How to Choose Lube Best for Your pH Balance

Photo credit: Sander van der Wel

Photo credit: Sander van der Wel

Personal lube can be a fantastic companion. As we’ve discussed before at SS.Ed, most condom users don’t realize that a few drops of lube will greatly enhance pleasure and make sex more safe. Lube not only increases sensitivity, it also reduces friction and the risk of condom breakage.  Lube reduces irritation, dryness and can help prevent small tears that may cause infection in the body. And when it comes to anal, lube is a must use!

However, just as some lubes are better for anal sex, there are lubes that are more appropriate and sensitive to a woman’s natural chemistry. As Melissa White, CEO at Lucky Bloke explains, the right lube for your body will help keep your vaginal pH levels in healthy check. The wrong lube, however, may actually set your body off balance and cause overgrowth of “bad” bacteria that may lead to pungent odors and infections.

This is why Melissa recommends choosing products that state they are pH-matched.

Read the full article at SheKnows.com for more on why and how body-friendly lube will keep you healthy and sexy.

5 Ways to Have Hot (and Super Safe) Sex with Your Partner

Photo credit: Khanh Hmoong

Photo credit: Khanh Hmoong

Think you know everything about condoms? Just check the expiry date, unwrap and roll on…

Well, according to Lucky Bloke’s Global Condom Review, most people aren’t equipped with important condom know-how. The result? Most people are using the wrong condom. As Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke explains below, the majority of people who dislike condoms are wearing the wrong size, unaware that condoms come in at least three different sizes.

Contrary to popular belief, safer sex doesn’t mean compromising pleasure.  In this article, Melissa White offers simple techniques that will surely satisfy.

Amazing sex that is safe and worry free! What can be hotter than that?

This post was originally published on YourTango.

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

We truly believe that you can have steamy, hot sex with condoms.

Condoms and pleasure … not possible, you say? Through our Global Condom Review, we’ve proven that safer sex is even hotter than unprotected sex, and we’re ready to bring our expertise to your bedroom (or couch or dining room table).

Here are five easy ways to make sex with condoms even sexier:

1. Use the right size.

Quality and fit are as essential to condoms as they are to any other type of apparel. Could you imagine if bras were available in only one style and only one size? No way!

Don’t worry; if you didn’t realize that condoms come in multiple sizes, you’re not alone. In fact, most condom users have no idea and people who really dislike condoms often wear the wrong size.

Not sure what the perfect size is for you or your partner? All you need is an empty toilet paper roll. By inserting the erect penis into an empty toilet paper roll, you can figure out the perfect condom size by using the following guidelines:

2. Get creative with sex positions.

Putting on a condom is only awkward if you let it be. Instead, make it a hot sex move. Give your partner a sexy back view by climbing on top into a reverse cowgirl position and rolling the condom on yourself.

If you’re looking to spice things up further, use your mouth. Dab your lips with lube, then lightly suck the condom into your mouth with the nipple-end facing inward. Make sure you carefully wrap your lips over your teeth. Place your mouth at the head of his penis, push your lips against the ring of the condom, slide it down his shaft and unroll the rest with your hand. Voilà!

There’s no doubt that your partner will be impressed with your skills.

3. Don’t be afraid of lube.

Most condom users don’t realize that using lube with condoms dramatically increases pleasure for both partners.

Before you put on the condom, place two drops of lube inside. This increases sensation at the supersensitive head of his penis. Apply lube generously to the outside of the condom for increased pleasure. Once condom users experiment with lube they rarely go without.

Not sure which lube to choose? Try a lube sampler, which allows you to try out some of the world’s top lubes without investing in a whole bottle.

4. Make a V with your pointer and middle fingers, then place it between your legs.

Press it against the base of his penis as he thrusts. This gives him more stimulation where the condom is tightest, or most numbing.

5. Try a vibrating ring.

Many drugstores carry vibrating rings in their condom aisle; however, this is also an item you can pick up at an adult boutique. A vibrating ring is a plastic band attached to a buzzing nub. Place the band around the base of the condom, with the nub facing your clitoris, and enjoy the pulsating ride. Not only will you receive extra stimulation, but the vibrating sensations will also tease and tantalize your partner!

Ready to improve your sex life with condoms? Head on over to theCondomReview.com where you can buy the best condom samplers available, featuring the top-rated condoms from our recent Global Condom Review. (Based on the findings of 1100 Participants in 21 countries!) Curious about lube? We’ve got amazing lube samplers, too!

Unsure what size

Which Lubes Are Safe to Use With Condoms?

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Which Lubes Are Safe to Use With Condoms?

Lubrication isn’t something everyone considers carefully when it comes to safer sex. However, being prepared and having a favorite lube on hand can greatly increase pleasure.  After this video, you should be assured you’re using the correct lube for your safety and play.

In this video, Oh Megan discusses her favorite subject of lubes and tells us that:

  • Water based or silicon based lubes (and hybrids of each) are safe to use with latex and non-latex condoms.
  • Water based lubricants can easily be found at the supermarket. However, you may have to step outside of the supermarket to find premium lubes (here are some high quality lube samplers).
  • Megan recommends silicon-based Gun Oil and Pink for safer sex (not to be used with silicon-based toys!).
  • Oil-based lubricants are fantastic for non-condom use such as hand jobs or anal stimulation but that they can’t be used for vagina stimulation.
  • A great oil-based recommendations is Stroke 29 that changes consistency around the 29th stroke and makes the hand feel like the real deal.
  • You shouldn’t use any oils you find around the home like massage oil or cooking oil with latex because it increases the chance of breakage.
  • Don’t just go with the cheapest lube, look for positive consumer reviews.

