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Talking to Your Partner About Condoms

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 using condoms properly every time is the best protection against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) — even if you're using another form of birth control like an IUD or the Pill.

What Might My Partner Say?

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 before your talk.

Then, to get comfortable with talking about condoms with a partner, practice some 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 suggest 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 that you want to be sure you're both safe and protected.

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."
You can answer: "Let's find out together."

Where Can I Get Condoms? 

It can help to know what a condom looks like and how to use one before you talk to your partner. You can get condoms at a drugstore, grocery store, health center, doctor’s office, convenience store, vending machine, or online. They may be available cheaper or for free at community or school health centers or your local health department. You also can search online for places near you that give free condoms. You don’t need a prescription or to be a certain age to buy condoms.

Don’t assume that your partner will have a condom. Have your own condom so you don’t get stuck without one.

When Should I Talk to my Partner About Condoms?

You'll want to pick the right time to bring up the subject with your partner. The best time to do this is 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 their favorite brand (and then bring some of yours with you, just to be safe). 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 goodbye. Tell them you won't have sex with someone who doesn't respect you or themselves enough to use protection.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Sep 1, 2022

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