Alice,

I am a guy, and well, me and my girlfriend want sex, but she says she wants me to not use a condom so I can get the real feeling. But, I don't want a child at my age and at this point. How can I tell her that I want to use condoms?

Dear Reader,

Okay, you've got one vote for condoms and one vote against, thoughtful concerns about your pleasure factor, and equally thoughtful concerns about becoming a father in the near future. It's not clear how much you both have talked about this, but it's a great idea to talk, express yourself, and listen. You can explain how you feel about unprotected sex and why this is important to you, being honest and clear.

You can say something like, "I care about you and want to talk with you about something that's important to me... We both want to be close and have pleasure, but I am not ready to be a father right now. Before we have sex, we need to talk about preventing unwanted pregnancy." This conversation can play out in many ways, so it's impossible to script the entire conversation. When you are ready to talk with her, find a time when you can both sit down in a "safe space," where you will not be distracted or interrupted.

Condoms can protect you and your girlfriend from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If both you and your partner have tested negative for STIs and you are in a monogamous relationship with each other, then complimentary birth control methods might be worth considering — many of which are compatible with a male condom. You and your girlfriend can research the advantages and disadvantages of these contraceptive methods available to you. The Go Ask Alice! Sexual Health archive has extensive information about safer sex and contraception, including effectiveness, advantages, and disadvantages of various methods.

While many people who use condoms have healthy sexual relationships, men sometimes report that wearing a condom during sex diminishes sensation. However, using a dab of lube inside and outside of the condom can help. Some men report using a condom slows down their urge to orgasm, making intercourse last longer. Condoms are widely available in every size, shape, texture, thickness, and color, making condoms a fun addition to sex, rather than a burden.

The point of all this is to open up options for both of you. Conversations that include statements such as, "We both want to give and get pleasure — the ways we want to touch and be touched, and also be safer. Let's find things upon which we can both agree."

Alice!
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