A close friendwe've been friends for a long timetold me she's been having sex a lot and that she doesn't use protection. What should I do?

First, it's obvious you're a caring friend. No one wants to see a friend get an STD or have her 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 were visiting our site and you came across information about STDs, like herpes and HIV. Say that some of the stuff you read caused you to feel worried about 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 disease 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 play mom. You just really care about her. Encourage her to make an appointment with 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.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Back to Articles

Related Articles

Talking to Your Partner About Condoms

Some people - even those who are having sex - are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner.

Read More

STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)

You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.

Read More

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine can help protect against the virus that causes genital warts and may lead to some kinds of cancer. Find out more in this article for teens.

Read More

About Birth Control

Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.