Whether you are new to it, or just new to your partner, talking about safe sex and contraception with your partner or a healthcare professional can be a challenge.
Sex is one of those topics that can be lots of fun to talk about, or really awkward – depending on who you’re having the conversation with, and why. This page is full of things to talk about, and ways to approach them, with two very important audiences in your life: your healthcare professionals and/or your partner. Here’s hoping the following tips and insights help you get the conversation started and flowing smoothly!
Ok, let’s start with the health side of things. Even if you don’t really talk about sex with your healthcare professional, you may have to talk about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially if you need a prescription. Here are some pointers for a conversation about sex and how to prevent pregnancy:
- Don’t worry – they’ve had this conversation before!
Seriously, a healthcare professional is not going to be shocked or awkward about a sex talk. So keep that in mind before you take a deep breath and dive in.
- For detailed answers, ask detailed questions.
Don’t just say, “It hurts” – say where and when it hurts. Don’t just say, “It doesn’t seem right at times” – describe the times when things were not right. The more information you provide, the more information you’ll receive.
- Ask about the right contraception for you.
Be sure you are honest about your habits, preferences, and concerns so that your healthcare professional can recommend what will work best for you. And be sure to pay attention to any warnings and advice about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – because it matters!
Right. Now comes the tougher conversation – maybe. Tougher perhaps because not everyone is comfortable with sex talk, and you really shouldn’t leave it to a moment of passion if you want to talk about, say, contraception. Here are some tips and pointers for talking about sex with your partner.
- Have the contraception conversation before you have sex.
It sounds obvious, but it’s a really good idea. It will help make you both equally responsible for contraception, and lay the groundwork for more spontaneity later. And if the moment arrives faster than you could have the conversation, be prepared with your contraceptive and at least acknowledge it – nothing will kill the mood faster than you worrying about getting an STI or pregnant while you’re having sex.
- Talk about preventing STIs, too – for both of your sakes!
It’s not a matter of trust so much as a matter of health. Ideally, you’ll need to add a condom to whatever method of contraception you’ve chosen in order to have safe sex. You’re both worth it.
- Talk about what you like, and what you don’t.
It’s another seemingly obvious statement, but not everyone is going to be comfortable with this conversation – at least not the “I don’t really like it when you…” parts. Think of it as a fine-tuning of your sex life, and a way to help you both enjoy it more. Be sure to include your contraceptive choices in the conversation if there are things you would like to change as well.
- Stick up for yourself!
Sex is a shared experience that should feel good for both of you. It’s a kind of physical conversation – but be sure to talk about your needs if they’re not being met. Being clear may just lead to being satisfied!
- Pay attention to your partner!
That means listening to them while you’re talking, and also while you’re having sex. Sex won’t be perfect every time, but when you’re both committed to meeting each other’s needs, it can make things feel that much better.
Sex & U
American Sexual Health Association
Center for Young Women’s Health
Birth Control Options brochure in pdf format.
A comprehensive website on birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual health created by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
The Canadian Public Health Association is a non-governmental organization focused on public health in general, and has helpful information on birth control methods and sexual health.
A U.S.-based international organization that provides all age groups with reproductive health care and sex education.