Safer Sex Action Plan

This is your action plan from ACT. Refer to this any time you need a willpower boost or a refresher!



What safe sex practice will you commit to every time you have sex?

  • I will use male or female condoms every time I have sex.
  • I will use a hormonal birth control method every time I have sex (pills, patch, ring, IUD, shot, other).
  • I will use a condom and a hormonal birth control method every time I have sex.

Whether you write it down or keep it in your head, setting a goal is the first step in keeping yourself on track.



Drained of willpower? Here are some reasons for practicing safer sex to keep in mind:

  • You don’t want to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant.
  • You don’t want to get an STI.
  • You care about your health.
  • You want to keep your partner safe.
  • Your partner wants to.
  • You want to be a good role model to others.

Most teens and young adults say avoiding getting an STI is what motivates them.

Keeping on TRACK


Remember some of the things that can help keep you on track:

  • Talking to your partner before you have sex.
  • Not using alcohol or drugs at a time you may have sex.
  • Getting condoms.
  • Keeping condoms with you.
  • Using different kinds of condoms (like flavored, ribbed, sensitive, thin)
  • Getting a prescription for another form of birth control.
  • Making an appointment for hormonal birth control.
  • Setting alerts for your birth control
  • Talking to a parent.
  • Talking to a friend.

Overcoming CHALLENGES to Using Condoms


Even if you intend to use condoms, things can get in the way.

Here are the challenges you might face and some ideas for overcoming them: 

If you feel comfortable talking with your parents about sex, that’s great. Many parents are relieved to learn that you’re making responsible choices about sex, and being open with them about your decision to use condoms can make you even closer to them. If this is not an option, there are many discrete ways to store and carry condoms. Make-up cases, pouches, or zipper compartments in a bag or backpack can work well. Just make sure you don’t put them in a pocket or leave them in a hot car! And switch them out every month or two.

Be open and honest with your partner. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about your feelings before you’re in the moment of having sex. Explain why it’s important to you to use protection and how you would like your partner to support your decision. Then, make sure you have condoms with you. If your partner still pressures you, they are not being respectful to you or your wishes.

It can be uncomfortable to buy condoms or other forms of birth control. Maybe you’re afraid someone will see you and judge you. Often, health clinics or doctors’ offices will give out condoms for free. Or you can buy them from a store farther away from people you know or ask a friend to buy them for you.

Don’t let sticker shock prevent you from using condoms. There are lots of places to get inexpensive or free condoms. For free condoms, start at your county health department or your local Planned Parenthood. For less expensive condoms, shop online or a large discount store (like Walmart or Target).

Carry condoms at all times—then you’ll always have one when you need it. You can keep them in a small make-up bag or in a wallet. Just make sure you don’t put them in a pocket or leave them in a hot car! Switch them out after a month or two, as condoms can break down from being carried in a wallet or bag. If you still don’t have a condom when you need it, commit to waiting to have sex until you can get one.

Maybe you’ve seen those videos of people putting condoms on a banana or cucumber. It might seem funny, but practice makes perfect. Learning how to use a condom ahead of time can give you confidence when you’re ready to use one for real. Check out Planned Parenthood’s video on how to put on a condom: to do it for you, can be part of the experience.

Talk to your partner and make sure you’re both prepared and have condoms with you. It’s best to have more than one condom just in case. Keep a condom somewhere close by that makes it easy to reach for.

Wanting to use condoms isn’t about trust, it’s about health. Many STIs, like chlamydia, have no symptoms so you or your partner could have one and not even know it. Plus, if you’re having sex that could result in pregnancy, condoms provide additional pregnancy prevention. Want to know whether you’re both STI-free? Go get tested together.

Drinking alcohol or using drugs can get in the way of making safer decisions about sex. Avoiding drinking too much or using drugs before having sex can help you follow through with your plan to use condoms. You can monitor the amount of alcohol you are drinking by always pouring your own drinks, mixing your drinks weaker and substituting every other drink with water.

There are many different types of condoms. Try different condoms to find one that you like—like ultrafine, ribbed or textured. The key is to find something that makes you and your partner feel good while staying protected.

