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

5 Ultra-Thin Condoms Guaranteed to Improve Your Sex Life

Photo credit: Maik Kirchner

Photo credit: Maik Kirchner


Not sure what condoms to try? Here is Lucky Bloke’s top condom picks for incredible pleasure.

For all those people who complain about condoms, there’s good news. You can still have protective sex that feels amazing! It’s just a matter of knowing your condom size and being open to experiment with different style condoms. Really, it’s that simple.

If you (or your partner) are someone who struggles with condom use, Melissa White, CEO at Lucky Bloke, highly recommends trying ultra-thin condoms.

The fact is that there are new ultra-thin condoms recently introduced to the market, like ONE Vanish and SKYN Elite, the thinnest non-latex condom.

In this article, Melissa White breaks down the most popular ultra-thin condoms and explains what’s new and improved about each. She shares her personal favorite ultra-thin condom along with other close seconds and what condom users consider best sellers to hit the market today. 

This article was originally published on YourTango.com.

MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

Are you one of the many people who find that condoms reduce sensitivity and pleasure? The very best ultra-thin condom options will likely change your mind.

At Lucky Bloke, our mission is to lead you to the land of amazing sex with condoms. With the world’s best condoms at our fingertips, we’re here to prove that the right condom can actually improve your sex life.

Yes, most condoms get a bad rap. A lot of people think (OK, experience) condoms detract from the pleasure of having sex.

However, having said that, more often than not it’s because they’re using the wrong condom. Lucky Bloke’s ongoing global condom reviews find that most men (over 70%) are wearing the wrong size condom.

Another recent study (Sexual Pleasure and Condom Use, Mary E. Randolph, et. al.) found that those who report disliking condoms are those who don’t use condom or don’t use them often. Meanwhile, men who report that condoms do not decrease pleasure are those who use condoms regularly.

In other words, people who use condoms often and have learned what condoms they like and how to use them well, enjoy sex with condoms. It boils down to experience and knowing what condoms are right for you.

So, “What size condom do I (or does my partner) need?” This handy condom size chart will help you figure it out. Once you’ve determined the proper condom fit, try a state of the art ultra-thin condom and feel the increased sensitivity for yourself.

Here are 5 new and improved ultra-thin condoms that deliver ultimate satisfaction and safety:

1. ONE | Vanish

This brand new condom is 35% thinner than standard condoms and built with an advanced latex formula called Sensatex, making it softer and smoother than leading latex brands. You’ll find Sensatex is more supple, conforming and stretching better for additional pleasure.

Designed with a unique shape that forms to your partner’s contours, it will provide a more pleasurable experience for you both.

2. SKYN | Elite

This condom is the latest (and greatest) addition to Lifestyle’s poplar non-latex condom collection: SKYN. It’s the thinnest polyisoprene condom to hit the market.

Elite is so comfortable that even people without latex allergies recommend it. Made of polyisoprene means this condom feels softer and thinner than most condoms offering you a very different condom experience.

3. Okamoto | 004

State-of-the-art Japanese technology brings you Okamoto 004 (zero zero four). This Japanese condom holds the reputation as the thinnest latex condom available in the United States today.

Its special latex formula transfers body heat and sensation so well, it genuinely feels like nothing’s there.

4. Crown | Skinless Skin

This durable and ultra-thin condom is a favorite across the international market (originally due to it starring in several adult films). The Skinless Skin provides a “bareback” film and is a perfect accessory when looking for a comfortable, bare feel.

5. Unique | Pull Condoms

With its one-of-a-kind design, Unique Pull will change everything you know about roll-on condoms (this is my personal favorite ultra-thin condom!).

Made from high-tech synthetic polyethylene resin, this is an odorless, non-latex condom that’s three times stronger and three times thinner than conventional (latex) condoms. This condom is ideal for men who require a standard, though more generous condom fit.

Want to try a little of everything?

Try the International Ultra-Thin Condom Sampler—a thoughtfully crafted selection offering a fantastic range of premium ultra-thin condom styles for your pleasure. (And a great way save you from having to buy an entire box of each style!)

Pro Tip: We always recommend using additional lubricant with ultra-thin condoms to enhance pleasure, comfort and safety. Read our tips on finding the right lube.

Unsure what size

7 Condoms that even a Condom Skeptic would Love

Photo credit: Onyana Rose

Photo credit: Onyana Rose

These Sexy Condoms Will Completely Revolutionize Your Time In Bed! Guaranteed. 

Are you someone who hates condoms or has a partner that struggles with condom use? You’re not alone. In her Global Condom Review, Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, found that most people are unaware that condoms come in different sizes and shapes. Hence, many are wearing the wrong condom.

She argues that condom pleasure boils down to knowing what size you need and experimenting with different types and shapes.

Basically, if you dislike condoms it’s because you haven’t found the right one yet.

In this article, Melissa White recommends seven top-selling boutique condoms based on condom size needs. Take her advise and everything you thought you knew about condoms will improve.

This article was originally published on Your Tango.

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

Sure, contraception gets a bad rap. And, sometimes quite deservedly so.

However, to date, Lucky Bloke has matched over 45,000 happy condom users (in 28 countries) with a condom they love.