This video was originally posted here

BY MEGAN ANDELLOUX | ohMegan.com

condom ad condoms too loose

megan_andellouxMEGAN ANDELLOUX  is a Clinical Sexologist and certified Sexuality Educator, listed on Wikipedia as one of the top sexuality educators in America, her innovative education programs, writing, social media presence, and ambitious speaking schedule has made her one of America’s most recognized and sought-after experts in the growing field of sexual pleasure, health, and politics.
Follow Megan on twitter @HiOhMegan

Some Lubes are Safer for Anal Sex

Image credit: Id-iom

Image credit: Id-iom

Educators have long recommended silicone lube for anal play. However, many also insist on using more low-cost, drug store-available water-based lubricants because water-based is compatible with all types of condoms. The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (The CSPH) reports on a pair of studies that found that silicone lubricant may actually be an all-around safer choice when it comes to anal sex.

This article is intended to illustrate the findings of these studies. Here are the main points:

  • Silicone lubricants appear to be safer for anal play than many drug-store lubricants.
  • Most of the popular water-based lubricants have low PH and high salt and/or additives in them that they can be toxic to rectal and cervical cells.
  • Lubricants that cause irritation can triple the risk of contracting STIs.
  • Silicone lubricants are less likely to carry these risks.

The following article was originally published on The CSPH website.

BY The CSPH | theCSPH.org

Finally some basic safety testing of lubricants. The International Rectal Microbicide Advocates released new study findings yesterday at the 2010 International Microbicides Conference and gave some preliminary data to prove what sex educators have been saying for a long time:

Silicone lubricants appear to be safer for anal play than most of the high profile, corner pharmacy, water based lubricants.

Here’s the basic information: Researchers identified the most commonly used sexual lubricants in a survey, then went and tested their effects on tissue and cells “in vitro”, i.e. in the lab. They found that most of the popular water based lubricants have so low of a PH and so much salt and/or additives in them that they’re actually toxic to rectal and cervical cells as well as to the healthy bacteria that keep a vagina clean and happy. On the other hand, silicone lubricants were found to be much safer and non-toxic in these same tests.

In a separate but linked study, researchers found that individuals who used lubrication for receptive anal intercourse (though they didn’t specify which types) were at greater risk of contracting an STI than those who did not. And yes people, the analysis took into consideration variables such as HIV status, gender, sexual orientation, and condom use. Individuals who used lubricants likely to irritate rectum saw their chances of contracting an STI triple.

Combined, these studies indicate that while using some lubricants can increase ones chances of contracting an STI, Silicone based lubes most likely do not.

More silicone anyone?

condom ad condoms too tight

 

csphThe CENTER for SEXUAL PLEASURE and HEALTH (The CSPH) is designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, and advocacy issues. Led by highly respected founder and director, Megan Andelloux, The CSPH is a sexuality training and education organization that works to reduce sexual shame, fight misinformation, & advance the sexuality field.

What Lube Should I Use?

Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

Confused about personal lube? Should you use lube? Which ones should you choose? What are the different types? What is best matched with condoms

All the answers are made easy and accessible by sex educators Kate McCombs and Louise Bourchier in their video below. They explain why you should use lube, the different types of lube out there, and what each type is good for. Remember, one great way to explore different lubes is by trying sampler packs. Lucky Bloke offers a wide range of samplers from water-based to flavored to arousal lubes and more.

Here’s Team Sex Ed’s important lube tips:

  • You should use lube, especially with condoms because it helps the condom last longer and prevent breakage.
  • Lube also helps prevent small tears that can cause infection inside the body.
  • Lube is crucial for anal sex because, unlike the vagina, the butt is never self-lubricating.
  • Watch out for the ingredient glycerin in water-based lubes. It can cause irritation and yeast infection for some.

This video was originally posted on the Team Sex Ed channel.

BY KATE MCCOMBS & LOUISE BOURCHIER | Team Sex Ed! Kate & Louise

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kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.  Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

 

louise bourchier 150 150LOUISE BOURCHIER, MPH is a sex educator who knows health and pleasure. She teaches workshops to adult audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand, where her mission is to facilitate access to information that allows people to experience healthy and pleasurable sex lives. She works closely with D.VICE: the toy shop for grownups and is a proud emissary of Sex Geekdom Melbourne.  Follow her on Twitter @louiselabouche

Teaching Condom Use: When Hands-On Is Necessary

Free CondomsNational Condom Week 2015 is here!  From Feb. 14th to Feb. 21st, we are celebrating by providing a new article every day by prominent sexual health advocates focused on condom use and education.

Dr. Karen Rayne, who writes about teacher and other sex educator issues, talks about when condom demonstrations are necessary in the classroom. Some school districts do not allow teachers to bring condoms to school. In Mississippi, for example, sex educators are forbidden from demonstrating how to put on a condom.  To get around this, Dr. Karen provides YouTube videos to her students. This article is for sex educators, parents and young people who want productive tips on both teaching condom use and learning about condoms in general.

Here are her key points:

  • Offering hands-on activities is important because it gets students familiar with condoms before they engage in sex, increasing the chances of consistent and correct condom use.
  • Students not only need hands-on demonstrations to learn how to put on and take off a condom; this teaching model is effective at debunking the myths that 1) condoms decrease pleasure and 2) that condoms don’t fit well.
  • There is a wealth of age appropriate online videos that teachers can share with students. Check out her suggestions below.

BY DR. KAREN RAYNE | KarenRayne.com

Being a sex educator with my face and my e-mail address out on the Internet sometimes means I get crazy notes from people. I’ve had someone posing as a student e-mail me asking for details about my classes, suggesting he wanted to enroll in the fall. After several back and forths, he wrapped up thusly: “Do professors ever assign hands-on activities?” I said no, that hands-on activities don’t happen in college classrooms, but there are other places that offer hands-on instruction. He replied with: “There’s so much more I’d like to talk about but I can only imagine how busy you are!” I declined to respond.

But there are occasions when hands-on is the right way to go, and condom education is one of them.

