Some women find it hard to discuss their desire to use condoms with their partners. Others have difficulty persuading their partners to use condoms every time they have sex. Men give different reasons for not using condoms. Some do not like the way condoms can dull the sensation of sex. Sometimes men’s reasons are based on rumors or misunderstanding. Having the facts can help a woman respond to her partner’s objections (see Correcting Misunderstandings).

Talking first can help. Woman who talk to their partners about using condoms before they begin to have sex can improve the chances that condoms are used. Women can try the approaches they think are best, depending on the partner and the circumstances. Some points that have been persuasive in different situations include:

  • Emphasizing use of condoms for pregnancy prevention rather than STI protection.
  • Appealing to concern for each other—for example: “Many people in the community have HIV infection, so we need to be careful.”
  • Suggesting that condom use can make sex more pleasurable for both of you.
  • Taking an uncompromising stance—for example: “I cannot have sex with you unless you use a condom.”
  • Suggesting to try a female condom, if available. Some men prefer them to male condoms.
  •  For pregnant women, discussing the risks that STIs pose to the health of the baby and stressing how condoms can help protect the baby.

Also, a woman can suggest that her partner or the couple together come to the clinic for counseling on the importance of condom use.