Isn’t it time that you and your partner launch over condom mediocrity and spend your future days (and nights) in condom nirvana?! Yes, with a little savvy and a few tips you’ll be there in no time.

Do you know what size condom you need? This is the first step to condom bliss.
And this handy trick will help you determine your partner’s condom size in no time. No measuring tape required.

Next read up on these seven condoms –all have something special to offer and each are worth a test drive:

1. Okamoto | 004

Okamoto (the leading brand in Japan, as well as the makers of Crown and Beyond Seven), continue to rock the condom world with stellar advances in latex technology. While, Japanese condoms are known for their ability to be ultrathin without compromising on strength and durability, the Okamoto 004 (Zero Zero Four) pushes all pleasure boundaries. It’s rumored to be the very thinnest latex condom available in the US. Until we are shown otherwise, we absolutely agree!

Because of the classic shaft this condom works best for the 50% of men who require a standard sized condom.

2. Unique Pull Condoms

Aptly named, their innovation is guaranteed to be nominated for the Pleasure Hall of Fame. When using UNIQUE PULL for the first time, many say they have to check to see if the condom was in place because they really could not feel it during sex. The thinner the condom, the greater the pleasure. Made from high-tech synthetic polyethylene resin, odorless, non-latex condom UNIQUE is 3x stronger AND 3x thinner than conventional (latex) condoms.

This condom works best for both men who require a standard sized condom, as well as men who need a larger condom.

3. SKYN | Intense Feel

Last year, when the good people at Lifestyles told us (on the down-low) they were going to introduce this new masterpiece in condom innovation: SKYN Intense Real Feel, it was hard not to shout about it from the rooftops. A bit dramatic you think? Well then, you’ve likely never tried a polyisoprene* condom. New condom materials (read: non-latex condoms) are the next direction for increased safer sex pleasure. And mind you, you don’t need a latex sensitivity to begin enjoying polyisoprene condoms.

SKYN Intense Real Feel is what happens when LifeStyles takes their already fantastic non-latex condom, SKYN, and adds a wave pattern of texture — Intensely deep studs on the areas along the condom that (studies have shown) maximize stimulation and pleasure.

*Polyisoprene — a scientifically formulated non-latex material that offers the strength of latex while delivering ultimate sensitivity — provides a softer, more natural feel than latex. While polyisoprene condoms are ideal for people with latex allergies or latex sensitivities, many couples prefer them to latex condoms altogether.

This condom works best for both men who require a standard sized condom. If your man needs a larger condom, try SKYN Large.

4. ONE | Tantric Pleasures

Ah, Tantric Pleasures. Of course, you want a condom that’s interesting, that feels great inside and out. Meet ONE’s answer: Tantric Pleasures, the first condom in the world created with tattoo-inspired texture for increased pleasure and an easy-rolling flared shape for added comfort. Pleasure shape meets pleasure texture. Pleasure, indeed. There are 3 separate designs: Maori, Tribal, & Titan.

When choosing ONE you’re helping people in need, as a portion of every purchase supports HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts in Africa.

This condom works best for both men who require a standard sized condom, as well as men who need a slightly larger condom.

5. GLYDE | Slimfit Strawberry

When creating the tastiest flavored condoms (and dams) in the world, GLYDE ignored cheap chemical concoctions and sourced the highest quality food-grade natural and organic fruit and nut extracts on the planet. Combining this with a red premium secure fit condom, GLYDE Slimfit Strawberry surpasses international quality standards with ultrathin comfort and increased sensation for any connoisseur in the mood for vegan, sugar-free strawberry deliciousness. It also smells absolutely divine!

This condom works best for the 35% of men who require a tighter fit, more secure condom. If you need a standard fit, try Strawberry Ultra.

6. Durex | Performax Intense

Durex Performax Intense condoms are perfect for the couple that needs support matching both of their needs. They feature a body heat-activated, desensitizing, 5% benzocaine delay lubricant on the inside for him, which helps to delay climax and prolong sexual excitement for longer lasting enjoyment. And then, there’s ribs and studded texture on the outside to insure maximum mutual pleasure for the receiving partner. As with the original Performax, the fitted shape insures that the delay lubricant stays safely on the inside.

PERFORMANCE TIP: Gentlemen, DESENSITIZING CONDOMS are highly recommended if you require additional stamina support — you will likely be pleasantly impressed by their effectiveness. On the other hand, if you don’t truly require this type of condom, numbness and a difficulty to climax are more likely to be your experience.

This condom works best for both men who require a standard sized condom. If your man needs a tighter condom or larger condom, try Ride Rock Delay Spray.

7. FC2 | Female (“internal”) Condom

The FC2 Condom offers an advantage for women who want to ensure birth control and protection from STDs. The internal condom is a strong, thin and flexible nitrile sheath inserted into (just going to get medical here) 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.

The female condom can be used no matter how your man is endowed. The female condom offers a fantastic advantage for couples where a partner has a latex sensitivity. This is the only non-latex condom option for guys requiring a smaller condom (we like to call this a “tighter” or more “tailored” fit).

