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

How Do I Get Wetter? Tips to Conquer Sexual Dryness

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Sex educator, Megan Andelloux of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (the CSPH) answers the question:

I have trouble getting wet and staying wet before and during intercourse. What do I do?

Experiencing sexual dryness does not necessarily mean something is medically “wrong” with you. Vaginal wetness is unique to every woman. Just as bodies are individually different, we also vary in what turns us on and how we get wet. In the following three minute video, Megan Andelloux explains what can effect lubrication, which ranges from emotional stress to antihistamines to menstrual cycle, and more.

Here are Megan’s quick tips for how to get wetter in the sack:

  • Reflect on your stress level in day to day life.
  • Both hormonal and non-hormonal medication can effect wetness. Check your medication and talk to your doctor about alternatives.
  • Invest in personal lubrication. Megan recommends the silicone-based Move by ONE.
  • Explore what toys are designed to stimulate the anterior fornix erogenous zone (AFE zone).
  • Stimulation of the nipples increase vaginal lubrication.
  • Check out the book Women’s Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston.

BY The CSPH | theCSPH.org

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

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.

Limp On Condoms? How to Rock the Sock in the Sack!

Photographers Karen and Brad Emerson

Photographers Karen and Brad Emerson

Experiencing erectile dysfunction when using condoms is not uncommon. However, as Melissa White argues below, this has less to do with condoms being inherently un-pleasurable; rather, it has more to do with choosing and using the wrong condom. This is not surprising considering that most people are falsely taught that condoms are one-size-fits-all. The fact is that there is a lot of variation in quality condoms. In this article, Melissa explains how one can solve the problem of condom discomfort.

Here’s a quick summary of how you can improve your condom experience:

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post. Don’t miss Melissa White’s interview (video below) in which she busts the myth that condoms and pleasure don’t mix.

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

“I peeled open the condom and as I rolled it on him, his shaft instantaneously went soft, softer. Limp. “Urgh, I hate condoms!” He exhaled. “I never had to use them in my last relationship. I’m not used to them.”

My story isn’t rare. I’ve encountered different versions by my friends and peers that, even in clear non-monogamous scenarios, men will complain that condoms dull sex- as if sex is not worth it if it involves a condom! This puts the woman in an incredibly confusing situation.

Speaking from my own experience, I felt it was implied that the problem was that I wanted him to use protection. This guy wasn’t just complaining. There was a real physical disdain to the condom. He kept losing his erection each time we tried.”

This story, first shared on Condom Monologues is alas far from uncommon. A study published in the journal Sexual Health found that – over the course of 3 months – 37% of men lost at least one erection while putting on a condom. As expressed above, this can make the partner doubt their own sexual worth or worry that they’re to blame for making great sex impossible by insisting on condom use.

What’s wrong with that picture? Well, first, remind yourself that being safe is a legitimate requirement of great sex. As in, a lifetime of great sex. Over the long-term, only being sexually safe allows for hot sex. No one is worth putting your own well-being at risk.

And it turns out that great sex is very much possible when using a condom. As long as it’s not just any old condom, mind you.

Most folks (even those who’ve been using condoms for decades) have little idea how to find a the most comfortable and pleasurable condom for their needs. This leads to men suffering through standard condoms that are too big (35% of men require a smaller than standard condom) or too small (15% of men require a larger than standard condom). And by “standard” I mean the vast majority of condoms sold at the local store.

Further, the selection offered at most conventional retailers does not focus on the brands leading condom innovations such as enhanced shape, ultra-thin premium latex or non-latex materials.

Which brings us to our blow-by-blow guide to optimize your condom sexperience:

1. Choosing the Right Condom Size and Type

He may need a different size condom. Did you know that there are three different size categories for condoms? Wearing the right condom will radically improve pleasure. Check out this condom size chart to know what will fit your penis of choice best.

Next I suggest that you explore different condom materials and shapes to find a better option for your partner.

