Why are condoms important? What do we need to know about them to practice safe sex? In this article, we’ll learn some necessary information on condoms, how to properly use condoms, and how to guide conversations with sexual partners in using condoms.
Condoms are a preventative measure to protect people from pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs). It is a thin latex tube either worn over a penis or inserted into a vagina during sex, creating a barrier to prevent semen or other fluids from entering the body. Condoms are the only form of birth control to protect against sexually transmitted infections and are 95- 98% effective at preventing pregnancies when used correctly.
Types of Condoms
External condoms (male condoms) are inserted over the penis during sex. Different types of condoms vary by material, and external features, including:
- Latex: the most common type of male condom
- Plastic: a good alternative for people who are latex- sensitive or allergic, these are made from polyurethane or polyisoprene
- Lambskin: another replacement for latex. These, however, have tiny openings, so they are not protective against STDs.
- Lubricated: These have a liquid coating on the condom to help with pain, irritation, and breakage
- If you are using non-lubricated condoms, it can be beneficial also to use a lubricant. When using condoms, make sure to use a water-based lube, as oil-based can damage the condom.
- Textured: These can be ribbed or studded to add pleasure.
- Novelty condoms can be glow-in-the-dark, advertise different colors, tastes, etc.
- While these can be fun to try out, make sure to check the package label! These are less likely to be FDA-approved, so make sure the package clearly states that the condoms protect against pregnancy and STDs
Internal Condoms (female condoms)
- Internal condoms have the structure of a pouch that is inserted into the vagina during sex.
- There is only one type approved by the FDA that is made of nitrile and is pre-lubricated
Resources related to condom use:
Visit these links below for information on how to use a condom effectively:
Condoms are great not only because they protect against STDs and pregnancies- but they can make sex more enjoyable, so you don’t have to stress out as much about these possibilities!
It might seem uncomfortable to start a conversation about using condoms, but it’s crucial to make your partner aware that this is important, or even non-negotiable. Sex without protection puts you and your partners at risk- It’s never too late to incorporate condom use into your sexual practice, and talking about condoms will become more comfortable each time.
Everyone has the right to a safe and enjoyable sex life- and one step towards this is by using condoms. There might be instances where a partner does not want to use a condom, so thinking ahead about these types of scenarios will help in reality. Planning is crucial! Having these conversations before you start to have sex will make it easier to express your desires.
A partner might have specific reasons for not wanting to use condoms. Take a look at this list from the American Sexual Health Association to get ideas about how to respond if you ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom:
“I don’t have any kind of disease! Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I trust you, but anyone can have an STI and not even know it. This is just a way to take care of both of us.”
“I don’t like sex as much with a rubber. It doesn’t feel the same.”
“This is the only way I feel comfortable having sex but believe me, it’ll still be good even with protection! And it lets us both just focus on each other instead of worrying about all that other stuff…”
“I’m [or you’re] on the pill.”
“But that doesn’t protect us from STIs, so I still want to be safe, for both of us.”
“I didn’t bring any condoms.”
“I have some, right here.”
“I don’t know how to use them.”
“I can show you – want me to put it on for you?”
“Let’s just do it without a condom this time.”
“It only takes one time to get pregnant or to get an STI. I just can’t have sex unless I know I’m as safe as I can be.”
“No one else makes me use a condom!”
“This is for both of us…and I won’t have sex without protection. Let me show you how good it can be – even with a condom.”
Learning about how to use condoms is vital for promoting safe and healthy sex practices. Hopefully, this information is useful in empowering you to stay protected during sex, and as always, reach out with any additional questions in our “Ask the Experts” section!
By Julia Dworsky
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