Talking to your partner about sex
It’s vital that you feel able to talk to your partner about safe sex. Choosing to have a sexual relationship with another person can be one of the closest relationships you can experience – so you have a right and responsibility to protect both your health and your partner’s health by talking about safe sex.
This is all part of the important responsibilities that come with becoming a teenager and adult. Relationships with a partner might be a whole new ball game for you, and you might need to develop new skills.
When talking to your partner about sex:
- be aware of timing - pick the right moment for both of you
- make sure you are talking in the right place and have enough privacy
- think about the words that best fit the feelings you want to talk about
- talk to a few people for advice before you speak to your partner
- plan to talk before you find yourself in an awkward situation.
Think about your future
Some decisions to do with sex that you make now can affect the rest of your life, as well as your partner’s in some cases. Some questions are really BIG! Like:
- “Do I want to become a parent now? Would my partner stay with me?”
- “How can I be sure my partner doesn’t have a disease I could catch by having sex?”
The consequences of not staying safe can also put you in some really difficult situations.
- “How do I tell Mum?”
- “How do I tell my girlfriend I’ve got an STI?”
- "How could I have put myself, my partner and even my future baby at such a risk?"
Don’t wait until something happens before you worry about it. Talk about issues and work through a solution in advance. You have to work at staying safe. Sometimes this means discussing with others what your limits are. Finding the right words at the right time can be a little tricky. You have to be prepared for situations that might happen sometime in the future. Plan your responses before you find yourself in that situation.
- “I’m not at risk”
Anybody who has unprotected sex is at risk. Anybody who practices unsafe behaviours like tattooing, piercing or injecting with unsterile equipment could be at risk of getting hepatitis C or HIV. You can't tell whether someone has an STI, HIV or hepatitis C by how they look or how they appear to live. Most people with an STI and most people with HIV or hepatitis C look well. They don't look sick. Nice people, ‘straight’ people, and married people can and do get STIs, HIV and hepatitis C infection. Unsafe behaviour just ONCE is enough to put you at risk.
- “We’re honest with each other. We trust each other.”
This is an important principle in life, but it will not protect you. It’s possible that your sexual partner might feel unable to discuss any past or current risky behaviour with you, especially if it’s something that is not easy to talk about. Always think about your safety and the safety of your closest friends or partner. There's always a chance that you or your partner might have picked up an STI from a previous relationship. Some viruses like herpes can remain invisible for long periods of time. Many people have more than one sexual partner in their lifetime and many relationships between young people don't last for a long time. Even though you think it will be OK, love won’t and can't protect you from an STI.
|"We'd been together for over a year and faithful to each other when I got a blister on my penis. Alex didn't even want to talk to me. I was shattered. The doctor said it was herpes and that I could have had the virus in my bloodstream for years." James, aged 18|