Condoms with more headroom: There are a variety of condoms that offer a wider, dome-like shape that some men find very appealing in that there is less constriction, which can translate into greatly improved sensation during sex. Condoms with more headroom are great to explore in an effort to keep your partner …

Thin condoms: Ultra thin condoms enhance sensitivity. They are a great starting point if your partner complains that he simply can’t feel anything when using a condom.

Non-latex condoms: Many people prefer non-latex condoms regardless of having a sensitivity to latex. This is because polyisoprene and polyurethane transfer body heat better than latex. The material also is generally more comfortable and less restrictive than latex.

2. Buy and Use Your Own Lube

While most condoms are “lubricated”, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to add additional lube to improve your condom experience. Both water and silicone-based lube (or a hybrid) are safe to use with condoms. Starting with a lube sampler is the most cost efficient and fun way to explore a variety of lubes and figure out what lube feels best.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice…with Superior Condoms

It’s likely your partner is not used to associating pleasure with condoms. Anyone with a penis would benefit from solo practice with a high-quality condom. Masturbating with a condom will help your partner determine his pleasure spots and what feels best with premium protection. This will also help if his issue is anxiety-related. I’ll add that mutual stimulation can be very sexy. So there is no reason you can’t help him here if he’d like an extra hand.

4. Make it Sexy

There is no one way to be sexy. Being sexy is about how you feel. And how you work it. If you pull out a condom with confidence, and you firmly believe that safer sex is sexy, then it’s likely to be perceived as much sexier.

A condom can be a turn on. Keeping condoms in an easily accessible place is very helpful, but that does not mean that it is always best to rush through the process of putting one on. When you introduce condoms, it’s a great idea to turn up the sizzle and have a sense of play.

For example, try putting the condom on your partner for them. When done in a deliberately slow manner with stroking, teasing and eye contact, putting on a condom can be very exciting. Try slipping it on his penis with your mouth. Spice it up by carrying a condom with you in your handbag or pocket (keeping in mind safe condom storage) when you are out together and discreetly show it to your partner to hint at what’s on your mind.

The possibilities are endless.

Remember: The goal is a long and healthy sex life. Asking someone to use a condom shows that you care about them, as well as caring about yourself. Communication really is key and talking about sex might mean sharing what you like, what your favorite position is, or how to choose and use condoms in ways that work for both of you. Talking together about these things will cultivate intimacy and deepen your bond (not hinder it) — and exploring the best premium condoms available (most you’ve likely not tried before) is a surprisingly enjoyable way to get on track in the sack.

For more on condom choosing, check out Melissa White’s interview with Huffington Post Live!

Interview with Melissa White begins at 7min 22 sec.

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

Should Older Women “Use It or Lose It”?

use it or loose itFor both sexes, the old saying “use it or loose it” is indeed true. Sex educator and aging specialist Melanie Davis explains why maintaining a sex life is healthy and does your body good.

As we age, however, our sexual bodies change and Melanie Davis advises that we adapt to those changes and re-think our ways of being sexual. For example, investing is lubrication, trying new sex positions to protect joints, being sexually active during the afternoon instead of the evenings, etc. Melanie Davis explains the biological changes to expect in post-menopause and offers ways to accommodate these changes in order to maintain a healthy sex life (men are no exception to the “use it or loose it” rule and do experiences changes as they age too. This article happens to focus on women.)

In sum, our sexuality is not solely for reproduction. Just because a woman’s body no longer produces eggs does not mean she is void of sexuality.

Here are Melanie Davis’ key points on why the “use it or loose it” approach is beneficial to your health:

  • Solo or partnered sex exercises muscles and increases flexibility. The contracting vaginal muscles during sex and orgasm conditions the vaginal walls and works the tendons and muscles of the pelvic floor.
  • Sex can be physically energetic which gives the heart and joints a great workout!
  • Research has shown that orgasm can ease pain for hours.

All of these benefits point to the power of “using it!”

This article was originally published here.

