1. 18 out of 100 women get pregnant every year because they aren’t using condoms correctly. You often hear that condoms are up to 98 percent effective, but that’s only if you’re using them properly. And a lot of people don’t. “First, put on the condom before the penis touches your vulva (the outside of your vagina),” explains Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Vice President of External Medical Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Men leak fluids from their penises before and after ejaculation, and this fluid can pass sexually transmitted infections and possibly cause pregnancy.” You also have to be careful when unwrapping a condom so you don’t tear it, and use a new condom every time you have sex. Plus, read the directions! Yes, condoms come with detailed instructions. Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes and make sure you know exactly how to use it correctly.
2. Cutesy, novelty condoms don’t necessarily protect against pregnancy and STDs. Those pink, watermelon-scented condoms you see at the mall? Don’t waste your money. Oftentimes, they aren’t really meant to be used as protection. It will usually say so on the fine print, but it’s pretty hard to see unless you’re looking for it. So, what brands should you buy? Head to your local Planned Parenthood or student health centre and find out what they recommend. It’s usually not the brand you see advertised the most on TV, but one that has the highest success rate of pregnancy and STD transmission.
3. If you or your partner is allergic to latex condoms, it’s best to use a female condom instead of a “lambskin” one. Most people with a latex allergy use natural membrane condoms, also known as “lambskin” condoms. (They’re not actually made from lambskin, but they are made from animal intestines.) They really aren’t the best, though. “These offer fair to good protection against unintended pregnancy and bacterial infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis,” says Dr Cullins. “However, they do not offer as much protection as latex or polyurethane condoms do against viral infections such as HIV/AIDS.” Eek! So what to do? Try a polyurethane female condom, instead, which has an up to 95 percent success rate against pregnancy and helps reduce the risk of infection. “The female condom has flexible rings at each end and is inserted deep into the vagina before vaginal intercourse,” says Dr. Cullins. “The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina. The ring at the open end stays outside the vaginal opening during intercourse.”
4. You still need a condom if the person you are having sex with is another girl. Sure, you don’t to worry about pregnancy, but you do need to protect your health against STDs since several can be transmitted through oral sex. A barrier, like a dental dam, can decrease your risk of infection. “Dental dams (AKA Sheer Glyde Dams) are thin pieces of latex that work by keeping partners’ body fluids out of each other’s bodies and by preventing skin-to-skin contact,” says Dr. Cullins. But dental dams aren’t always easy to find. So, condoms can actually be cut and laid flat to be used as a dental dam.
5. If your partner claims that having sex feels ~totally~ different or bad with a condom, be prepped with a great answer. While it’s true your partner might feel different sensations while wearing a condom, realistically, it shouldn’t feel game-changing so. Can he feel it when a condom breaks during sex? Usually not, so point that out. And any guy giving you an excuse about not using one doesn’t respect you as he should. “Many women and men say they actually have better sex when they use condoms since they’re able to focus on what’s happening without worrying about unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” adds Dr. Cullins. The important thing is to make it clear that your health (and your partner’s health) is your top priority — and that sex without protection is not an option.