Communication is an important part of healthy relationships and discussing safer sex is an important part of healthy sex lives. It’s helpful to think about what you’d like to say before sex happens, so we’ve got some tips to help you prepare for the conversation.

What does safer sex mean?

Safer sex means using birth control methods and barrier methods every time you have sex to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Responding to excuses with comebacks

Partners who don’t want to use condoms may come up with excuses. Below we have a few you might hear, as well as some comebacks to say in response.

“It doesn’t feel good.”
  • “I’d feel better if we used protection.”
  • “Let’s try a different condom, and maybe some new lube.”
  • “When I feel safe, it makes me feel good.”
Condoms can actually help increase sexual pleasure for some people by removing some of the anxiety about pregnancy or STIs. It’s also good to try several brands of condoms to find the right fit, style, size, and more.

“It ruins the mood.”
  • “It puts me in the mood.”
  • “Not if I help.”
It’s important for everyone to know how to use a condom – that way you can both assure it’s on properly. It can also be very sensual to put a condom on your partner for them!

“But I love you!”
  • “If you love me, respect my health.”
  • “That’s just one more reason to make sure I’m protected.”
  • “And I love condoms!”
  • "Love doesn’t protect you from pregnancy and STIs.”
Love is just as much about respect as it is about pleasure. Healthy love does not include pressuring each other into doing things you don’t want to do.

“Don’t worry, I’m on birth control.”
  • “Birth control only helps prevent pregnancy, not STIs.”
  • “Awesome, that means we’ll be doubly protected with condoms.”
Birth control is very effective against pregnancy but offers no protection against STIs. It’s generally a good idea to use both birth control and condoms for dual protection

Other Tips

  • Your partner(s) may mention that they’re ‘clean’ (meaning they tested negative for STIs) or don’t have any STI symptoms. Remember that most STIs don’t cause symptoms, so that isn’t an effective way to determine someone’s status. Some STIs, like HPV and herpes, can be present without symptoms, so it can be tough for them to truly know their status.
  • Try to avoid having this conversation right before sex happens – it’s way easier to give in when things are heating up! Consider having the talk in a sexually neutral space, like a private car ride or over the phone.

Helpful Resources

  • Planned Parenthood: This is a nationwide network of health centers that offers affordable sexual reproductive services and resources such as, STI testing, birth control, and free condoms.
  • This government website has a testing location tool where you can find STI or HIV testing locations near you.
  • STI Information from the CDC: To learn more about STIs, visit the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) website.