BY MELANIE DAVIS, PhD | MelanieDavisPhD.com

I’ve consulted with several women lately who are 50-65 year old and are planning to have sex after a multi-year break. Their main concern has been whether that old “use it or lose it” adage is true.

It can be, since the ability to enjoy penetrative sex depends in large part to tissue moisture and suppleness. The good news is that women can maintain and regain their sexual enjoyment.
Decreasing estrogen in an older woman’s body plays a large role in her level of sexual enjoyment. If you look at sex from a strictly biological standpoint, once there’s no guarantee of “good eggs” due to age, the body shuts down the reproductive factory, starting with estrogen production. Estrogen keeps tissues supple and triggers transudation (the process of natural lubricant flowing through tissues in the vagina and vulva). Once a woman can no longer reproduce, the body has no biological use for sex; ergo, there’s no use fornatural lubrication or supple tissues.

But that’s not what women want to hear! Women consider ourselves more than reproductive vessels, and many women want to be sexually active — for myriad reasons — until the day they die.

Because the loss of estrogen causes tissues to thin, the already delicate vaginal, vulvar and anal skin is more apt to tear or feel painful from handling that once might have felt great. Also, the muscles in the pelvic floor start to get lax, so the bladder and other organs may droop, causing unpleasant pressure during penetration. This news can sound dreadful, and many women just assume their sex lives are over. However, if women make accommodations mentally, behaviorally, and, if need be, medically, they can enjoy post-menopausal sex. The key to enjoying sex while aging is to understand naturally occuring changes and to adapt to them.

Older women may need to consider some sexual behavioral changes, i.e., body positioning to protect joints and tissues, using condoms or dental dams if they have new partners, and rethinking when they engage in sex. For example, switching from late night to late afternoon sex can be helpful because medications have kicked in and fatigue hasn’t. Now’s also the time to load up on lubricant — silicone or water-based or even olive oil from the kitchen cabinet (but don’t use oil with condoms!)— to lubricate vulvar tissues and the entrance to the vagina or anus. If tissues are uncomfortably dry, see a healthcare practitioner for advice on whether an estrogen-containing product is indicated.

The act of sex, solo or partnered, exercises muscles and increases flexibility. The clenching and unclenching of vaginal muscles during sex and orgasm conditions the vaginal walls and works the tendons and muscles of the pelvic floor. And, if a woman expends a modicum of energy and movement during sex, the heart and joints get a workout. Orgasm has another benefit — research has shown it to ease pain for hours. All of these benefits point to the power of “using it.”

If you don’t have partnered sex, pleasure yourself. If you’ve never masturbated before, experiment with what feels good to you. If you have a partner who’s willing to get back into the groove after a long break (or if you have a new partner), schedule an internal exam with your healthcare provider to see whether your vagina is supple enough for penetration. If you’ve had some atrophy, stretching with dilators or physical therapy may be indicated.

Communicating with a partner is important because older women may require more time to become aroused enough to naturally lubricate. And those delicate tissues mean that the level of sexual touch and/or penetration may need to change. Older adults typically feel an decreased need for athleticism in the bedroom, too. Getting used to this change may require on-going conversations so both partners get the sexual satisfaction they desire.

Older women also need to attend to their self-esteem as they deal with the loss of their younger body — including less firm breasts, changing fat deposits, the thinning and graying of pubic hair and less plump labia. There may also be the diminishment of a partner’s looks or sexual function to adapt to, as well. It can be helpful to re-think was sex “looks like,” so to speak. Perhaps the goal need no longer be orgasm, but intimacy — at least some of the time. It’s also good to be aware that intimacy may be very different in older age if one’s partner dies and cuddling with a friend becomes the easiest way to satisfy skin hunger.