A quick side note: There are many places where hands-on condom education just isn’t possible for political or other reasons. In many school districts around here, for example, teachers aren’t allowed to bring condoms into the school. If you’re a teacher and face similar requirements, don’t beat yourself up over it or do something that might get you fired. I provide links to YouTube videos below that can stand in, when necessary, for doing the actual activity.

So many young people have their first experience with a condom when they are in the dark, trying to figure out how to use the silly thing, aren’t fully aroused, feel embarrassed, etc. It’s not the most conducive experience to figuring out something new, even something relatively un-complicated like a condom. To combat this, I like to provide students with an activity that will provide them with lots of opportunity to figure condoms out. I divide the class into four groups and then rotate them through four stations. In general, having one educator at the demonstration model and one educator to monitor the other three stations works well. However, having more than four or five people per group can become unwieldy, so you might benefit from adding anther station or providing two of each kind of station so you can have smaller groups. Provide a big pile of condoms at each station. If they can vary in kind, brand, color, size, etc., even better!

The stations are as follows:

1. Demonstration Station: I prefer to use a realistic looking dildo, but everyone has their own preference here. Taking students through all the steps – from checking the expiration date to taking the condom off after ejaculation – is important. Relevant YouTube video:

2. Lubrication Station: “Wait, which kind of lube can’t you use on a condom?” The kind that gets all hot and breaks them when you rub it on. Nothing drives this point home further than trying out different kinds of lube and seeing what happens! Relevant YouTube video:

3. Sensation Station: Even after saying that you can feel through condoms, many students either don’t believe it or end up believing someone else rather than trying it out for themselves. Get a few feathers (I use turkey feathers from the free-range turkeys in my yard…) and have students put the condom over their hand and see what the feather feels like when brushed over the condom-covered hand vs. the non-condom-covered hand. Telling them there’s no difference is silly, but letting them actually feel that there’s still substantial sensation is important. I couldn’t find a good YouTube video for this.

4. Maximization Station: How big can a condom get? This station, in particular, works better if you have a range of condom sizes on hand (so to speak) for the students to explore and discuss. The stated goal is for them to see how big they can get the condom. I’ve had students do all kinds of funny things, from putting condoms on their heads, feet, backpacks, and more. When they’re in a space that allows for it, they love filling them up with water. Relevant YouTube video:

Please note that the YouTube videos may or may not be available for your group of students, depending on the age you’re working with. There are lots of videos out there – if you go the video route, find one that is appropriate for the age and development of your students!

Engaging with condoms at this level helps to dispel additional condom myths, building on yesterday’s blog post, but in a very personal sort of way.

I’ve decided that it’s Condom Week around here at Unhushed. Melissa White over at Lucky Bloke recently asked if I wanted to provide content for her new safer sex education website, and of course I was delighted! But when I went back to look through my blogging archives (both here and at www.unhushed.net/blog), I found that I had written terrifyingly little about condoms. So here I am, rectifying that problem with Condom Week, on both sites. At KarenRayne.com, I’ll be writing about teachers and other educators’ issues about condoms in the classroom. At Unhushed.net, I’ll be writing about parental concerns about condoms. Interested in receiving KarenRayne blog posts as they happen? Sign up here. You can sign up to receive Unhushed blog posts here.

condom ad condoms too loose

rayne2sm DR. KAREN RAYNE With a doctoral degree is in Educational Psychology, Karen provides advice and support to parents on how to educate their children and teenagers about sex and sexuality. Karen’s knowledge about adolescent development and education provides her with a solid background for guiding parents through these tricky conversations. And, as a college professor, helping young adults grapple with sexuality, she is known to change student’s lives. On twitter @KarenRayne

Silicone-Based Lube: Alternative Uses

Photo credit: "Stereotype"

Photo credit: “Stereotype”

There are many reasons why silicone-based lube plays a worthy addition to your sex life. As we discuss elsewhere, not only does silicone lube heighten sensitivity, it can also make sex safer because it reduces the risk of condom breakage, particularly when using ultra thin condoms.

Studies show that silicone lube is the safer choice when engaging in anal sex. As well, it feels and works just like oil- a little goes a long way, it’s waterproof, and it lasts longer than water-based lubricants because it doesn’t absorb into the skin. Silicone lube is also a great option for toy play. Be careful though. Silicone lube should never be used with toys made of silicone or Cyberskin (read more about toy safety).

If that’s not enough reason to convince you to try silicone lube, consider all its other handy alternatives. For example, you can use silicone lube for shaving (to help keep the razor sharper for longer). Also, some lubes, such as Erosense Luxe, are an ideal alternative to message oils.

There are even more unexpected benefits. In this fun video, sex educators Kate McCombs and JoEllen Notte run through the many ways people have re-purposed silicone lube for everyday home remedies. This is definitely worth a watch for any first time enthusiastic lube user!

This post was originally published at KateMcCombs.com

BY KATE MCCOMBS | KateMcCombs.com

When you get a room full of sex educators together, inevitably the conversation takes some interesting turns. One of the things we love to talk about are “sex geek hacks.”

Sex geek hacks are little ways we re-purpose our sex geeky belongings for off-label uses. Sometimes you’ll see articles for how to turn every day items into sex toys (my personal favorite being the hands-free lube dispenser) but this is a different approach. We take sex accessories and use them for non-sex purposes.

Image from katemccombs.com

Image from katemccombs.com

There are countless examples of sex geek hacks. From dildo bookends, to Pure Wand-as-home-defense-weapon, sex geeks are a creative bunch.

One of my personal favorites is using the Liberator Jaz mini as a laptop desk. It’s the perfect size and weight and doesn’t feel heavy on your lap. It also feels delightfully on-point when I’m writing articles about sexuality.

