You probably already know that when it comes to having sex, you should be using protection every time. But you might not know the golden rule about protection: if you aren’t comfortable enough talking condoms, STIs and sex risks with your partner, you shouldn’t be having sex with them in the first place.
But I feel awkward, shy or uncomfortable talking about protection. Help!
Plenty of people do, and it’s totally okay to feel a bit weirded out. The key is to do it outside of the bedroom, before you even think about getting busy.
The easiest way to start the conversation is just to start it. If it feels awkward, remind yourself that you’re doing it to empower and protect yourself, and that it means you’re taking charge of your life. Isn’t that a powerful thought?
Having a ‘safe sex’ conversation is about respecting yourself, respecting your partner, and being responsible. There’s nothing embarrassing, rude or forward about talking to your partner about sex protection, and if they make you feel bad or wrong for doing it, it shows that they don’t respect you in the way you deserve to be respected.
Remember, this person is about to get to know you very intimately, so if you aren’t feeling comfortable talking about protection with them, you probably shouldn’t be taking this step with them either.
3 important sex protection topics to cover
If it helps, think about what you want to say in advance so that you’re better prepared for the conversation. Make sure you cover these three critical points:
- Which protection method you’d both feel most comfortable using, and which will adequately protect both of you from STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy. Remember, double protection (i.e. condoms plus birth control) is always recommended. Birth control cannot protect you from HIV and STIs; only condoms can.
- If you’ve both ever been tested for STIs and HIV, and getting tested together.
- Whether your partner would be willing to buy condoms together, or go with you to the clinic to chat about birth control.
Keep in mind that some guys will try to sweet-talk you out of using condoms. Here are some perfect responses to their complaints.
Compromise is key… but so is staying STI-free
You and your partner may have differing views on sex protection, and that’s where compromise comes in. Giving an inch is okay, as long as the thing you’re compromising isn’t your health.
Having unprotected sex ‘just one time’ or ‘every now and then’ isn’t the kind of compromise you should be making. And, if you feel more comfortable abstaining from sex to protect yourself because your partner isn’t willing to compromise, that’s okay too.
Bottom line: your health needs to come first, and having unprotected sex even one time can rob you of it.
Okay but… can I really contract an STI or HIV from having sex without a condom just once?
Can I really fall pregnant after having unprotected sex just once?
The easiest way to take control of your (safe) sex life
Whether or not you think it’s your responsibility, keep condoms on you at all times. Have a stash at home, on the go, in your car, and so on. That way, your partner can never use the ‘Oh, I don’t have any on me’ excuse, and you can always insist on safe sex, regardless of the situation.