This paper examines the gender-power relations in heterosexual relationships and discusses the implications for women in attempting to negotiate safer sex Whilst acknowledging the need for examining both male and female perceptions of sexuality, the paucity of research on men's heterosexual experiences has restricted this paper to the consideration of the woman's standpoint Reviewing the literature, the complexities of sexual relationships are explored in terms of the power imbalance which arises from the ideologies of femininity and masculinity The implications for safer sex promotion by practice nurses working in primary health care teams are then discussed within the context of gender divisions of labour and gender role conflict