Dear Straight Talk: My boyfriend is 22 and I'm almost 20. We're in college and unsure about our long-term future so we just call ourselves friends. However, our relationship has been monogamous and steady for almost a year and we trust each other completely. We normally have sex with a condom. He recently has been wanting to have sex without one. I'm on the pill, which is why he sees it being OK. Is this a good idea? -- Sue
Justin, 25: If I'm in a monogamous relationship and my partner is using reliable birth control, the condoms are dropped. But if the relationship isn't monogamous, it's always condoms. You both need to test clean for STIs first.
Brandon, 20: Just calling yourselves "friends" raises a red flag. If he has commitment issues about calling himself your boyfriend, why wouldn't he have commitment issues if he finds himself a dad? Worst-case scenarios: you get an STI that costs you your life, an abortion that costs you your life savings, or a baby that costs you both. The pill is only 99 percent effective when circumstances are perfect. If you were using an IUD which is always 99 percent effective, that's a better risk. But there are still the diseases. The hard truth is many girls who stop using a condom with guys who "just want to be friends," end up in the single-mother pile. Be smart!
Nicole, 22: If you are monogamous and using the pill as directed, you do not need condoms. However, if either of you begin seeing other people, you must start using them again to protect against STIs.
Christina, 19: Because of how you describing your relationship, I wouldn't recommend it. Sex is a deep-relationship connector and if, after having sex for a year, you guys are still just considering the other a friend, maybe rethink whether you should be having sex at all.
Elise, 21: Better safe than sorry. If you get pregnant, be prepared to accept the responsibility.
Colin, 19: Discuss this with a doctor! Talking about intimate issues face to face can be difficult. But it's easier than living with an STI.
Dear Sue: This is a matter of personal risk assessment. Some people will take the risk, others won't, and the politico in the room (Colin) wisely defers to a doctor.
Monogamous relationships are appropriate and healthy at your age, and you are in a steady one. Most college students who claim to know their long-term future, in fact, don't, so I'm not bothered by your honesty on that point. Regarding odds, millions of married couples drop the condom (no longer needing a barrier from STIs) and successfully use the pill for birth control. However, in the rare event of pregnancy, they are well, married.
Only you can answer your question. More information will help. Step 1. Ask your boyfriend, "If we accidentally got pregnant and I had the baby, would you willingly pay child support for the next 18 years?" If he doesn't hyperventilate and change his mind -- and his answer speaks well of his character, proceed to Step 2: Together you go to the student health center and get tested for STIs. (If he won't go, scratch the whole deal on the spot.) If you both test clean, Step 3: Get the doctor's opinion! Caveat should you proceed: Your relationship needs to remain exclusive and trustworthy and you retain power to reverse your decision for any or no reason. -- Lauren
Contact Straight Talk TNT at www.straighttalkTNT.com