Using condoms every time you have sex is the most effective way to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and unintended pregnancy. If you are sexually active, or think that you may become sexually active, be sure that you always have condoms on hand. Although talking about condoms can be uncomfortable, open communication is very important. It only takes one unprotected sexual encounter to contract HIV or another STI. Respect your body and your partner’s body and use a condom every time you have sex.
When you talk to your partner about condoms, you should be firm and make your expectations clear. If possible, have this discussion ahead of time, rather than in the heat of the moment. If your partner doesn’t want to use a male condom or is allergic to latex, you can suggest the female condom (FC). Check out our feel-good reasons to use FCs and share them with your partner. (Link to feel-good section.)
Sometimes one partner can pressure the other to have unprotected sex. Here are a few things that someone who does not want to use a condom might say, and some suggestions for how to respond.
Your partner says: Sex doesn’t feel as good when I’m using a condom.
You can say: If we use a condom, I’ll feel more comfortable, which will make the sex better for both of us. Plus, you’ll last longer if we use one.
Your partner says: I thought you trusted me.
You can say: It’s not a matter of trust. People can have STIs and not know.
Your partner says: I promise I’ll pull out.
You can say: Pulling out won’t protect either of us from STIs.
Your partner says: Condoms aren’t sexy.
You can say: I think that protecting each other’s bodies while we make love is much sexier than getting chlamydia or HIV.
Your partner says: But I love you.
You can say: Then you’ll help me protect myself.
Your partner says: But we’ve never used a condom before.
You can say: I’m not going to take any more risks. No condom, no sex.