July 26, 2011
Terrible grammar? Depends how you look at it!
I like to think that most adults consensually engaged in sex in Edmonton are aware that condoms exist; what they look like, what they are for and how to use them. Condoms are a, if not THE, staple of safer sex in the modern era. They are cheap, readily available and over-the-counter, and protect the wearer and their partners from pregnancy and several STIs, including HIV. Condoms save lives, pure and simple. Even the Pope knows it.
Male Condoms come in all shapes (that can fit over a penis or toy), textures, sizes, colours, tastes, etc. They also come in a number of different materials beyond the original lambskin (so passe) and latex, such as polyurethane and polyisoprene, so latex allergies are not an excuse to avoid them. Now adays, most brands of condoms also make condoms that are thinner and allow for more heat transfer, allowing for a more natural sensation. They either come lubricated or unlubricated (great for oral sex without the lube taste), and you need only know how to put one on to use one. And if you have trouble figuring out how to put it on, no problem; Sensis has manufactured a condom with “quick strips” to help you roll it down the shaft the right way!
There is also the much less popular, more expensive but still effective female condom. The female condom is generally made of newer materials like nitrile, and is attached to two silicone rings, one which sits inside the vagina near the cervix, and one that remains outside. The female condom also provides some protection for the vulva since it does cover some of the external female genitals, and that means additional protection against herpes and genital warts. It has a lower effectiveness percentage at protecting users from pregnancy and STI infections than the male condom likely because of its design, but some women swear by them. Female and male condoms should not be used together.
Several companies have also come to our aide in giving us more stylish and sophisticated ways to carry and store condoms safely with some very cute condom cases, some which masquerade as compact mirrors.
All that goodness aside, I think it’s important to consider two important facts about condoms:
1) Condoms are not perfect and, especially when used incorrectly, are never 100% effective at preventing STI transmission, especially herpes and HPV (genital warts) which can cause sores around the genital not covered by a condom.
2) Penile-vaginal and penile-anal penetrative sex are not the only sexual activities that can result in transmission of STIs. Manual stimulation, oral sex and even non-penatrative genital contact all carry risks!
Condoms are an absolute must for basic pregnancy and STI protection, but don’t necessarily provide all the protection you need in a bedroom that embraces sexual play beyond intercourse and blowjobs. For additional versatile protection, there are lots of other things you can use and do to ensure you and your partners have safer sex. Here are some items that should be in your safer sex kit, all of which can be found both in-store and on-line at the Traveling Tickle Trunk:
Gloves – science has shown that our hands are freaking filthy! In fact, just washing your hands regularly can seriously cut down on the amount of infections you contract and transmit to other people, and that’s true both in and out of the bedroom. If you are going to be doing any fisting or manual stimulation on or in your partner’s genitals or anus you should a) trim your nails, b) wash your hands and c) put on some gloves! Germs, dirt, parasites and other stuff you probably don’t want in your ass or vagina can be avoided altogether with a simple pair of latex or nitrile (for those who are sensitive to latex or powders) gloves will do the trick. Gloves are also important for partners of people who are living with herpes, since an active outbreak is not a pre-requisite to spread the virus. Plus, imagine all the fun medical roleplaying you could have after snapping on that part of your costume.
Finger Cots – finger cots are like little mini condoms for your fingers! They provide some of the protection of a glove, without actual hand coverage. Great for protecting both partners when the actual hand won’t have contact with the vagina, penis or anus (ie – if you’re going to be doing any fisting or gripping the penis with your hand, stick with rubber gloves).
Dental Dams – dental dams are sheets of latex that allow partners to share oral sex without exchanging fluids. Great for vaginal-oral, oral stimulation of the testicles and rimming (oral stimulation of the anus), dental dams provide the same protection as a condom but for strictly non-penatrative sex. They also come in a few artificial flavours that help cover up that latex taste. For added sensation, just have your partner spread some lube over their vagina, testes or anus, place the dam over top and make sweet oral love to them.
Lube – lubricants are so important to safer sex it’s not even funny. Beyond adding a little more slip and slide for your pleasure, lube minimizes friction during sex. This is very important in preventing tiny cuts and tears that provide bacteria and viruses easy access to your blood stream, as well as preventing excess friction from tearing your condom or gloves and any exchange of fluids. Make sure that you use a lube made of the correct material (ie – oil-based lubes and latex don’t mix!) when using a condom, glove, cots or dental dam. It’s hard to go wrong with a silicone or water-based lube.
Lubricants come in many types, flavours and consistancies. The Traveling Tickle Trunk keeps a handy chart above our lube shelf in-store listing all the lubes we have in stock (and there are quite a few; it’s Brenda’s specialty!) and their ingredients. If you are having trouble selecting one, our staff are always happy to help! I went in to buy a flavoured lube last week and staff member Coco suggested I try Sliquid’s Strawberry Pomegranate-flavoured lube (100% vegan!) I was not disappointed!
Muchmusic used to run a safer sex ad with the slogan “Sex is good, but getting screwed afterward is not”. That’s the attitude we should all have regarding safer sex. Sex is great, fun and an important part of a healthy adult life, so have fun and stay safe!