Negotiating Safer Sex

Sexual activity can be a fun and connecting experience for partners. However, it is important to recognize that oral, vaginal and anal sex are behaviors that do come with risks. The most effective away to avoid the risks of contracting an STI/STD or having an unplanned pregnancy is to use contraceptives. Despite their proven effectiveness, contraceptives are not always a priority for individuals engaging in sexual activity. This can pose a problem for partners or potential partners who have health and pregnancy concerns.


The best way to resolve these problems is to communicate your concerns with your partner. This can be a difficult task because many individuals may not want to start an awkward conversation or are afraid that they may be offending their partner. Although, the subject of safe sex may not lead to a preferable conversation, it is important that you reveal your personal values and concerns to your partner. In many cases, most partners find that they have the same worries and are relieved that the subject was brought up before intimacy has occurred. Even though the topic of contraceptive use is usually welcomed, there are some instances in which a partner may try to argue or find an excuse that goes against your desire for safer sex. The following is a list of misleading responses that you should be prepared for when discussing safe sex.

  1. "I'm already on birth control."
    Hormonal contraceptives provide protection from pregnancy, but it is important to protect against STIs as well. Condoms can help in this area, though they are not perfect.
  2. "It doesn't feel the same with a condom."
    Even though sex with a condom does not feel exactly like sex without one, partners get used to using them and can enjoy sex just as much. Condom use can also prolong sex and provide fuller gratification for both partners.
  3. "Are you saying I'm dirty?"
    Contracting an STI occurs when a person comes into a contact with someone else who already has that STI: It does not mean the person is dirty. Remember that people can have an STI even though they have no symptoms or visible signs of the infection.
  4. "Don't you trust me?
    Even though you may trust your partner, you have a right to question if you trust all of his or her previous partners as well. Your partner might not know that someone else exposed him or her to a STI.
  5. "It's just this one time."
    It only takes one sexual experience to contract an STI or become pregnant.
  6. "Birth control takes away the romance and spontaneity of the experience."
    A good method for dealing with this problem is to keep condoms nearby. This makes it easy to use them more spontaneously. Using different types of condoms and lubrication can also add new flavors and sensations to sexual activities.

When faced with excuses other than those from this list, it can be difficult to uphold your personal beliefs and be assertive about what you want. Sometimes safe sex does require negotiation. Remember that you deserve the right to protect yourself from an unwanted pregnancy or infection/disease. It is your own safety and perhaps your life that is being put in jeopardy-since HIV/AIDS can be lethal. If a partner or potential partner does not respect your request for using contraception, it may be in your best interest to step away from the risk and walk away-or find other means of sexual expression that do not involve the exchange of bodily fluids. A great way to avoid hurting a partner's feelings is to suggest going to get tested at a free clinic together. That way, both partners can receive confirmation that they are healthy and can engage in sexual activities with less worry. This can also be a great bonding experience for the partners.



Sexually Transmitted Diseases Services. Information for Gay, Bisexual and other Men who have Sex with Men.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Services. Safe Sex and Condoms: Essential facts.

McGill University, Student Health. Girl on Guy.



Last updated 3 February 2012


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