Historically, hormonal birth control, like the pill, has been advertised as a way to protect yourself from getting pregnant, so it’s been targeted at cisgender, heterosexual women. But excluding LGBTQ+ people from conversations around birth control is not only wrong, it also makes finding the right method of contraception even harder.
We know that there are many reasons why someone who’s LGBTQ+ might want to take birth control, from easing period symptoms to avoiding unplanned pregnancy and controlling their cycle.
“Sadly, we still live in such a cisgender and heteronormative world, where young LGBTQ+ people aren’t educated enough around their sexual health and well-being,” queer sexual health practioner Amy Smith, from Rethinking Sex, tells Flo.
Studies have highlighted that narrow, heteronomative perceptions of birth control start in the classroom, and they have very real consequences. A recent study by LGBTQ+ education activists GLSEN found that only 19 percent of U.S. secondary schools provide sex-ed that is LGBTQ+ inclusive. And in the U.K., two in five — that’s 40 percent — of LGBTQ+ students are never taught anything about LGBTQ+ issues at school, according to Stonewall’s 2017 School Report.
This perpetuates the myth that certain conversations surrounding birth control simply don’t apply to the LGBTQ+ community. Research says otherwise, highlighting that young people who are of a sexual minority are at increased risk of teen pregnancy.
Finding the right birth control method for you can take time. The first option that’s presented to you may not always be the best. From hormonal methods (such as pills, IUDs, and implants) to barrier methods like condoms, it’s always worth discussing the side effects, benefits, and effectiveness with your doctor or a healthcare professional.
Whichever option you choose, Smith reiterates that practicing safe sex is “incredibly important to our well-being and our relationships.” We agree, which is why we asked her to share everything people who are LGBTQ+ need to know about birth control.