How can I talk to my partner about safer sex

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If you think your partner might support your wish to have safer sex, try to talk together about the health risks of STIs. This is not always easy! Most women are taught that it is not ‘proper’ to talk about sex — especially with their partners or other men — so they lack practice. A man may talk with other men about sex, but is often uncomfortable talking with his partner. Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus on safety. When you talk about safer sex, your partner may say that you do not trust him. But the issue is safety, not trust. Since a person may have an STI without knowing it, or may get HIV from something other than sex, it is difficult for a person to be sure he or she is not infected. Safer sex is a good idea for every couple, even if both partners have sex only with each other.
  • Practice talking with a friend first. Ask a friend to pretend to be your partner and then practice what you want to say. Try to think of the different things he might say and practice for each possibility. Remember that he will probably feel nervous about talking too, so try to put him at ease.
  • Do not wait until you are about to have sex to talk about it. Choose a time when you are feeling good about each other. If you have stopped having sex because you have a new baby, or were being treated for an STI, try to talk before you have sex again. If you and your partner live far apart or must travel often, talk ahead of time about how to protect your sexual health.
  • Learn as much as you can about the risks of unsafe sex, and about how to have safer sex. If your partner does not know much about STIs, how they are spread, and the long-term health effects from them, he may not understand the real risks involved in unsafe sex. Information can help convince him of the need to practice safer sex.
  • Use other people as examples („ My brother told me he always uses condoms now.“). Sometimes learning that others are practicing safer sex can help influence your partner to do so, too.
  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en010511