Unsure what size

melanie_davisMELANIE DAVIS, PHD, consults with individuals and couples to help them build sexual knowledge, comfort, and pleasure through the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness. Through her firm Honest Exchange LLC, she provides professional development in sexuality. She’s a popular speaker on self-esteem and body image, and the sexual impact of cancer, menopause and aging. She’s an AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator. On Twitter @DrMelanieDavis

Scarleteen’s: Condom User Manual

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Condoms have a lot of advantages. They are the most effective form of protection against many STIs. They are the only method the protects against both STIs and pregnancy. They are affordable and accessible. Also, condoms are one of the only birth control methods in which both partners can share responsibility.

While using a condom is easy once you get the hang of it, the first few times can be a bit tricky. Heather Corinna from Scarleteen is here with a helpful step-by-step guide to condom application as well as a ton of tips, tricks and valuable information to keep you safer sex savvy.

This Condom User Manual includes:

  • For people with penises, it can be helpful to practice condom application alone in a no-pressure environment.
  • Try out a couple of styles of condoms, multi-packs are great for finding what works for you.
  • Latex allergies should not keep you from condom use, there are several non-latex options available.
  • Lubrication is very important. Always use additional lube for pleasure AND safety.
  • Condoms are necessary for oral sex (both vaginal and anal).
  • Women should keep their own condoms on hand to be sure that they are protected. Don’t rely on partners.

Read the original article at Scarleteen.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

condom2Using a condom is easier than it looks, but the first few times, it can be tricky, especially if you’re nervous about knowing how to use one, or have never even opened one before. It’s important to know how to use condoms like a pro, to assure that they work to help prevent unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections or both, and because you want them to feel as good as possible for both partners. No matter what your gender is, or what your partner’s gender is, if one of you has a penis (or you both use a toy), knowing how to use a condom properly can make you safer and can make a big difference in your relationship.

Do yourself a favor — if you’re the person whose body part or toy a condom is going on, try it at home by yourself first, without the pressure of being watched, without worrying about losing an erection, or without the uncomfortable feeling that you’re being graded on your condom skills. You or a partner can also practice on a banana (silly, we know: but hey, it works!) with the same condom until you get it right. Either or both of you can put the condom on when the time is right, so it’s good for everyone to know how.

Condom use is just like tying your shoes: tying them all the time may be a bother sometimes, but if you don’t do it, you’ll trip and fall on your face. The consequences here can be far worse. A few STIs are incurable, and once you have them can create some health issues you may need to deal with for your whole life. A couple of them can shorten that life, and all of this also goes for your partners (and their partners, and their partners…). All of them can impact your health and the public health and cost you time, energy and money to deal with. If you’re in a relationship with an opposite sex partner, and condoms are your only method of reliable birth control, I don’t need to tell you why they’re important, even when you’re not the one who can wind up pregnant. One fantastic thing about condoms is that they are one of the only methods where both partners can share responsibility when it comes to birth control. They also make an excellent backup when using other methods. So, here’s how to do it right.

The Basics:

Copyright of Scarleteen. Re-published with permission.

Copyright of Scarleteen. Re-published with permission.

1) Use a good quality condom that is new, and well before the expiry date. Every condom has an expiration date on the package, so just take a look at it before you open one. be sure you’re also using a condom that hasn’t been kept anywhere where it can get worn or too warm or cold (it isn’t a good idea to keep them in your car, wallet or pocket for that reason).

When you first buy condoms, see if you can get a few different brands and styles for yourself. It can take some trial and error to find the kind that best fit you and feel best, so getting assortment packs, or a few small boxes of a couple different kinds is a good idea.

2) Open the condom wrapper carefully with your fingers, and roll it out a little so that the edge is rolled on the outside of the condom. That rolled-up edge needs to be on the outside, facing up, or the condom won’t roll down right. Put a few drops of water-based lube (such as Astroglide, KY Liquid or Liquid Silk) inside the tip of the condom: that not only helps with getting it on, it makes condoms feel a lot better during use. Only put a condom on AFTER there is a partial or full erection (after the penis has “gotten hard”).

