A Cheat Sheet for Talking About Safe Sex

Practicing safe sex is easier said than done. Or actually, it's harder, because we often just don't know what to say to our partners. Here are the right words to use in awkward situations.

(Continued from Page 2)

While some women believe that this is just an excuse that men create to get out of using condoms, the problem is real. "Men need to train themselves by masturbating with condoms on to help get the penis used to having and keeping an erection [with a condom on] when having actual intercourse with someone else," says Ross. "This is going to take some practice."

Which, if you think about it, doesn't have to be so bad, especially if someone can help you out.

This is never going to be a comfortable conversation, because issues of trust, infidelity and safety are difficult to discuss, but Ross stresses that you need to have this talk anyway. "It's important to be calm, rational and honest when expressing your lack of trust in your partner, and explaining why you feel this way," she says.

She suggests the following script:

You: I have been feeling really funny, and I want to talk to you about it. Something just doesn't feel right about our relationship. I am having serious doubts that we are in a monogamous relationship. Until we can work out these trust issues, I would feel more comfortable if we started using condoms, because I am feeling that my health is at risk. Are we in a monogamous relationship? Because I really need to know.

Bottom line: Listen to your gut and don't be afraid to speak up for yourself.

5. Your prospective partner tells you that he or she has been tested for HIV and/or other STDs, but you haven't seen proof. You want reassurance but don't want to come off as if you are conducting an interrogation.

Of course you don't want to make someone feel as if he or she is being grilled by Benson and Stabler from Law & Order: SVU, but if you need the proof to ease your mind, you need the proof. And you shouldn't have to apologize for it.

If the person admits that he or she needs to be tested or doesn't have up-to-date results to show you, Ross suggests getting tested together -- even making a date out of it. "The two of you can go and get tested together, reaffirming World AIDS Day or whatever you want to commemorate, and then share your results with each other."

If you don't want to put in all that time or effort, make sure your prospective partner e-mails you or show you those test results. "For every day you don't see their results, send a friendly e-mail reminding them that you are waiting," Ross advises. "You can even include sexy rewards as an incentive."