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Talking about condoms

Bringing up condoms in the heat of the moment can be tricky. Here are some ideas that may make it easier:

Timing: There’s no ideal time to talk about condoms. But generally, the earlier the better. The sooner you bring the subject up, the sooner you’ll be able to sort it out. This’ll make it easier for you to relax and will mean you’re more likely to use them when the time comes.

How to bring it up. Each situation and person is different so you’ll have to work out the best way to bring the subject up. You could say it straight: “if we’re going to have sex, we’re going to use condoms”. Or you could talk about it generally: “do you use condoms when you have sex?”. Or work it into a conversation, “my friend was telling me how she was with this guy and he wouldn’t use a condom”. It might be tricky bringing it up at first, but it’s a lot more likely you’ll use condoms if you talk about them first than leaving it until the moment arrives.

Take responsibility. Be confident and responsible for your own health. You can’t leave it up to someone else if you’re going to use condoms. If you want to use them then take the lead. It’s your body and you're right to want to look after your health. If someone makes a big deal about you wanting to use condoms, consider if this is the sort of person you want to be having sex with.

If you still feel shy or embarrassed talking about condoms, here are some things you can do to feel more comfortable:

Talk with a friend. It can help if you run through what you want to say with a friend first. It might sound a bit strange, but some people who feel really nervous find it helps to role play. This is where you get a friend or someone you trust to pretend to be the other person.

Talk to yourself. This is not a sign that you’re going mad but a very good way to get more comfortable with talking about condoms. Saying out loud what you might say to someone and what they might say back can help you feel more comfortable.

Imagine. Running through things in your head beforehand makes it a lot easier to do them. Think through the conversation in your head and imagine what the other person might say. Practise what you want to say by talking it through someone you trust.

Content reproduced with kind permission from University College London's Sexunzipped website.

Page last reviewed: August 2015
Next review due: August 2017