Healthy lives for young people
Contraception

Talking about condoms with your partner

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 will 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. It also depends on whether you and your partner(s) would like to use external (also known as ‘penile’ or ‘male’ condoms) or internal (also known as ‘female’) condoms. Find out more about internal condoms.

Talk about it generally

“Do you use condoms when you have sex?”

Say it straight

“If we’re going to have sex, we’re going to use condoms.”

Work it into a conversation

My friend was telling me how they were with this guy and he wouldn’t use a condom…”

You could even ask something like: “Is there a particular type of condom that you like to use during sex? I’ve heard [insert condom type here] increase pleasure”. 

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 before you start to have sexual contact rather than leaving it until the moment arrives.  

What if pregnancy isn’t a concern?

If neither you or your partner have a penis OR if you both do OR if you are using another method of contraception then you should still be discussing safer sex and using condoms. Condoms are not only used to prevent pregnancy – they also help prevent STIs.

If you are using sex toys then a condom should be used to reduce the chances of STIs being transmitted.
 
If condoms are not an option for you, then you should discuss STIs with your partner. Do you both know your STI status? Remember: not all STIs have symptoms.

Find out more about getting tested for STIs.

Take Responsibility

Be confident and responsible for your own health. You shouldn’t leave the decision to use condoms up to someone else – 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.
  • Rehearse the conversation
  • Running through things beforehand often makes it a lot easier to do them when the time comes. Think through the conversation in your head and imagine what the other person might say. You could also practise what you want to say by talking it through someone you trust.

Condoms and consent

You shouldn’t ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom in the same way you shouldn’t ever feel pressured to have sex. It doesn’t matter if you are using another method of contraception or if you have had sex with the same person before without a condom – you have the right to choose to use condoms every time.

If you have agreed to use condoms, but during sex your partner removes the condom without telling you, this is considered non-consensual condom removal – otherwise known as “stealthing”. Stealthing is illegal and is a prosecutable offence. If this happens to you, then you can contact Brook or another sexual health service for support and help with next steps.

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