Negotiating condom use

It is very difficult for most people to talk about condoms openly with their partners. It may be especially hard for young people and unmarried people to talk about condoms because in many places they will be judged for having sex.

  1. Condoms should be used every time with all partners, and especially with any non-regular partners or partners who do not know their HIV-status.
  2. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and their partners should also use condoms every time to protect the woman and the baby. We should all take responsibility for protecting ourselves and our partner(s).
  3. Condoms can be fun and pleasurable. A woman can help a man put on a condom and a man with a condom on may take a longer time to ejaculate (cum), so it can mean more pleasure for his partner. There are also several varieties of condoms available that can enhance the sexual experience.
  4. Practice what you are going to say about condoms to your partners.
  5. Suggest that the person focus on safety issues instead of trust issues. For example, “It is good for us to use condoms to make sure we are both safe. It is not because I do not trust you.”
  6. Use other people practicing safer sex as examples. For example, “I know that so and so in the community decided they should use condoms, even though they are faithful to one another.”
  7. Take your partner to your health care provider or your local health centre to talk about HIV/ STI prevention.

 “You use your whole body to have sex – not just the penis, vagina, anus or mouth. Only a small part of the body is covered by a condom so it should not take away from the experience.”

If your partner says…

You could say…

It will not feel as good.

It may feel different. But it will still feel good.

Here let me show you.

I do not have any diseases!

I do not think I have any either, but one or both of us could and not know it. Let’s be safe.

You are already using family planning.

I would like to use a condom anyway. One of us might have an infection from before that we might not know about.

Just this once without a condom…please.

It only takes one time without a condom to get HIV or an STI. Also, I am not ready to be pregnant.

Condoms are for loose women. Why do you want to use one?

Condoms are for everyone who wants to protect themselves.

If you love me, we do not need condoms.

I do love you and I want us to be safe so we can be happy together



  1. The Comprehensive Peer Educator Training Curriculum: Trainer Manual International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, Columbia University