There are so many benefits to using condoms or other safer sex supplies (like dental dams or gloves). Here are some of our favorites:
• They offer extra protection. Internal and external condoms are birth control methods that help to protect against BOTH pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They don’t require a prescription and are easily accessible. In fact, you can find FREE safer sex supplies in various locations around campus:
o Student Health Center lobby
o Center for Multicultural Education
o Gender & Sexuality Services Office
o Restrooms in the Wellness/Recreation Center, Rod Library and Maucker Union
• There are so many options! Condoms come in different shapes, sizes, flavors, materials and types (like external or internal condoms) that increase sensation for both partners.
• Condoms can make sex more enjoyable. Some condoms come ribbed or in super-thin materials to make them more pleasurable. Adding a little bit of lube decreases friction and increases pleasure as well. Plus, condoms can help delay ejaculation so sex lasts longer!
• Condoms help make sex stress free. You have enough to worry about. Why add sex to the list? Condoms offer protection and peace of mind so you can focus on how it feels rather than worrying about pregnancy or STIs. When paired with another method of birth control like the pill or IUD, you increase your protection and decrease your risk.
• There are so many kinds of safer sex protection! While external (sometimes called “male”) condoms are the most common, there are other forms of safer sex barriers that could work for you and your partner(s).
o Internal condoms (sometimes called insertive condoms and formally known as “female” condoms) are inserted into the vagina or anus. They are latex-free, come lubed up and ready to go (but you can always add more lube) and can be inserted up to eight hours before sex, making them a great option for some folks!
o Dental dams and flavored condoms are used for oral sex. You place a dental dam over the vulva or anus to create a barrier between your partner’s skin and your mouth. Flavored condoms are just like typical condoms but are specifically made for oral sex (Please note that flavored condoms should not be used for penetrative sex as they can cause yeast infections).
• Wearing a condom shows you care. Using condoms and other safer sex supplies shows you care about your health, the health of your partner(s) and the health of your community.
Maybe your partner (or you!) have some hesitancy about using condoms or other safer sex barriers. Here are some common questions we hear:
• “Condoms don’t feel comfortable for me. What are my options?” Sometimes finding the perfect condom takes experimentation! Condoms come in a lot of different shapes, sizes and materials. Try out some different sizes to see if there is a better fit. If you or your partner(s) have a latex allergy, look for latex-free options. A great way to make condoms feel better is using lube! Put some lube inside the condom and outside the condom to decrease friction.
• “Pregnancy isn’t a risk for my partner and me. Why should we use condoms?” Safer sex barriers are for everyone! Condoms, dental dams and gloves protect from STIs, which can be spread through any kind of sex, including vaginal, anal and oral, and through sexual touching. External or internal condoms are great options for anal sex. Gloves protect your partner from internal scratches and you from any fluids entering your body through micro-cuts on your hand or fingers. If you share sex toys, using a condom on the toy and replacing it before the next person uses it prevents spreading that way. Dental dams and flavored condoms prevent STIs that spread orally as well.
• “I’m on birth control. I don’t need any more protection, right?” While birth control prevents pregnancy, it does not prevent the spread of STIs.
• “I’m not at risk for contracting an STI, so I don’t have to worry about protection! Why use a condom if I’m not at risk?” STIs are way more common than you may think – according to the CDC, teens and young adults count for half of all new infections. Plus, the most common symptom of an STI is no symptom at all, so it can be difficult to know if you or your partner(s) have an STI. If you think you may have an STI, you can schedule testing at the Student Health Clinic.
Of course, with COVID-19, any close contact and activity with spit being exchanged (like kissing) has a risk of transmitting the coronavirus. While COVID-19 hasn’t been found in vaginal fluid, there are questions about it being found in fecal material. Using condoms helps reduce that risk, as does wearing a mask.
Of course, the safest sex partner you can have is yourself! Masturbation is a great way to experience the benefits of sex without the risk of spreading or contracting an STI or COVID-19 (but make sure you take care of your sex toys)!
Sexual health can be an important part of physical well-being. If you have any questions about your sexual health, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, gynecologist,or with a provider at the Student Health Center. If you would like your student organization to learn more about sexual health, you can put in a request for our Condom Sense program on our website. Student orgs and RAs can also request safer sex express kits to provide their members or residents with free safer sex supplies.