Condoms are probably the most well-known method of contraception. Their usage dates back millennia, even the cave people were on the ball as far as barrier contraception goes. It’s a pretty easy equation – cover the penis and anything ejaculated can’t go anywhere. Happily, today’s society sees a far more evolved version of the caveman condom (animal intestine was the pick of the bunch back in the day) and we have lots more – and more sophisticated – choices at our fingertips when it comes to condoms. However, their efficacy depends on using them correctly. So, let’s start with a quick guide:
- Never use two together. This increases the risk of breakages and slippage and one is just fine on its own – that’s how they’ve been designed.
- Always check the expiration date - they do have a shelf life so that condom that’s been sitting in your bedside drawer for months may not actually be any good now.
- Make sure to put it on before any genital contact occurs.
- Leave 1-2 centimetres at the top for the ejaculate to go.
- Use some lube but avoid oil-based lubes or massage oils that can degrade the latex.
- Always remove the condom if the wearer loses their erection.
- Always use a new one Every. Single. Time.
Here are the top six reasons to choose condoms as protection in your sex life.
- 1)Their risk of side effects is low. It’s estimated that 5% of the population have a latex allergy, which is why brands such as Trojan and Skyn have developed latex-free condoms. Luckily for those folks, the condoms made out of materials such as polyisoprene, polyurethane, or polyethylene all protect against pregnancy and STIs.
- 2)They are easier to access than other forms of contraception. If sex is suddenly and unexpectedly on the cards, the chances are very high that you’ll be able to pick up some good quality condoms in record time. It’s best to make sure that you have them in advance, but all the best laid plans, etc. Most chemists and supermarkets will have a sizeable range but if you want something in particular (non-latex, extra large, lubricated) then it’s best to order online so you can make sure that you have exactly what you want. It’s also worth mentioning that most sexual health clinics give condoms out for free if you can get yourself to one. And don’t worry – there’s no questions asked.
- 3)They can actually make sex better! It’s easy to assume that by putting a layer of material over the penis it’s going to dull the sensation. But not only do we have ultra-thin condoms to throw at this particular issue, there are actually other reasons why condoms enhance sexual pleasure. Textured condoms have ribbing and dotting for this exact reason which increases sensations for both partners, but another strong factor in enjoying sex more with condoms is the feeling of security that you get from knowing that your contraception and STI protection is well in hand. You can just relax more, you don’t need to worry about pulling out or anything, and if by some slim chance the condom breaks you’ll know to go and get the morning after pill. Condoms really do put sexual control in your hands.
- 4)You can use them as an extra barrier method to be doubly sure if you already have other contraception in place, such as an IUD or diaphragm or the pill. Human error can affect the efficacy of these so using condoms as well is a good source of reassurance and therefore relaxation.
- 5)Condoms are the only way to help prevent STIs. Transmission of sexual infections depends upon skin to skin contact, so using a barrier method like condoms or dental dams is the only thing that will drastically cut your risk of catching an STI. Why take the risk?
If the man isn’t keen on wearing condoms (and some just aren’t) then you do have the option of using a female condom internally. These aren’t quite as effective as external condoms, around 95% effective, but they are still a safe option provided that you use them correctly. Some tips include: insert them ahead of time – they can be put in up to 8 hours before sex – so there’s no hurried rush, make sure that you push the top ring as far inside the vagina/anus as possible and always leave the bottom ring and about 1-2cm outside the body.