It’s Friday! For most of us, the work week is almost over and thoughts of good friends, good times and perhaps some good wine are giving us motivation to grind for just a few more hours!

Speaking of grinding, the weekend is the perfect time to spend a few lazy (or not so lazy) hours in the bedroom with your honeydip. But while the stresses of work may be behind you for the next few days, the sheets can be an even more frustrating place to be if you’re still trying to figure out how to have one of the most important conversations a couple (or any two people having sex) can have: the protection talk.

Now, I’d love to believe that everyone reading this is a safety-savvy-sister and knows just how to broach the topic with her partner. Sadly, the STD infection rates for Americans of all creeds and colors are telling a very different tale. So even if you feel confident in your ability to be up front with anyone you may be sleeping with, please pass this along to anyone you know who may need a little help.

Whether you are smitten with a new beau or hooking up for one night only, you mustn’t take for granted that a first-time sex partner is going to show up with condoms, or that he believes in using them. At the point you have established that you plan to sleep with someone, it is your responsibility to yourself to inquire about his sexual practices. You don’t need to know how many women he’s been with (and I STRONGLY advise against sharing your own number; you know the Chris Rock joke: “TWO men? Including me? Who raised you???”), but you do need to know his stance on protection. Always? Great! Sometimes? Uh-oh. Never? RUN.

It’s also important to ask when he was last tested for STIs and what the results were. If he takes offense to this line of questioning, that’s a big red flag. You aren’t accusing him of being “dirty” — it only takes one sexual encounter to contract something that can stick with you for your entire life, and perhaps even end it. Any man who seems put off by reasonable, respectful questions about his sexual behavior from someone who he plans to have sex with is not someone you should let inside of your body. Period.

This doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation at all, and you don’t have to wait until you’re about to have sex to raise the issue. Bring it up on your way home from a movie or during a late-night phone call: “So. Condoms? Yay or nay?” Just spit it out as if it’s the most casual thing in the world. If he’s taken aback, laugh and say, “We had to talk about it at some point, why not now? Gotta handle the business before the pleasure!” He’ll likely be excited to know that you’re thinking about sex, and hopefully, he’ll admire the fact that you’re taking a proactive approach to protecting your sexual health… and his!

I’d love to say “Just get the hell out” to anyone dealing with a dude who doesn’t want to wear a condom, but sadly, I know too many women who’ve either been coerced or who hesitantly went raw because they didn’t want to force the issue. This is not a debate over seeing “Thor” versus “Jumping the Broom.” This is an issue that you force, my dears. Tell him, “Look, this isn’t me saying that you’ve got something or that I think you’re lying about your status. But I’m not trying to take any risks at this point and I’m not trying to get pregnant, either. The “raw feels better” thing doesn’t move me. We can have great sex with a condom. And that’s the only way we’re gonna have any sex.” And don’t budge.

If he says he’s allergic to latex, remind him that Target carries polyurethane condoms as well.
If he says he’s “too big” for a regular condom, then he’s probably full of it. Not only do we now have Magnums AND Magnum XLs, it’s more likely that his lack of properly fitting condoms comes from not looking for them than it does from finding that the large ones are simply too small. It’s 2011. There are no ‘good’ excuses for going without a condom unless you’ve decided you’re trying to make a baby.

Speaking of… are you willing or ready to have children with this person? Condoms or no condoms, you both need to explain your stance on pregnancy before you start twisting the sheets. You may be surprised to learn how vehemently against abortion your lover is, or how unwilling he is to become a parent until he’s married. If you wait until a condom has broken or a birth control pill (or three) have been forgotten to have this talk, the results can be dismal. Ask the folks on Maury. Again, this doesn’t have to be that hard. Start with your feelings: “I really want to be a mother some day, but definitely not right now…”

If you want to have unprotected sex, then that is your choice and you may face some serious consequences for that (which is why I highly encourage you to choose otherwise). However, if you feel that wrapping it up is the right thing to do, then you can’t let anyone deter you from that. If a partner flat out says he doesn’t want to have sex with a condom, well, ask yourself this: is your health worth someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries enough to protect you in order for you to have what is supposed to be a mutually beneficial encounter? Remember, even if you’re on birth control, it’s unlikely that this is the first time he has ever decided to go without a rubber. So if the last girl or last four girls were cool with his ‘raw dog’ preference, you may end up with the sort of gift you’d never think to put on a wish list.

Sex can be mind-numbing, toe-curling, earth-shattering fun, but it’s all the more thrilling when you have two people who respect one another’s desires and who take safety seriously. You can’t ever be afraid to speak up when your health (and your ability to have mind-numbing, toe-curling, earth-shattering fun in the future) are at stake.

Hope your weekend is just as sexy and safe as can be!