I’d say the overwhelming favorite among sex geeks is the alternative uses for silicone-based lube. Every time I mention it on twitter, I get heaps of enthusiastic replies and suggestions for new uses. JoEllen Notte (a.k.a. the Redhead Bedhead) and I made a little video about just these things.

Unsure what size

kate_mccombsKATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns. Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.
Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

Wetter Is Better: How to Choose the Right Lube

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Natural lubrication is commonly believed to happen biologically for all women, all the time. In actuality, many women (and men) find that a little extra lube is worth the investment. In short, it heightens sensitivity and increases safety!

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, explains the “what” and “why” of the various lubricants available. Don’t miss her helpful video!

This article is meant to help you to navigate the world of personal lubricants: understanding not just what choices exist but why you should use lube.

Here are some main points to take away:

  • Lack of lubrication can lead to uncomfortable, even painful sex.
  • Lubricated condoms are often lubricated unevenly resulting in an unsatisfying experience.
  • Use water-based or silicone lube with latex condoms. Oil-based is not latex condom compatible.
  • The proper lube can make sex safer by lessening the risk of condom breakage.
  • “Pillow packs” are a great option for when you don’t want to carry a whole bottle.
  • Lucky Bloke’s “How to Choose Lube” video is a must-see!

See the original article on the Huffington Post

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

Many people believe that a woman is always wet when she’s sexually aroused. While this certainly can be true, there are many reasons (stress, lack of sleep and hormones, to name a few) that may result in an aroused woman experiencing vaginal dryness.

Additional lube can definitely make condoms feel more comfortable, pleasurable and natural. Often, using “lubricated” condoms can be ineffective against vaginal dryness. You see, lubrication is applied to condoms once they are rolled up and just before the condom foil is sealed. This results in condoms that are typically inconsistently lubricated: Wet at the tip, while quite dry along the shaft and base.Thankfully, there is a way to ensure smooth operating: By applying condom-compatible lubricant generously to the outside of the condom, sex with condoms becomes much better (and much safer).

Condom Pro-Tip: A few drops of lube inside the condom will greatly improve his experience as well.

Regardless of the reason (and whether or not you use condoms), lacking personal lubrication during sex can be uncomfortable, distracting and painful. Most women experience times when additional lubrication would greatly improve both comfort and sexual pleasure for her as well as her partner.

This is likely the reason that many couples who use a great, high-quality lube wouldn’t have sex without it. Not all lubes are created equal, of course. So let’s start with the basics:

Water-based lubes are slippery and may need to be reapplied. They are easy to clean up with water. Look for high-quality (body safe) choices that state they are petrochemical-free, glycerin-free and paraben-free.

Silicone-based lubes are slick and can be used in water (hot tubs, showers, lakes, swimming pools). They are less likely to need multiple applications (in comparison to water-based lubes). They generally require soap and water for clean-up. Use them sparingly and avoid getting them on surfaces you don’t want to slip on later.

  • Always use water-based or silicone-based lube with latex condoms.
  • To put it another way, never use an oil-based lube with latex condoms (this includes, baby oil, coconut oil, etc.) or you run the risk of condom breakage!
  • Not only will the slickness of lube enhance your enjoyment, lube can make sex with condoms much safer. (Reducing friction helps to keep the condom intact!)
  • Always add additional lube when using thin condoms.
  • Arousal lubes (generally water-based) can enhance the experience by warming, tingling and adding a little zing.
  • Flavored lubes (also water-based) can add a certain tastiness to the experience. They come in many, many flavors. There are now even organic lubes.
  • Desensitizing lubes (Pjur offers a great desensitizing spray) can support men to last longer. If you (or your partner) are struggling with premature ejaculation and want endurance, they are the way to go.

Did you know that you do not have to buy an entire bottle of lube?

Pillow packs (think travel size or sachet) are perfect for trying a new lube (or two) — convenient and compact for life on the go! Typically, they are about the same size as a condom package, and good for a single use.

condom ad condoms too tight

How to Choose & Use Condoms: A Better Guide

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BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

Condoms may not be anyone’s favorite but they are far preferable to unplanned pregnancies and STIs, right? Right. So, if we’re going to use condoms, we should definitely make sure we’re using them right, right? Right.

The problem is, a lot of folks are still kind of fumbling the condom thing and so much of the information out there is, well, not great. With “helpful” tips like, “if it’s not rolling the right way, it’s on the wrong way”(what?), intense mis-leading warnings such as “you should ONLY USE WATER-BASED LUBRICANTS!!!!” (not actually true) and condescending instructions like “remove the condom carefully, not spilling the contents. Wrap it up and dispose of it” (this just seems obvious), folks aren’t really getting a ton of help with the whole thing.

So I’m going to give you some quick and fun pointers to help you rock rubbers right.

Choosing your condom- As with anything you wear, you want your condom to fit right and be comfortable. Unlike anything else you wear your condom also needs to protect you from diseases and feel good to the inside (whether it be vagina, mouth or anus) of another person. There’s a lot to think about.

Luckily the folks at Lucky Bloke put together this great guide to determining your condom size. You may have to try a couple different condoms to find what works for you, but seriously? Best. Research process. Ever.

The most important thing is that, in the end, you buy condoms that fit!

Fitting your condom- If a condom is too tight to comfortably roll it down it can cause problems ranging from discomfort and loss of erection to broken condoms. Don’t assume larger condoms are just there for men of crazy porn-style proportions. If regular condoms bind or are particularly difficult to get on look into a bigger fit. Also, when wondering if you need bigger, length isn’t everything. Even if your penis is of an average length, it may require more room in terms of girth.

Sometimes standard condoms maybe a bit big. In this case these are slimmer fitting condoms out there. Check out your options.

Rolling it on- The “is it facing the right way?” thing has long been perhaps the most troublesome part of condom application.