No matter the size, many men find the female condom more liberating. It is still “there” yet, he does not feel the same restriction, as when he is wearing the protection. Give it a try if you are (or he is) a traditional condom hater.

Once you’ve made it to the end of this list, if you’d appreciate personalized attention, Lucky Bloke offers an absolutely free Condom Concierge Service, via email. Contact us at getlucky@luckybloke.com and Lucky Bloke will assist you in identifying the condoms and lube that are right for you. (No purchase necessary!)

Unsure what size

Condom Love: Find Out How Amazing Safer Sex Can Be…

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You’ve probably been told how to use a condom but have you ever been told how to choose a condom? It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are sizes, shapes, materials, flavors, lubes- oh my!

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, to the rescue! She explains everything you need to know, from size to shape, from flavor to lube, so that you can find the perfect prophylactic for you!

This article is meant to help you to navigate the condom market, understand the options available to you and ultimately, make the best decision for your body and pleasure.

Here are some main points to take away:

  • Condoms are available in three basic size categories: Smaller condoms fit 35% of men, standard condoms fit 50% of men and larger condoms fit 15% of men.
  • If you’re unsure on size, try Melissa’s sizing tip or test out a sampler.
  • Condom samplers are a great way to try out premium condoms without committing to an entire box.
  • Non-latex condoms are great for those with allergies, though lambskin condoms are not effective against STIs.
  • Study showed that men who used lube with condoms became more aroused.
  • Don’t miss the discount code for Bedsider readers!

Read the full post at Bedsider.

BY MELISSA WHITE | CEO of LuckyBloke.com

1. Condoms aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Little-known fact: condom size is the most critical factor in increasing safety and pleasure with condoms.

Have you ever worn a bra that didn’t fit right? Whether you endured straps digging into your shoulders, relentless underwire stabbings, or cups that bunched up, you understand that an ill-fitting bra is at best distracting and at worst downright painful.

Just like a perfect-fitting bra, a well-fitting condom will take your (and your partner’s) mind off of the condom and onto giving and receiving pleasure.

Condoms are available in three basic sizes.

Smaller condoms are the best option for 35% of men. If you have ever had sex and the condom slipped around or came off inside of you (and yes, that does happen)—or if your partner’s chief complaint is that wearing condoms feels like a paper bag–that partner probably should switch to using a smaller-than-standard condom.

PRO-TIP: If your partner would benefit from a slightly-smaller-than-standard condom yet doesn’t need a true “small condom,” there are a few excellent Japanese condoms that are simply narrower than standard condoms. These include some of the thinnest condoms on the market–so there will be very little getting between you and your partner.

Standard condoms are the best option for 50% of men. If your partner is in this category, you’ll have a wealth of condoms from around the world to choose from. That includes lots of premium options that are likely superior to anything you’ve tried before.

Larger condoms are the best option for 15% of men. If your partner has a history of broken condoms and serious discomfort when it comes to wearing condoms, he has likely been wearing condoms that are too small for him and needs a larger condom. Female condoms are another option worth exploring, especially if your partner finds even larger condoms uncomfortable.

PRO-TIP: It’s good to be aware that there are also a number of between-size condom options available—for example Kimono Microthin Large—that bridge the gap between “standard” and “large” size condoms.

Here’s a trick to determine the best condom size for your partner. If you’re still at a loss regarding your partner’s perfect condom size, or if you have multiple partners or just want to stock up on a variety of sizes, Lucky Bloke has a “Not Sure What Size Condom to Buy” Sampler.

2. Shapes, and materials, and flavors…Oh my!

Getting a general idea on what condom size you need to buy is just the beginning. Just as not every bra in your size is equally comfortable, not all condoms in the same size range will feel the same. And while you may have a go-to bra for when you want comfort and something sexier for a night out, I hear from lots of condom users who switch up shape, texture, and flavor to match their mood.

My best advice (once you’ve determined the best size to use) to those committed to improving their sex with condoms is to get ready to explore a variety of condoms. And I often find that with condoms, as with so many things, you get what you pay for. Nothing against free or low-priced condoms, but high quality condoms are often worth the price. Premium condom samplers provide an inexpensive way to start exploring. (Lucky Bloke’s samplers include top-rated condoms in categories like Ultrathin, Flavored, and Textured.) Not only will you get a great condom variety, you will do so without having to buy entire boxes of twelve identical condoms in order to find the condoms that work best for you and your partner.

Non-latex condoms might be worth investigating even if you’re not allergic to latex. (And naturally we have a condom sampler for that, too) The non-latex options in our sampler* protect from STIs and pregnancy and offer amazing sensitivity, heightened feeling, and heat transfer.

*Note: Lambskin condoms, while in the non-latex category, aren’t included in the samplers since they’re not ideal for everyone. While they do prevent pregnancy, they will not protect you or your partner from contracting HIV or other STIs.

3. Lube Matters. (And how!)

The truth is that most everyone’s sex life can benefit greatly from some high-quality lubrication. However, there are many lube myths that may be keeping it out of your bedroom.

Do you think you need to be a certain age to use lube? You don’t! Are you afraid that using lube might mean that there’s something wrong with your sex life? Really, nothing could be further from the truth!

