New relationships are always exciting, but before they go sexual, you need to talk about contraception. It’s a sign of respect towards yourself and the other person, and it’s the responsible thing to do as long as pregnancy is a possibility.
The UK has one of the highest contraception rates in all of Europe – 84%, so chances are you already have a preferred contraceptive method.
And yet, bringing up this topic with a new partner has always been somewhat tricky because it can make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.
But it shouldn’t have to! Talking about sex before actually doing it gets a bad reputation, and, to some, it’s almost as uncomfortable as talking about money.
However, breaking the ice and talking about it can make your relationship stronger, not to mention put your mind at ease.
And yes, you should still talk about protection even though you’re on the pill or have an IUD. While these methods may be effective at preventing pregnancy, they don’t protect you from STDs.
Always talk about protection sooner rather than later
Many people wait until the clothes are on the floor to ask their partner if they use protection or, even worse, they ask after the fact, which is a big mistake.
Don’t wait until the last minute to talk about it. You should have the conversation as soon as you feel that sex is a possibility and, ideally, you should talk about it outside the bedroom.
This is a good time to get on the same page as your partner, tell them if you’re taking any oral contraception, if there are some contraceptive methods you like or don’t like, and check that your beliefs are compatible.
If your partner doesn’t want to use protection, it’s better to find out about it earlier than in the middle of the action.
Normalise discussing uncomfortable topics
Talking about STDs is even more uncomfortable than talking about protection. If you’re the one who has an STD, it can put you in a vulnerable position. If you want to make sure they’re healthy, you may be worried that you’ll come across as rude. Either way, STDs are an important topic that should be brought up with a new partner.
First of all, asking someone the last time they were tested for an STD has nothing to do with trust. You can trust them to be an all-around awesome person, but an STD is just a medical diagnosis that doesn’t reflect their worth as a partner in any way.
Secondly, even if one of the partners has an STD, that doesn’t mean you can’t have sex. Using condoms and taking extra precautions can minimise risks, so that you can still have a normal relationship.
Although STDs can be a taboo topic, it’s important to talk about them, especially with a new partner. And, as long as you bring up the topic in a friendly and non-judgemental way, no one should feel offended.
Explore contraceptive options together
After you and your partner agree to use protection, you can start exploring contraceptive options together. As mentioned previously, even if you’re on the pill or have an IUD, these methods don’t protect you against STDs, so you will have to use a condom.
Fortunately, there are many options you can choose from. You and your partner can browse a website like Condoms.uk, which offers a wide range of condoms in various sizes and flavours.
When you use something that both of you like, you’re much more likely to have a great time. And besides, after you get comfortable exploring contraceptive options together, it will be easier to look at other things that boost pleasure, like toys and accessories.
Important: If one of you has an STD, you might want to get your ob-gyn involved in the decision to make sure you choose the best option. For example, condoms don’t fully eliminate the risk of herpes transmission, they only lower them, so you may want to talk to your doctor about additional measures such as herpes medication.
Plan for the unexpected
When they’re used right, condoms are 98% effective. The contraceptive pill is 91% effective, and IUDs are 99% effective. These are pretty high percentages, and yet, accidents do happen. For example, you may forget to take the pill, and he may not put the condom on correctly, which may lead to unpleasant surprises. The chances for that are slim, but you should still be prepared.
Talking about a Plan B may sound too extra, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to cover all your bases. Besides, it’s better to have the conversation before an accident than after it, when both of you may be scared, angry, or confused.
Although it’s normal to be a bit anxious before talking about contraception, most of the time, you’ll come to an agreement with your partner and realise that there was nothing to be worried about.
In most cases, when people don’t use contraception, it’s because they forgot, not because they didn’t want to. However, your partner may also refuse it, in which case you will need to have a more serious discussion.
Sometimes, people may reject a certain contraceptive method based on prejudice. For example, a male who has used a condom brand that didn’t fit or caused an allergic reaction may not be too excited about it.
In this case, you can go over other brands, preferably from specialised stores, where you’re not limited to a couple of options. If your partner doesn’t want to use protection for religious or personal reasons, it’s up to you how you want to proceed.
Sometimes, it’s worth being patient and explaining to them more about the benefits of contraception, but no one should pressure you into having a sexual relationship without protection if you’re not comfortable with that.
Never take risks for someone else’s sake and, if contraception becomes a topic of heated debate, it’s best to look for a meaningful relationship with someone else.