Men and the Morning After
As many of you have pointed out, it takes two to tango. However, a recent survey showed that only 47% of men would would go with their partner to get emergency contraception.
We’ve already asked men what they think of a male contraceptive pill, so we thought it was about time we found out how men find the experience of going to get the morning after pill – or, if they even go at all...
Well this is awkward…
Did you know that over 50% of women felt embarrassed or awkward when they purchased the morning after pill? We wondered if men feel the same way, when they accompany their partners...
For Doug, 26, from Bristol, it was a relatively simple experience. He says: “I felt that we were generally doing the right thing about the situation we found ourselves in.”
Just because it wasn’t awkward for Doug doesn’t mean he didn’t notice his partners’ embarrassment: “Especially at the sexual health clinics, my partner was very uncomfortable,” he says, “a lot of the wall art, so to speak, was scaremongering and some of it relatively accusatory or could be interpreted as such. The in pharmacy experiences were much better and the person I went with felt better about it.”
Andy, 23, from London found the experience fairly easy, but he also noticed that his partner was uncomfortable: “She seemed on edge and she was embarrassed to go into the pharmacy with me. I said I was more than comfortable to go in with her and when I asked her why she was embarrassed she told me she gets cringed out easily.”
Lou, 22, from London also went with his girlfriend to get the morning after pill. “At the time we joked about it which made me feel better,” he says. But looking back he has his doubts: “perhaps secretly, she felt bad but was hiding her remorse behind a painted smile.”
Splitting the Bill
“I remember wishing that he, the person I had slept with, would pay for some of it (not that that was ever going to happen).”
You know that awkward moment at the end of the date when the plates are cleared and the bill arrives? Apparently this situation becomes even more awkward when the bill isn’t for dinner and a bottle of wine, but instead for the morning after pill.
In a survey carried out by ellaOne in 2018 we found that 70% of men and 69% of women think emergency contraception should be the responsibility of both parties. So ideally, in this situation you’d expect the man would offer to pay for at least half. Unfortunately, as we know from your #MyMorningAfter stories, this isn’t always the case.
But, some are lucky enough to walk into the pharmacy with someone like Doug, who tells us: “when I went with my partner to get the morning after pill, I paid the whole sum. I felt it was my responsibility, and the process is stressful enough without having to worry about the cost.”
Andy also paid for the morning after pill. “Apparently I was meant to pull out, thus making everything my fault,” so his partner demanded he pick up the bill, which is certainly one approach.
When we asked Lou if he helped with the cost, he had to admit that he didn’t: “it didn’t even cross my mind.” He added that he felt terrible about not paying, but this is the norm for lots of men. 28% of women said they wouldn’t tell anyone they were going to get the morning after pill, and some men might not even be aware that you have to pay for it.
“I think there’s a certain stigma that you’ve been careless, when in reality you want to access emergency contraception to be careful and exercise autonomy over your body”
#MyMorningAfter Story: Anonymous Female, 33, London
A lot of you who have sent in your #MyMorningAfter stories told us that you felt judged while purchasing the morning after pill. We wondered what the men thought about the stigma attached to emergency contraception.
We asked Andy why he thought women might be embarrassed about getting the morning after pill: “maybe they’re embarrassed because they or their partner weren’t properly prepared or didn’t take the right precautions.” He guessed that getting the morning after pill could be uncomfortable because “some people find talking about sex embarrassing, especially with some random pharmacy assistant.”
Doug thought the awkwardness could stem from the fact that “women are still shamed for having sex.” He added that, “women are often spoken to like children or with derision during the consultation,” which can be really awkward, not to mention offensive.
Lou agreed that the stigma attached to the morning after pill is clearly a problem. “Although most people would agree the morning after pill has served women and men alike since its invention, an ugliness still looms over this form of contraception”, he says.
We asked Neil, 23, from Essex why he thought women felt embarrassed about taking the morning after pill. “I think women worry about what people will think” he says, “they’re worried that people will think they’re promiscuous or call them a ‘slag’.” And as we all know, no one likes to be called a slut.
Morning After Manners
So, after a night of passion, whether it’s with a partner or a stranger, remember your manners in the morning. It’s time for boys to step up and share the contraceptive load. Though men may not be the ones to swallow the pill, they can be supportive, respect their partner’s decision, and avoid being judgemental.
ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.
Words: Georgina Hoffman