(sex)uality: condoms and dental dams – do you use them?
Do you find it difficult to be assertive about condoms? Do you find it extremely difficult to be assertive about using condoms and dental dams when performing oral sex?
Starting a new sexual relationship with anyone is fraught with a multitude of awkward questions. Are we dating? Is this causal? Are we going to have sex or just make out? What kind of foreplay do we like? Can we please use a condom?
Condoms are great for so many reasons. For starters, they are great at preventing pregnancy. They are also incredibly effective at preventing the spread of STIs. And no mess!
Yet young Australians are not using this form of protection often enough: about half the time during sexual intercourse(1) and less than one fifth of the time during oral sex(2). Ladies, how often have you used a condom or dental dam when performing oral sex? For so many of us the answer is not often enough, if ever.
Why is it that we don’t take this more seriously? Is it that we ignore the health risks in order to avoid uncomfortable conversations? Are we afraid that having a conversation about safety will kill the mood? As opposed to syphilis, which is a mad turn on.
Billie Piper’s character in Secret Diary of a Call Girl is very empowered and firm about condom use. ‘Penis, fingers, toys, they all need their own condom. Basic Hygiene.’ How do you feel empowered to enforce condom/dental dam use?
Being prepared and in control is the best way of ensuring your safety. By that I mean, have your own protection at the ready. Safety is as much your responsibility as it is your lovers. Have condoms/dental dams at your house and take some with you if you might be having sex away from home. It’s not an indicator of promiscuity to carry protection, it is an indicator of the respect you have for your body. Remember, you can contract an STI the first time or the fiftieth time you have sex. STIs do not discriminate.
Don’t let your lover turn it into a trust issue. If you are afraid that your partner will feel like you are accusing them of promiscuity, have a prepared statement handy. ‘I have this rule that I use condoms for all sexual encounters.’ You are just following your rules. This isn’t about them, it is about showing yourself respect. They will respect that. If they keep hassling and pressuring you, get out of there. That person is not worthy of your time. They are certainly not worth contracting gonorrhea for.
One in eight Australians have genital herpes(3). STIs were found to be highest in young females*(1). Chlamydia was the most commonly notified STI among young people*. The rates of gonorrhea have increased over the last decade(1). Males are more likely to report always using a condom than females(4). Only 17% of students reported using a condom during fellatio(2).
Think about what you want to get from your sexual encounters. Pun intended. Becoming a statistic is easier than you think. Becoming empowered and safe is worth it. Some STIs stay with you for the rest of your life. Some STIs cause infertility. Some STIs, you wont even know you have until someone you love contracts it from you. Respect yourself and your lovers.
(1) Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011 Released June 2011 by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
(2) Stone, N., Bethan Hatherall, B., Roger Ingham, R., and Juliet McEachran, J. (2006) Oral Sex and Condom Use Among Young People In the United Kingdom. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38 (1) 6 – 12.
(4) Smith A, Agius P, Mitchell A, Barrett C & Pitts M 2009. Secondary students and sexual health (2008). Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society.