Before you decide to have sex, it’s a good idea to have a plan to protect yourself from STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Condoms can be very effective against many STDs, including HIV and can also prevent pregnancy if you use them correctly every time you have sex.

Don’t be shy about talking to your partner about protection. This is about respect and responsibility for both of you. If you can’t talk to your partner about sex and its possible consequences, then you’re not ready to have sex. If your partner won’t talk about it or tries to blow you off, then they’re not ready. Make smart decisions! Have a talk with your partner before things get hot. It’s easy to think “just this one time” in the heat of the moment.

Have condoms with you if you think you might have sex, or better yet, go shopping for condoms with your partner. This can help start a good conversation about protection. If you have a partner who doesn’t want to use protection, think ahead about how you will respond. Here are some ideas for what to say:

If you insist, most people will agree to use a condom. But if your partner refuses to use protection, you should think about how much they really care for you. Why would you have sex with someone who doesn’t care enough to keep you safe? Don’t let yourself get pressured into doing something you know is not healthy for you. You have the right and the responsibility to take care of yourself!