3) Squeeze the tip of the condom with your fingertips to leave some extra space in the tip, and roll the rest down the length of the penis, while still pinching the top. The rim 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.

4) Put some more latex-safe lube–lube that doesn’t contain any kind of oil–on the outside of the condom, and you’re good to go. While you are using the condom, neither you nor your partner need to hold onto its base: condoms are designed for hands-free use.

5) After ejaculation (or not, but you’re finished having genital sex — before you withdraw — hold the base of the condom (the rolled-up part) with your hand. If you withdraw without holding the base, the condom could slip off.

Keep your hand there while you withdraw, and until the penis is all the way out of the vagina, anus or mouth. Pull it off with that same hand on the rim of the condom and your other hand by the tip. Pulling it off by the tip alone not only makes a big mess, you could drip all over yourself what you just worked so hard to keep out. Tie a knot near the base of the condom.

6) Throw the condom away in the rubbish bin – NEVER reuse condoms. And please don’t just toss them outside a car or in a park: not only is that just plain gross and uncouth, it’s unhealthy for the rest of us. (Plus, that also means that now and then, as happened to me when I used to teach Kindergarten, some poor teacher winds up with some little kid finding one, waving it all over everyone and everything, and then said teacher having to quickly come up with a very good story about what exactly the “slobbery balloon” is, knowing her wee ones have just been exposed to gawd knows what.)

Never put two condoms on at once to try and be “extra safe”. Both of them will most likely break due to extra friction, and it just doesn’t work or feel very nice for the wearer. One condom, used properly, is as safe as it gets.

If that isn’t safe enough for you, don’t have sex yet where you need one — stick to outercourse — or, if it’s about birth control worries, back up condoms with a second method.

Some extra tips:

• You or a partner being allergic or sensitive to latex does NOT mean you can’t use condoms. It just means you need to use condoms made out of another material. The female condom is nonlatex, and there are a couple brands of male condoms (like Avanti or SKYN) which are also not made out of latex, but which provide just as much protection for you and yours. “Lambskin” condoms, while nonlatex, don’t provide protection against STIs, so those aren’t the best choice.

• If you are uncircumcised, gently push your foreskin back — only to the point where it’s comfortable — while you’re putting the condom on. When the condom is unrolled about 1/3 the way down the shaft, with one hand pull the foreskin together with the unrolled part of the condom upward while with the other hand unroll the condom to the base of the penis. That way, the condom will allow the foreskin to move as it should. It sounds a lot harder than it actually is — just practice a few times first and you’ll get the hang of it.

• Lubrication is really important. Let me say it again: lubrication is REALLY important.Condoms have a high rate of success, but that rate drops when they aren’t used properly, and one of the easiest ways to break a condom is by letting it get dried out. Buy some lubricant when you buy condoms. Not only will it help them work better, well-lubricated sex is generally more enjoyable sex for both you and your partner. Even if a person who has a vulva is plenty wet on their own, our own lubrication doesn’t tend to work as well (or last as long) with condoms as the stuff made for condom use does. Even when a condom is already lubricated, it’s a pretty stingy amount of lube. Do NOT use butter, oil, body lotion, Vaseline or ANY lubricant other than lubricants intended for use with condoms. If you could buy it in a store aisle where food is displayed, it isn’t the right kind of lube.

• Condoms don’t have to be a pain. Don’t try and rationalize your way out of using one, or put up with a partner who does: you’ll both need to get used to using them for a good part of your life, and even if one partner lets you get away with it, you can be sure another one won’t. Bad attitudes about condoms also tend to form a self-fulfilling prophecy, making them seem like more of a drag than they are.

Condoms keep both you and your partner safe. They’re one of the least intrusive kinds of birth control there is for people of all genders when it comes to sexual side effects. And when you don’t have to worry about getting diseases or getting pregnant, sex is a lot more fun. Being a partner who steps up to the plate and just puts on a condom, without a partner having to beg, cajole, nag or argue, also shows a level of maturity and care most folks are looking for in someone they sleep with. Once you get used to using condoms, it’s a total no-brainer, and when you’re using good condoms properly, they really don’t make a huge difference with sensation.