The best tip I ever got on the topic came from Megan Andelloux: Take your condom out and put it on the tip of your finger- What kind of hat does it look like? If the answer is “The kind of beanie you’d wear because it’s cold out” (the roll is pointing down) then it’s facing the wrong way. If the answer is “A sombrero” (the roll is pointing up) then it’s time to party! “Olé!” indeed!

Leave yourself some space- Ejaculate moves quickly, like really quickly. It leaves the penis at about 35 mph (that’s faster than a moped can go, just fyi). This little fact makes it very important that you make room in your condom for that high-speed sperm to go without bursting your bubble, so to speak.

Okay, here’s the deal: you need space in the tip of your condom and you need that space to not have air in it. It can be helpful to unroll the condom a little before you go to put it on so you have some slack. Once you have it on, grip the penis and condom firmly at the base, give a gentle tug to that tip and squeeze out any air and voila! All dressed up and ready to go.

Keep it slick– I love lube. Lubricant is great for increasing pleasure with condoms especially as latex can stick to skin. Further, a few drops of lube inside a condom can do wonders for the wearer’s pleasure.

I find the lube instructions that come with condoms a little discouraging though- there’s a lot of talking about only using water-based products. This is not strictly necessary. What you don’t want to do is use oil-based products (lotions, vaseline, even mineral oil) as they will break down latex or polyisoprene condoms. Generally, silicone based lubricants are okay for condoms.

Take it all off- After ejaculation you do want to be sure to withdraw the penis from your partner before it goes limp and hold onto the condom at the base of the penis so as to not spill ejaculate on/in your partn​er, rendering the use of the condom futile.

After that, it’s pretty much basic campsite rules – leave no trace. Carry out your mess and dispose of it properly. If you can master the use of a condom you can also master the use of a trash can – I believe in you!

Bonus tips!

Foreskin – If you are in possession of a foreskin and it is mobile (this is not always a given) pull the foreskin back first, then put the condom on. Once it is in place and you have pinched the tip to get any trapped air out, push the foreskin back toward the tip of the penis, while holding onto the base of the condom to keep it in place. This allows for free movement of the foreskin during sex. Add a drop or two of lube inside the condom and away you go.

Colored condoms – This is another tip from the fabulous Megan Andelloux: Colored condoms are safer than plain ones. Why? It’s easier to see if they have broken. So get colorful! Megan suggests coordinating with upcoming holidays.

 

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

All Barriers All The Time: Condoms, Dams, Gloves…

With permission from Scarleteen

With permission from Scarleteen. Illustrated by Isabella Rotman.

Safer sex barriers like condoms, dams, gloves, and finger cots, offer some of the most effective protection against STI transmission. However, many people feel stumped on exactly what they should be using to best protect themselves and their partners, and how  to integrate safer sex practices in a way that adds to the experience, rather than detract from it. This article, originally published at Scarleteen, answers all your barrier questions and helps you learn about every single barrier choice you have:

The main topics covered below are:

  • How much protection barriers actually offer
  • What they don’t protect you from
  • How to use both external (male) condoms and internal condoms, dental dams and gloves
  • How to protect sex toys
  • 3 ways to ease the use of barrier methods

This article was originally published on Scarleteen

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen
Illustrations by ISABELLA ROTMAN | thismighthurt.tumblr.com

Barriers-SquareHooray for barriers! Not the crummy kind that keep us from things we want, the kind that can protect us from pathogens that can be passed from one person to another, resulting in in illness and infection. Safer sex barriers do a great job reducing our STI risks, so we’ve got the best chance of enjoying the good things sex can offer without big risks of transmitting (giving) or acquiring (getting) infections in the process. Barriers keep germs out while letting us do the things we enjoy, want and which can bring us closer; to our own sexuality and to other people we may share it with.

If we still want to engage in genital sex — like vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex or manual sex — safer sex is the only thing yet proven to effectively reduce the STI risks those activities can present. That means regular STI testing, and consistently (not just sometimes) and correctly (used exactly as directed) using barriers. Most STIs are primarily transmitted through body fluids, so protecting ourselves against them is mostly about limiting or avoiding our contact with each others fluids. Barriers are what help us do that when we don’t also want to limit or avoid being sexual with other people.

How much protection do they offer? When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are highly effective preventing STIs, and are the only thing that’s yet shown to be highly effective. With fluid-borne infections, like HIV, Hepatitis or Chlamydia, condoms have been found in studies to reduce the risk of infection by as much as 99%, and as little as around 50%, with both figures largely influenced by how consistently and correctly condoms are used. Specifically addressing HIV protection, the UNFPA states an effectiveness rate of 90-96%, Family Health International states a rate of 80% – 97% protection. With infections transmitted by skin-to-skin contact alone, findings for protection range from around 30% to around 90%. Again, proper use and consistency is a big player. Barriers can also help prevent infections like urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Barriers protect us better from infections spread only or mostly by fluids than they do with those spread by skin-on-skin contact (like molluscum, HPV and Herpes). That’s mostly because most barriers do not cover the whole surface of the genitals of a person, their partner, or both. But the biggest player in how effective barriers are in preventing infection is just like with methods of birth control: it’s if they are used all the time, and also used properly. How effective a barrier is is far more within your control than outside of it: effectiveness has way more to do with always using them and using them right than it does with any limitations of the barriers themselves.

All you really need to use them well and get the protection they offer is to learn which ones you use for what activity or body part, how to use them properly and some practice, confidence and a commitment to the health and well-being of you and yours. We can give you most of that right here, and we can give you a good start to developing that last part for yourself.

Condom-title
Let’s start with the barrier people tend to be the most familiar with: condoms. We currently have two different options when it comes to condoms on the whole: the “male” (or outside) condom, and the “female” (or inside) condom. Outside (“Male”) Condoms are the barrier to use for any kind of intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex involving a penis. [Go here for more instructions on how to use a condom, and how to find the right fit].

