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Talking to your partner about contraception

Communication is key for having great sex! Talking to your partner about contraception can help make the experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

Some people feel comfortable talking about sex, others find the idea of it uncomfortable, embarrassing or even a bit daunting.

But talking to your partner about contraception and STI history and before you do anything can help relieve anxieties and make the experience safer, more fun and more enjoyable for everyone.

Why talking about contraception is important

It takes two

The responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancy should not be placed on one person – it does take two after all!

If you cannot get pregnant alone, you shouldn’t have to prevent pregnancy alone either.

Making informed decisions around safe sex
  • Assuming that contraception is your partner’s responsibility could lead to unwise decisions around safe sex. This could lead to a higher risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Talking about what contraception you and your sexual partner are using, what that means for your sex life, and if you want to change methods makes sure both of you are aware of the risks and can make joint decisions around safe sex.
  • It can help share the emotional burden and any anxiety you may have about unwanted pregnancy.
  • If you feel comfortable, you may want to share with your sexual partner if you have forgotten to take the pill or swap your patch so you both understand that the risk of pregnancy is higher and can work out what needs to happen next e.g. perhaps you may need emergency contraception, or need to use additional contraception like condoms for a few days.


Talking to your partner about whether you need to use additional contraception or emergency contraception should not be a replacement for seeking medical advice. If you’re unsure, speak to a nurse at a sexual health clinic, a doctor or pharmacist.
More about emergency contraception

You/They may be able to support

Depending on your relationship, there may be ways you can support your partner/your partner can support you with contraception:

  • For example, if you struggle to remember to take the pill everyday, you could ask for them to help you remember or they could come with you to medical appointments.
  • Some contraception methods have some side effects that usually disappear after a few months of use such as headaches, nausea and mood swings. If you’ve explained how your contraception affects you, your partner may be able to support with the side effects and understand what you’re going through.

Remember – your body, your choice
You should always respect your partner’s choice of contraception and they should always respect yours. You should never feel pressured to not use contraception or condoms.

When should you talk about contraception?

Although it might be tempting to wait until the heat of the moment to bring it up, it’s best to talk about how you will make sure you have safe sex and what contraception you will use before you get down to it.

Try and have the conversation somewhere private where you both feel comfortable.

If the thought of a face-to-face conversation is too much, you could talk on the phone or even by message as long as you are sure that you both understand what is being said.

It should also be when you are both sober – if you are high or drunk you are more likely to forget or misunderstand the conversation. Alcohol and drugs can also affect your ability to consent to sex.

A conversation about contraception is also a good opportunity to discuss STI history. This can help you make an informed decision about using a barrier method of contraception (like condoms or internal condoms) in addition to another method, or you may decide to wait to have sex until you’ve both done an STI test.

Some people find it easier to ask directly, for example “When were you last tested and what were your results?”. Alternatively, you might choose to tell them your most recent results as a prompt for them to do the same.

Condoms are the only method of contraception that protects against STIs
Unless you are in an exclusive relationship (where you are only having sex with each other) and you are being tested regularly, we recommend that you use condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) even if you are also using another method of contraception like the pill, implant, injection or coil.

How to talk about condoms with your partner
Condom excuses and comebacks
How to talk to people about STIs

How to start the conversation

If you’re not sure how to bring up the topic, we’ve pulled together a few conversation starters.

Say it directly:

“I’m on the / I use the [insert method here]”

“I’m not on any contraception.”

“My method of contraception isn’t 100% effective, can we use condoms?”

“It’s really important to me that I have safe sex – that way I enjoy it more.”

Ask them what they do to prevent pregnancy:

“Are you on any contraception?”

“I always use condoms, but are you on any contraception as well?”

“I’m not comfortable with pulling out – is there a reason you don’t like using condoms?”

“I’m exploring my contraception options at the moment. What do you use?”

Work it into conversation:

“I don’t know how people manage to look after a child, I’m so glad I’m on contraception!”

“I’m going to the shops, should I get some condoms?”

“Can you remind me tomorrow to start on a new ring/patch/pill pack?”

Common questions and worries

I don’t like condoms and my sexual partner is on contraception, is it ok not to wear them?

This is a really important conversation you need to have with your sexual partner.

Without talking about it, you won’t understand if they have a reason for using condoms – for example, it could be that they like to “double-up” contraception methods to maximise protection against pregnancy given that no contraception method is 100% effective.

It’s also important to consider STIs and what you’re doing to protect yourselves. If you’re only sleeping with each other, have you both been recently tested? Have you spoken about your STI histories? If you’re having sex with other people as well as each other you should still use condoms.

If they tell you they want to continue using condoms, that is a choice you have to respect. It might help to explore options of how to improve your relationship with condoms, for example by trying out some different types or making sure you have the right size for you.

More about finding the right condom for you

I’m changing my contraception, do I need to tell my partner?

This depends on your relationship but it’s a good idea to keep them in the loop so they know that the risk of pregnancy might be higher while your body gets used to the new method. For example, with many methods you will need to use alternative contraception or not have sex for seven days if you don’t want to get pregnant.

My sexual partner doesn’t like condoms and wants me to go on a different method, what should I do?

If condoms are your contraception method of choice then you have every right to only have sex with condoms. Unlike other methods, condoms are also great at protecting against STIs. You should never feel pressured to change your contraception method, it is your body and your choice.

If you want to stay with condoms it’s worth talking to your partner about why you don’t want to go on contraception and asking them why they don’t like condoms. It might be that by changing the size or type of condom would improve their relationship with them.

However, if you are interested in trying another method and this is your choice, you can browse our pages on the different contraception methods and visit your GP or local sexual health clinic who will be able to help you consider all your options.

How to talk about condoms

Different sizes and types of condom

Different types of contraception

I’m really struggling to bring up the topic of contraception, what can I do?

Talking about contraception shows you’re being responsible and you want to have a healthy and safe sex life.

If you are nervous about talking to a possible sexual partner, it might help to talk to a friend about it first. You could even practice having the conversation with them.

If you’re really struggling to bring the topic up it might be that you’re not quite ready to have sex with this person yet.

We’ve had sex a few times without condoms but I want to go back to using them, is that unreasonable?

This is not unreasonable at all! You have the right to choose to use a condom each and every time you have sex. Just because you’ve consented to condom-less sex in the past doesn’t mean you cannot choose to use them next time.

Unsure which contraception method is best for you?
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