I’ve been dating the same guy for three years now, and we’ve never had sex without a condom. My guy friends always kind of cringe when I say that, and my girlfriends never cease to marvel at my self-control. Yes, I’m on birth control. No, neither of us has an STI. I just really, really, really don’t want to get pregnant.
When I step back and look at the statistics, I realize the truth of the matter is that I am extra-cautious probably because I had abstinence (read: scare tactic) sex education in high school. We spent one entire afternoon on the financial responsibilities of a child, and the next afternoon talking about vaginal tearing, pregnancy complications and the chance that you’ll poop a little bit when you’re pushing that bundle of joy into the world. I decided right then and there that child bearing would not be in my near future.
Four years later, I’m still doing everything possible to avoid even the possibility of getting pregnant. Looking at my life, I know that pregnancy is just not something I would bounce back from very quickly, and my partner feels the same way. Whatever my feelings on reproductive rights, the decision to have an abortion or not is one I simply do not want to face. So we use condoms. Every. Single. Time. In the interest of full disclosure, since neither of us is worried about transmitting something, we don’t always use condoms right out of the gate; we just always make sure one is on during the big finish. The truth is, I kind of like them. It makes clean up so much more convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I like thinking about the morning tumble I had, but I’d rather not be reminded of it by the leftover semen dripping out by lunchtime. Condoms can also increase longevity, and a lot of times, that little bit of extra time is just enough to let us both reach the finish line.
It is important to find the right condoms, though. I very distinctly remember that the first time I used a Durex condom it felt like my partner had a rubber glove over his penis. I couldn’t feel anything at all. Luckily, several condom brands make pleasure packs that allow you to try several different kinds.
Choosing whether or not to wear a condom is a decision that should be made together by the couple. In a casual hookup, I think it’s an easier decision. Statistics show that 1 in 4 college students has an STI — not exactly what I am looking for to go along with my diploma. A lot of my girlfriends would prefer it if their partner used protection, but it often gets dismissed with the statement, “I can’t feel anything.” Finding the right condom goes a long way to help with that, and additionally, it can be helped with a little bit of lube on the inside of the condom. Condoms marked “bareskin” or “ultra thin” really do what they’re advertising. If it’s really important to you or your partner but you really don’t feel that you can finish with one on, I’d recommend masturbating while wearing a condom; it may feel silly, but it can teach you how to enjoy safe sex. I think safe sex is the sexiest kind.
There are certainly inconveniences to condoms. Sometimes I find they increase friction and dry me out, but luckily that can easily be fixed with lube. The foil packets never cease to frustrate me, something I think I can safely say is also true for my mom. She came up to my room as I was packing for school at the end of summer and asked me to please clean up the trash next to my bed before I went to school. I sleep in a lofted bed, and it has space on the sides next to the mattress for anything I want to keep handy, or for when I’m too lazy to climb down the ladder. Occasionally, my dad’s thundering snores keep my mom awake at night, and I guess she’d been using my bed. Unaware of this, I hadn’t thought to clean out the sides of my bed, and apparently my mom found several of those foil packets tucked in and around my mattress. She was less than pleased. I guess the fact I was having safe sex didn’t exactly give her sweet dreams.
Tyna H. is a Behind Closed Doors columnist and she vows to be much more careful about throwing away her trash in the future.