With all the focus on love and romance this month, I almost forgot the fact that February is also condom month. But there’s still a week to celebrate. Maybe I’ll buy a box, blow them up and bounce them around the room like I did with my high school sweetheart to ease our nervousness the first time we had sex.
Condoms have come a long way since then. These days, condoms come ribbed, textured, ultra-thin, extra large, low-odour, specially designed for her pleasure, the list goes on.
So why is it, with so many condoms to choose from, so many of us still aren’t using them? According to sexualityandu.ca, a Canadian sexual health information website, “Of sexually active adults aged 20 to 24, 44 per cent reported having sex without a condom, 33 per cent of those aged 18 to 19 and 22 per cent of those aged 15 to 17.”
Not surprisingly, rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have all increased in recent years. Higher rates are no doubt also due to increased awareness resulting in more people getting tested, but still, last time I checked, unprotected sex is the only way you can acquire an STI.
Sadly, we come up with all kinds of reasons not to practise safer sex. Fear, for one — fears that are greater than a nasty STIs or HIV — like the fear that, gasp, a guy might lose his erection if he wears a condom.
There are other reasons why we take the risk; in fact, in some cases, the thrill of the risk is one of them. In other cases, if you slip once with a lover and the sky doesn’t fall, it’s easier to slip again. Studies have even shown that people use logic as naïve as “he looked clean” or “I trusted him” as reason enough to lose the rubber.
Most of us still aren’t comfortable even raising the subject. We can talk about what restaurant to meet at for a date but we can’t talk about taking care of each other’s sexual health. Letting someone know that you care about him or her and wanting that person to be safe should be a positive, natural thing.
But, rather than risk spoiling the moment by trying to lunge over to the bedside drawer without injury, seductively tearing open a condom with your teeth and sliding it on, all without missing a beat, it’s much easier to just go with the flow and let things unfold according to your desires. And learn to live with the guilt. Hey, I’m Catholic — you can learn to live with guilt. Potentially life-threatening infections and diseases, on the other hand, not so much.
Happy condom month!
– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.