Updated: Sep 17, 2021
We’ve all heard the classic pre-hookup saying “no glove, no love” or “don’t be silly, wrap your willy.”
As catchy as these phrases are, they also preach safe sex for teens and young adults. Though, statistics show that teens may just say these phrases out of habit because only half of sexually active high school students used a condom the last time they were sexually active. Here’s the cold, hard truth people: condoms are the only contraceptive method that prevents sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
However, condoms are not the most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies because there is an associated 13% risk of pregnancy during the first year of use. The recommended way to stay safe during sex is to use a condom and another, more effective form of birth control like the IUD, pill, Fertility Awareness, or implant to name a few. This will ensure that you are well protected from STIs and unwanted pregnancies (if that's your goal).
The matter is that STIs have and are continuing to grow significantly. In a study done by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), they state that ”[the] highest rates of chlamydia were among the 15 to 24 year age groups, while the highest rates of gonorrhea occurred among the 20 to 29 year age groups and those of infectious syphilis occurred among the 25 to 39 year age groups.”
The study suggests that the high rates of STIs among young Canadians may be due to lack of knowledge of STIs and risk-reduction, lack of health care services, embarrassment attachment, amongst other reasons. So...basically none of us learned anything in high school sex ed. other than putting a condom on a banana? Blog on sex education in schools coming up!!!
Last week we talked about the birth control conversations people have had with their partners and the general conclusion was that the majority of the responsibility is given to the one with the uterus. But what about condoms? In my opinion, I think it’s fair to say that in the past penis owners were more often given the responsibility of having a condom in comparison to the vagina owners, but there’s definitely been a shift in expectations as of late.
In my experience, I have always expected the guy to have a condom. Part of me views it as more of "their job”, but also I didn’t feel comfortable buying condoms myself. I was concerned that this would make me seem “sex-crazed”, when in reality I would just be responsible.
For anyone who still feels shame when they walk into their local pharmacy (where the universe will be extra cruel to you and probably put a family friend in there at the same time as you), please know that the stigma is slowly going away. A recent study conducted by Trojan condoms revealed that 96% of people saw women as responsible or smart when seeing them buy condoms, and only 4% of people held negative judgments towards them.
But despite this societal shift, only 18% of heterosexual women said that they had purchased a condom for their last sexual encounter and 65% of women had never purchased condoms. Based on these stats it’s obvious that the stigma is still present, so what can we do to fix this?
Try to shift your mindset. I know this is easier said than done, but if you tell yourself that purchasing condoms is responsible instead of “slutty” (have we reclaimed this word yet?) then maybe your pharmacy trip will feel less shameful.
Choose to order condoms online! This takes a lot of embarrassment out of the experience if that’s the reason why you don’t want to buy condoms. You can get them delivered right to your door, and most companies give you the option of discreet packaging.
PHAC also states that only 60% of 15- to 24-year-olds who were currently sexually active, used a condom the last time they had intercourse. The reasons for not using a condom comes mostly from “being in a monogamous relationship”, “using another method of contraception” and some seem to think they’re not at risk of a STI or pregnancy...Okay I can’t explain this rationality, but hopefully we’ve both been scared straight a bit.
If you have a latex allergy or sensitivity, there are other options too!
Polyurethane condoms which are made out of thin plastic
Polyisoprene condoms which are made from synthetic rubber and don’t cause an allergic reaction
Female/internal condoms are generally made from thin plastic
Just think - how much sexier is it to know you’re protected! Waiting to get your STI results back definitely isn’t a fun time to be. Next time you’re about to have penetrative sex and the person groans about not feeling good in a condom, maybe it’s time to reconsider your plans for the night.
So, to conclude:
Hey, go walk into that pharmacy and buy a big pack of condoms like it’s your business and no one else’s. Buying condoms means that you are responsible. Buying condoms does not mean that you are sex-crazed or promiscuous, that’s a major stigma that we need to dispel. But if you do feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way or for whatever reason, ask someone to buy for you. Or try ordering online.
The bottom line in my opinion is it's better to be responsible about sex than to pretend you are not having it at all. And if anyone thinks otherwise, well then, they do not deserve you!!
Female/internal condom and male/external condom
Editors: Lisa Hou, Dallas Barnes