Safer Sex: Healthy & Helpful Habits
Being in an intimate relationship involves making decisions that can have long-term effects. Playing "choose your own adventure" between the sheets may seem fun, but there are a lot of potential unintended consequences to think about. Carefree sex doesn’t always end with everyone living happily ever after. Luckily, though, there is a very easy way to protect yourself...and important reasons for doing so!
Whether you are looking to take a new romance to the next level, or looking to protect yourself from STIs or pregnancy in a fling or a long-term love, you must be comfortable talking about and using condoms. Both you and your partner should be aware that no matter how "clean" they claim to be, or how much of a self-proclaimed pull-out pro he thinks he is, condoms are an important way to maintain health, happiness, and peace of mind so you can have safer, more satisfying sex without the worry! Think of using a condom every time you have sex just like any other healthy habit, like brushing your teeth...it should come that naturally!
We call sex with condoms used correctly safer sex for a reason. The term "safe sex" has fallen out of use, because even when using a condom, no sex is 100% risk-free...but it's a heck of a lot safer to use a condom for every sexual encounter! You may hear (or even try to use yourself) excuses to forget the condom and just have sex. Here are a few classic lines, ways you can defend yourself against them, and why you should stick up for yourself: to ensure that everyone stays safe!
"It doesn’t feel the same."
Of course sex with a condom on doesn’t feel quite like nothing at all being between you and your lover. Part of that perception may be mental, though, and if using a condom is important to you (which it should be, especially with a newer partner), it has to be mind over matter! It's safer and easier than playing Russian Roulette with your health. Using condoms may be a minor inconvenience, but isn't it more comforting not waking up a few days later and feeling it burn when you pee? Or more worthwhile knowing you are 98% less likely to get pregnant? Those all sound to me like good enough reasons to cope with a slightly different sensation than going au natural. Plus, you can provide a smoother and better-feeling experience by adding a water-based lube (never oil-based when using condoms; it degrades the latex). Just make sure to only use a tiny bit of lube on the outside of the condom only; putting it inside makes it very easy for the condom to slip off, defeating the purpose.
Condom technology has come a long way in recent years, and there are tons of options on the market that feel like practically nothing! Suggest trying out different styles of condoms until you find something you both love, which indirectly lets your partner know that there is much sex to be had, for the sake of science!
"I don’t know how to put one on."
This one just sounds like pure bullshit because: A) Almost every middle schooler or high schooler is exposed to the "learn how to put a condom on a banana" trope at some point in health class, and B) It's not rocket science...seriously. A quick google search will reveal plenty of how-to’s with diagrams and handy tips that will stop this excuse dead in its tracks. That being said, condom use shouldn't just the responsibility of one partner; everyone should learn and understand how to use them properly. This way, if he claims to not know how to put one on, you can take over and nip that lame excuse in the bud. Besides, practice makes perfect!
"I haven’t had to wear one before."
Really? REALLY? Never?? So simply choosing not to think about it makes you immune from STIs or pregnancy? Sheesh, if only it were that easy! Unless you know for a fact you're truly about to have sex with a virgin, this is a very irresponsible attitude, and should be dealt with quickly if it arises. A record for raw-dogging it shouldn't be a bragging rite. Grow up! When it comes to condoms, get one on so you can get it on! Plus, consider this one a BIG red flag, since someone who claims they've never used a condom during sex before, whether they're being honest or not, may very well have been exposed to something already. Ew.
"I don’t have any diseases, why don’t you trust me?"
If only it were as simple as speaking words and having them be true! Please, don't try this one...guilting someone into unprotected sex is not sexy, or nice, or acceptable. There is NO level of trust that will help prevent pregnancy, and when it comes to diseases, believe it or not, people lie! Unless you have been with your partner for a while to establish that deep trust, know for a fact there are no other current sexual partners in the picture, and ideally have seen recent test results, this claim and "trust" alone should not be a Get-Out-Of-Condom-Use-Free card! Plus, some STIs are completely asymptomatic, meaning someone may be able to spread an infection without even knowing they have it. This is one aspect of a relationship where you shouldn't take your partner's word for it, unless you're prepared to handle the potential aftermath.
"I don't have one with me."
Well, that just sounds like poor planning! Again, not thinking about something or planning ahead does not absolve you of responsibility. While packing protection is typically thought of as the guy's job, if you want to make sure you're never caught without, it helps to have a couple of condoms along no matter who you are. This can help avoid the awkward turn-down...because if you don't have a condom, in most cases where keeping sex safe is a concern, you shouldn't do it without one. Man or woman, if you're sexually active and there's even a slim chance you could get laid that night, it's a good idea to have one in your wallet, purse, car, and/or nightstand drawer. Don't carry them around for too long and let them get squished or frequently overheated, and always check the expiration date before using...though in a pinch, an expired or "deflated" condom is still better than no condom at all; it just may not provide as much protection, so you'll need to use a backup method of birth control. Always keep a fresh stock handy so you'll be ready for anything and not have to bow out. As many people learn as boys AND girls in scouting...be prepared!