Debating whether or not to wear a condom, regardless of relationship status, is an ongoing issue. But who risks the most during sex without a condom? People with vaginas and vulvas, and gay males. The bottom line is that those who are receiving, whether anally or vaginally, find themselves more exposed to potential sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. So penis-owners who choose not to wear condoms are creating inequality within the bedroom, which is not a good look.
Comfort is key when it comes to condoms: if you don’t find the right condom size then yes, it may not be the best sex ever. But patience is a virtue! It’s possible to try out a few condom options and maybe even incorporate them into your foreplay. Every sex partner has the right to feel safe against unwanted pregnancy and infections. Here are a few simple ideas to help you vibe better with condoms.
Just add lube
Adding a few drops of personal lubricant to the tip of a condom can significantly increase pleasure for penis owners. Some even claim that it feels better than sex without a condom as the lubricant works to heighten sensation at the head of the penis. Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, warns that more than 2 drops is risky as it could lead the condom to slip off during sex, which puts you right back at square one.
Experiment with condom textures
Today, there is so much more choice when it comes to condoms because they have been designed to provide pleasure, on top of protection. Thinner or new material condoms (polyisoprene, for example) can give heightened sensuality during sex. Dotted, ribbed or condoms with special cooling or warming lubricants can create intense stimulation and pleasure for both parties.
Include condoms in foreplay
For penis owners with painful condom experiences in their past, it can be an erection killer. So the trick is to find the sex appeal of condoms. Think about how the condom finds its way onto the penis – a willing partner can take control, using their mouth or hands to put the condom on, with a touch that they know gets results.
There’s still some unlearning to do about condoms especially amongst penis owners, who are required to let go of past experiences or consider that pleasure is mental as well as physical. Open communication with sex partners is essential, as well as a non-judgemental attitude.
Sex education looks very different around the world. One universal factor however appears to be adults getting nervous when talking about sex to children and teenagers. Religion and patriarchy also use their power to stifle the positive transmission of sex and relationship education, resulting in a narrow-minded, heteronormative vision that is often steeped in shame.
The popular Netflix show Sex Education has done great work at breaking down sexual taboos amongst young people and intergenerationally, too. It openly celebrates diversity within relationships and brings lesser known sex stuff to the fore, such as vaginismus, asexuality and douching anxiety. In the second season, one of the character’s parents, a registered sex therapist, creates a drop-in space where students can ask her all their sex and sexuality questions. There’s a comedy element but also a serious subtext: young people need a safe space in which they can learn all about sex.
Part of why sex education remains a lifelong lesson is because many of us were badly prepared at school. Being spoon-fed biological information is all very well in theory but putting it into practice is a whole other kettle of fish. Sex can and should be fun but often times it can be confusing, emotional and stressful to navigate – even as fully-fledged adults. Let’s run through some stuff that we should know but may not know (or have only recently learned):
1. Consent is everything
All genders need to be taught that they have the option to say “yes” or “no” when it comes to having sex and being in a relationship. It is equally important to accept hearing “yes” or “no”. Acceptance and rejection of individual personal desires must be heard and respected.
2. Sex transcends biology
We’re not all having sex to make babies. Sex can be motivated by pleasure, by revenge, by loneliness, by love, and a whole host of other reasons. Sex education really needs to go beyond the biological aspect.
3. Sex doesn’t make you a better or worse person
In Western culture, men and boys are celebrated for being sexually active while women and girls are slut-shamed for the very same thing. This only leads to a culture of sexual shame and violence, and no-one is a winner in this situation.
4. So many sexualities
Sexuality is a spectrum that can change throughout one’s lifetime. Asexual, bi-sexual, gay, lesbian, trans, pansexual: there is nothing immoral about sexuality and yet discrimination is alive and kicking. Sex education does a good job however of suppressing exploration of this wide-ranging spectrum, preferring to see things through a purely straight lens.
5. The female orgasm isn’t a myth
Wouldn’t it be great if those biology moments in sex ed actually focused on the clitoris and all the ways in which it can be stimulated to achieve orgasm?