• You should also wear a condom during oral sex just as much as during vaginal or anal sex, especially with new partners. Most STIs are transmitted through bodily fluids and mucus membranes… both of which exist in and on your genitals and your mouth. While there are more STIs transmitted via direct genital contact, and the risks are higher with vaginal or anal intercourse than with oral sex, there are plenty which can be transmitted orally.

• If you’re a woman who sleeps with women and you use sex toys together which cannot be sterilized through boiling, you’ll want to use condoms every time to cover those toys. While lesbian women have far lower risks of STIs, BV–bacterial vaginosis–in particular gets passed around a lot between women, and if you’re sharing toys, that’s an easy way that can happen. Keeping the toys clean, or covering them if they can’t be cleaned to the point where all germs are killed, keeps everyone safe and healthy.

• Not only do thinner condoms feel better, but because they cause less friction they’re also less likely to break. Yippee! Remember that you don’t have to stick to old-style, plain condoms. The thinner condoms, or those with textures, are just as safe as the plain ones, and many people enjoy the feeling of newer styles better. Want to read about the different styles of condoms to find out what might be just right for you? Check it out!

• When it comes to condoms, don’t scrimp. If you can’t afford them at all, check out your local Planned Parenthood, other sexual health clinics or even community centers or school nurse’s offices. They often give them out for free. And if you find when you go to use a condom you have that it’s broken, or was already opened, or has some other flaw, don’t gamble. Either get a new condom that IS in perfect shape, or if you only have that one, nix sex that requires condom use until you get working condoms.

• Hey, Women! Do yourself and your partners a favor by having your own stock of condoms: don’t be passive and rely on the guys to get them or always have them around. Condom sales studies show that the majority of the time, condoms are purchased by men, and we often counsel folks here through pregnancy scares because two people found they both were relying on the other to be in charge of condoms, and neither were prepared. If women and men alike take charge when it comes to having condoms around, it not only helps prevent finding yourself in a precarious situation, it also empowers both to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex together, which makes not only for better sex and relationships, but for feeling better about sex and shared, equitable responsibility.

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).

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

4 Effective Condom Alternatives to Latex Sensitivity

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Latex sensitivity or latex allergy causes symptoms that can range from unpleasant to— in severe cases— deadly… nothing about that is sexy. So what is one to do when it comes to condoms? Lucky Bloke, global condom experts, to the rescue with several safer sex suggestions.

This article is intended to inform you of the various non-latex condom options available and what the benefits are of each. Here is some essential know-how:

  • Condom technology presents the latex sensitive with multiple, pleasurable alternatives to latex condoms. Here is a sample pack of non-latex options.
  • Polyurethane condoms are thinner and less elastic and form fitting than latex condoms. They do, however, transfer heat better.
  • Polyisoprene condoms are stretchier and more resistant to breakage than other condom options. They are also very soft to the touch and offer an enjoyable sensation.
  • The nitrile FC2 “female condom” is the only option that works no matter the size of the penis.

This article was originally published on YourTango.

BY MELISSA WHITE | CEO of LuckyBloke.com

If you or your partner has a latex sensitivity, all hope for a fun (and safer) sex life is not lost. Condom technology has come a long way, and there are some incredible alternatives to latex available. In fact, non-latex condoms can even be more pleasurable for couples, regardless of latex sensitivities. Lucky Bloke is here to share four top non-latex condom options:

1. Polyurethane condoms. Polyurethane condoms are made from a special type of plastic. They not only prevent pregnancy, they reduce your risk of STIs.

These condoms have no odor and tend to have a longer shelf life than latex condoms; they are not as sensitive to temperature or UV lighting. Best of all, polyurethane condoms transfer heat very well between the condom and skin. As a result, many people find that polyurethane condoms offer a more intimate and pleasurable sensation than latex condoms.

