Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
How can I convince my boyfriend to use a condom?
My boyfriend doesn’t like to use a condom when we have sex because he says condoms reduce his sensation. I know we should use a condom to prevent pregnancy and STDs, so how can I talk to him about it?
Thanks for your question. It sounds like you’re on the right track to keep you and your boyfriend healthy. Talking about birth control and safer sex are sometimes considered boring and unromantic...but these issues are important to show each other that you care about each other’s health and well-being.
Here are some ideas to get you and your boyfriend started in talking about safer sex, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Besides not having sex at all, using condoms is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spreading STDs. If either of you has ever been sexually active, it’s possible that one of you has an STD. And most STDs don’t show signs or symptoms right away...so the only way to know whether you have an STD is to get tested.
If you and your boyfriend haven’t been tested and treated for common STDs, you may want to talk about getting tested together...in the meantime, until you know each other’s STD status, using condoms is the best way to help keep each other safe from a possible infection. Remember, many STDs exist without causing symptoms. You or your boyfriend could have an STD without knowing it. For more information about STD prevention, safer sex and testing, see our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
Condoms are also an inexpensive way to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. When used correctly every time a couple has sex, condoms are relatively effective with just a 2% failure rate. (That is, if 100 couples used condoms as their only form of birth control for one year, about two of those couples would get pregnant within that year). Unfortunately, not everyone uses condoms correctly and consistently every time, so actual failure rates can be as high as 15%. (That is, if 100 couples used condoms as their only form of birth control for year, about 15 of those couples would get pregnant within that year).
To prevent pregnancy, you may also want to discuss alternate forms of birth control. Hormonal birth control might be an option for you and your boyfriend if you only have sex with each other and if you’ve both been tested ⎼ and treated, if necessary ⎼ for STDs. You can learn more about other forms of birth control by talking to your doctor or visiting a local Planned Parenthoodclinic.
Now, regarding the way a condom feels, and that your boyfriend doesn’t experience the same sensation when he’s wearing one...as we talk about in our blog, progress is being made to bring new condoms to market that are safer ⎼ and more pleasurable ⎼ than ever. So you and your boyfriend might have fun trying out some different kinds until you find one that allows him to enjoy sex and keep both of you healthy and safe at the same time.
Just remember that, except for condoms, other birth control methods don’t protect you from STDs.
I wish you good luck talking in talking to your boyfriend about the importance of safer sex, and I wish you both the best of health and a satisfying sex life.
Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.