Fall is upon us, and as the temperature drops, the infamous time known as cuffing season begins to set in. During this season, there’s a mad dash for men and women alike to grab hold of the nearest, most compatible partner and snuggle up during the shut-in months—and during this time, sexual activity skyrockets. When the weather breaks, there is often a parade of babies born… indicating the absence of condom usage.

Though men are the ones who typically buy and provide condoms in sexual situations, both sexes agree that the responsibility of bringing condoms into the bedroom is on both parties. But the responsibility of enforcing condom usage to protect the sexual health of both partners is typically left primarily in the hands of women (because if it were up to men, they would go “raw dog” every time).

However, recent statistical findings from Trojan’s latest study condom usage in relationships conclude that couples have largely chosen to do away with the use of condoms with little thought, which proves that women haven’t been doing such a stand-up job when it comes to enforcing sexual safety.

In polling couples about their condom usage, Trojan discovered that 80 percent of adults consider the use of condoms to be important, but only 35 percent of that 80 use condoms every time sexual activity occurs. Even more alarming: 41 percent of the 80 did not use a condom the last time they entered into sexual activity. As hypocritical as these statements and findings appear, the reasoning behind why many have chosen to ditch the latex during sex is because of commitment, trust and exclusivity experienced in a relationship.

This explains why 50 percent of those with a repeat partner do not use condoms regularly, and abandon the use of them altogether in the first month of a new relationship. By month two, according to the study’s findings, 62 percent of those in monogamous relationships stopped using condoms regularly; half of those people say there was never even a discussion about the decision to remove condoms from their sexual situation in the first place.

It’s common knowledge that at some point in every relationship, both people will have the desire to experience each other in full naturalness. So the issue here isn’t really with the removal of condom usage from the sexual experience, but the lack of communication about the decision and the risks that are involved with it.

There seems to be an uneasiness that sets in amongst couples when it comes to discussing condom usage, mainly because neither partner wants to be perceived as “untrusting” of the other or responsible for “killing the moment.” Possibly because of this fear, couples typically repel from the practice of safer sex. Many choose to go with their “intuition” in knowing that their partner is STD free. But obviously, the only way of knowing one’s status for sure is to get tested.

Any sexually active adult who’s gone through a course of high school sex ed knows this, yet 60 percent of those polled by Trojan indicated they had never been tested for STDs. To make matters worse, two-thirds of those people admitted their partners hadn’t been tested either.

If the responsibility to reinforce the importance of practicing safer sex is in the hands of women, why aren’t more women standing up and making the decision to have the important conversation about contraception and STD testing?

“The issue lies within a lack of confidence and competence,” states world-renowned relationship expert Matthew Hussey, who partnered with Trojan to spread the word about these statistical findings and encourage a change towards opening up the “safer sex” discussion. “When going into a relationship, a woman must be aware of her standards and have the confidence to communicate them in the bedroom.”

Matthew admits it can be difficult for anyone to have the safer sex talk without sounding like a prude or coming off like a public service announcement, but by “learning how to communicate the standard [competence] from a positive and uplifting perspective,” women can educate while influencing their men to practice safer sex.

So how does Matthew suggest women communicate a standard of practicing safer sex in the bedroom? “First, a woman has to not be afraid to communicate her standard, and even though the standard shouldn’t be taken lightly, she doesn’t have to approach the conversation so seriously.” He suggests women broach the subject “playfully, and not make the conversation about her partner or her distrust in him, but about the standard she has set for her health.

“You want to reaffirm him that you want the same thing as he does as far as experiencing sex in the natural, yet remain firm in your standards,” Matt continues. “It’s important to show in the relationship that wearing condoms isn’t just something that should be done, but it can be a part of the experience.”

While in the heat of the moment, he advises women to turn the application process into a learning experience where she suggests her partner show her how to put on a condom. “If she expresses how hot it would be to be shown how to apply a condom, he will be turned on, not only because she is learning something that he is teaching her, but he will be turned on by the fact that she wants to do that for him.”

Condoms are 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly, and are the only proven method of contraception that protects against STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Before making the decision to remove condoms from a relationship, every couple needs to have a serious discussion about the risks, make a commitment to get tested regularly, and remain monogamous to maintain optimum sexual health. Cuffing season can be fun, but it’s more fun when it’s practiced safely.