It's about respect – and responsibility – for yourself and your partner. Before deciding to have sex it pays to think about protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You've already taken a big step by looking for answers to your questions and getting the facts.
Not having sex is the best way to keep from getting an STI, but if you choose to be sexually active, using condoms correctly and consistently is a key way to reduce risks. Don't be shy to talk with your partner about safer sex and condoms: For both of you, this is one of the most important conversations you can have. It's also one of the smartest!
Sometimes people don't like to use protection for sex, so it can be helpful to think about how you might respond if you're ever with a partner who doesn't want to use a condom. Remember, you have a right to protect yourself and your health, and using condoms is a way to take care of your partner too – so you're not being selfish at all.
A partner might have specific reasons for not wanting to use condoms. Look over this list to get ideas about how to respond if you ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom:
“I don't have any kind of disease! Don't you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you, but anyone can have an STI and not even know it. This is just a way to take care of both of us.”
“I don't like sex as much with a rubber. It doesn't feel the same.”
“This is the only way I feel comfortable having sex but believe me, it'll still be good even with protection! And it lets us both just focus on each other instead of worrying about all that other stuff…”
“I'm [or you're] on the pill.”
“But that doesn't protect us from STIs, so I still want to be safe, for both of us.”
“I didn't bring any condoms.”
“I have some, right here.”
“I don't know how to use them.”
“I can show you – want me to put it on for you?”
“Let's just do it without a condom this time.”
“It only takes one time to get pregnant or to get an STI. I just can't have sex unless I know I'm as safe as I can be.”
“No one else makes me use a condom!”
“This is for both of us…and I won't have sex without protection. Let me show you how good it can be – even with a condom.”