How to Use outside (“male”) condoms:

whitecondom-Diagram-Scarleteen1) Use a condom that is new, and at least six months in front of the expiry date: make sure your condom is not expired. The expiration date is somewhere on every individual package. Be sure you’re also using a condom that hasn’t been kept anywhere where it could have gotten worn, or too hot or cold . We always need to keep condoms and all other barriers places with moderate temperatures, and store them only in places they won’t get too knocked around or sat upon.

2) Open the condom wrapper with your fingers: don’t use teeth or scissors if you can help it. Take it out, then roll it out a tiny bit so the edge is rolled up on the outside of the condom, facing up. Otherwise the condom won’t roll down right. Put a few drops of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom: that helps with getting it on, and makes condoms feel a lot better for the wearer during use.

3) Pinch and hold the tip of the condom with your fingertips to leave some space — about an inch — and roll the rest down the length of the penis while still holding the top. The ring of the condom should be as close to the base of the penis as possible. When you’re down to the base, run your fingers from the tip all the way down to press out any air bubbles: this helps keep condoms from breaking. (This isn’t necessary when using a condom to cover toys.)

4) Put some lube on the outside of the condom. The amount of lubricant already on lubricated condoms is rarely enough for the condom to feel good for everyone, and the lubrication the vagina or penis can produce by itself often doesn’t fare so well with latex: it’s easy for parts to feel dry and raw fast. Plus, a well-lubricated condom is a condom that is not at all likely to break. While you are using the condom, neither you nor your partner need to hold onto it: condoms are designed for hands-free use.

5) After ejaculation (or not, but you’re finished for now) — and before you withdraw — hold the base of the condom with your hand. Keep your hand there while you withdraw, and until the penis, or toy, is all the way out of the vagina, anus or mouth. Pull it off (slowly, so slowly: whipping condoms off fast usually ends in a mess, tears or unstoppable laughter) with that same hand on the rim of the condom and your other hand by the tip. Tie a knot near the base of the condom.

6) Throw the condom away in the rubbish bin – NEVER reuse condoms.

For those using outside condoms who’re uncircumcised, there’s a variation in putting a condom on. You, or your partner, will need to first gently move the foreskin back a bit, then put on the condom, rolling it about halfway down the shaft of the penis before letting go of the foreskin, and then rolling the condom down to the base. Because of the foreskin, you or a partner may find the condom doesn’t go as far down to the base as it does with a circumcised penis, and that’s okay. You also may find that using a few drops of lubricant inside the condom, before you put it on, is more important (or not) to your comfort than it is to those with circumcised penises. This is just another thing to practice with to find out what feels best for you.

Uncircumcised-Condom-Application

Most of this is just going to be about working out what feels best for you and your own foreskin, insofar as how much you roll the foreskin down, and when you let it slide back up. Some people with foreskins even find that putting them on the same way you would without a foreskin is what works best for them. So long as the base of the condom is firmly on the base of your penis and it all feels comfortable for you, you’re good.

You can find condoms in pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, in clinics and health centers (often for free), or you can order them online. No barriers, including condoms, are only legal or available for people of a certain age: people of every age can purchase them lawfully.

whitebananaThere are a LOT of brands and styles of condoms out there to choose from right now. So many choices! Yay! People are going to have some that don’t work for them, some that are fine, and others that are their Best Condom of Ever. If condoms don’t feel good, fixing that can sometimes be as easy as just using a different size, style or brand.

We’re fans of everyone knowing how to use condoms, not just people with penises or people who use condoms as a method of birth control. It can make it way tougher to get and keep in the habit of using condoms if we don’t all know how, or only one partner knows. If you don’t have a penis yourself, or a partner with one, that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn! You can learn to put condoms on by using a dildo, or food items like bananas or cucumbers. (Extra bonus: it’s kind of hilarious. As it turns out, bananas look silly with condoms on.)

With any kind of barrier, it can be harder to learn to use when we only practice with partners. Even when a partner is great and we feel great with them, there’s always an extra pressure just by virtue of someone else being involved, especially if we both also want to be sexual at the time, so we can be a little hasty or distracted. Learning to use, and practice using, barriers when you’re all by yourself makes becoming a pro easier.

whiteinternal-CondomInsider (“female”) condoms

Inside condoms may be the most underrated barrier there is.They’re amazing! An inside condom can be put in in advance of sexual activity, making it great for those who feel like outside condoms are an interruption, no matter how brief, they’d prefer not to manage. The materials they are made of conducts body heat better than latex condoms. They are made of a non-latex material, so are just as good for those who can’t use latex as those who can, and can also be used with even oil-based lubricants, unlike most outside condoms. They also don’t tightly grip the penis, so for those who dislike the tight feeling of the base with outside condoms, the inside condom can be a great way to get the protection we want without the feel of a standard condom.

They cost a little more than outside condoms, and can be harder to find, but if you have never tried one, we’d say it’s worth it. Inside condoms may just turn out to be your new favorite thing of ever. If you can’t find them where you buy condoms, they can be ordered widely online. You can also ask a pharmacy if they can order some in for you.

For those who used female condoms a few years ago and vowed never to do so again, because the material they were made of made louder sounds during sex than your mouth is even capable of making- They are not made of that material anymore. The new materials are soft, smooth, and best of all, perfectly quiet.

How to Use Inside (“Female”) Condoms:

1) Just like with outside condoms, you want to first open the package carefully with your fingers.

