Sex is and can be a great experience. In fact, in 2012 the Global Sex Survey found that 83% of the public believe sex is a vital part of our health and well-being. However, to obtain this, there are certain factors that need to be accounted for, including: consent, the risk of pregnancy, STI’s, and mutual pleasure. One large and regularly used component in tackling these factors is the one and only – condom, which is designed to stop sperm/semen or sexual fluids being transferred between two sexual partners. As a result, this not only prevents the transferal of sexual diseases but can also prevent pregnancy- AMAZING! That is the generic information provided on any Safe Sex website you may Google, however what are the real pros? Firstly, condoms can be a great way of being intimate with a new partner, in the sense of ensuring consent and maintaining mutual pace of the situation. “Shall I get a condom?” is a great time to also ask, “are you sure you’re ready for this?” or “do you want to stop?”, it’s not awkward and it’s definitely sexy. Secondly, I am not going to lie, collecting condoms can be very fun – there are so many options. It’s almost like an expansion pack game; Extra Safe, Extended Pleasure, Intimate Feel, Real Feel, Thin Feel, ULTRA Thin Feel, Excite me, Pleasure me, Tickle Me. Not only do condoms have some of the best names of any product type, you can also then unlock another level: flavour. Literally imagine anything from curry to tropical fruits, and one condom brand would be able to offer it to you, creating the sexiest buffet of all time.
The simple condom can be extremely powerful, however like everything, it also has many weaknesses. I was sixteen years old when I bought my first pack of condoms, and I think that could quite possibly be the most embarrassed I have ever felt in my life. On reflection, now I can appreciate the variety of condoms on offer, however ignorant me was overwhelmed. In the end I went for the absolute bog standard, the blue Extra Safe Durex box. What you also need to note is that every single condom box was in a plastic locked container meaning you had to go to a normal check-out counter, self-service was not an option. So, after I spent half an hour debating what brand and type to get, I then spent another lifetime analyzing the character of each employee at the different checkouts – who was not going to judge me? Who was not going to make a seemingly funny joke, that was ultimately just mutually awkward? Again, on reflection, no one cares what you buy at your local Tesco’s at 4 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. But it took me, in the end, two hours just to buy one pack. Two hours of worry and embarrassment. Many individuals first purchase can be equally awful, or seemingly so, leading to many dangerously opting for no protection at all.
If a purchase has been made, how does a condom impact sex? For some women it can dry them out, even with built in lubrication, the friction between the condom and their vagina can result in an uncomfortable experience. For others it can cause too much lubrication and result in it falling off during sex, making the use of the condom void. As such, depending on the individual, using a condom can prevent mutual pleasure and satisfaction. Safe sex should be highly valued- but are condoms the best option? Can we avoid the initial embarrassment and the potential lack of pleasure while also participating in safe sex? There is a plethora of other contraceptive options so make sure you enquire at your local GP surgery or research online to see what might suit you best.
– Lorna Hemingway