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How do I ask a partner to use a condom?

Sometimes people don’t want their partner to think they were “planning” on having sex since it seems more romantic for sex to “just happen.” But wanting to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and/or the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is smart.

Being concerned about what others think keeps many teens from talking openly about sex and protection. Talking openly and honestly with a partner about condoms and planning ahead of time how to protect each other from STDs and/or pregnancy is important.

Ideally, you should talk about using protection, such as a condom, before you even start engaging in sexual behaviors. When you talk openly and honestly about your expectations, both you and your partner understand that if you do have sex, then you will be prepared to use protection.

When you talk about using a condom, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have committed to having sex. It just means that protecting your sexual health is important to you. Even if you have decided to have sex but then realize that sex doesn’t feel OK, you always have the right to say “no,” even at the last second. Partners need to respect the right of anyone at any time to change their mind. It’s a good idea to talk about boundaries and the best way to communicate during intimate and sexual encounters.

If you find that it is difficult for you to talk openly and honestly with your partner about using a condom, or sex in general, you might want to think about whether it’s the right time for you to have sex. Using protection is part of having sex and is nothing to be ashamed of.

Here’s what other teens have to say about bringing up condoms with a partner:

“When my girlfriend and I talked about sex, there was never any question about condom usage. When we first started talking, neither of us was sure that sex was the right thing for our relationship, but we were sure of one thing: if we decided to, the condition for both of us was that we use a condom.”

–Max, 17

“I’d simply ask, ‘You have protection, right?’ If they said no, I’d tell them, ‘No deal. No condom no sex, but most importantly, no STDs.’”

–Kristen, 17

“When we’re kissing, I ask my boyfriend, ‘Hey, you have a condom, right? Just in case?’ If he says no, then I let him know I’m going home early so that we aren’t even tempted to go without!”

–Malik, 18

“My girlfriend buys condoms in bulk from a website, and I pay her back for half. That way we both know we have plenty of condoms. We both know we want to use them, and we both pay for them. It works for us!”

–Drew, 19

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