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Condoms and Latex During Sex

Sexual Intercourse Article

The first kind of birth control I used was a condom, and the first time I had sex with a boy, we used a condom. They seem to be the default birth control, because they protect against conception as well as infection. Other reasons that I picked them were that they are cheap (or free from a number of organizations—try a birth control clinic, school counsellor or queer alliance), easy to use, easy to have around, and require no prescription or doctor visits.

I have never been in a position to have sex with a person whose sexual history was a mystery to me, or who I had reason to believe hosted an infection that they could give to me, so my main use for condoms has been as birth control. Also, I have never had to argue or even discuss with a person whether we would use a condom. The people I've had sex with expected "safer sex" just as I did. We're a big ball of good educated, compliant citizens. Jan from clitoris-size-pics referred me to a decent list of "things to say if your partner doesn't want to use a condom."

Just recently, I tried to put a condom on my boy for the first time. It wasn't necessary, as we've been on a pill system for awhile, but I'd never put a condom on a guy before and it seemed like fun foreplay. Surprise—it's kind of hard to do! I felt like a big wiener! Boys and girls, practise at home before you're under pressure to get a condom in place!

Firstly they like to slip out of place if you try to tug them on in any way. Secondly, even if you get them on the right direction, they like to roll under themselves as they are unrolled and get tangled up so they can't unroll anymore and you have to start again. Furthermore, male members, even when turgid have all this extra skin that can slide around and generally make it difficult to roll anything over them. Finally (!), condoms have to be tight and their tightness just complicates the process. They just want to snap back to their rolled up position if you let go at any time before they are fully unrolled with the remaining ring securely gripping the base of the penis.

Something I noticed during adventures with various condoms: "thin" styles seem to be easier to fit on, as in they are not so disturbingly tight, but the regular heavy duty kind are less likely to get turned under and tangled.

Practise must make perfect though; I had never noticed my boy having any difficulties in the area (not to imply that he practises this excessively. Just ... whatever).

Anyway, here are some things I know about safely using condoms:

Latex condoms help prevent infections from being transmitted by sex. Animal skin ones don't. So, if a person has a latex allergy and wants to use a condom to protect against infection, the best solution is to layer the condoms to have an animal one next to them, and a latex one under or over it (depending on who is allergic) rather than just using animal ones plain. If both people are allergic, sandwich a latex one between two non-latex ones. Or, use a female condom; they are poly-something (-ethylene? -urethane?) not latex.

To protect against pregnancy or anything else, it is important to have a condom in place on the frisky penis before it comes into contact with its partner's sensitive regions. Before a man reaches orgasm, he secretes various pre-ejaculatory fluids that can contain both infectious pathogens and impregnating sperm. Also it is important to hold the condom onto the penis when withdrawing from a partner, and to get out of there before it goes completely soft, to avoid spilling anything and rendering the whole condom operation pointless.

When putting a condom on, it is good to pinch the little reservoir flat so that it doesn't have any air in it. Apparently this reduces the chance of it popping. Also, the condom has to unroll all the way down the penis. If it won't unroll all the way, it is on wrong and could come off during sex. If you take a condom off, it is best to get a whole new one and start again, since the old one will have pre-ejaculate on it that could end up on the outside of the condom. For this same reason, if you place a rolled up condom onto the end of a penis, then realise that it is backwards and won't unroll, don't just flip it over! Get a new one! The first one just got put into a puddle of sperm that will end up on its outer surface.

To prevent condom breakage, it helps for it to be slippery. Some condoms are lubricated, which helps, as does a woman's natural lubrication. There are also lubricants that can be bought. Anything petroleum based (vaseline, hand lotion, cold cream, other things) will very quickly dissolve little holes in the latex of a condom and can make it break. Use water-based lubricants. KY jelly is at every drug store and most have Astroglide, and sex shops have a whole variety of flavoured creams, gels and liquids (just make sure they say water-based or condom-safe on them). Glycerine lubes taste a little sweet, while glycerine-free ones (for people with glycerine allergies, or just because) can taste a little funny (only a little).

It can feel good to put a little lube inside a condom for the guy to enjoy, but to prevent the latex slipping off use it sparingly (like a drop). Also, if a guy has an unsteady erection, for whatever reason (these things happen), be careful about relying on condoms. A penis that goes a bit soft while thrusting can quite easily wiggle out of its latex prison.

Properly using condoms makes sex much safer but does not completely protect against pregnancy or infection. The Kinsey Institute (for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction) publishes the failure rate of condoms as averaging 10 failures per 100 couples who use them for a year. So if you use them for a year you have a 1 in 10 chance of having one break, come off, or just not work. If you don't use them properly the risk is higher. Also, condoms don't prevent all fluid transfer during sex. My boy will have wet patches on his thighs and belly from me after we are finished, and condoms don't cover those areas. Fluid exchange means possibility of disease transfer, even if it is a much reduced risk from unprotected sex.

I say condom like "con-dum," even though my health teacher in junior high said "con-dome" like "astrodome." More frequently I refer to them as "latex." I've never combined condoms with gel or foam or sponges or diaphragms to increase protection, but I do make a point of getting the spermicidally lubricated ones. If you want to buy spermicide separately, you can put a drop of it in the tip of the condom, but don't get the rest of the condom too slippery or it can slip right off.

I do not have a favorite brand of condom. The first ones I ever bought were Trojans, because I figured they were common enough to be an inconspicuous and informed-seeming choice. More people than me must have operated on shy systems like this. One time I ended up in the "personal hygiene" aisle of a supermarket staring at the various condom choices along with some small, balding, middle-aged guy. I picked first and ran into him later in the produce section with a matching package in his basket. Could have been coincidence except that they were some slightly odd brand in a "thin, spermicide" bonus pack (which I had switched to because my boy bought those. He isn't sure why he got onto that variety).

While I have been insecure about my choice of condoms, I am not shy about purchasing them. I don't know why. I think I am too pleased about being in a position where I have to buy them. I find that supermarkets are cheaper than drugstores, and drugstores are cheaper than convenience stores. Supermarkets are also the most impersonal purchasing outlet and tend to have the best variety.

Condoms have both come off and broken while I've been having sex, once each. Fortunately these overlapped, in that The Condom That Broke broke a week after I'd taken the morning after pill due to a condom that came off, and before I'd bled and started a new cycle. Both incidents freaked my beloved and myself out, and led to my getting over my aversion to birth control pills. I think the broken condom was due to us being quite forceful while I was not that slippery. Lubrication is important.

My beloved is the only boy I've had sex with without a condom. The first such incident was the only time I've had sex with no birth control. For some reason after The Condom That Came Off came off, and after we'd calmed down and figured out what to do about it, we thought it would be a good idea to keep having unprotected sex. This was good fun but stressed us out the next day. (What if I wouldn't have gotten pregnant the first time anyway, but end up pregnant because of the next two times?)

The rest of the latex free sex has been since I've been on The Pill.

We still have condoms around as a responsible "back up method" of birth control in case I miss a pill or have to go off them. This has only been necessary once, and not because I missed a pill. Antibiotics can make birth control pills ineffective (doctors don't seem tell people this very often for some reason) so it is not a good idea to rely on pills while on them. That's on the off chance that you still feel like having sex while you have tonsilitis or an abcess or whatever.

I have never used a female condom, but they intrigue me. They seem quite involved, or maybe just large. And how do they know how long to make them? What if they end up all bunched up in shorter vaginas? Do they make crinkling sounds? I think sex with both kinds of condoms at once would be hilarious. I wonder if they would get stuck or squeak or something. I still think it is good that there are female condoms, for anyone who wants to use them or for people with latex allergies.

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