One person's hand holding a baby's hand

Can a man trap a woman by pregnancy?

People say women trap men with babies, but have you ever heard of the opposite? Women do not have as much control over their reproductive health as people seem to think…

For the longest time, men have acted as if women are ‘sperm bandits’, just lying in wait to seize every opportunity to get pregnant. Men maintain that as the greatest gift to womankind, they have to be wary of all women scheming and plotting to ‘trap’ them.

Let me first explain why I’ve never bought into the idea of female trapping as a common occurrence. To state the obvious, sex takes two people, and so does conception. This simple concept means everyone has a responsibility to safeguard themselves from both pregnancy and STIs. If pregnancy occurs, then there was some kind of negligence involved. 

What I’m saying is, you cannot refuse to wear a condom or participate in contraception, and then act surprised and bamboozled when a pregnancy happens. You leave it all up to your sexual partner, then self-righteously blame her for the fallout? That’s just poor decision making. 

That said, there are cases where both parties were sexually responsible but were failed by their contraception method of choice. Studies in family planning report that 40% of 213 million pregnancies that occurred globally in 2012 were unintended, with Africa recording the highest rate of unintended pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15–44 years. 

Contraception failure rates are low-ish overall, but they aren’t rare. Hormonal methods such as the shot and oral pill have a failure rate of 4% and 7% respectively, while male condoms, which are the most used method, have a failure rate of 13%. This high failure rate in condoms is due to production malfunctions, the use of lubricants that weaken them, and general handling. 

Once you consider irresponsible sexual practices, lack of contraception ownership, and contraception failure, it’s easier to see why female ‘trapping’ cannot be as common as it has been made to seem. 

However, that does not take away from the women who do purpose to trap men. Nor does it reduce the effect it has on the lives of men who are forced into lifelong situations that are not of their choosing. Are women really the only ones guilty of this? Turns out they aren’t.

Male Trapping

Here is a term you probably have not heard often: ‘reproductive control’, which is a collection of behaviours that interfere with women’s decision-making towards their reproductive health. It includes pregnancy coercion, which is pressure or intimidation by male partners to become pregnant, and control the outcomes of pregnancy, and birth control sabotage, which is partner interference with contraception and forced abortions. 

Examples of sabotage include hiding, withholding, or destroying a partner’s oral contraceptives; breaking or poking holes in condoms on purpose, and even removing a condom during sex (that’s stealthing) or not withdrawing when that was the agreed-upon method of contraception.

In a Cut article, an obstetrics and gynaecology resident found that 16% of women who had received routine ob-gyn care at the hospital in which she worked “had received unwelcome pressure to get pregnant. Their boyfriends and partners made it hard for them to use birth control — poking holes in condoms or hiding their pills — or threatened to leave or harm them if they didn’t get pregnant.” She now recommends more permanent contraception which is harder to detect, interfere with, and predict because “there are some men who count the days of women’s periods.”

Pregnancy coercion and birth-control sabotage are no longer the tactics used by seemingly opportunistic or baby-crazed women. They have become the tools for male emotional and physical abusers who want to exercise control over their partner’s body to make her dependent upon them, or secure a long-term presence in her life. A high percentage of women who report intimate partner violence also report these tactics. Wild, right? 

Is it worse?

For both genders, the highest risk factors for reproductive coercion and sabotage are being unattached and sexually active. These leave you vulnerable to ill-intentioned partners. 

Although it is definitely not a competition, the evidence demonstrates that for women, violence and poor reproductive health outcomes are strongly linked. Many women who experience reproductive and sexual coercion also experience physical or sexual violence. 

The predominately violent basis of male trapping and society’s ignorance of it make it a silenced evil which is arguably worse. Nevertheless, giving language to it and naming it will liberate women who do not know how to ask for help, prompt more awareness and research in this area and push health care providers to include it as part of the differential diagnosis (standard reproductive health care practices) when patients are seen for pregnancy testing or STI testing, emergency contraception, and unplanned pregnancies. 

Some established harm reduction interventions and solutions for women in this position range from discreet and confidential methods of contraception e.g. plainly packaged options, hormone shots, or an IUD with the strings clipped, to gaining education on safety planning and support services.

Now that you know the other side, it’s important to acknowledge and discuss what many women are experiencing in private.


Has your partner ever tried to get you pregnant when you did not want to be pregnant?

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Recent Comments (5)

  1. What are the fertile days of…
    What are the fertile days of the girl when she has a period of 28days?

    1. Hi Evans, 

      The fertile days…

      Hi Evans, 

      The fertile days of a 28 days cycle are the 12,13, and 14th day from the first day of her last period 

  2. I was in a relationship with…
    I was in a relationship with a man for 2 1/2 years. It was on and off. He said many many lies. One was that we couldn’t have a titled relationship because he felt it was unfair to me since he couldn’t be a good boyfriend. He said his ex wife would threaten and blackmail him to have his kids taken if she were to know about us.

    At one point he told me he didn’t want a relationship which was different than what he usually said. Usually he said he wanted one with me but couldn’t have it. So I was upset and told him we were on different pages and I felt I needed to let the relationship go.

    We had been having sex without condoms the whole time we were “together”. When we had discussed letting go, he then told me for the first time that he loved me. And I told him I needed him to be there more. That I needed to know he wanted me there in his life. Not wanting a relationship was waaaay different. And shortly after that he started to be more present.

    This is when he had told me he had a vasectomy. He told me he had it the entire time but didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want his ex wife to know. Said I talk too much. I believed this dumb lie. We had sex for two months, and I became pregnant.

    Ultimately I didn’t keep it but I’m certain he was trying to keep me in his life but didn’t want a relationship. So this was his way of never losing me.

    1. Hi Kassie, 

      Girl, so sorry…

      Hi Kassie, 

      Girl, so sorry as you have clearly been through a rough season!

      First, that relationship should have ended the moment he said he wanted the relationship to be secret and admitted that he couldn’t be a good boyfriend. Your relationship with him is filled with lies and it is not a healthy situation for you and your baby. He did not care enough to use a condom yet he doesn’t want the commitment with you or your baby. This man doesn’t deserve you. He doesn’t deserve to be in your life. Unless he wishes to be in his child’s life, I say move on with your life. You deserve an honest and loving man and one with who you are on the same page when it comes to the kind of relationship you want. 

  3. This page is genuinely sick… its literally grounded in women not being wrong and men being wrong. Women trap me daily… condoms break and they refuse to abort. Or couple date for a long time and the women wants a child. Knock it off. …. male trapping? Really? Pitiful

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