Those with vulvas remain heavily responsible for birth control and protection against pregnancy and STDs. Yet, many men aligned with misogynistic beliefs continue to believe they are owed choices regarding women’s bodies and further, the use thereof.
Let’s be honest, no one ever said, “I love condoms!”, but how many times have you heard:
“I don’t use condoms.”
“What, you don’t trust me?”
“Condoms ruin it, I don’t want to have sex if you want to use condoms.”
The list is interminable. At the heart of the matter is a lack of accountability and communication regarding sexual health.
In a more conscious world, everyone would get tested before engaging in sex with new partners, be honest about said test, and go on to have fabulous, reciprocal, blissful sex. Perhaps one day there will be a more instantaneous route to STD testing, but society isn’t there yet. If you’re looking for a safe and convenient way to get tested and share your results, checkout the Safely App.
Why Should You Use Condoms?
“Condoms reduce the risk for many STDs that are transmitted by genital fluids (STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis).” Condom use during vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex help reduce the risk of genital ulcers (genital herpes, syphilis) but only when they cover the potentially exposed area. Note, people with the herpes virus are not necessarily aware when they are shedding.
Condoms have an 85% effectiveness rate against pregnancy. If you aren’t ready to become a parent but want to enjoy sexual freedom, consider adding condoms to your regimen. Condoms work best and reduce the chance for unwanted side effects when you use them correctly and consistently. Don’t forget to check the expiration date on the condom as well! If a condom slips or rips, you might consider the option of emergency contraception.
Female condoms, also known as fem-doms, are a great alternative for those who may have a latex rubber allergy or are looking for greater surface protection. They can be inserted up to eight hours prior to sex, so say goodbye to coitus interputus. Fem-doms don’t necessitate an erect penis so they may be useful to a partner experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Take the guesswork out of your sex life and talk to your partner about female and male condoms as options. Sex is a two person process, as is the conversation about STDs and contraception.
How can you contribute to better sexual health?
Instead of battling the nation attempting to limit choice around women’s bodies post-conception, perhaps more campaigning for condom use. Better yet, male birth control anyone?
Why must the responsibility to prevent pregnancy and STDs protection fall solely on women in heterosexual relationships? Ehem, the patriarchy. Domestic, social and emotional labor are typified as feminine responsibilities and sexual health apparently falls in this realm.
In an effort to police and enforce gendered norms and male superiority, the discussion around sexual health remains one of power and privilege. Women’s bodies are often seen as vessels, a means to pleasure and procreation, and when said pleasure isn’t freely given, entitlement ensues..
Mind you, not all men adhere to gender coded systems, but many have been unconsciously conditioned to believe they are owed certain goods, including, sex. There exists a growing group of conscious men who align with feminist values and are making headway in their relationships and beyond on behalf of women’s equality. To those men, thank you. Checkout this article to learn more about misogyny and how you can help yourself and others.
So you have a partner that doesn’t like condoms?
The next time you’re with a new sexual partner and they openly express opposition to put on a condom, get curious. It might not feel the same, but what have you tried? Lube (petroleum jelly, water based, and oil based lubricants) is your friend and an excellent way to decrease friction and increase glide ability. If you’re met with, “Don’t you trust me?” from a new partner, consider how this comment sits with you.
Brene Brown teaches, trust is built in small moments. Wearing a condom the first time you have sex with someone, or letting a new partner know, “I’d like have sex without a condom, but I want to get tested first for each other’s safety”, is a move towards trust. This small gesture has the potential to blow someone’s mind!
If you are in a committed relationship, have discussed your sexual health, and agree to ditch the condoms, by all means, go for it. If contraception is part of your planning, perhaps take some time to understand your partner’s experience. Those with vulvas go through a host of trials and tribulations to discover the best option for birth control. Partners who have had vasectomies cope with their own psychological discomfort. When’s the last time you showed appreciation and/or understanding for these acts of commitment?
Everyone is deserving of the sex life they want, including respect and attunement to emotional and physical safety needs. The next time you talk about sexual health, be prepared to show up in your adult self and get real. If someone can’t talk openly or at least consider the conversation, think twice before trusting this person with your sexuality.
Need some condom and lube ideas, check out this Modern Intimacy approved list below!