Wrapping it up

I recently received the following question on Formspring:

I have had unprotected sex a couple of times, and I know it's a bad idea for the future. How do you bring it up without ruining the mood? Also, who should carry the condoms: the man or the woman? (I don't know how to pick them out since each guy is different.)

To state the obvious, few people enjoy using condoms. But, there is a key difference between wanting to use a condom and needing to use a condom. Unless you and your boyfriend are in a monogamous relationship and have both been tested for HIV and STDs, he should be wearing a condom each and every time you have sex. (I'm sure I'm not telling you anything that you don't know, but it can't hurt to be reminded again.)

Since you have had unprotected sex, have you made an appointment to get tested yet? If not, I recommend doing so in the near future. Most major health insurance companies cover an HIV test as part of your annual physical, and you can be tested for STDs at your annual OB/GYN appointment. If you are attending college, confirm that you can get tested at your school's health center. If your school doesn't offer those services, then check online to find out where the nearest Planned Parenthood or women's center is.

Since you don't care to have unprotected sex in the future, how can you bring up the topic without ruining the mood? Well, that depends on the nature of the relationship:

1. A one-night stand or more casual relationship. You aren't seriously dating anyone and are meeting your girlfriends for drinks. You're open to wherever the evening takes you if you meet a fine guy or receive a text from Mr. Right Now.

Be prepared before you leave the house. Buy a cute condom compact and a box of condoms. Keep the box at your house and before you go out for the evening, place a few condoms in the compact. Throw the compact in your purse along with your keys, phone and lip gloss, and you're ready to go!

Prior to having sex, I imagine that the guy will reach for a condom. If he doesn't say or do anything, put your hands on his face and look into his eyes as you say:

I want you inside me. Do you have a condom?

(If you like to talk dirty, feel free to substitute the first line with any variation of "I want to fuck you.")

If he has a condom, then let him use whatever condom he prefers. If he doesn't have one, then you can reach over and grab a condom out of your purse. It doesn't need to ruin the mood since using a condom is a means to a hopefully enjoyable end! If the mention of the word, "condom," makes the guy less excited (as in, less hard), then take a few minutes to get him just how you want him before he puts on the condom.

Most guys in this day and age should realize that it's dangerous to have unprotected sex. But, there are still those guys who will break out a line to try to convince you otherwise. Be prepared with your responses. For example:

Guy: I'll just put the tip in.
Girl: We both know where that will lead.

Guy: I can't feel anything with a condom.
Girl: I bet you will. I'm very wet.

Guy: I don't want to use a condom.
Girl: We can just mess around without having sex, but wouldn't sex be more fun?

Guy: Aren't you on the pill?
Girl: That's not the point. We don't know each other well enough to go raw.

You can use whatever words you wish to get the point across. Just know your limits and stick to them.

With respect to ruining the mood, I would try to reframe your thoughts on that. Using a condom when you have sex should be viewed as Standard Operating Procedure, not a buzz kill. Unless you and the guy are in a monogamous relationship and have both been tested, then the risks of not using a condom FAR outweigh the 60 seconds it takes to bring it up and put one on. (Please realize how much of an understatement this is and that I could go on and on about how testing positive for HIV or dealing with an unplanned pregnancy could really ruin the mood.) Just view using a condom as a normal part of the routine of having sex.

What condoms should you buy? You could buy a Variety Pack from Durex or Trojan or pick a lubricated, latex condom that you like. Choose latex over lambskin since lambskin does not prevent again STDs.

If you want to cover all your bases, you can also pick up a box of Trojan Magnums for larger men and throw one of those condoms in the compact. Trojan's bestseller is the lubricated, ultra-thin ENZ condom, but the company recently came out with an ultra-ribbed Ecstasy condom. (The Ecstasy claims to let you feel all of the pleasure without feeling the condom. Has anyone tried one of these condoms? What was your experience? Please comment – anonymously if need be – and let us know.)

2. If you're in a relationship, then the topic of condoms becomes part of a larger discussion of past sexual history and birth control. I think it's easier to have those discussions out of the bedroom so that there's less pressure. But, if you prefer to have that conversation in the bedroom, that's fine, too. (It's more important that you talk about it than where you talk about it.)

If you care about this person, then it's worth communicating about the following things:

Are you using condoms for birth control and STD/HIV prevention or just the latter?

What condom does he like best? Will he be providing them or do you need to stock up, too?

Will you be using condoms in the early stage of your relationship with the intent to get tested later on?

Are you both monogamous?

Can you orgasm with condoms or will you need additional clitoral stimulation?

You might address all these issues in one fell swoop or discuss these matters over time. If you are in a relationship with someone, then it's appropriate and necessary to broach all of these topics. Just remember that communication and honesty are keys to a healthy relationship in all senses of the word!

Have fun and be safe! xoxo

How have you broached condom use with a partner? What's your brand of choice and why?

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