Condoms are a fantastic option for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, according to Planned Parenthood, if you use condoms perfectly every single time you have sex, they are 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. (Need a condom refresher? We’ve got you covered.) While this information is great to keep in the back of your mind, you’re likely not going to want to repeat it to your date as things start to get hot and heavy — just to see if they can take a hint. While no one wants to ruin the moment, it’s also critical to protect yourself.

How can you incorporate condoms into foreplay without killing the mood? When should you bring it up? Who should put the condom on? We’re here to tell you — along with a bunch of other people, just like you — that you never need to sacrifice sexy for safety, or vice versa. We decided to ask real men and women who use condoms as a form of contraception to give us their thoughts on the above questions.

On using condoms
“It’s like going on vacation. You have to go through TSA or deal with long layovers — the not-so-great parts. But eventually, you get to the destination and it’s awesome. Even though it’s not as sexy as making out or whatever, protection is just a necessary part of sex.” – Mariah

“I think of it this way: If we were to have sex without a condom, I would be anxious or uncomfortable while doing it and especially afterwards. That’s the biggest mood killer.” – Ashlee

“Sure, sex definitely feels better, at least for guys, when you’re not using a condom. But no one wants to get herpes or chlamydia. It’s a really small price to pay.” – Charlie

On bringing up condoms
“I keep condoms in my nightstand drawer, just in case. I usually am the one who initiates using one. After all, it’s my body. But I’d definitely be cool with it if she brought it up.” – Jeremiah

“I’ve never brought it up before foreplay or in the beginning stages, like, ‘Just so you know, we’re using a condom if this goes down.’ I think that might kill the mood because it’s not letting things unfold naturally, you know? It’s more in the moment. Because of this, I always try to be prepared and have some. If neither of us have one, it gives us something to look forward to next time.” – Deirdre

“I remember one time I brought up using a condom and the guy said, ‘Do we really have to?’ I was so turned off! First, it’s my body and I have a say in the matter. Second, I became skeptical of him — almost like I had less respect for him. Did he skip sex ed? If he’s careless with his own body and choices, can I count on him to respect mine?” – Juliana

“Not going to lie — I have forgotten to put a condom before we started having sex. She just gently pushed me back and was like, ‘Hey, I’m really into this but do you mind if we use a condom?’ I was glad she said something, especially in that manner. It didn’t make me feel stupid or like I was being an asshole. I just got caught up in the moment.” – Brian

“I find that at some point during foreplay, someone usually says, ‘Do you want to have sex?’ or ‘Let’s have sex.’ I think you bring condoms up when it’s most relevant, you know?” – Marie

On putting condoms on
“I think it’s really sexy when a girl takes the initiative to grab the condom for us to use. It sends me a message that she’s into it and wants to take things to the next level.” – Eric

“Women should feel totally OK putting a condom on. Just go for it. It makes them look confident and assertive. Plus, it sends the message that you’re into us and what’s happening. Honestly, that’s the biggest turn on.” – John

“Once both of you are on the same page, someone grabs a condom and puts it on. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to who should put it on.” – Shelly

Some of our biggest takeaways? First, it doesn’t matter who puts the condom on — it can be a turn on when a woman goes for it. Second, there’s nothing weird or unattractive about taking steps to protect yourself, even in the heat of the moment. In fact, it can make the experience even better. Armed with these creative ideas and validation, rest assured that it’s possible to keep things safe and steamy during foreplay.

English Taylor is a San Francisco-based women’s health and wellness writer and birth doula. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Healthline, Refinery29, NYLON, and Modern Fertility. Follow English and her work at https://medium.com/@englishtaylor or on Instagram at @englishtaylor.