By Viv Steele, Safety Enthusiast
You’ve seen the posters everywhere, you’ve read the articles, and maybe you’ve even attended some illuminating sex education classes (wooden penis models, anyone?). But do you actually practice safer sex when push comes to shove and you’re tangled up in the sheets with a partner, possibly inebriated? In this edition of Between the Sheets, we’re going to talk about condom use, specifically male condoms.
A 2012 Statistics Canada report indicates that condom use among sexually-active Canadians aged 15 to 24 is at 68 per cent, a significant rise from 62 percent in 2003. But that still means that 32 per cent of youth aren’t wrapping it before they tap it, and given the rise of hook up culture, numbers like that could be dangerous. There is a clear correlation between alcohol consumption and forgetfulness surrounding prophylactic use, and I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it’s because people just don’t know how sexy safer sex can be.
So whose responsibility is it to carry condoms? Easy answer. It’s everyone’s responsibility. Ladies, don’t rely on the men to keep a just-in-case condom in his wallet (also, long-term storage of condoms in your pocket can degrade the rubber over time, making them prone to breakage). Carry them with you, especially if you think you intend to hook up. At your house, store them somewhere easily accessible from the place you intend on having sex. Having to get up and traipse to the bathroom (or worse, waking your roommate up to ask for one) is a pretty good way to break whatever mood you’ve already created, providing a disincentive. Have a discreet stash of goodies by your bed or keep it out in the open—nobody’s judging you!
Some women complain that condom use dries up their natural lubrication, and men complain that they “Can’t feel anything.” If this is the case for you, it might be that you have a mild allergy or sensitivity to latex. Try using non-latex condoms, available at any drug store (but unfortunately not available at convenience stores). Also, don’t be afraid to stock up on lube and use it liberally. Keep it with the rest of your safer-sex kit. Put it on both the inside and outside of your condom. Proper use of lube can be the difference between a so-so experience and an amazing one.
When using a male condom for vaginal, anal, or oral (yes, even oral) intercourse, it’s important that the man’s penis is fully erect—it just makes the condom go on easier. Make your partner feel like getting to wear a condom is a kind of sexy treat. Employ ample use of your hands on his penis and balls so that he’s really hard. You could just leave it to him to put the condom on, but I think that sex is a collaborative process. You both benefit from the use of a condom, so you should both be involved in the application. Before you put the condom on his erect penis, take a careful look to make sure it’s the right way up: the bottom should curl out like the brim of a hat. Pinch the extra space at the top, place it on his penis head, and then firmly slide the sides down. An incredibly sexy advanced move is to apply the condom with your mouth (shout-out to LH for the tip!), which is the perfect start to a protected blow job. Invest in some flavoured condoms or lube for this purpose.
Strategies for improving the efficacy of safer sex should be an important part of the discussion on sexual health. The DSU offers free condoms, and there are also other options in the Pride Centre, such as dental dams or internal condoms. I’ll write more on those tools in my next column, so stay tuned for another frank discussion in a month. In the meantime, enjoy the break from classes and stay safe.