed. I, on the other hand, struggled with depression throughout high school, and the pill turned out to be the only anti-depressant that ever worked. It also reduced my acne, and made my boobs bigger. But by far the best side effect is what it's done for my menstrual cycle: I used to have very heavy, long-lasting periods complete with cramps so debilitating that they sometimes gave me diarrhea. Yeah, not fun. Taking the pill has made periods much more manageable and much less stressful for me. The pain has been reduced to a barely noticeable discomfort, and the diarrhea has gone for good. Oh, and I haven't gotten pregnant using the pill. That's also nice.

    So while you are right to suggest that abstinence is the only 100% effective birth control method, your skepticism about the usefulness, safety and effectiveness of the pill is pretty unwarranted. Yeah, there are risks, but there are risks to just about everything. If you're a man, it's none of your business anyway; if you're a woman, don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

  • @Yale 09, #10

    Wait a sec…you think that taking birth control promises emotionally distant sex and your objectification?

    YOU are the one who controls that, honey, not your preferred method of contraception. YOU get to choose who you sleep with, not the prescription your doctor writes you. Yes, some women sleep around--that's their choice, and the pill has nothing to do with it. In fact, since the pill does not protect against STDs, the pill is not an ideal form of protection for women who plan on having many sexual partners. Lots of women in loving, healthy relationships with men who respect them take birth control. Don't think that can happen outside of marriage? Well, let me blow YOUR mind: lots of married women take birth control as well.

    Feminism is about putting women in control. If you still believe that we, as well as perceptions of us, are controlled by something like birth control pills, then you are not a feminist.

  • Yale '09 needs a chill pill instead of "t

    Sounds like Yale 09 just needs to get laid. She's too uptight! That, or she's just plain ignorant. The judgmental falsehoods she's spewing suggest she doesn't have much experience in the sexual arena.

    The fact of the matter is that, if used correctly, birth-control measures such as the pill are safe, effective, and established by the FDA. The FDA isn't dumb. Preaching abstinence without recourse is. Abstinence education time and time again has been proven ineffective. People have sex! It's innate. Denying that truth only delays responsible action. Yale 09: Grow up!

  • Anonymous

    I am sure Professor Alexander is a nice person and all, but her poem was terrible. A lot of outside reviews said so. I read on the times that she turned down Mrs.Bush, but couldnt say no when asked to read a poem at the inauguration. Mrs Bush should be relieved that Prof Alexander turned her down, coz she clearly is not up to the job. I think "what" raises some excellent questions- dont rush to judgment calling him/her names. Try and be objective and take off your blinders once in a while. I would expect that of folks at yale - but wait I forgot, with all the indoctrination from your very liberal professors, most of you have forgotten how to think. All you do is swoon and not ask one critical question about anything, be it poetry or politics.

  • Anonymous

    Colin Adamo -- the most eligible bachelor on campus.

  • SciAlum

    After graduating from Yale, I moved to the UK to pursue a graduate degree. I went to the doctor to get a new prescription for my oral contraceptives. After a quick test, I received the prescription and asked the nurse "How much will this cost"? "What?" "How much will this cost per pack"? "Oh, it's free! Why would we make you pay for something essential like that?" Furthermore, they issued me six months' worth at once, rather than one pack every three weeks.

    Whether in being free from worrying about pregnancy, or simply having less painful and unpredictable periods, birth control pills *are* an incredibly important part of many women's lives. I love America, but we have a rather backwards attitude towards contraception. And sex in general. And, well, also healthcare, but that's a conversation for a different time!

  • Yeah Right

    I'll let a man pay for my pills when he marries me.

    Until then, it's a bitch move. A real feminist doesn't need a man to buy her meds.

    Would Mr. Adamo even think of telling women to pay for a man's viagra?

  • Hiero II

    Is Mr. Adamo also going to ask his girlfriend to pay for his condoms? Or does this piece labor operate under the assumption that the male must financially support the female?

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad that a lot of people (like #4,5,9,11,12) replied to Yale 09 antiquated opinion; I rather want to add one more point to Colins article.

    Offering your girlfriend to share the costs for birth control is not just a nice financial offer; it also shows her you care about it. If you're girlfriend is taking the pill, you will most likely not become a father (soon), whether you share the costs or not. But offering to share the cost proofs you see your relationship as a "we" thing, including the shared pleasure of having sex.

    When my boyfriend offered me to share the costs for birth control, I refused it since I knew I hd more money than he. But just the fact he showed me he cares and appreciates that I think of taking the pill everyday, supported my feeling that we both care about the other, just as much as we care about ourselves.

  • mikemorgan

    Colleges, either public or private, should be able to decide on the use of legal tobacco products on their own property. It’s just when big government gets involved in these matters that I have a problem. Electronic cigarettes are increasingly popular, as long as used by adults. I’ve tried several brands to avoid odor, save money and enjoy almost anywhere, so see http://www.ecigwerks.blogspot.com for more.