2) Then, put a little lubricant on the outside of the closed end. As the illustration above can show you, the inside condom has two rings, an inner one in back, where the material covers it completely — where it is closed — and an outer ring in front, where there is an opening to the condom, just like with an outside condom. whiteHow-To-use-Female-Condom

3) Next, you will need to insert it inside the vagina, or anus, depending on what kind of genital sex you are choosing to do. Some put the inside condom inside while they stand with one foot up on something, or squat, or sit on the edge of a chair or toilet, or lay down. You’ll find out by experimenting what works best for you. Inside condoms can be inserted up to 12 hours before use, so if you prefer to put it in way before sexual activity, you can do that. You’ll squeeze that inner, or back ring, together with your fingers until it basically makes a line, and put it inside the body the way you’d put in a tampon or menstrual cup, pushing it gently back as far as you can. With vaginal insertion, until it reaches your cervix (which feels like a little nose inside the vagina, if you have never felt it before). When it’s all the way back, you pull the finger you pushed it inside with out, and let the outer ring of the condom hang about an inch outside the vagina or anus.

4) Then, a partner will insert their penis — or a toy — inside the vagina or anus and the condom inside. The base will not grip them like an outside condom’s base does. For those new to sex or using this kind of condom, do be sure and check that the penis, or toy, is being inserted inside the condom in the vagina, rather than to the side of the condom.

5) To remove the inside condom, you will have your partner withdraw — no need to hold anything. Then you twist the outer ring, and the part of the condom outside your body until it’s closed, gently pull it out and throw it away.

Dental-Dam-Header

Dental dams are the barrier we have to help reduce our risks of infections during cunnilingus (oral sex involving the vulva) or analingus (oral sex involving the anus). Some people have the idea that oral sex with someone with a vulva does not pose STI risks. While oral sex risks are higher when there is a penis involved, rather than a vulva, please know that does not mean cunnilingus poses no risks, or is an activity where it’s sound not to protect yourself or your partners. It does still present STI risks, particularly with common infections like Gonorrhea, HPV and the Herpes virus.

Like condoms, dams come in both latex and non-latex. Like condoms, they also are available with or without flavoring, if you have preferences in this regard.

How to Use Dental Dams:

Open the package carefully, take out the folded square and open it up — it’s like the littlest bedsheet on earth, and you just want to open up that sheet like you were making the littlest bed. You and/or the person whose vulva, or anus, is having the dam put unto may want some lube on their genitals before putting it on. Then you, or they, just place it over the genitals, and you, or they, hold it there with hands during sexual activity. whiteDental-Dam-Placement

That may sound like a stumper, until you think about how often you’re usually also using your hands anyway with cunnilingus or analingus. Basically, all you’re doing with the dam is having the edges of it stay between where your fingers might be anyway, or your partners, and being a little mindful about that to keep it in place.

Make sure the same side of the dam that’s been against the body stays on that side.(Pro-tip from one of our volunteers: use a permanent marker to put an irreversible word/letter on the corner of one side if you’re worried about spacing which side is which.) When you’re done using it, throw it away, and as with other barriers, don’t reuse: you need a new dam for any additional sexual activities, or if you want to change the part of body you are using it on, like, for example, starting with cunnilingus and shifting to analingus.

Dams can be tricky to find in some areas, or for some populations — like younger people. If they aren’t available where you already purchase condoms, they can be found online. If online ordering won’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you have to go without! You can make a dam by cutting a condom lengthwise, or by cutting a glove: check out these easy instructions for DIY dams. You also have the option of using Saran Wrap or Cling Film instead, just don’t choose the kind expressly for microwave use, since, as it tells you on the box, that kind has tiny perforations in it intended to let steam out, but which would also let germs in.

Want more information on dental dams and related issues? Take a look at these links:

Gloves-and-finger-cotsGloves and finger cots can be used to reduce the risk of infections with manual sex, like fingering, handjobs, or any kind of anal play with the hands. While manual sex poses far less risk of infection than intercourse or oral sex do, and handwashing does a great job by itself at reducing risks, gloves and finger cots still have some good things to offer. Like condoms, you can find both latex and non-latex options.

For instance, they make things feel better for some people. Genital tissue is tender, and hands, fingers, or nails can be rough, even when we take good care of them. Callouses and hangnails can cause abrasions that don’t feel good and increase our risk of infections. Gloves feel slick and uniformly smooth; that not only tends to feel mighty-nice, it helps prevent small genital tears or abrasions which do not feel mighty-nice at all. It can also be harder to wash our hands sometimes or in some settings, and gloves or finger cots give us the ability to change them, without having to run to the bathroom for another handwash, between activities easily.

You probably already know how to put on a glove: you just put your fingers and thumbs inside. Just know that hands need to be dry before using them, otherwise they can be harder to put on. You also want to avoid using the kind of latex gloves with powder inside when using gloves for genital sex. As with other barriers, lube plays a big role in things feeling good. As with other barriers, you don’t want to reuse gloves. You want to use them for sexual contact with one specific body part only: a different sexual activity means a new glove is needed. To take them off, pull from the base of the glove, at your wrist, towards your fingertips. The glove will turn itself inside out as you pull it off from the bottom. That makes getting them off easier, and also keeps all those fluids inside when you toss it.

Finger cots look like really tiny condoms: you just roll one on a fingertip (or more than one, if you like!), when you are going to use just fingertips for something. You know the drill: lube, one cot per activity or place, no reusing, roll them off and toss’em when you’re done.

Gloves are available at pharamcies, and sometimes even at grocery stores (look in the drugstore aisle). Finger cots can be found online. whSex-Toys-Header

Sex toys, like people’s bodies, can also carry, harbor and transmit pathogens. Many can’t be boiled, and are made of porous materials that pathogens like hanging out in. If you want to be safe with your toys, even when you’re the only one using them, you want to cover any toy that can’t be boiled or otherwise safely and effectively sanitized, and use a new barrier with every use. Ideally, you don’t want to be sharing most toys, but if and when you do share, or plan to, using barriers is important for everyone’s best health. Using barriers with toys also often makes cleaning them and keeping them clean a whole lot easier! Dildos-look-good-in-condoms

Condoms cover dildos and other long-shaped toys well, and you can also drop a small, corded vibrator, like bullet styles, into a condom and cover it that way. For sleeves or pumps, toys meant for the insertion of penises, you simply use a condom like you would for intercourse while using it. If you are using household objects for masturbation, they very much should be covered, but even if they are, they shouldn’t be shared. For several reasons, some pretty basic etiquette and good-neighborliness among them.

