Can we talk about condoms? We know you have questions. We've all heard they're incredibly effective in preventing pregnancy, and you probably know that they're the only contraception that also protects you from sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV and HPV. But what about all those other condom questions, the ones we're usually too embarrassed to ask?
We brought all our awkward, offbeat, and newbie questions about condoms to sex therapist and host of CafeMom Studios' Mom-Ed: In the Bedroom, Dr. Logan Levkoff. And she's got answers for us! Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about condoms, and more. Because we want you to have safe and fun sexy times.
The Stir: What do you do if your condom breaks while you're having sex?
Levkoff: I know that people have lots of questions about breakage, but here’s the thing: Most breakages are preventable because they typically can be attributed to human error when the condom was put on or due to a sizing issue.
But condoms are incredibly durable and dependable; in fact, each and every condom is triple-tested for safety in the categories of volume, thickness, and tensile strength. On top of that, according to the CDC, condoms are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly. However, in the rare occurrence of breakage, stop immediately and put a new condom on before continuing to have sex. Of course, you are still going to want to talk with your partner about getting tested for STIs, just in case.
The Stir: I'm overwhelmed by all the choices out there. It's so embarrassing to stand there in the drug store reading all those boxes! How do I pick one?
Levkoff: Shopping for condoms can be an exciting experience -- even a sexy one. You just have to change the way you’re thinking. You and your partner can shop together to find the condoms that meet both of your needs and desires. If you are too embarrassed to shop during the day, try making a date of it. And with online shopping so accessible, you can do your research in advance.
The Stir: What if your guy says he doesn't like how condoms feel? How do you talk him into using one anyway?
Levkoff: I’m less than tolerant of the “I don’t like them” excuse. There are so many new condom innovations out there (from size and shape to lubricant) that the newer condoms feel great. Besides, condom use shouldn’t be a negotiation. It should be a non-negotiable. Condoms are the only option available that protect against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Pleasure isn’t just about what feels good to your body, it's about having peace of mind and emotional pleasure, too.
So I don’t think that we should talk someone into wearing one; we should be able to communicate about contraception and protection so that we’re on the same page.
The Stir: What if you're allergic to latex?
Levkoff: It is not uncommon to have a latex allergy. If you or your partner has one, there are non-latex condoms available that offer pleasure and protection. (For example, Trojan Supra Bareskin are super thin, strong, but made from polyurethane -- perfect for couples allergic to latex.)
The Stir: I'm trying to avoid all synthetics and toxins. Is there anything in condoms I should worry about? Any allergens? What about flavored condoms, for example?
Levkoff: The condom industry takes safety seriously and is even regulated by the FDA to ensure you’re getting a quality product each and every time. Latex condoms are non-toxic, easy to use, dependable, and the safest way to stay protected.
The Stir: Let's say a couple can keep going for an hour or more. How long can you use that one condom in one session before it wears out?
Levkoff: Lucky for those marathon couples that condoms go through rigorous testing to ensure they can outlast any bedroom session. Your condom should last as long as you do! Of course you should use a new condom in between each session if you plan on a busy night!
The Stir: Any advice on how to make putting on a condom more fun? You know that awkward moment when you have to look closely to figure out which way to roll it, or realize you've got it backwards and have to start over ...
Levkoff: Let’s change our attitudes first. Instead of thinking that the act is unsexy, consider this: You are getting to put a condom over your partner’s penis. That is sexy. You are mere moments from having sex. But seeing as men are used to putting on their own condoms, the fact that you are doing it can be a huge turn-on. You can use your hands to stimulate his penis and put the condom on at the same time.
The Stir: I'd like to try one of those "fun" condoms -- what do you suggest a newbie like me start with?
Levkoff: If you’re looking for a new option to add to your nightstand, try their latest condom on the market, Trojans' Pure Ecstasy. The condom was designed for pleasure and features a unique bulb-shaped tip for comfort and lubricant on the inside and outside for an improved experience for both partners. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s condom, and to date, their full Ecstasy line has consistently been a top-seller.
Do you have any other questions about condoms?
Image via Hey Paul Studios/Flickr