ARE YOU REALLY PRACTICING SAFE SEX?
10 things that everyone should know when it comes to condoms.
Idries J. Abdur-Rahman, MD TheTwinDoctors.com
We all know that abstinence is the single best way to reduce the risks of both unwanted pregnancy and contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection). We also know that none of us would be here if abstinence was a realistic form of birth control so let’s talk about the next best thing, condoms. Not including abstinence, condoms are the single best way to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy while simultaneously reducing the risk of contracting or transmitting an STI. Even with perfect use, condoms are not perfect but how many of us are really even using condoms perfectly? Did you even know that there is a wrong way to use a condom? Pull up a chair, because the Twin Doctors are about to share with you 10 things that everyone should know when it comes to using condoms!
#1). Don’t wait until it’s too late! A surprising majority of people when polled reported that they actually applied the condom after intercourse had begun. While this is better than nothing, that’s kind of like opening your umbrella after walking in the rain for ten minutes. Long before the big moment, a man releases a fluid known as pre-ejaculate. Much like the semen released during ejaculation, pre-ejaculate also contains sperm which can cause pregnancy and infectious disease particles which can cause STIs. So, before the little fella gets anywhere near the playground, he already needs to be covered up!
2). Never unroll a condom before using it. Unrolling a condom before placing it on the penis can inadvertently damage it, making it less effective. It only takes one little micro-tear for a sperm or infectious particle to escape.
3). Always leave space at the tip of a condom. Most, but not all, condoms have a little protrusion at the tip and believe it or not this little space serves a very important purpose. Having a separation between the tip of the penis and the end of the condom provides an area for the semen to accumulate after ejaculation has occurred. Without this space, the semen could potentially spill out of the condom and into the vagina. So, if your condom has this protrusion, make sure you that you keep that space unoccupied. If your condom does not have this protrusion, make sure that you gently pinch the tip of the condom after applying it, pulling it inch away from the tip of the penis.
4). Always check your condom for any signs of damage before using it. Any number of things can damage a condom from sitting in your wallet or drawer too long to accidently tearing it in a mad dash not to “kill the mood”. Before applying your condom always take a quick look to make sure there are no holes or tears in it.
5). Never double up when it comes to condoms! In the world of condoms, less is definitely more. The friction created between the two condoms during intercourse can lead to holes and tearing and we all know what that can lead to.
6). Size matters! Sorry guys, it’s true, size really does matter. Wearing the right sized condom is key to it actually functioning properly. Typically, condoms come in “small”, “regular”, “large” and “extra-large” sizes. Don’t shoot the messengers, this is a judgement free zone, were just telling you the different sizes. Before buying condoms, you need to measure the girth (thickness) of your penis and this is easy enough to do. All you need is a tape measure and an erection! Use the tape measure to determine the girth of the penis at its thickest point. Once you know the thickness, you can check out a chart like THIS ONE to determine your proper condom size.
7). Condoms and oil based lubricants just don’t mix! Oil based lubricants can actually break down the latex in condoms, making them much weaker. Instead use a water based lubricant, they don’t weaken condoms as a bonus they are much easier to clean up when all is said and done.
8). Store your condoms in the right place. And no, that does not mean in your wallet or your glovebox! Exposure to temperature extremes (heat and cold) or excessive humidity can weaken your condom’s integrity. Ideally condoms should be stored in a room where temperatures never go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
9). Always use a condom during oral and anal sex as well. Sure, condoms are designed to prevent pregnancy but there are things far worse than pregnancy that condoms can also help to prevent. As a rule of thumb if it has the worm “sex” in it, use a condom since most STIs can also be contracted during oral sex and anal sex.
10). Check for expiration! Yes, condoms do have an expiration date. Latex isn’t a diamond and it just doesn’t last forever. With time, latex becomes brittle and cracked and when it comes to condoms, neither of those are good qualities. If when you open your condom and you notice anything other than moisture from the lubricant (if it is dry, if there is dust, etc.), get a new one!
Remember, “safer sex” practices are about more than pregnancy prevention. Safer sex is about protecting yourself and your partner from life altering and potentially life-threatening infections and with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reporting a rise in STI for a third year in a row, safer sex is now more important than ever! For more information about condom use and STI prevention, checkout the CDC’s condom fact sheet.