By Rebecca Brito and Andrea Pagan, SPEEK peer educators
This National Condom Month, we teamed up with our SPEEK peer educators to talk about how to talk to your partner about condoms. Even though condoms are an essential part of safer sex, a lot of teens still don’t use them consistently. About 1/3 of penis-havers and almost ½ of vagina-havers said that they did not use a condom the last time they had penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex. There are lots of reasons for this, but one is lack of communication between partners. When you’re in the moment, it can be hard to speak up—even if your partner is usually supportive and respectful. And if your partner isn’t listening, or making excuses, it can feel really hard to insist. To help, our SPEEK peer educators have put together a list of common excuses to not wear condoms, and ways you can respond.
Condoms are an essential part of safer sex. They’re not only great at preventing pregnancy (when used correctly, every time), but also protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In a sense, condoms can save a person’s life. Talking about sex can feel awkward at first, but it’s an important part of your sexual health.
If your partner doesn’t want to wear a condom (or doesn’t want you to wear a condom), you can simply say something like, “We can either use a condom, or not have sex. It’s up to you.” You can also explain why condoms are important to you, and help them understand where you are coming from. This does NOT mean that you owe your partner an explanation for wanting to use condoms. They should respect your boundaries no matter what. But having a script for what you want to say can make it easier to tell your partner what you want. Here are 6 common excuses to not wear a condom, and responses to use if you ever hear them.
1. Excuse: “It doesn’t fit,” “It’s too tight,” or “It’s not comfortable.”
Response: “Condoms fit almost any size penis. A condom can hold a gallon of water—your penis can fit.”
Very, very few people have penises too large for normal-sized condoms. And even if you or your partner is one of those few, you still have lots of options. Go for the XL size!
2. Excuse: “I don’t know how to put it on.”
Response: “I’ll help you put it on,” or “Let’s learn how to put one on together.”
If your partner is telling the truth—and not just offering up a lame excuse—that’s awesome! It takes courage to admit you don’t know something. This is a great opportunity to learn how to properly put on a condom.
3. Excuse: “It will feel better without a condom.”
Response: “A condom is not just for my safety, but also for yours,” or “It’s just not worth the risk. Sex with a condom is better than no sex at all, right?”
You could also try, “It might feel better now, but it’ll feel a lot worse later if you get an STI.”
4. Excuse: “I want to feel you inside of me,” or “I want to be inside of you.”
Response: “You’ll barely notice it once we get started.”
You can also offer to buy or use condoms that are specially designed to feel like almost nothing, such as Trojan’s Bareskin condoms.
5. Excuse: “It will feel more intimate.”
Response: “A condom has nothing to do with intimacy. How we feel about each other creates intimacy.”
Or: “I can’t be intimate with you if I’m worried about getting pregnant or getting an STI.”
6. Excuse: “I’m tryna make you my baby daddy,” or “I wanna be your baby daddy.”
Response: “I am not ready to be a father,” or “I am not ready to be a mother.”
It is not ok to decide for your partner that it’s time to have a kid, or for your partner to decide to get you pregnant. You might want to consider not having sex for a while, or being in charge of your own birth control if you’re not already.
What it all comes down to is that it is always more safe to wear a condom than to not wear one, even if you’re not thrilled with the sensation, or feel like it “interrupts the mood.” In the end, it’s a small price to pay for pregnancy prevention and protecting yourself and your partner from STIs. If you have a vagina and want more control over your sexual health, consider using internal condoms. You can insert them up to 8 hours before sex, and relax knowing your protection is taken care of.
The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.