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What Can I Say to a Friend Who's Having Unprotected Sex?

Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD

A very close friend told me she's been having sex a lot and that she doesn't use protection. What can I say to her?

It's great that you're a caring friend. No one wants to see a friend get an STD or have their life put on hold by an unplanned pregnancy. Both of these are possible when a person has unprotected sex.

But sex is a topic that can be tough to talk about, even with friends we've known a long time. So where do you start?

Tell your friend that you want to talk about something personal. Find a private place to chat. Mention that you've read reliable information about STDs, like herpes and HIV. Say that some of the stuff you read made you worried for her. (For example, it's not always possible to tell if a partner has an STD.)

Sometimes people don't realize they have an STD. They may tell partners they are OK because they honestly don't know otherwise. But they can still pass the infection on. Protection from STDs is one reason why even people who use birth control methods like the Pill need to use a condom as well.

When someone with an STD doesn't get treatment, the infection can get worse or cause other health problems. It's tempting to put off finding out about STDs. But that can cause bigger problems — like not being able to have children — later on.

Tell your friend you're not trying to lecture or judge. You just really care about her. Encourage her to see her health care provider to talk about how to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Or your friend can visit a local clinic like Planned Parenthood. Health clinics often provide low-cost birth control and testing for STDs and pregnancy without any need for insurance. You can even go with your friend if she'd like some support.

Good luck! You can't make your friend use protection — although she may be reaching out to you because she realizes she should. No matter what she decides, though, congratulate yourself for speaking up, knowing what's smart, and being a caring friend.

Medically reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date reviewed: October 2018