Compared to latex condoms, polyurethane condoms are thinner and less elastic. They are not as form fitting as latex condoms, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re getting frisky. It is highly recommended that users pair a quality water-based or silicone-based lube with polyurethane condoms to reduce the risk of slippage or breakage.

Our top pick: TROJAN | Supra which offers a standard fit

2. Polyisoprene condoms. These are relatively new to the market after gaining FDA approval for preventing pregnancy and STDs in 2008. These condoms are made out of a synthetic latex material which is just as strong as latex without containing the proteins that trigger allergic reactions.

Since this material was created in a laboratory setting, it has been engineered to offer a few key advantages over polyurethane or latex condoms. Notably, polyisoprene condoms are generally stretchier and more resistant to breakage than other condom options. They are slightly thicker than polyurethane or latex condoms and as a result, are a bit more form fitting. Despite the added thickness, polyisoprene condoms are very soft to the touch and offer an enjoyable sensation.

These condoms pair very well with water-based lubricants and silicone-based lubricants, but should never be used with oil based lubricants.

Our top picks: LifeStyles |SKYN which offers a standard fit; LifeStyles | SKYN Large which offers a larger fit

3. FC2.  The FC2 (aka the female condom) offers an advantage for women who want to ensure protection from pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infection. The female condom is a strong, thin, and flexible nitrile sheath inserted into the vagina, prior to sex. It has a flexible polyurethane ring on one end, a soft nitrile ring on the other, and is absolutely latex-free. It is pre-lubricated with a slick silicone-based lubricant, but additional lubricant can be used, as well.

Many advances have been made to the FC2 condom. It is not much larger than a “male” condom and it has no latex odor. There are so many advantages to this condom that it is impossible to list them all here.

The FC2 is a great choice for any condom user who has any type of allergies or chemical sensitives. Also, as the woman wears the condom, they are the only option that works no matter the size of the man’s penis. This is incredibly important for men who benefit from a slimmer, more tailored condom. The FC2 is the only non-latex option for these couples.

The FC2 is also the ideal alternative for any couple that faces condom-related erectile challenges. And if this isn’t enough, couples who seek enhanced pleasure (better heat transmission, more stimulation, and a natural feel) should absolutely check the FC2 out.

Our top pick: FC2 | Female Condom which offers a fantastic fit, regardless of penis size

4. Natural skin condoms. Natural skin condoms are one of the oldest methods of preventing pregnancy, and are made from a thin layer of sheep cecum (which is part of sheep intestines). Due to their porous nature, lambskin condoms should only be used to prevent pregnancy. They are not effective at preventing STIs/STDs. Unless you are absolutely certain that both you and your partner are STD-free, lambskin condoms are NOT the option for you.

Many people who use lambskin condoms say that they’re extremely pleasurable due to their thin construction, and how well they conduct heat. In fact, many men who use lambskin condoms have reported that they’re barely able to tell that they’re even wearing a condom during sex. For those who are concerned about the environment, these condoms are also completely biodegradable. They’re not as elastic as latex condoms, and they’re a bit more generous in fit than latex alternatives.

Since these condoms are made from an animal by-product, they do have a certain smell that might take some getting used to. Of the three latex condom alternatives, lambskin condoms are by far the most expensive at several dollars per condom, and are currently only manufactured by TROJAN. Despite these potential drawbacks, lambskin condoms remain popular and can be used with any lubricant.

Our top pick: TROJAN | NaturaLamb which will fit all men albeit a bit differently

Even if you don’t have a latex allergy, it’s not a bad idea to keep a few non-latex condoms at hand if you’re sexually active with multiple partners. You never know when you might end up in a sexy situation with someone who has a latex sensitivity. Safe sex is everyone’s responsibility.

For those of you in a monogamous relationship, there’s a lot to be said for keeping things fresh in the bedroom; trying out new condoms might just give you the incentive you need to get busy.

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