For condom users, extra lube has some major benefits. Simply put, exposing your most delicate parts to latex will dry you up—no matter how excited you may be. A study that looked at people’s arousal levels with and without condoms found that men who used a condom without lube were slightly less aroused than those who didn’t use a condom or lube. The kicker? The men who used a condom with lube got as aroused as those who didn’t use a condom at all! And provided you are using a high quality, condom-compatible lubricant, your condom is less likely to break during intercourse.

It’s time to declare your days of suffering through mediocre experiences with condoms officially over. Your sex life will thank you. Guaranteed.

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

Sex School: Condoms = Cancer? Uh, No. (Part 3).

Image from the CSPH Sunday Sex School Series

Image from the CSPH Sunday Sex School Series

We’ve spoken out against the condom company, Sustain’s irresponsible marketing ploy which insinuates that many condoms cause cancer. The truth is there is no scientific evidence that any condoms are laden with harmful carcinogens.

Now the greater sex education community is standing up against Sustain condoms.  The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (the CSPH) has featured a three part series that exposes Sustain’s confusing and misinformed messages. Here is the final part of that series. You can read the first part here.

In response to Sustain’s fear-mongering attempt to smear other condom products, here’s a refresher on all the wonderful things to know about condoms:

  • Condoms are the only method that protects against both STIs and accidental pregnancy.
  • Correct condom size is essential for the most pleasurable safer sex possible.
  • Adding lube both eases condom application and increases sensitivity.
  • Many condom companies are involved in socially responsible campaigns. When you buy condoms from companies like RFSU, Glyde and Lucky Bloke, you are also helping contribute to aid organizations such as UNICEF, Planned Parenthood and the Global Fund to Prevent AIDS.

This post by Erin Basler-Francis was originally published at the CSPH

BY THE CSPH | theCSPH.org

Over the last two lessons, we have discussed the science of nitrosamines and their suspected link to types of cancer, dispelled myths around nitrosamine levels in condoms and their link to reproductive cancers, and ran down how we got to the point of having this discussion.

So, now let’s look at condoms in a better light: Condoms—what to do with them and what they are doing for you. Note: in this discussion, the terms internal and external condoms are used rather than “male” or “female” condoms.

Condoms: Some Basics

Image from Condom Monologues.com

Image from Condom Monologues.com

There are two main types of condoms, internal and external. Internal condoms are the latex sheath for use over a penis or sex toy that people tend to envision when they use the term. Internal condoms (i.e. the FC2) are inserted into an orifice prior to penetration. Condoms are made from a host of materials, including latex (most common), polyurethane, lambskin, polyisoprene, and nitrile.

Generally, condoms and other barrier methods are recommended as the most effective method to avoid STIs if you are choosing to have genital contact with another person. They prevent the transfer of fluid based STIs (such as HIV and Syphillis) and reduce risk of contracting STIs that spread via surface contact (like Herpes and HPV).

Condoms: What Can You Do With Them

Image from the CSPH

Image from the CSPH

Condoms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors…and they can be used for many sexual activities beyond penile/vaginal intercourse.

For oral/genital contact, flavored condoms can be an added sexy treat. If going over a penis, adding silicone lube to the inside of the condom can keep the sensation slick, but the act safer. To make safer sex even sexier, one can put the condom on using their mouth. Flavored condoms, on a penis or cut open and spread over a vulva, can add a sweet bonus to going down.

When penetrating an anus, condoms can keep things clean. For people who are squeamish about poop, darker colored condoms will camouflage and fecal residue that might appear. Internal condoms can be used for anal intercourse by removing the insertion device (e.g. the ring in the FC2) and will offer both the security of a built in flange for the condoms and additional stimulation to the nerve endings in the anus and surrounding area. And, like a gift that keeps on giving, the ring removed from the tip of the FC2 can double as a cock ring.

If you are planning on only having sex with yourself, condoms are great for easy cleanup. Slide a condom on the penis or over a sex toy, and you aren’t scrambling for a sock/tissue/towel or a potentially awkward walk to a communal bathroom to wash your dildos in the sink. If premature ejaculation is a concern, condoms can help by changing the sensation of intercourse slightly.

On the size front, the old safer-sex educator trick of fitting a condom over the head, up the arm, or onto a summer squash (or maybe that one is just a fun party trick) gives the message that no one is too big to wear a condom. So why make them in different sizes?

Well, you can buy a suit off the rack and look incredibly dashing, dapper and nail a job interview, or you can decide to go with a bespoke suit and feel like James Bond or Tilda Swinton every time you put it on. Condom sizes are like that—they will function pretty great if you aren’t using the perfect size, but finding a condom with the optimum fit will make it feel even better.

What Are Condom Doing For You?

Many condoms companies—both distributors and retailers, participate in social responsibility campaigns. For example, Sustain, fear campaign aside, launched 10%4Women, in which the company contributes 10 percent of their pretax profits to women who lack access to reproductive health care.

Image from the CSPH

Image from the CSPH

Currently, ONE is running its #LustforLife campaign, in which the company partnered with NYC street artists to bring awareness to and raise money for Lifebeat, a NPO that provides HIV education in urban areas, through social media and an auction of original art pieces.

Glyde, aside from being a vegan, sustainable B-Corp, runs the Red Ribbon Campaign, which distributes condoms to sex workers in Southeast Asia as well as providing HIV prevention education abroad and at home in New Zealand.

Sir Richard’s Condoms employs Buy One, Give One. Global Protection (parent company of ONE Condoms) donates a significant number of condoms to reproductive health clinics and providers around the US. Durex, Trojan, Lifestyles…all of them have run significant awareness campaigns that, combined with the condoms they donate, make sure people are having safer sex.

Aside from reducing your personal risk of STIs and unintended pregnancy, it’s safe to say that when you strap on a condom, you are giving back to the world at large.

Do your part. Wrap up.

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.

Breaking The No Condom Habit

screen-capture-5It is not uncommon for people to falter. Practicing safer sex every single time can be a challenge for some. One reason for this is feeling insecure about initiating condom use. How can you shore up an assertive and sexy way to lay down the condom rule?

Basic courtesies in sex may feel unfamiliar because there simply is no discussion about it in our standard sex education or popular media, which is why we highly recommend this article by Robin Mandell of Scarleteen. It unpacks from where these nuanced communication difficulties stem. The author gets straight to the heart of why it is so important to take responsibility in managing your sexual safety. She offers great tips on how to incorporate condoms as a normal part of sex.

Here are some stellar points to remember next time you feel uneasy about introducing safer practices:

  • Taking care of your body and your partner’s body is smart and sexy!
  • Stigma around STIs has twisted safer sex practices to seem like an unsexy act of distrust. This is complete ignorance! It is about caring for each other’s health and what’s wrong with that?
  • No matter who your partner is, you can say “no” to sex if the person refuses to use a condoms. Because after all, to refuse or complain about such a thing is not respecting your sexual boundaries. Now THAT is unsexy.
  • Talk about STI testing and safer sex practices with all your sex partners. Using condoms is something that can come into casual conversation.
  • Practice how to put on a condom yourself and be prepared with your own stash of safer sex tools.
  • Condoms also make oral sex fun and safe.

The original article was published on Scarleteen

BY ROBIN MANDELL | ReadySexyAble.com

This question was posed to Scarleteen.

CuriosityCat asks:

I am 20 and sexually active. I don’t have a long term partner but have had and do have various partners. I have an IUD so I’m protected against pregnancy, however I know condoms are still hugely important. My problem is that I am completely stuck for what to say to make a man put one on. At the moment, it’s just getting carried away then really kicking myself later. I have to be more diligent with this, but please- do you have any advice for laying down the law? A non awkward, but still sexy way of asserting myself?

Robin Mandell replies:

In a sentence: you could just take one out of your bag, hand it to your partner, and say “Here, put this on.” Or, “Let’s get a condom on first.”

Or, if you want to keep the touch between the two of you going without a condom-stop, how about, “Why don’t I slide this on for you.” Remember, you can put a condom on, too, and some folks find making putting condoms on part of sex, rather than having them be an interruption, sexy, playful and fun.

It really is as simple as any of that, yet I know it can feel a whole lot more difficult. Especially when you’re not yet in the habit, so it feels out-of-place instead of typical. Once condom use and insisting on it is your normal, it really does feel a whole lot different, and can be very easy to be totally relaxed about. Bonus: when you’re relaxed about it, your partners will tend to be too, so there’s likely to be no muss and no fuss.

There are a few things I’m not sure of, in answering this question: Are these partners friends? Strangers? Something in between? Do you have some type of ongoing sexual relationship with them, just single encounters, or does it depend on the partner? Answers to these questions may impact how you negotiate condoms, but they don’t have to have any impact on whether they’re used or not. Where these sexual encounters take place can also affect the mechanics of how you incorporate condom use in a way that feels comfortable and still sexy for you.

No matter who your partner is, though, or where you are, using a condom really can be a hard limit for you, hard in that if a partner refuses, you can take that sexual activity off the table, instead opting to engage in other sexual activities that don’t pose the same kinds of risks. And that doesn’t have to be paired with any drama or ultimatums (nor should it be.) It can be as mellow as, “Yeah, I wanted to have sex, too, but I need condoms to be used for that. If you don’t, that’s cool, but not when it comes to sex with me. You’ll need to find someone who is okay with that, then.”

It can be tough to say “no” to something you really want, or to say “no” to someone you really like or are attracted too, but this is your health we’re talking about. Theirs, too.

Taking care of your body is sexy as far as I’m concerned, and doing things that show you’re caring for someone else’s body is also sexy in my book.

The huge stigma society has built up around STIs and STI transmission, plus the very real dangers of some STIs, has made safer sex practices seem like a chore, or like the unsexy part of sex. There’s even some cultural weirdness around just being caring about ourselves and other people when it comes to sex, which is pretty strange for something that’s supposed to involve our humanity.

Really though, any action that ensures people’s health and safety, whether it’s checking with someone to make sure they’re okay with a given sexual activity, readjusting positions to avoid a sprained knee, or, using barriers to make sex safer, can feel like a natural, normal, typical part of sex. Just like, say, “Does that feel good?” can.

The fact that we don’t see these safer sex negotiations often happening in media representations of sex — such as in movies, or how-to articles in popular magazines — doesn’t help matters; thus, basic courtesies in sex can feel strange and unfamiliar to us, or we might feel afraid that our partners will be turned off by them. Of course, it’s not like someone feeling turned off now and then will end the world or anything, and that’s bound to happen for one reason or another sometime, whether it’s about asking for condom use or about doing something sexual in the exact same way the ex who broke their heart did. Partners– or us — experiencing a buzzkill now and then is also a typical part of sex in our lives.

Regardless of how casual — or not — a sexual relationship is, it’s still okay to, and advisable to, discuss safer sex practices with partners. Using condoms is something you can introduce in casual conversation, even using a buffer like: “I was reading this article about sex the other day, and….”

It’s also important to remember that in addition to making genital intercourse safer, condoms also make oral sex safer. Many STIs can be and are transmitted through oral sex–such as chlamydiaherpes, and gonorrhea.

It sounds as if up to now you’ve mostly been concerned with preventing pregnancy. It might be helpful to review STIs and their modes of transmission. It’s also worth noting that for STIs transmitted primarily through skin-to-skin contact condoms offer less protection.

Regular STI testing is super-important for any sexually active person, too, whether they’ve had multiple partners or have been in only one monogamous relationship so far. But because one of the markers of STI prevention has been found to be limiting partners, it’s especially important for people who have multiple partners to be tested consistently. It’s also pretty important to discuss STI testing with partners; if you don’t feel comfortable discussing this, or don’t feel as if you are getting a straight answer when you ask about it, it’s even more important to practice safer sex with the assumption that they haven’t been tested or haven’t been practicing safer sex in the past.

For ideas on communication strategies, check this out.

I’m not sure what your concern is with making the effort to use condoms. A few of the reasons we sometimes hear are: It feels like an interruption to the sex. The guy says he can’t feel anything/can’t orgasm/can’t whatever wearing a condom. One partner or another says they don’t have anything, so condoms really aren’t necessary.

In spite of all the sexy, apparently romantic notions about sex, engaging in sex with another person, no matter what the nature of the relationship is, is inherently going to be awkward sometimes. Sticking bodies and people’s deep stuff together closely is kind of awkward, after all. That’s part of the fun of it, as we negotiate the random whims of our bodies and minds to hopefully find mutual pleasure and fulfillment. That said, while stopping to put a condom on can feel like a blip, it doesn’t have to be an awkward blip.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Learn, with the aid of a banana, dildo, or willing partner, how to put a condom on yourself. Like I already mentioned, for many partners this helps the process blend into the sexual experience more. That way, too, you can understand that condom use also isn’t about “making” a guy do something: it’s about something people do together for each other.
  • When you get the sense that sexual activity could happen, take a quick break from what you’re doing and pull condoms out of your purse, nightstand, or wherever you’ve been keeping them. You can say something like: “No pressure. Just wanted to get these out just in case we want to do something where we need them.”
  • Just stop what you’re doing and hand them a condom. Sometimes, you don’t even have to say anything at all. I know it can feel awkward, but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. The more whatever it feels, the more whatever you act about it, and the more whatever a partner often will, too. Many of us have things we need or don’t in order to be comfortable with sex, or anything else, and those just become part of the deal.

As to whether condoms reduce sensation, they really don’t have to. At least not any more than say, the birth control pill can change how someone taking it experiences sex: sure, there are some differences, but they are most often small ones. Yes, they feel different than when condoms aren’t being used, but no, they don’t have to be a mood-breaker or sensation-blocker.

Two tricks to getting condoms to feel good and comfortable are to put a couple of drops of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the condom before putting it on, and to make sure the condom fits well. Condoms aren’t one-size-fits-all, and a condom that’s too small or too big is much more likely to create big sensation differences than one that fits the wearer well. If you’re providing the condoms, you might find it useful to have a variety of types and styles on hand so your partner can choose what seems right to them. Variety packs can be found online, and at some drugstores. be sure to include some thinner condoms, too: sometimes people think they need the thickest condoms or they will break, when in fact, breakage rates are no different for the thinnest condoms, and a thinner condom means less change in sensation.

If you make using a condom a requirement for engaging in specific sexual activities, the choices will become to either engage in that activity with a condom or to not engage in it at all. You really don’t need to fall for the claim that condoms ruin everything. They don’t hurt, and, if the fit and style suits the person, they shouldn’t significantly reduce sensation for most people. Then too, orgasm never has to be associated with one particular sexual activity, though I know it often is. If a partner balks at using a condom for intercourse, for example, because he has difficulty reaching climax while wearing a condom, that doesn’t make intercourse impossible. It just means that another activity, such as manual sex, will need to follow if he wishes to reach climax.

Unless you know for sure that someone has recently been tested, and you trust them to report the results accurately (or have seen the results report), it’s safest to engage in sexual activities in ways that protect yourself. The absence of symptoms is not a clear indication, as many STIs are asymptomatic (without symptoms) for a long while.

In short, you can get partners to use condoms by providing the condoms yourself and being relaxed, confident and firm in your conviction that sex just also means condoms.

condom ad condoms too loose

ROBIN MANDELL is a healthy sexuality and disability rights advocate based in the Washington D.C. area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Queen’s University in Canada and a Professional Writing Certificate from Washington State University. Over the years, Robin has amassed extensive experience working with people at vulnerable times of their lives, both as a crisis hotline worker and a sexuality and relationships education advocate with Scarleteen. She’s discovered that disability issues receive significantly less attention in academia and social justice movements than they’re due. She has developed a passion for starting dialogues on sex, disability and accessibility, and has come to the realization that, as much as she just wants to be like everybody else, she can use her visible reality as a blind woman to start these dialogues. Robin blogs on disabilities, sexualities, and the connections between them at ReadySexyAble.com and has published articles on various sexuality and sexual health topics at Scarleteen and Fearless press

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

Reacquainting With Condoms After 11 Years On The Pill

Switching to condoms as one’s only birth control at 30 years old can be a dramatic shift in mindset from the comfort of quick-fix Pills to latexy shopping adventures with a partner. Here, Rose Crompton from the Condom Monologues collective shares her dramatic contraceptive story that spans over a decade, told in 1000 words.

Here are some things she’s learned along the way:

  • Throughout life, every person should take the time to reflect and re-evaluate their contraceptive choices as their body changes.
  • There is important knowledge about condoms that’s not taught in sex education, such as the importance of fitting and experimenting with different brands and types. There are condom sampler packs to guide your discovery of the best condoms for you and your partner(s).
  • If there is an opportunity to shop for condoms with your partner then you should. It can be like an extension of foreplay!
  • Shopping online provides way better selection and price.

This piece is originally published here.

BY ROSE CROMPTOM at CONDOM MONOLOGUES | CondomMonologues.com

“Which ones should we get?” I asked my boyfriend. Well, he’s a man and he’s the one that has to wear them, so naturally I assumed he’d know best. “I dunno,” was the mumbled response. I’d not been “hat” shopping in over a decade. For nearly 11 years I was on the Pill and in three monogamous relationships, for the majority of that time, so ‘safe’ meant not getting pregnant.

Standing there, facing a wall of johnnies, there were three main changes I noticed: the packaging of condoms 11 years on was nicer, there were brands other than Durex available, and the price was higher. No wonder the supermarket kept them in security boxes. Ten quid ($16) for 10 condoms, so a pound a fuck essentially, and me and my boyfriend fuck a lot. Giving up the Pill was apparently going to cost me in more ways than I expected!

That said, coming off the pill four months ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made and I’d like to state that this was what was right for me, not what every woman should do, although I do think every woman should take the time to stop and re-evaluate their contraceptive method as their body changes.

The biggest question I’ve faced since is what contraception should my partner and I use instead?

Long term, that’s still a frustrating debate I’m having with myself, my partner and sexual health advisers. For now though, my chap and I are only using condoms and that is how I found myself: Standing in Tesco adding ‘condoms’ to our weekly, big shop shopping list.

Just call me Goldilocks

After much deliberation we went for the clichéd ribs and dots for her pleasure style. You have to start somewhere. They were good, but not quite right. If we’re being honest (and I think we can be here) too much dotting and ribbing can lead to chaffing.

Thankfully, there’s more to safe sex-life than that one style and so the hunt began online to try something new. Scouring the sites we found a ridiculous number of options. Without wanting to sound too Disney about it, there was a whole new world opening up before my eyes. Previously my experience of condoms had been whatever was free and easy to grab from the GP or sexual health clinic as they were only ever used briefly when there was a Pill glitch.FlyingCarpetCondomsAnim

Now though, scouring the various sex e-tailers, there was this whole exotic, rubbery, latex fantasticness that had the potential to be a lot of fun. Maybe shopping for condoms would be a great, new, sexy part to our foreplay?

We came across an American brand called One and they had an interesting pack called Tantric with tattoo style patterns and extra lubrication. Oh, they sound fancy and you can never have too much lube, so we ordered some.

It wasn’t long before the boyfriend and I found ourselves back online, looking for something different the next time. We “um-ed” and “ah-ed” over the various boxes, brands, descriptions, shapes and textures for nearly as long as we’d spend trying to pick a nice bottle of wine to go with dinner.

Obviously, sex is a shared experience and if there is the opportunity to choose together, then you should. Like with any aspect of sex you should both get enjoyment out of what you’re using. There aren’t very many things that we put on our bodies that are as intimate as condoms. It’s going on his most sensitive area and in hers, so when it comes to condom shopping it’s important to find some rubbers that you’re both gonna’ love. Generally, that means experimenting.

Getting comfy with condoms

Through shopping around, I’ve learnt more about condoms in the last four months than I ever learnt at school, or was bothered to listen to after that, because they just weren’t relevant to my life. It’s a bad attitude to have, I know. It’s shocking how the “fit and forget” or pill-popping culture we have today means it’s easy to overlook the humble condom. Especially when you’re in a relationship that uses one of the aforementioned methods.

It’s been a re-education: I’m aware now about the importance of fit and how that effects sensation and minimises the risk of breakage, the safest way to take them off to avoid any ‘accidents’ and I’ll admit that I’m still perfecting my roll on method (anything billed as ultra thin is definitely the trickiest).

The biggest adjustment (and I don’t reckon I’m the only woman who’s come off the Pill to feel this) is becoming confident with the idea that condoms can keep me safe. Not from STDs as that’s not an issue in my relationship, but of pregnancy. A lot of people my age and a bit older seem keen to use Fertility Awareness Methods and the pull-out method, but for many of them pregnancy wouldn’t be so much of a disaster. For me and my boyfriend, it certainly would be.

Making the move from the pill to condoms is scary. Anything you get fitted, implanted or swallow every morning has a success rate of approximately 99 percent. Sure, there are some side effects, but you’re willing to put up with them because it’s a shared ideology that now we have these methods, why bother with condoms that have a slightly lower success rate at all if your aim is to not get pregnant?

Living with that mentality for over a decade, then changing what you use and your body changes too, is a lot to get your head around, but it is doable. On the plus side, not only has it led me to take another look at the whole contraceptive menu – not just what the GP would prefer me to use – but it’s made me and my partner look again at correct condom use and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for any couple to do that no matter how long they’ve been together.

This monologue was written by Rose Crompton (@RoseC_Liec). Monologues are independent stories. The opinions shared are the author’s own. Go here for more monologues.

 

condom-monologuesCONDOM MONOLOGUES Affirming safer sex and sexuality one story at a time… Condom Monologues dispel harmful myths about safe sex and sexual stereotypes that permeate our ways of understanding what is “healthy sexuality”. They accomplish this through sex-positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality that affirm the diversity of people- genders, sexualities, kinks and relationships.
Find them on twitter @CondomMonologue. Share your story

Best Lines of Defense Against Partner’s Excuses Not to Practice Safer Sex

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This post is for anyone who has ever complained about condoms/dams, or has faced complaints from a sex partner; or you are new to safer sex (or you’ve been out of the game for a while) and want to start practicing. In many ways, this post is actually for everyone! We’ve pooled together resources from Condom Monologues and Lucky Bloke to help prepare you with the best lines of reasoning and defense to common excuses against protective sex barriers.

Note: Negotiating safer sex is not confined to heterosexual relationships in which the female is making the male do something. This is an issue that happens in all types of relationships and power dynamics across genders. Knowing how to assert health boundaries is a tool for everyone (of all genders) to have:

Partner: “Condoms never fit me.”
You: “If you’re too big to fit any of these different sizes than you are too big for me.”

There is a deluge of condoms on the market today, all in a variety of smells, tastes, materials, and yes, sizes. There are condoms that are as small as 1.25″ in diameter and ones as large as 2.3″ in diameter. You would be hard-pressed to find a sexually active man who didn’t fall in that range! Need help determining his condom size? Find it here: http://www.luckybloke.com/choose-size

Partner: “It doesn’t feel good.” “I can’t feel anything”.
You: “I can’t enjoy sex if I don’t feel safe.”
“The safer I feel, the hotter the sex.”

or

Partner: “I want to be closer to you/feel you.”
You:“I can’t feel close to you if I don’t feel safe.”

Condoms, dams and lubes have come so far that, in a lot of ways, sex can actually be enhanced with these safety tools. Most importantly, you can feel safe knowing that you have greatly reduced your risk of catching STIs or getting pregnant when you aren’t ready to. Think of protective barriers as sex accessories.

Heather Corinna explains it best: “Asking someone to care for you in any way is not a barrier to intimacy: it’s not asking that keeps space between you…sexual health or even just how to use condoms and use them in a way that works for both of you is not something that keeps people apart, but that brings people closer together.”

Partner: “You think I have an STD”. “You don’t trust me.”
You:“This isn’t about me thinking that here is something wrong with you; this is about both our health.”

You know what? Using a condom and other protective barriers shows that you both care about yourselves and each other! Having unprotected sex is not an act that builds trust. Instead, it is an act that can occur as a result of already-built trust. Knowing that your partner will be there for you if sex results in a pregnancy, and knowing that your partner is not exposing you to a sexually transmitted infection, are what enables you to trust them with the act of bareback sex. See how that works? Trust is earned.

Partner: “Just this one time.”
You: “We’ve got all these condoms/dams. Let’s do it more than once!”
“Once is one too much for me.”

Being prepared with a variety of condoms/dams will be a great help. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to take care of their own health. Don’t assume one partner will be prepared, unless you have talked and made this arrangement with them.

It’s best to prepare with a variety of shapes, textures and flavors, latex and non-latex, because you want to find barriers that suit both you and your partner best. Plus experimenting adds a whole new dynamic to play. There are variety sample packs, like the one’s curated by Lucky Bloke, that can help you on your safer sex discovery.

condom-monologuesCONDOM MONOLOGUES SexEd, Activism, Storytelling and More… Condom Monologues dispel harmful myths about safe sex and sexual stereotypes that permeate our ways of understanding what is “healthy sexuality”. They accomplish this through sex-positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality that affirm the diversity of people- genders, sexualities, kinks and relationships. Find them on twitter @CondomMonologue

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.
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