The topic of sexual safety is vital in any sexual relationship, regardless of its duration or seriousness. The most prevalent form of protection, condoms, not only help prevent unwanted pregnancies but also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, using a condom properly goes beyond merely putting it on. It entails knowing the correct size, the right type of lubricant to use, and understanding the importance of using a new one for every sex act. Here is an in-depth guide on condoms and safer sex.
Always Check the Expiry Date
Condoms, like many other health products, have a lifespan after which they are no longer effective. A common mistake people make is overlooking the expiration date on the condom packet. Over time, the material of the condom, usually latex, can deteriorate, becoming dry and brittle. This increases the risk of the condom breaking during intercourse, which may result in unwanted pregnancies or transmission of STIs. Therefore, it’s crucial to check the expiry date before using a condom. This simple step can significantly contribute to your peace of mind during sex and improve your overall sexual health.
Store Condoms Properly
Proper storage of condoms is an often overlooked aspect of sexual health. It’s not uncommon to find people storing their condoms in their wallets or in the glove compartment of their cars for convenience. However, these are not ideal storage conditions for condoms. Exposure to heat, cold, friction, and certain chemicals can degrade the material of the condom, leading to potential breakages. To ensure the integrity of the condom, they should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. A bedside drawer, for instance, is often a better storage solution.
Choose the Right Size
The ‘one size fits all’ notion does not apply to condoms. They come in a variety of sizes, and choosing the right size significantly contributes to their effectiveness. Wearing a condom that is too tight increases the likelihood of the condom breaking during sex. On the other hand, a condom that is too loose could slip off during intercourse, thus rendering it ineffective. Using the right size also improves comfort during sex, making the experience more enjoyable. Therefore, it’s essential to take the time to identify the size that fits perfectly.
Use the Correct Type of Lubricant
The type of lubricant you use with your condom plays a significant role in how effective the condom is in providing protection. Oil-based lubricants can weaken the latex in condoms, making them prone to breakages. Therefore, it is advisable to use water-based or silicone-based lubricants when using latex condoms. These types of lubricants do not interact negatively with latex, ensuring that the condom stays intact during sex. Furthermore, using the right lubricant can enhance sexual pleasure.
Regular STI Testing
While condoms greatly reduce the risk of STIs, they do not provide 100% protection. This is because some STIs are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and condoms only cover a specific part of the genitals. For this reason, regular STI testing is an integral part of safer sex, particularly for those with multiple sexual partners. By knowing your status, you can get early treatment if needed and avoid unknowingly transmitting infections to your partners.
Use Condoms for Every Sex Act
Different types of sexual acts can result in different STIs. Therefore, it’s crucial to use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal, or oral sex. For example, oral sex can transmit herpes, syphilis, and gonorrhea among others. On the other hand, anal and vaginal sex can transmit HIV, HPV, and others. By using a new condom for each act, you significantly reduce the chances of transmitting or contracting these infections.
Use a Condom During the Entire Sex Act
Condoms are most effective when used correctly and consistently. This means putting on the condom before any genital contact and keeping it on until the act is entirely over. Pre-ejaculate, the fluid that comes out of the penis before ejaculation, can contain sperm and STIs. Therefore, starting sex without a condom and putting it on later does not provide adequate protection.
Learn How to Put on a Condom Correctly
Even the highest quality condom will not provide effective protection if it’s not put on correctly. Incorrect usage can lead to condom slippage or breakage during sex. To put on a condom correctly, start by checking its expiry date and ensuring that it is not damaged. Open the packet carefully to avoid tearing the condom. Next, hold the tip of the condom to squeeze out any air and then unroll it onto the erect penis. Be sure to leave a little space at the tip to collect semen.
Understanding the ins and outs of condom use is a vital aspect of maintaining sexual health. By taking these precautions and practices into account, you can ensure safer and more pleasurable sexual experiences. Open communication with your partner about these topics is also crucial in fostering trust and intimacy. After all, sexual health is a shared responsibility.