by Josey Allen
Valentine’s Day is a day of love and appreciation of your partner, so it’s only fitting that National Condom Week is February 14-21. Contraception, including condoms, is an important part of sex, especially if you are not trying to get pregnant or if you or your partner has a concern about STDs. Barrier methods, such as condoms, are what is suggested for couples who are not fluid bonded. Fluid bonding is when a couple makes the decision to stop using condoms and use another form of contraception during a serious relationship. The safest way to do this is to limit sexual contact to your partner only and to get screened for STIs together. If you are a person who can become pregnant and you don’t want to be any time soon, it is best to use some other sort of contraception, like birth control pills or an IUD.
If you are having trouble getting access to condoms, whether it be you still live at home with your parents and can’t buy them at the store or you can’t afford them, there are several different ways to get them around the city. Many clinics, doctor’s offices, and schools give out free contraception and lube, discreetly. Planned Parenthood has locations all over the city and there is no appointment or membership required to pick up condoms, you can just walk in and grab them from the box.
Types of Condoms
There are several different types of condoms. The most commonly used are latex condoms, though some people have allergies so they opt for plastic or lambskin condoms. It’s important to know that lambskin condoms DO NOT protect against STIs, only pregnancy. If you are concerned about STIs, it’s a good idea to use plastic or latex.
If you don’t want to use a traditional external condom, you may choose to use an internal condom, sometimes called a ‘female condom’. These will also prevent STIs and pregnancy. Internal condoms actually go inside the vagina and prevent fluids from passing through. These can be a good alternative to external condoms, but never use them both at the same time, because they could pull each other out of place, putting you at risk. Internal condoms also happen to be latex free so they’re a good alternative for people with latex allergies. For a detailed “how to” on putting in an internal condom click here.
It’s also important to note that oils and oil based lubes break down condoms and can cause them to tear. To prevent any accidents, skip the body oil and stick to water based lubes. You can check on the bottle or ingredient list of any lube to see if it contains oils. F
Dental dams are a type of protection you can use during oral sex. Dental dams are a plastic sheet placed over the vagina or anus to prevent the spread of STIs. When performing oral sex on a penis, an external condom is efficient.
How to Ask a Partner to Use One:
If you’ve never had sex or used a condom before, it may seem like it would be awkward to stop right before sex begins to put on a condom. Furthermore, your partner may try to talk you into having sex without one.
First of all, it won’t be awkward or “kill the mood”. Just keep one nearby, and grab it when you’re ready. The person using the condom can put it on themselves or their partner can. If the person tries to talk you out of using a condom, make sure you assert how uncomfortable that makes you feel and remind them of the risks. It is important to know that there is a form of sexual abuse called stealthing. Stealthing is a form of sexual assault when the person wearing the condom takes it off during intercourse without their partner’s knowledge. This can happen to anyone so it is important to remain aware and set clear boundaries before. Also remember that the “pull out method” or withdrawal before you or your partner ejaculates isn’t totally effective. Statistically, one in five people who use this method will get pregnant and it doesn’t protect against STIs.
A Brief History:
Humans have been using some variation of condoms since the beginning of time. In fact, evidence of something being used to provide a barricade between genitals has been found from as early as Ancient Egypt (though scholars debate exactly when the first condom was used). Obviously condoms have evolved a lot since then. A more familiar version of the condom came about in the Industrial Revolution (around 1860) when a more flexible version of rubber was invented. Then in the 1920s, latex was invented and so was the modern day condom.
We can thank the people who were around in the earliest days for trying several different materials for condoms so we don’t have to. They even tried condoms made from animal intestines and other various parts, before the condom was modernized.
To ensure you have a great, safe sexual experience whether it’s your first or one-hundredth time, here is a list of places that provide free condoms across the city:
- Margaret Sanger Health Center (Planned Parenthood) 26 Bleeker St, New York, NY
- Lower East Side Harm Reduction Coalition 25 Allen St, New York, NY
- Great City Medical 68 East 131 St, New York, NY
- NYC Riverside Sexual Health Clinic 160 W 100th St, New York, NY
- Urban Horizons Family Health Center 50 E 168 Street, Bronx, NY (Lower Level)
- THRIVE @ Brightpoint Health 328 E 150 Street, Bronx, NY
- HASA Center #51 Queensboro 33-28 Northern Boulevard, Queens, NY
- NYP- Special Care Center 138-47 Horace Harding Expressway, Queens, NY
- AllCity Medical P.C. 2814 Clarendon Rd, Brooklyn, NY
Find more places near you (including bars and clubs that have condoms!) here.