Male condoms, like penises, come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are longer, shorter, wider or thinner.
So why do condoms have a bad “wrap?”
We’ve all heard the excuses: They’re annoying, uncomfortable, expensive and even unnecessary when coupled with oral contraceptives.
In a study of college women from a Southern Californian university, “Negative attitudes (61 percent) about condoms were … demonstrated as a key factor in the lack of condom use.”
That number needs to be lower.
Though there are hurdles to overcome with almost every form of contraception, when condoms are used correctly, their benefits outweigh the so-called hassle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, with correct use, male condoms should fail only 2 percent of the time; in practice, they fail 14-15 percent of the time. Though this method is not perfect, it is an effective way to lower your risk of pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted infections. And the more you know about condom use, the lower your risk.
With the addition of spermicide or oral contraceptives, condoms are a great way to further prevent pregnancy. Still, students should remember that neither spermicide nor oral contraceptives protect against sexually transmitted diseases when used alone.
If condoms are so reliable, why do people complain about them?
Many people say that the condom falls off during intercourse. In that case, most likely, the condom isn’t fitting properly. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what works best.
Most condoms are made of latex. If you are allergic to latex — or if you suspect you might be because of reactions after use — you can also find equally effective condoms that are made of polyurethane.
As for others that say sex with a condom “doesn’t feel as good,” they should consider if herpes or a baby are worth the risk. If two people are in a committed relationship and both regularly test negative for STIs, they might reasonably choose to have sexual intercourse without a condom, but they should use another means to prevent pregnancy.
Condom manufacturers have also made condoms less of a buzz kill by adding lubricants and textured exteriors to condoms. Using more lubrication also helps prevent minor tears in the tissue caused by friction, further reducing the risk of STIs.
Finally, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of putting on a condom, saying it is “weird” or that it “ruins the heat of the moment.” But you can avoid awkward fumbling by becoming more familiar with condoms. Practice putting condoms on in a non-sexual context. Who’s to know?
Contrary to popular opinion, men aren’t the only ones who need practice in this area. If you are female, see what it feels like to correctly insert and remove a female condom.
As for killing the mood, get creative and incorporate the condom into foreplay. Believe it or not, condoms don’t need to be a turn off. They can actually be a turn-on.
Condoms should be given a fair chance in the arena of contraceptives. Before you write them off, experiment with your options — and have fun in the process.
Natalie Chau, Brooke Sanders and Lucas Griffin are peer health educators of the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion.