Is My Penis Size Normal?

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke once said, “Size does matter, but not in the way you might think.”

She was referring to the importance of wearing the right size condom. In order to experience more pleasurable with reliable safe sex, you need to know what condoms fit your penis size. Beyond that, size really isn’t as big a deal as many make it out to be.

Who does size really matter to most? Almost always it is men. One of the most common questions males ask Heather Corinna, founder of the sex education site, Scarleteen, is about penis size: Is my penis too small? Is the curve on my penis normal? Is my girlfriend going to find me weird?

According to this recent study that reviewed more than 60 years of research about penis size, 85% of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis. However, it also revealed that only half of men find their own size satisfactory.

So to help guys feel more comfortable, Heather Corinna breaks down actual penis size averages and goes into detail about erection size, shape and foreskin.

Here are some interesting and less known facts about penis size.

  • Average adult penis girth (erect) that fits a medium size condom is between 4 to 5 inches.
  • Average adult penis length (erect) is around 5.5 to 6.2 inches long.
  • The size of a flaccid penis does not indicate the size when aroused. For some, a flaccid penis can be the same size when erect. For others, an erection can grow double in size.
  • Erection size can vary day to day for men. It depends on the level of arousal.
  • A small degree of curvature is actually more common than a straight penis.

This article was originally published here.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

Throw a rock at any sex education site or service, ask what the most common question we get is from people who identify as men and we’ll all tell you — with an air of exhaustion, mostly because we get asked it so often and it’s so clear to us how these worries hold men back from feeling good about themselves and their sexuality, as well as how they often negatively impact sexual relationships — that it’s about penis size.

While many statistics show that around half of all men are dissatisfied with their penis size (despite the fact that their partners don’t feel the same way), with younger men it often seems even more common.

One typical reason is that younger men will often have unrealistic ideas about penises. When you’re young, if you’re making comparison, they’re probably either to only a few different people — like your Dad, maybe your best friend, maybe a few guys you’ve seen in passing in the restroom — when the range of penis size varies enough that to get realistic ideas about it, we’ve got to be looking at more than just a few penises. With pornography becoming more and more accessible over the years, more guys are also looking at penises in porn, a really unrealistic place to look since the actors cast in porn don’t tend to be the norm at all when it comes to size or how long or often they can become or remain erect for.

Is my penis size normal?

Let’s start by looking at some basic averages, based on broad, credible studies of a variety of men. When you flip through most studies, what you’ll usually find is that:

– The average adult penis flaccid (not erect or soft) is around 3 to 4 inches long.
– The average adult penis erect (hard) is around 5.5 to 6.2 inches long.
– The average adult penis erect is around 4-5 inches around (in circumference).
This image based on a study done by Lifestyles condoms can give you a good look at what the size range between men is like.

What size a penis is when it’s flaccid (not erect) doesn’t necessarily indicate what size it will be erect. As I explain here, some penises flaccid are very nearly the same size as they are when they are erect, while others are smaller than they are erect. Neither “growers” nor “showers” are better than the other: they’re just different.

When looking at studies and statistics on penis size, pay attention to who measured the penises involved. In studies where people measure themselves and self-report, we usually see larger averages than we do when doctors or nurses are doing the measuring and reporting. As stated in this study by Ansell, where people were not self-measuring, when medical staff are the ones holding the tape measures, average sizes are always below six inches in length. They also note that looking at self-reporting studies, on average people seem to overstate their own penis sizes from a quarter to a half an inch.

(If you want to dig around for yourself, the kinds of studies our averages come from here can be found neatly organized in the notes for the Wiki on penis size here.)

Read the full article at Scarleteen.com

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).

Getting The Snip: Should It be Me or My Partner?

sterilizationIf you know that you don’t want more children or feel confident that you never want any, sterilization may be the right option for you. This is permanent birth control, so the decision should never be taken lightly. As Grace Shih discusses below, women who get the operation before they turn 30 years old are more likely to regret the decision.

That said, sterilization is very safe and effective for both men and women. It is so safe, that it is the most common birth control in the United States today!

To help you make your decision, this article answers the most common questions asked about sterilization. Here are some quick facts:

  • About 23% of all couples in the United States rely on sterilization as their birth control method.
  • It is one of the most effective forms of birth control available.
  • Both tubal ligation (female sterilization) and vasectomy (male sterilization) are safe. In rare cases, complications are more likely to occur after a woman’s operation.
  • Tubal ligation cost more than double the price of a vasectomy. But most insurance plans cover sterilization.
  • Sterilization should be considered a permanent procedure. To reverse the operation is risky and sometimes doesn’t succeed.

This post by Grace Shih was originally published on Bedsider.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Sterilization is a big decision. Consider this info when you’re contemplating the procedure.

Done having kids or sure you never want any? If you answer yes, you might be thinking about permanent birth control, also called sterilization. Sterilization can be done for women or men. For women, it is often called “getting your tubes tied” or “tubal ligation.” For men, it is called a vasectomy. Sterilization is a very common type of birth control. In fact, in the United States, sterilization is the most common form of birth control with 23% of all couples relying on it.

If you’re thinking about sterilization, how do you decide who gets it done—you or your partner? To make this decision, you can both consider the safety, effectiveness, reversibility and cost of each method.

How safe is it?

Both sterilization methods are extremely safe. A small number of people complain after the procedure about a bit of bleeding or a minor local infection; in general, these issues are quickly resolved. Most female sterilization techniques require general anesthesia and surgery with about four stitches. Vasectomy can be done under local anesthesia through an incision so small it sometimes doesn’t even need stitches. Although serious complications are rare, they’re more likely to happen after a female sterilization operation than a vasectomy.

How effective is it?

Both types of sterilization are very effective. A large study called the Collaborative Review of Sterilization (CREST) examined failure rates for female and male sterilization and found that both methods were among the most effective methods of birth control. (There is a slim chance of pregnancy after sterilization—less than 1 in 100.) Health care providers consider both male and female sterilization among the best methods of birth control available.

How much will it cost?

This depends on your health insurance coverage and where you live. Most insurance plans should cover female sterilization with no out-of-pocket costs. If you do have to pay out of pocket, vasectomy is less expensive than female sterilization—usually about one-third as much as a tubal ligation.

Can I get it reversed?

Both vasectomy and tubal ligation should be considered permanent procedures. Having either type of sterilization reversed is expensive and sometimes doesn’t succeed. About half of couples report a successful pregnancy after reversing either type of sterilization, but it depends on lots of factors, including the type of surgery done, your age and the time since sterilization.

If you’re not really certain that you don’t want (more) kids, you can consider other methods that are safe, highly effective, and can last many years, like the implant or the IUD. Some health care providers hesitate to help young patients who request sterilization, possibly because of the research showing that women under 30 who get tubal ligations are more likely to regret the decision later. This can be frustrating, but if you’re really sure sterilization is the right choice for you, look for a provider who will respect that.

Her’s vs. His

How do you decide who gets the snip? Some women think that birth control is a woman’s responsibility or that their partner will not be interested. In the United States, female sterilization is much more common than male sterilization. However, in a study of men who received vasectomy, the most common reasons for men to choose vasectomy were its simplicity and safety. The men also felt it was time for them to take contraceptive responsibility.

So, if you are deciding whether or not to get sterilized, make sure you understand your options and discuss them with your partner! Remember, sterilization is permanent and you should be certain of your decision, whatever you choose.

condom ad condoms too tight

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

A Guy’s Guide to Condoms

When it comes to the condom, it will always be a friend you can depend on, especially if you use it right.

“When it comes to the condom, it will always be a friend you can depend on, especially if you use it right.”

Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly and consistently. However, most people don’t use it perfectly every time. So the folks at Bedsider have created a fun two and a half minute video made specifically for young men about condoms and condom use.

We think it’s a great video because it focuses on pleasure and reviews facts about condom size (something often overlooked in sex education). And this vidoe skips the fear-based messages entirely. We know that scaring people doesn’t prevent unwanted sexual outcomes. Instead we want to educate folks into doing it safely and enjoyably!

Here is an honest and hilarious guy’s guide to condoms:

  • Condoms are the only contraceptive that protects against both STIs and accidental pregnancy.
  • With correct and consistent use, condoms are 98% effective.
  • Don’t store condoms in your wallet. See how to correctly care for condoms here.
  • Always leave room at the tip of the condom. Pinch it with your fingers to keep air from getting trapped.
  • If you don’t like the condom you used, simply try a different one. Not all condoms are made equal. There is a variety of condom sizes and types. Read this guide to finding the right condom for you.

Note: If you want to skip all the creative condom euphemisms, just skip to 0:45 seconds and get straight to the point.

This video was originally published on Bedsider.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Guy Nottadadi has a few key points you’ll want to hear about your best bro, the condom (a.k.a. sleave it to beaver, groin cloth, rain jacket, love glove, etc).

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

5 Myths About the Pull-Out Method, Corrected

"Pull and Pray" video by Bedsider

“Pull and Pray” video by Bedsider

The pull-out method (also known as “withdrawal” or “coitus interruptus”) involves the one with the penis to pull-out before he ejaculates. Health professionals do consider this a true method of birth control. Did you know that if the pull-out method is done correctly every time, it is almost as effective as using condoms to prevent pregnancy? However, it has to be done correctly every single time. Because of this, withdrawal is not the right birth control option for everyone.

We do not recommend relying on the pull-out method if you are not in a committed long-term relationship, are unaware of your and your partner’s STI status, do not keep tract of fertility cycles, and are not experienced in controlling your orgasms. That’s a lot of stipulations to think about!

Here is Bedsider on the frank facts about pulling-out:

  • It can be easy to make mistakes using the pull-out method which is why, out of 100 couples using withdrawal, approximately 22 will become pregnant in a year.
  • Pulling-out is common, but that stats on it are questionable because there hasn’t been much research done and people tend not to admit that they rely on this form of birth control. Bedsider cites a study that found that 60% of women age 15-44 have used withdrawal.
  • Aside from being a less effective form of birth control, the pull-out method comes with benefits, such as no hormones, no costs or prescriptions, etc.
  • Withdrawal does not prevent the transmission of STIs and HIV.
  •  We know that there is less sperm in pre-ejaculation. However, there is little known about the risk of pregnancy from precum. So the best approach is to be prepared that it might.
  • Read the article to learn how to use withdrawal like a pro. It takes practice, communication and back-up plans.

This article by Yvonne Piper originally appeared on Bedsider

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Before he busts a nut, allow us to bust these withdrawal myths. (Sorry, we can’t resist puns.)

The withdrawal method, a.k.a. pulling out, sometimes gets a bad rap—some people don’t even consider it a “real” method of birth control, even though 60% of couples have used it at least once. Because pulling out is often dismissed as “better than nothing” by researchers, we don’t know as much about it as we do about some other methods. But before you write it off, make sure you’ve got your facts straight.

Myth 1: Pulling out doesn’t work, so don’t even bother.

Out of 100 couples who were withdrawal rock stars—meaning they pulled out correctly every time they had sex—about four of them would get pregnant in a year. But it can be a challenge to pull out for lots of reasons, and most people have days when they’re not feeling like rock stars of any kind. That’s why out of 100 average couples using withdrawal, 22 will get pregnant in a year.

It’s not that pulling out doesn’t work in principle—it’s that it’s challenging to pull out just right every single time. Condoms and the pill aren’t so different that way—they’re great in a world where we always use them perfectly—but the reality of our lives is often busy, complicated, and not so perfect. Still, pulling out is a lot better than nothing—in fact, it’s nearly as effective at preventing accidental pregnancy as condoms alone.

Myth 2: Pre-cum is safe—it doesn’t have sperm in it.

First off, we have very limited scientific information about pre-cum so there can be confusion about it even among experts. Three small studies from years ago found no sperm in pre-cum, but there were only 43 guys in all of these studies combined. Some of the men in the studies had health problems, and it appears that the pre-cum samples they provided were not analyzed immediately so it may have been it difficult to tell if their sperm were swimming normally.

A more recent study had 27 healthy guys, some of whom gave multiple samples of pre-cum. The researchers analyzed the samples immediately and found that about a third contained live, swimming sperm. Popular advice says that sperm found in pre-cum may come from a previous ejaculation and can be flushed out when a guy pees, but the guys in this study who had peed after their last ejaculation still had sperm in their pre-cum. The bottom line is that this study can’t tell us whether pre-cum can cause a pregnancy, but it does tell us that it might. It also suggests that pulling out may work better for some guys than others—but unless you have a pre-cum sample and awesome microscope skills, you can’t tell which group a guy is in. This may be part of why even withdrawal rock stars sometimes have accidental pregnancies.

Myth 3: Only irresponsible people use the “pull out” method.

Sixty percent of women ages 15-44 in the U.S. have used withdrawal at some point. In the most recent U.S. national survey, 5% of couples using any type of birth control were relying exclusively on pulling out. If you count couples using another method plus pulling out, about 10% of people use withdrawal. Because people sometimes don’t consider pulling out a method, they may not mention it when asked about birth control use, so even this number may be low. In other words, people of all ages in all types of relationships are using withdrawal to prevent pregnancy.

Myth 4: There’s nothing good about pulling out.

Pulling out may not be the most effective method, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have perks. No hormones, no cost, no advance preparation, no prescription, no visit to the store or clinic, can be used spontaneously, great option when you don’t have another plan… people have all kinds of reasons for using it. For women who have struggled with vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, pulling out may also help prevent recurrent infections.

Myth 5: Pulling out is easy.

It takes practice, learning, communication, and back-up plans to use withdrawal like a pro:

  • Do some withdrawal dress rehearsals while your guy is wearing a condom. Does he know when he’s about to cum? Can he pull out in time? If not, consider another method.
  • Know your STI status, and make sure your guy knows his. Withdrawal can work for pregnancy prevention, but it does not offer protection against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • Communicate! Talk about what the plan is in the event of an accident, an accidental pregnancy, or an STI.
  • Have back up supplies. Keep emergency contraception around for those times when accidents happen, and condoms for times when pulling out doesn’t seem like the right choice for a particular guy.
  • Know your cycles. If you have a smart phone, check out some of the apps that help you track your fertile times. Consider using condoms in addition to pulling out during high fertility days of the month.

If effectiveness is your #1 priority, withdrawal might not be right for you—maybe not right now, maybe not ever. But a lot of your sisters are out there doin’ it for themselves, and not everybody hates it or gets pregnant on it. Is it perfect? Nope. But it is an option that you can use any time, anywhere.

Unsure what size

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

Can I Get Pregnant If…? A Pregnancy Scare Companion

pregnancy scareDo you think you (or your partner) might be pregnant?

We get a lot of questions from readers wondering, “Can I get pregnant if…”. Bottom line: You can’t get pregnant from activities like petting or oral sex, only from activities in which semen comes in direct contact with the vagina. But what if there was pre-cum, or ejaculation near the genitals? What if you are late for your period even though you used a condom?

If you are not sure if you experienced real risks of pregnancy, this post is for you. Heather Corinna of Scarleteen provides information and resources based on your unique situation. Whether you are late for your period, or tested positive for a pregnancy test, or don’t know where to find emergency contraceptives, this article will help you figure out the next best steps.

Here’s a quickie on how pregnancy happens:

  • Pregnancy can happen when semen (ejaculation or cum) or precum gets inside the vagina.
  • Emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill) can prevent pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex.
  • You can reduce the risk pregnancy by not having direct genital-to-genital contact, or using condoms and birth control every time you have sex.
  • Read the article below for more information about the type of sexual activities that increase  risk of pregnancy.

This post was originally published on Scarleteen.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

In the thick of a pregnancy scare? Freaking out? Not sure what to do? We know how scary this can be, and we’re here to have your back in it.

Take a few deep breaths (really: do some good, slow breathing, you’ll feel better and be able to think more clearly once you do), and have a seat. Based on your unique situation, we’ll walk you through your next steps, give you some extra helps, fill you in on some common self-sabotagers, and do our best to help you chill out and pull it together so you can get through a scare without losing your mind and your well-being in the process.

Is your (or your partner’s) menstrual period not yet due?

In other words, a period isn’t late or missed, because it’s not even due for another few days or weeks. Click here for your next steps.

Are you (or your partner) due for a menstrual period around now, but it’s not late yet?  Click here for your next steps.

Are you (or your partner) currently experiencing a late or missed menstrual period?

In other words, a menstrual period has not yet arrived and was expected at least five or more days ago. Click here for your next steps.

Do you (or your partner) have irregular periods, so you can’t really answer the questions above?

If your (or your partner’s) menstrual periods are irregular, or you (or your partner) use a method of contraception that often causes skipped or missed periods, click here for your next steps.

Have you (or a partner) had a menstrual period since the risk you are concerned about?

A menstrual period is happening now or has occurred since the risk you’re concerned about, but you’re still worried about pregnancy. Click here for your next steps.

Have you (or a partner) had a pregnancy test with a positive (pregnant) result? Click here for your next steps.

Have you (or a partner) had a pregnancy test with a negative (not pregnant) result? Click here for your next steps.

Has it been less than 120 hours since your risk?

If you would like to reduce your risk, you or your partner can use a method of emergency contraception (EC) to reduce the risk by as much as 95% with oral medications designed as EC, and as much as 98% using a copper IUD. EC is most effective when used within 24 hours, so you want to get a move on if you can and want to use it. For information on emergency contraception, click here. To find the kinds of EC available in your area, or which kinds of oral contraceptives you can use as emergency contraception, and how to use them that way, click here.

Not sure if you or a partner have had a real risk of pregnancy or not?

In order for pregnancy to be a possibility, the kind of contact that has to happen is:

  • Direct (with no clothing, at all, covering anyone’s genitals) genital-to-genital contact between someone with a penis and someone with a vulva, such as genital intercourse or otherwise rubbing genitals together OR
  • Direct contact with ejaculate (semen) and the vulva, vaginal opening or anus.

BUT (and it’s a really big one): If either of those kinds of contact did occur, but one or more reliable methods of contraception was used properly, that risk is radically reduced, by a minimum of 70%*, and as much as 99.9%. And even if you used two methods, any two reliable methods at all — like the pill plus withdrawal, or a condom plus a Depo shot — only typically, rather than perfectly, you still will only have had about a 10% risk of pregnancy at a maximum.

Scenarios like these are NOT how pregnancy happens:

  • Masturbation or mutual masturbation (masturbating in the same space with someone else)
  • Being in the same space as someone with a penis and doing things like using their towels, sharing a toilet, touching their clothing, or sharing a bed to sleep or rest in
  • Sitting somewhere where someone did or may have ejaculated
  • Taking a shower, bath or swim with someone with a penis
  • Thinking about sex or fantasizing
  • Kissing, making out or fondling
  • Dry humping (rubbing genitals together when one or more people involved have some kind of clothing on that covers the genitals)
  • Oral sex or manual sex (fingering or handjobs)
  • Contact with pre-ejaculate, but NOT during intercourse or direct genital-to-genital contact
  • Touching yourself after you touched someone whose hand has touched their penis
  • Having someone with a penis ejaculate on some part of the body other than your genitals, like your buttocks, back or breasts
  • Direct genital-to-genital contact or direct contact with ejaculate when you and a partner have the same kinds of genitals (like each of you having a vulva or each of you having a penis).

Situations like these are ways pregnancy can theoretically occur, but where it is not at all likely:

  • Rubbing the vulva with hands that have recently touched semen
  • Intercourse or other direct genital-to-genital or genital fluid contact where two (or more) reliable methods of contraception were used properly
  • Unprotected anal sex without ejaculation

Are pregnancy scares a constant for you, or occurring even when you’re not having the kinds of contact that can result in pregnancy in reality?

1) Do you know the facts about how pregnancy happens, and what can and cannot present real risks of pregnancy? If not, you can educate yourself here or here. If you already know the facts, or find that now that you have them, you still feel scared or can’t believe them, then this probably isn’t about a lack of education about reproduction.

2) Do yourself a solid and take any kind of contact that is freaking you out like this off the table ASAP for now (that you can: for instance, if living in a house with family members who have a penis is freaking you out, you can’t very well ask them to leave so you can deal). If you are not in a relationship where you feel you are allowed to have any limits you need with sex of any kind, that’s a cue you’re not in a healthy relationship or dynamic, or just not yet able to assert yourself enough to manage sexual activity, so may need to get yourself away from that relationship, period.

3) Take some real time — not hours or a few days, but a week or two or even a few months or more, whatever you need — to figure out what you need to have these kinds of contact comfortably and without panic. Only engage in that kind of contact again when you CAN have what you need to be comfortable, whether that’s two methods of contraception, a different partner or kind of relationship, or counseling or therapy to help you with assertiveness, sexual fear or shame or an anxiety disorder.

4) If none of the above has any big impact on your fears over the next few weeks or months, then it’s time to seek out some help from a qualified mental health professional, like a counselor or therapist.

Want more information about pregnancy scares, pregnancy, contraception and making sexual choices you feel comfortable with?

Pregnancy Scared?
Human Reproduction: A Seafarer’s Guide
On the Rag: A Guide to Menstruation
Let’s Dial Down Some (Maybe) Ovulation Freakouts
Chicken Soup for the Pregnancy Symptom Freakout’s Soul
You’re Not Pregnant. So, Why Do You Think You Are?
Peeing on a Stick: All About Pregnancy Tests
Birth Control Bingo!
The Buddy System: Effectiveness Rates for Backing Up Your Birth Control With a Second Method
Have a Little Faith in BC
Who’s Afraid of Sperm Cells?
Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist
Risky Business: Learning to Consider Risk and Make Sound Sexual Choices
Whoa, There! How to Slow Down When You’re Moving Too Fast

Here’s some information from other credible sources:

Can I Get Pregnant If…? (Options for Sexual Health)
Could I be Pregnant? (Teen Health Source)
How Pregnancy Happens (Planned Parenthood)
Am I Pregnant? (Brook)

*Effectiveness rates for methods of contraception are figured for one full year of use. Figures presented here and elsewhere about effectiveness, with the exception of emergency contraception methods, present effectiveness rates over one full year of use, not per use or per day.

condom ad condoms too loose

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

Wanted: Men Who’d Benefit From a Snug Condom

Photo credit: Chris Beckett

Photo credit: Chris Beckett

Tired of condoms that slip and slide? Lucky Bloke can help!

If you find condoms bought at the local drugstore too loose or baggy and often slip around, you are likely part of the 35% of men who require a smaller condom. This statistic may surprise you, but the fact is only 15% of men need large condoms. Lucky Bloke suspects that mainstream condom companies are reluctant to put the word “small” on packages because customers would hesitate or be embarrassed to purchase them.  Condom marketers know that the male ego plays a powerful role at the checkout stand and in the bedroom due to smaller penis stigma.  As a result, men and women buying condoms aren’t aware of smaller condom options.

This means that many people are wearing the wrong condom size which has serious consequences. Condoms that fit baggy and loose not only debilitate pleasure, but also causes condom malfunction, thus increasing the risk of STI transmission and accidental pregnancy.

Lucky Bloke is putting the spotlight on smaller condoms with the first ever international Small Condom Review to raise awareness about proper condom fit and help you find the best condoms for you.

What Is Project Sure Fit?

This month, Lucky Bloke launches the international Small Condom Review, the first and most comprehensive condom review ever conducted specifically for men requiring a smaller, narrower condom than standard size condoms.

Project Sure Fit – the latest Global Condom Review & Safe Sex Initiative presented by Lucky Bloke invites you to sample offerings from top brands featuring smaller condom size styles such as GLYDE, Caution Wear, Atlas, Sustain, Lifestyles, RFSU, Beyond Seven, and the FC2 (Female) internal condom.

How It Works?

Once you’ve initially applied online and are eligible, you will receive free premium condom samplers to try with the partner of your choice in the comfort and privacy of your home (or wherever you may choose). You will then complete your reviews via easy, completely anonymous online questionnaires.

Participating in this review will be the best thing you’ve done for your sex life.

To date, of the 5600+ reviewers (in 28 countries) who’ve participated in Lucky Bloke’s ongoing global condom reviews: 96% state the review experience greatly improved their relationship with condoms.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who requires smaller condoms! All you need is:

  • the love of great sex and a refusal to compromise on safety,
  • the desire to share your opinions to make future condoms better,
  • the need for a smaller-than-average-condom.

A wide range of opinions are desired, so your participation is wanted regardless of how experienced you are to safer sex and condom use.

You can use Lucky Bloke’s easy condom size chart to determine if you qualify.

Where To Apply?

Condom users can apply online here.  Applicant’s identities will be held in the strictest confidence.

If you or your partner have ever experienced a condom that slips and slides, or feels too baggy, this is a great opportunity for you!

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Can Pre-Ejaculate Cause Pregnancy?

Photographer Zen Sutherland

Photographer Zen Sutherland

Can pre-ejaculate cause pregnancy? This is an important question for anyone who can become pregnant, or is having sex with someone who can get pregnant. Particularly for those who use the “pull-out” or fertility awareness method, understanding the risks involved is fundamental to making proper health choices for yourself.

The answer to this question, however, is not so certain and still under going research. In this article, Heather Corinna explains what exactly we do know for certain about pre-cum and how best to approach risks with the information that is out there.

Here are her key points:

  • There is far less sperm in pre-cum than there is in ejaculation.
  • Chances of sperm in pre-cum are lowered if one has recently urinated and has not ejaculated before intercourse.
  • Pre-cum can transmit infections.

This post was originally published on Scarleteen.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

Jess asks:

Can a woman become pregnant off of pre-cum fluid alone?

Heather Corinna replies:

The short answer is that it is possible, yes, but is not very likely.

The longer answer is that there are a lot of variables, and we still need more study to be done on this to give a better answer.

Do we know that pre-ejaculate fluid can contain sperm? Yes, we do. We also know that there are far, far less sperm in pre-ejaculate — when there are any at all — than there are in a full ejaculation: a full ejaculation contains as many as 100 million sperm, whereas when sperm is in pre-ejaculate, it’s more like a few million, if that many. But it only takes one active sperm and a few hundred helper sperm to create a pregnancy, so sometimes there may be more than enough sperm in pre-ejaculate when sperm are present in it to make that happen. However, sperm also need the fluid they’re part of to create a pregnancy, so the limited volume of pre-ejaculate is also an issue, as is the far fewer sperm which may be (and often are not) part of it.

There’s no 100% way to know at the time if pre-ejaculate contains sperm, but it’s generally agreed upon that it is most likely or only likely to when a man has recently ejaculated and has not urinated afterwards (urine flushes the urethra out, removing traces of sperm). It’s generally considered to be least likely to contain sperm when a man either hasn’t ejaculated in a while and/or has recently urinated before he’s pre-ejaculating.

Since you’ll often hear a lot of argument when it comes to whether sperm are or are not present in pre-ejaculate, here’s what some other credible folks have to say on the matter:

Go Ask Alice at Columbia University says:

Sperm could be in pre-cum, but only after a recent ejaculation, after which some sperm may be left hanging around in the urethra. “Recent” means masturbating earlier and then having sex with a woman, or during the same sexual episode of the recent ejaculation. Urinating in between ejaculations flushes the urethra of stray sperm and makes the way clear for the sperm-less pre-ejaculate fluid. If sperm remains after a prior ejaculation, then it’s possible that they can enter the vagina and make their way to meet an egg.

The Feminist Women’s Health Center says about it:

During sex, the penis releases two kinds of fluids. The first is pre-ejaculate or pre-cum, a lubricant made in a gland in the penis. This fluid usually contains no sperm, but can transmit infections. The second, released with ejaculation, is semen, which is made in the testicles and carries thousands of sperm in addition to any sexually transmittable infections that may be present.

Many sources that discuss the ineffectiveness of withdrawal argue that pre-cum can contain sperm. This is because previous ejaculations can leave some sperm behind in the folds of the penis. While there is a need for further study, it is likely that urination before intercourse washes leftover sperm from the urethra, the tube from which both urine and semen exit the penis.

Here’s what Student Health Services at Oregon State University has to say:

Pre-cum is the pre-ejaculate fluid that can be released from the penis during sexual activity. It is usually released before the male reaches orgasm, which results in the ejaculation of semen. Pre-cum prepares the urethra for the semen and helps in lubrication during sexual intercourse. Also the pre-cum may contain sperm. Since the pre-ejaculate can contain sperm, a pregnancy can occur if the man’s pre-cum comes in contact with the woman’s vaginal canal.

However, there is inconclusive evidence as to where the sperm in the pre-ejaculate comes from. Many researchers suggest that the sperm in the pre-ejaculate comes from leftover sperm from a previous ejaculation of semen. These researchers suggest that urinating after the ejaculation of semen will remove any sperm from the urethra, so as to prevent the pre-ejaculate from containing sperm. However, research is still being conducted to support this widely accepted idea.

And here’s what Contraceptive Technology has to say:

Some concern exists that the pre-ejaculate fluid may carry sperm into the vagina. In itself, the pre-ejaculate, a lubricating secretion produced by the Littre or Cowper’s glands, contains no sperm. A study examining the pre-ejaculate for the presence of spermatozoa found none in the samples of 16 men. However, a previous ejaculation may have left some sperm hidden within the folds of the urethral lining. In examinations of the pre-ejaculate in a small study, the pre-ejaculate was free of spermatozoa in all of 11 HIV-seronegative men and 4 or 12 seropositive men. Although the 8 samples containing spermatozoa revealed only small clumps of a few hundred sperm, these could possibly pose a risk of fertilization. In all likelihood, the spermatozoa left from a previous ejaculation could be washed out with the force of a normal urination. However, this remains unstudied.

So again, the only right answer we can give right now is a maybe.

But we also do know that withdrawal isn’t one of the most effective birth control methods, in either perfect or typical use, and that enough people report using it perfectly — saying they withdrew well before ejaculation — and still becoming pregnant (including my parents as well as a close friend of mine, for a personal perspective), that we’d be remiss to rule out pre-ejaculate as a pregnancy risk. Bear in mind that during the Baby Boom in the United States — a period in history when we had more births than any other — that withdrawal was the most common method of birth control people were using. Of course, many of those pregnancies may well have been due to men who said they pulled out on time not realizing they had actually ejaculated, and we have no way of knowing what the real deal was. What we can know, for sure, are the success and failure rates of withdrawal as a method, however it is practiced, and know that most other methods of birth control are more effective.

Too, unprotected sex, period — ejaculate or no — poses risks of all sexually transmitted infections, which should be just as great a concern as pregnancy. And pre-ejaculate can transmit the HIV virus just as much as full ejaculate can.

So, having unprotected sex, period, just isn’t a good idea unless you are trying to become pregnant AND you and your partner have both been practicing safer sex for at least six months, monogamously, AND each have at least TWO full and clear STI screens under your belts. While it’d be nice if we had more data on pre-ejaculate at this point, at the same time, it’s not all that essential. We already have the essential information we need, which is that ANY unprotected intercourse presents risks of pregnancy and STIs, and that people who want to prevent pregnancy achieve that best with the most reliable methods of contraception, used properly and consistently, or by abstaining from the kinds of sex which present pregnancy risks.

If you want to engage in intercourse safely, you need a condom at a minimum, and if, for whatever reason, that or some other reliable method is not an option, then the only good choice is to choose not to have sex until sound contraception can be used.

Here are some extra links to grow on:

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

Study Finds Men Who Use Condoms Can Still Enjoy Sex

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Studies in the past have falsely argued that male sexual health and condom use are incompatible.

Researchers from the Section of Adolescent Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Center for Sexual Health Promotion noticed that these studies simply compared “pleasure” reported by test subjects with and without condoms with no consideration for the other circumstances of their sexual encounters.  They proposed a different kind of study. The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health takes a look at their results.

Here are the important findings from the Indiana University study:

  • Earlier studies ignored other behaviors involved when using condoms— what sex acts men engage in, how they feel about the sex they have, their demographic characteristics, etc.
  • A number of factors in the span of a sexual event shape whether or not the experience itself is pleasurable.
  • Lower levels of sexual pleasure were associated with erection difficulty, perception of partner discomfort during sex and perception of penis width and hardness.
  • One limitation of the study is that it does not allow for any comparison between the beliefs, behaviors or reported pleasure levels between men who do and do not use condoms.

This original article is published on The CSPH website.

BY The CSPH | theCSPH.org

Researchers from the Section of Adolescent Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University noticed that there was a void in the current sexual health literature on condom usage with regards to sexual pleasure. In general, studies tend to just compare the pleasure reported by men who either do or do not use condoms, and often wind up with results claiming that condom usage is not compatible with male sexual enjoyment. However, these studies ignore the other components of sexual pleasure or the various other characteristics and behaviors of men who use condoms, such as what sex acts they engage in, how they feel about the sex that they have, or their demographic characteristics. To combat this deficiency in data, the investigators of this study proposed this research to examine the association between condom use and sexual pleasure when all participants use condoms consistently, correctly, and completely, allowing for an understanding of the range of factors that affect sexual pleasure and enjoyment.

Participants were enrolled as a subsample of heterosexual-identified men from a larger US-based study of event-level condom behavior (a phrase used to indicate condom usage for one act of intercourse), with representatives from all fifty states. Of the 1,599 participants, 83% were white; about half had received some college or technical education; about a quarter were married, with 30% partnered and 41% single; and the average age was 26 years old. Diary reports of sexual behaviors and condom use were requested of participants, and then “complete condom events,” where the condom was applied prior to intercourse, used for the duration of intercourse, and removed only after intercourse had ended, were analyzed according to measures of subjective rating of sexual pleasure and a number of predictor variables. Some of the important considered variables included: partner type (casual/main); sexual-situational factors like intercourse duration, intensity, and lubricant use; physiological factors including perceived penis width, length, and hardness; ejaculation; and perception of condom comfort.

A number of factors were found to be correlated with higher reports of sexual pleasure during complete condom use. Ejaculation had the strongest association, with a four-fold increase in reported sexual pleasure. Other strong correlations with sexual pleasure included higher intercourse intensity (41%), longer intercourse duration (40%), performing oral sex on a partner (34%), receiving oral sex from a partner (21%), and receiving genital stimulation (13%), as well as a modest increased association with older age (4%). Additionally, lower levels of sexual pleasure were strongly associated with erection difficulty (75% reduction) and perception of partner discomfort during sex (72% reduction), while perception of lower penis width and hardness were also linked to lower sexual pleasure.

The results of this study indicate that sexual pleasure is not simply something that cannot coexist with condom usage; instead, it is a fact that can still be very much a part of these men’s sexual encounters. As the authors of the study address in their discussion, what this data shows is that there are a number of factors in the span of a sexual event—how a man feels about his genitals, how his partner reacts, what acts other than vaginal penetration occur—that shape whether or not the experience itself is pleasurable. It is important not to permit or perpetuate the stereotype that just removing the condoms would make intercourse better. Rather, the authors of this study believe there are better solutions to decrease the negative factors linked with lower sexual pleasure, such as visiting a doctor to take care of erectile difficulties or ensuring that one’s partner is equally comfortable and pleased with the sex.

Unfortunately, this study was somewhat limited, in that by only focusing on condom use, it does not allow for any comparison between the beliefs, behaviors, or reported pleasure levels between men who do and do not use condoms. Additionally, heterosexual men are not the only individuals who could benefit from research into the pleasurable associations of safer sex. However, work like this is so important because it not only advances the importance of pleasure and safer sex, but it also shows how the two can work together. Safer sex devices like condoms are so clearly important in limiting potentially negative consequences like pregnancy and STIs, and knowing how to make such things sexy and fun—really, one of the majors draws of any sex play—is key in making sure people are willing to do what they need to do in order to keep themselves safe and healthy.

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.