It's much smarter to talk about condoms before having sex, but that doesn't make it easy. Some people — even those who are already having sex — are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. But not talking about condoms affects a person's safety. Using condoms properly every time is the best protection against sexually transmitted disease (STDs) — even if you're using another form of birth control like the Pill.
So how can you overcome your embarrassment about talking about condoms? Well, for starters it can help to know what a condom looks like, how it works, and what it's like to handle one. Buy a box of condoms so you can familiarize yourself.
The next thing to get comfortable with is bringing up the topic of condoms with a partner. Practice opening lines. If you think your partner will object, work out your response ahead of time. Here are some possibilities:
Your partner says: "It's uncomfortable."
You might answer this by suggesting a different brand or size. Wearing a condom also may take some getting used to.
Your partner says: "It puts me right out of the mood."
Say that having unsafe sex puts you right out of the mood. Permanently.
Your partner says: "If we really love each other, we should trust each other."
Say that it's because you love each other so much that you want to be sure you're both safe and protect each other.
Your partner says: "Are you nervous about catching something?"
The natural response: "Sometimes people don't even know when they have infections, so it's better to be safe."
Your partner says: "I won't enjoy sex if we use a condom."
Say you can't enjoy sex unless it's safe.
Your partner says: "I don't know how to put it on."
This one's easy: "Here, let me show you."
After you've familiarized yourself with condoms and practiced your routine, you'll want to pick the right time to bring up the subject with your partner. A good time to do this is long before you're in a situation where you might need a condom. When people are caught up in the heat of the moment, they may find they're more likely to be pressured into doing something they regret later.
Try bringing up the topic in a matter-of-fact way. You might mention that you've bought some condoms and checked them out. Offer to bring the unopened condoms along. Or suggest that your partner buy his or her favorite brand (and then bring some of yours with you, just to be on the safe side). Offer to try different types of condoms to find which works best for both of you.
Make it clear that you won't have sex without a condom. If someone threatens you or says they'd rather break up than wear a condom, it's time for you to say good-bye. Tell the person you won't have sex with someone who doesn't respect you or themselves enough to use protection.
Here are some tips for using condoms:
These aren't the only tips on discussing and using condoms. If you want more advice, talk to your friends, siblings, or parents. Yes, parents. Not everyone feels comfortable talking about sex with their parents, but lots of teens do. Parents often have the best tips.
Health professionals are also great sources of advice on sex and sexuality. A doctor or nurse practitioner or someone at a local health or family planning clinic can offer you advice — confidentially if necessary.
Of course, the only way to be 100% protected from pregnancy and STDs is abstinence (not having sex). But if you do decide to have sex, using a condom allows you to protect yourself.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|Planned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.|
|American Sexual Health Association This nonprofit organization is dedicated to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and offers hotlines for prevention and control of STDs.|
|National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy This site provides teen pregnancy facts, resources, and prevention tips.|
|Planned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.|
|American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.|
|Love Is Respect This site is the online home of the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a community where you can find support and information to understand dating abuse.|
You can talk one-on-one with a trained advocate 24/7 who can offer support and connect you to resources.
|GYT - Get Yourself Talking and Get Yourself Tested This media campaign designed to get young people to talk with their health care providers and partners about the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.|
|Gyn Checkups Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit -- and why most girls don't get internal exams.|
|What Are the Chances of Having an STD? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Sex During Her Period? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Talking to Your Partner About STDs You know you should talk about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before the action starts, but if you're like most people the thought of having "the talk" makes you completely nervous. Welcome to STD Chat 101.|
|About Birth Control Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.|
|Condom Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to find out how condoms work - and how well they protect against pregnancy and STDs.|
|Birth Control Methods: How Well Do They Work? Some birth control methods work better than others. This chart compares how well different birth control methods work.|
|5 Myths About STDs There's lots of misinformation out there about STDs. We set the record straight on 5 of the most common myths.|
|About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.|
|How Can We Avoid Pregnancy if a Condom Breaks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Do Condoms Really Work? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|What if the Condom Breaks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|How Can You Tell if a Condom Has Expired? Find out what the experts have to say.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.