Finger cots can also cover small toys. If you feel stumped about what to use, a dam can be a good option, because you can wrap almost anything in it and have plenty of it left to hold unto. You can also use a dam (or condoms) for safer sex with toys by putting it on your body part you were going to contact with the toy.

Don’t forget lube!

whiteWater-based-lubricantsLatex barriers should not be used with oils or oil-based lubricants, as most will degrade the latex. The easiest way to be sure you’re using the right lube? If it says it’s latex safe, and/or meant for sexual (or vaginal) use, you’re good. When in doubt, stick with something water-based or, if you want to get more adventurous with your lubes, do so only when using non-latex barriers.

Barriers are usually easy to use once you get the hang of them and get into the habit of consistent use. They’re easy to learn to like once we feel confident and capable with them: when using barriers feels like a major drag, it’s often because one or more of the people using them, or thinking about it, doesn’t feel experienced enough using them, or doesn’t know how to use them in the ways that feel good yet. Learning how to use them and getting practice can not only help them to be most effective, it also will typically help people feel a lot more happy about them emotionally and socially.

Three ways to make using barriers feel easier:

1) There’s no perfect thing to say to convince a person who does not want to use barriers to use them. There’s also no special way we need to ask — beyond something like, “Can you/we use a condom/dam/glove, please?” — or even can ask to make magic happen and change someone’s mind on this.

Letting go of any expectation you will ever need to say anything to someone who refuses EXCEPT, “Oh well, seeya later then,” can make you feel more relaxed pretty instantly about inviting partners to use barriers with you. You don’t ever, seriously, ever, have to have arguments about this or write a fully cited thesis to try and prove your point to a partner. You just need to offer, and if they don’t accept, just graciously choose not to have sex with them.

If your words feel clumsy or uncomfortable,the easiest, simplest way to ask someone to use a barrier is just to hold it out and offer it to them before you do what you were about to start doing. That’s it. So easy. And it works very, very well.

You don’t even need to use any words; you often won’t have to, since most people know what barriers are for. When you’re about to do something sexual and you just take out the barrier and hold it out, or start putting it on yourself, most people get that barriers are a given if they want to have sex with you, and they will just get right on board if sex with you is something they want. (Or, they may feel the same way, you just pulled out the barrier before they did!).

All people asking each other to use barriers is is just someone, or more than one someone, actively caring for their health and that of their partner in a very basic, noninvasive way and asking for cooperation with that. You may need to negotiate or adjust some things, like what style or kind of material or lube someone likes, talk about testing, or show a partner how to use a barrier. But really, just taking it out and using it or handing it over — or words as clear and simple as, “Can you/we use a condom/dam/glove, please?” — should generally suffice. Which leads us to…

2) Keep barriers (and lube!) on hand. Don’t rely on others to have them, or set things up so only one partner is responsible for getting them. Share in both the freedom and responsibility of having them yourself! If you want to offer them to partners, you obviously need to have them in the first place. Plus, when barriers aren’t used when they’re needed, it’s often because no one has them handy when they need them, and both people were assuming the other person would. whiteStop-in-the-name-of-love

3) Know and understand: a barrier against pathogens is not a barrier to intimacy, to closeness, bonding or pleasure. A LOT of people think or believe those things, and this is a case where thinking or believing a thing actually CAN make it so. We know from study that those negative thoughts influence people’s experience of condoms. People who think condoms or other barriers are a drag, or get in the way of closeness or pleasure often wind up experiencing them exactly that way because they strongly believe those things to be true. On the other hand, people who don’t believe those things, who think neutrally or positively about barriers, often experience intimacy, closeness, pleasure and bonding while still using barriers. Because barrier use also often involves communication, honesty and mutual care, it, and the skills we hone when practicing safer sex together, can actually help facilitate and support intimacy and pleasure, rather than standing in their way.

Look, we can’t always stay healthy. We’re people, we get sick sometimes. STIs are very common, especially among those in their late teens and 20s: they are challenging to avoid. Some people have already contracted an STI early, especially since so many people don’t use barriers right from the start, don’t use them with all kinds of genital sex, or have not used them consistently or correctly. It happens, and like any illness, it’s not something anyone needs feel shame around, even if and when they contracted an STI by knowingly choosing to take risks. Rather, it’s something to get better from or cope with, changing what habits you need to to better support your health in the present and future, just like with any other kind of illness.

We obviously want to avoid STIs or transmitting them whenever we can, just like we want to avoid getting or passing on strep throat. Using barriers is about doing something basic to protect our health and that of others, like covering our mouths when we cough, washing hands before eating, or staying home when we’re sick instead of giving everyone the flu. It’s also harder to feel a desire to be intimate, and to experience pleasure when we’re sick.

These kinds of barriers? Good stuff. Good stuff that even helps the good stuff stay good stuff, even. Once you know what they are and how to use them, and get some practice with them under your belt (as it were), they’ll likely turn out to be one of the easiest things you do to protect your health and also one of the things you do in your sex life that leaves you feeling highly empowered, capable and in control of your body and health.

Go to Scarleteen to read the entire post for more instructions on how to use all the protective barriers under the sun!

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

ISABELLA ROTMAN is a Chicago cartoonist and illustrator from Maine who truly cares about your genital well being. She is the author of the queer and quirky sexual health book You’re So Sexy When You Aren’t Transmitting STDs and a recent graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Other than educational comics, Isabella’s art is usually about the ocean, mermaids, crushing loneliness, people in the woods, or sex. If any of the above interests you then you may enjoy her self published comics or blog ThisMightHurt.Tumblr.com.

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen