There are times when women need a birth control method that can be used without a partner’s knowledge. A study of Planned Parenthood clients in Northern California found that nearly one in seven women had a partner who tried to interfere with her efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Birth control sabotage can include hiding birth control pills or flushing them down the toilet, intentionally breaking condoms, and removing contraceptive rings or patches.
There are other times when we don’t want people besides our partner to know we are using birth control. For example, if you are a teen, you may be concerned about your parents finding out. If you need to keep your birth control private for any reason, you have some good options.
Totally Invisible: Depo-Provera Shot
This injection of a hormone in your upper arm every three months is one of the most private methods available and is over 99 percent effective if you get your shots at the right time. No one, not even your partner, will know about it unless you decide to tell. It may be challenging to get to the clinic four times a year without someone close to you knowing, but it may also be easier than hiding a pill you have to take every day.
Only You Know It’s There: Implant
This matchstick-size rod is placed just under the skin of your upper arm and is over 99 percent effective. After a nurse or doctor inserts it, you’ll have a bandage for a few days and may have some bruising around it. Once it’s healed, no one can see that the rod is there. Someone would have to know exactly where to feel your arm to find it.
Your Partner May Know, but No One Else Will: IUD and Ring
An IUD is a small device that a doctor places in your uterus that provides over 99 percent effective contraception. Partners can sometimes feel the threads that help a doctor remove the device when you’re ready. The threads are at your cervix, inside your vagina.
The ring, which you can insert yourself, rests near your cervix and releases a small amount of hormone for 92 percent effective contraception. If you’re worried about a partner knowing about it or you don’t like it there during sex, you can take it out and keep it in a safe, clean place for up to three hours a day.
If You’re Hiding Birth Control from Your Partner
Whether or not you use birth control may be a private decision, and it’s okay to use it privately. However, feeling that you are not safe unless you hide your birth control from your partner is not okay. If you’re in this situation, you are not alone.
You can read about others’ experiences at Know More Say More. A partner who loves and respects you will also respect your decision to use birth control. To learn about how to get out of a controlling relationship, see Understanding and Recognizing Abusive Behavior.