By Yetunde Arebi
There is no gain saying that the pleasures and benefits of sex are enormous to mankind. But the truth is that it goes with great responsibilities by religious, biological, moral and societal standards. The probability that if you engage in sex, you will become a mother, or a father, is very high. That is not to mention the fact that you also have a probability of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Yet, not everyone who has sex wants to have babies, and definitely not an STD. Thus, the need for protection.
There are several types of protection, known as contraceptives medically, which are suitable or adaptable to individual lifestyle. Contraceptives can be categorized into four main groups which are barriers, hormonal, surgical and natural family planning. Of the four, barrier and hormonal methods are the most commonly used worldwide, while the Condom, remains the most popular. This is because it is the only contraceptive so far that combines the function of prevention of pregnancy with prevention of STDs.
Almost everyone seems to know what condoms are and what they are used for, yet there is still a great misconception and inhibition about it. During a conversation with a friend in the week, my eyes almost popped out of their sockets when she said married women cannot demand that their husbands must use a condom during sex.
Condoms are for prostitutes, she insisted. Though I intend to share the details of our conversation soon in another edition, it sort of informed the little pep talk on condoms we are having today. Besides all the prejudices and misconceptions about the condom, not everyone who uses it knows how to do so properly and effectively, making nonsense of the whole process in many cases.
Not everyone is aware that there are two types of condoms; the male condom and the female condom, both serving the same function of protecting the individual against pregnancy and STDs. The male condom is the most common barrier device. It is a thin tube shaped material made from latex rubber which provides a sheath for the penis, preventing contact with the vagina.
The female condom on the other hand is a seven inch long pouch of polyurethane rubber with two flexible rings at the ends. When worn correctly, it covers the cervix, vaginal canal and other vaginal areas. The condom is said to have 99% effective rate. Though both types of condoms are sold over the counter, (you do not need a doctor’s prescription before you can buy them) the female condom is not as easily accessible or available as the male condom. The main job of the condom is to capture the semen, preventing it from entering the woman.
Though the simplicity and effectiveness of this device makes it the most popular and widely used by individuals around the world, it is a fact that many including sex pros, often make mistakes while using them. According to a research conducted by the Indiana University, USA, comprising 50 different studies on condom usage and spanning 16 years of data, they discovered a truck load of errors by many people who use the condom. I have summarised some of the findings below.
* Many people do not take the decision to use condoms early enough. Most times, they would have started intercourse, then withdraw to apply the condom. This is a no brainer if you want to protect yourself against STDs. The studies showed that between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of people are guilty of this error.
*Between 2.1 percent and 25.3 percent of people admitted unrolling the condom completely before attempting to slide it on. This is near impossible, I believe. If you don’t know, please ask. Oftentimes, the females know but don’t want to tell for fear of stigmatisation or condemnation.
*Quite a number of people do not know that the tip of the condom is meant to collect the ejaculated semen at the end of the show. For this category, about 24.3 to 45.7 percent were discovered guilty of this error.
*About 48.1 percent of women and 41.6 percent of men reported that they didn’t remember to squeeze the air from the tip of the condom before using.
*If you are aiming to prevent pregnancy as well as STD, then you should not be doing this. Between 4 percent and 30.4 percent of participants in the studies, reported that they began rolling the condom on inside out. On realising it was the wrong side up, they flipped it over and continued using it. The implication of this is that, if the partner has an STD, chances are that the condom might have picked it and it is that side that will come in contact with the other partner.
*While it is true that common sense does sometimes vanish when hormones begin to rage, it is important that you seriously consider safety when you find yourself in the heat of passion. Studies show that about 82.7 percent of women and 74.5 percent of men reported that they fail to check the condition of the condom before use. Keep your eyes open for damaged wrappings, expiry dates or visible imperfections while wearing the condom.
*Using sharp objects, even teeth or nails, to open the condom is a no, no as it can damage the condom. Between 2.1 percent and 11.2 percent of people admitted opening condom packets with sharp objects in the studies.
*Oil based lubricants are not the best options when it comes to sex generally, more importantly so when you are using latex condoms. It weakens the latex, causing it to break. About 3.2 percent of women and 4.7 percent of men reported using an oil-based lube with a latex condom. Oil based lubricants mean no Vaseline, baby oil or lotions, etc.,
*You cannot over emphasise the importance of lubes in aiding friction during intercourse. If you are using condoms and the guy is not suffering from quick ejaculation or it is not a quickie, chances are that you might be at it for a considerable length of time. It is advisable to apply adequate lube to the condom to avoid likely tear. In the studies, between 16 percent and 25.8 percent of people reported using condoms without lubrication.
*Protection is not just about preventing the semen from contact with the female, it is about the whole sexual organ. About 11.2 percent of women and 8.8 percent of men admitted they had began intercourse before rolling the condom all the way up, while another 13.6 percent and 44.7 percent of the respondents reported removing the condom before intercourse was complete. This often happens for mischievous reasons too, especially where the partners are desperate or deceitful with each other.
*A lot of guys prefer to keep the pistons buried in the valves long after the action is over. However, this indulgence cannot be encouraged when using the condom as the penis will shrink and the condom will possibly unroll itself. About 31 percent of men and 27 percent of women admitted in the studies that after sex, they failed to promptly and properly withdraw after ejaculation.
*Condoms must be properly stored away from direct sunlight and heat to keep them in optimum condition and avoid degradation of the latex. Between 3.3 percent and 19.1 percent of people in the studies admitted storing their condoms in conditions that did not comply with the recommendations on the package. It is best to buy on need to use basis or better still, store in drawers or clothes closets.
*Though this might sound a bit over the top, quite a number of respondents, 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent admitted in the studies that they have reused a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter. (I can’t even imagine this)
Important rules to follow when opting for the condom include:
Only latex or polyurethane (plastic) condoms will protect you from STIs. Do not use condoms made from any other material.
Always keep in a cool and dry place. Don’t buy from roadside kiosks. Never keep in glove compartment of car or wallet.
Never have contact with your partner’s genitals before wearing a condom. The slightest contact alone is enough to contract an STI.
Put the condom on, only when the penis is erect, it cannot be worn any other time.
Always squeeze the air out at the top of the condom while rolling it over the penis. The little space at the top is where the ejaculation sperm will stay at orgasm.
To help reduce friction (dry rubbing and prevent condoms from tearing), you can use water based lubricant.
Always hold the condom in place at the base of the penis before withdrawing after sex. This will ensure that the condom does not slip into the vagina.
Always dispose of condom after use.
Never touch both sides of the condom to the penis. Don’t touch one side, and then switch to the other. Always ensure you have the right side before trying to wear.
Flipping the sides may aid the transfer of sperm / STIs to your partner.
Always check out the date of expiry before you buy a condom.
Outdated condoms can be dry, bristled or weakened and so can break more easily.
Never unroll condom before wearing, it is not only clumsy but near impossible.
Oil based products such as cooking oil, baby oil or lotion, hand lotion, petroleum jelly are a no-no with latex condom. The oil weakens the latex and can cause it to break. It’s very easy to tear a condom while still inside the wrapper, so be careful.
Once damaged, please throw away and get another one. Never manage.
Always use a new condom for each kind of sex you have.
No matter the type of relationship you are in, always try to be in control of your sexual health. Remember that HIV/AIDS is still pretty much around and raging on this side of the world. Recently, reports had it that Gonorrhea and Candida are on the increase, especially among young adults. You will do yourself a huge favour by protecting yourself properly if you must have sex. It is your body, it is your life. It is your right.
Do have a wonderful weekend!!