Condoms. What images does your brain conjure up when you hear the word?
- Dread at the thought of buying them at the drugstore?
- Uncoupling from your partner in the heat of the moment to find one?
- Scavenging through the bedside drawer in the dark (or waiting – ready-to-go – for your partner to find one)?
- Realizing the condom your partner found just might be older than your parents?
- Eagerly tearing it open (with teeth!), hoping it doesn’t break?
- Panic because there’s a 50/50 chance it’s NOT right-side-up?
- More panic because you’re not 100% sure about the condom (and lubricant) that’s about to go in to your sacred vag?
- Or it’s just sticky, messy, and/or even smelly?
Yikes. It doesn’t take a lifetime of sexual escapades to be able to recite some crazy, funny, and even scary AF tales – even those of the “bangover” variety – when it comes to using condoms!
Safe Sex? Yas, Please
Sooooo, when you step back and really think about it, your first thoughts of condoms should be of two VERY awesome things: Birth Control and Safe, Protected Sex.
Just in case that’s not registering and you’re still on the fence about condoms, here’s a quick “Condom 101” to remind you why carrying and using condoms should be PRIORITY #1 in your sexual health regimen.
Protect yo’self, don’t wreck yo’self
Male condoms are a safe and effective form of birth control. According to Planned Parenthood, condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly (if used incorrectly, the effectiveness rate drops to about 85% — so please give those instructions a good read, and practice, practice, practice).
And, yes, the safest option is to combine a condom with a LARC (long acting reversible contraception) method, whether that’s hormone injections, IUDs or implants. The two work together beautifully to provide kickass protection. If you want to learn more about LARC methods, check out the resources from our BFF’s at Bedsider. You’ll find they agree that “condoms are very awesome.”
Limited side effects
Condoms don’t alter your body’s natural hormone levels. Birth control pills, injections, the patch, IUDs and others rely on changing the hormone levels in your body to prevent pregnancy. These methods are awesome for most women, but – acknowledging the benefits – adjusting hormone levels may result in negative side effects, such as nausea, weight gain, mood changes and migraines.
Latex condoms aren’t for everyone, however. A small percentage of people (1-to-2 out of 100) are allergic to latex. If that’s you, consider polyurethane condoms; they’re a little more expensive but, unlike lambskin condoms (which often don’t protect against STIs), polyurethane condoms provide the same protection as latex condoms against STIs and pregnancy.
Beyond Birth Control: Those Dreaded STI’s
Condoms are the ONLY method of birth control that can help to prevent certain types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Let that sink in! No other method of birth control provides dual protection like condoms do. They work overtime to make sure you can enjoy gettin’ it on. Sex is never 100% safe, so shouldn’t we be responsibly protecting ourselves? Amirite?
What’s the big deal? Well, STIs are on the rise and much more common than most people realize; and they’re hitting our generation hard. The CDC reports that, while people ages 15-24 make up just 25% of the sexually active population, they account for 50% of the 20 million STI cases in the US each year.
And even if everything looks good down there, things aren’t always what they seem. Many STIs are “asymptomatic” [that is, no symptoms or visible changes in your health occur upon contraction]. That means you can pass an STI on (or have one passed to you) without even knowing it. Pretty scary stuff. And, of course, condoms can’t protect you from STI’s transmitted with skin-on-skin contact, such as herpes, syphilis and HPV. So, yeah, it’s super important for you and your partner to get tested – and regularly if you have multiple partners.
Get over yourself. Be smart! Be prepared!
When used correctly, condoms provide a critical barrier to help prevent unintended pregnancies and most unwanted STI’s. Any way you spin it, condoms are cool AF. Be smart and use them every time you have vaginal, anal and oral sex.
And, as a reminder: stick a couple of condoms in your bag when you’re heading out for a big night on the town. Those vegan condoms with aloe-infused lubricant you bought can’t help you at home in your drawer.
Good luck and stay safe, babe…it’s a jungle out there!
P.S. Thanks for reading! If you’d like to share any of your own condom “horror” stories, we’d love to hear them (it is almost Halloween, right?) Just share in the comments section, or head over to Insta to join the conversation. Xx