Condom use should be discussed

Dear Bailey

“My boyfriend wants to skip out on condoms and use only lube. What are the pros and cons of this?”

Condoms have two functions: birth control and infection/disease protection. There are male and female condoms, male being more common and effective (98 percent) than female condoms, which are 95 percent effective. Effectiveness of condoms, as with any form of birth control, is only as high as reported when used correctly. Most causes of ineffectiveness are due to human error.

There are plain condoms, which are the cheapest, and there are also ultra-sensitive, ribbed, colored, flavored and glow-in-the-dark ones. The last three listed should not be used for intercourse, vaginal or anal, but are safe for oral.

Many couples get to the point where they would like to stop using condoms. It should, however, be the choice of both people. Do not let your boyfriend pressure you into not using them. If you are uncomfortable with the idea, don’t stop using them. You can always decide to stop using them later.

The pros of not using condoms are pretty nice. First, and best, sex feels much better. The absence of the latex between the two of you means a heightened sensitivity, making sex more enjoyable. The thinner condoms do allow for heat transfer and allow more feeling and are just as strong as regular condoms. These could be a good compromise if you are not ready to do away with condoms all together.

Another pro is not worrying about having them handy all the time. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in the heat of the moment, it can be a big pain. Similar to this is not needing to have lube convenient. While not necessary, lube is handy when using condoms (or without) and decreases the chance of breakage by decreasing friction. Lubricants have different bases, and the proper one should be used for the type of condom. Water-based lube should be used with latex condoms because oil-based decrease condom strength. Basically, it’s less to think about while your hormones are already making thinking difficult.

The cons are mainly health related. No condom means no STI protection or birth control. They are the only form of protection against STIs. Your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or HIV/AIDS increases, of course. Testing of both partners is an extremely important step before taking condoms out of the equation. If neither people have anything, then great, go ahead! But if one has anything, a discussion about risks and what to do next, and in the future, needs to happen.

Without condoms, a different form of birth control should be adopted. A diaphragm is the alternate barrier method and should be used with spermicidal cream for more effectiveness. Be aware of nonoxynol-9 in the cream because it has been shown to cause abrasions on the vaginal wall. Other forms of birth control are hormonal and come in many forms, such as pills, patches, vaginal rings, shots and an IUD.

Both people should agree on what action to take without pressure. It can be a big decision and should require a lot of thought. Take your time because it is not easy going back to condoms.

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