Using condoms doesn’t have to interrupt sex—it can be a part of it. Opening and putting on a condom for your partner, or asking your partner to do it for you, can be part of the experience.

Overcoming CHALLENGES to Using Hormonal Birth Control


Even if you intend to use hormonal birth control, things can get in the way.

Here are challenges you might face and some ideas for overcoming them: 

If you feel comfortable talking to your parents about getting birth control, that’s great. If you don’t, your parents don’t have to know. Legally, you have the right to get and use birth control, and your doctor can’t tell your parents. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re on your parents’ insurance, they may end up finding out. You can choose other birth control options (like condoms) or go to a local health clinic for lower cost or free options.

There are many ways you can get birth control. Ideally, you should be able to ask a parent or caregiver to make an appointment for you to talk with your regular doctor or clinician. If that is not an option for you, you can make a confidential appointment to discuss birth control options at a local health clinic. Try searching for a clinic near you using this website:

The cost of birth control depends on what type of insurance you have. Even so, there are lots of less expensive and even free birth control options. Be open with your healthcare provider about this concern. They may be able to give you a generic version or suggest other ways to keep costs down. You may also be able to find low-cost or free birth control options in your area.

The pharmacy is required by law to respect and protect your privacy. No one will know what you’re picking up, and if you call for a refill, you can ask them to be extra discreet. If you’re still not comfortable getting your prescription, there are other options, like pharmacies that send you your prescription in the mail.

Bringing up birth control can be tough. A trusted adult—especially a parent, guardian, or older family member—can be a good choice. Try to choose a time when the two of you are alone and not distracted by other things. If you don’t have anyone at home to talk to, try the school nurse, school counselor, or a medical professional at a health clinic.

Every type of birth control is a little different. Learn more about the different types of hormonal birth control and check out Bedsider’s “How to Use” section under each method:

Every type of birth control is a little different. Studies have shown that the pill does not cause weight gain for women. In some women, a birth control shot may cause some gain weight. Discuss these concerns with your health care provider and they can recommend the best options for you. You can also learn more about the different types of hormonal birth control by checking out Bedsider’s “Side Effects” section under each method:

If you’re taking the pill, set an alarm to remind you to take it every day. Or pair it with an activity you’re already doing each day, like brushing your teeth. If you change a patch or ring, put it on your calendar or pair with an activity you do weekly or every few weeks. If you need to go to the doctor or clinic for a shot, make appointments ahead of time and plan the way you’ll get there. You can also set up reminders for yourself at

Most hormonal birth control methods have some side effects, and most are relatively mild. But if you start using one and have a side effect you don’t like, tell your healthcare provider who prescribed it right away. You have many other choices!

If have you certain health conditions hormonal birth control may not always be an option. However there are many types of hormonal birth control available. Talk to your healthcare provider about what is right for you. If hormonal birth control is not an option, certain IUDs, condoms, or diaphragms may work better for you for pregnancy prevention.

A lot of birth control methods are working continuously and don’t need to be used in the moment, so they shouldn’t have any effect on the mood. If there’s something else going on that that ruins the mood, talk to your partner so you can figure out a solution. 

Even if little gets in the way of practicing safer sex, it’s good to be prepared for tough situations ahead of time.

Just for YOU


You may also find these resources helpful:

  • get answers to questions about sex, relationships, pregnancy, STDs, birth control, sexual orientation and more!
  • facts, support and resources to answer your questions, get referrals, and access in-depth information about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), healthy relationships, and more.
  • Planned Parenthood chat/text: ask trained sex educators about abortion, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy, and STDs. Text “PPNOW” to 774636 during certain hours.
  • online birth control support network for women 18-29.
  • Q Chat Space: online discussion groups for LGBTQ+ teens ages 13-19.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Youth Support Line: 1-888 843-4564
  • The Trevor Hotline: 1-866-488-7386. The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25.
  • Harvard LGBTQ+ Trans Youth Handbook: legal resource guide that covers the rights of trans youth across a wide spectrum of situations, including identity documents, school, health care, non-affirming care environments, and work.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673), or chat live with a trained staff member who can provide confidential crisis support.
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: call toll free or text LOVEIS to 866-331-9474, or log on to and receive immediate, confidential assistance via chat.