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Why We Have Sex Without A Condom

Posted by Maureen Pollack on

Condoms are the only contraceptive method which provide a high degree of protection against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Yet, despite sex education emphasizing the importance of using condoms consistently during sex and the myriad of condom options available (including condoms intended to heighten the experience), the reality is that we don't always use condoms when we should.

Why do we have sex without a condom? And, perhaps more importantly, how do we make sure we use one every time from here on out?

Why We Have Unprotected Sex

Let's start with the most common reasons - in some cases, excuses - for why we have unprotected sex:

1. "I'm In A Monogamous Relationship"

If you're in a committed, trusting relationship, with less risk to acquire an STI, you and your partner/s may feel comfortable foregoing "dual protection" and relying on another form of contraception to protect against unwanted pregnancy. 

2. "I Want To 'Feel' My Partner"

Skin-to-skin contact can feel pretty darn good. But stop and think long and hard about if you’d be ready for the consequences of unprotected sex - pregnancy and/or STIs.

Is that feeling really worth it before you and your partner have been tested for STIs and confirmed use of another form of birth control?

Think long and hard

3. "It's Not A Big Risk"

Don't underestimate the risk of unprotected sex and contracting an STI just because you perceive your sexual partner to be low-risk or that they haven't experienced any recent symptoms of infection. It is a false sense of security.

According to the Center For Disease Control, in 2022, more than 2.5 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were reported in the United States. The spread of STIs isn't just a problem, it's a public health priority.

4. "I Was Drunk"

Alcohol and drug use impairs judgment and decision-making, leading to a higher likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex. Nobody's preaching for you to not have fun, but recognize the risks and do everything you can to always be prepared.

Look, I was drunk! by giphy

5. "I Thought He'd Pull Out" or "I Was On My Period"

Misconceptions about contraception, including beliefs that withdrawal or timing methods are equally effective as condoms, contribute to inconsistent condom use. Similarly, a lack of accurate information about the risks of STIs and the importance of barrier protection may also impact whether you believe a condom is necessary.

6. "I'm Afraid To Say No To My Partner"

Power imbalances within relationships can influence condom negotiation and use. Individuals may feel pressured to forego condoms due to fear of rejection, coercion, or violence from their partners. Remember that a good sex partner respects you, your desires, and your health.

7. "It Was My Partner's Responsibility To Bring The Condoms"

This one's easy: take responsibility for your own sexual health. You've undoubtedly heard the expression, "No glove, no love." But where do we draw the line when your partner reaches over and pulls out a condom that looks like it's from a nightclub machine? Be sure you're using the best body-safe, vegan condoms, buy, carry and use toxic-free condoms that are ideally suited for you and your partner.

8. "Impossible To Stop In The Heat Of The Moment"

Sometimes, even if you'd planned to use a condom, it can be really hard to stop, find a condom, open it up, and put it on in (often first this way, and then that way!) during the heat of the moment.

Here are a few tips to keep this from happening:

9. "I'm Such A Klutz With Condoms"

Unless and until you gain experience or confidence in buying, carrying, and using condoms correctly, including how to store, apply, and dispose of them, it's understandable why you might want to avoid the conversation around condoms, if not their use altogether.

You can avoid  some of the top 5 reasons why condoms fail by buying Buttercup Condoms that are easy to open and always right-side up - no teeth required to open and less user error because the tip is always up. 

3 Ultra-Thin, Easy-Open Buttercup Condoms In A Stylish, Empowering Tin

10. "I Don't Think My Partner Has An STI"

No, you can’t tell if someone has an STI by how they look. And you can't tell by knowing their body count or even who they’ve slept with. Many STIs are asymptomatic, plus you only need to have sex without a condom once to catch an STI. The only way to truly know if someone has an STI is to get tested.

11. "Condoms Give Me UTIs"

See #7, above. It's not uncommon for women to experience discomfort from condoms - whether its sensitivity to latex, insufficient lubrication, or unnecessary chemicals (like spermicide, flavors, and nitrosamines) - that leads to bacterial or yeast infections. Not all condoms are created equally and there's enough options out there for you to get this right with trial and error. 

Condoms should be body-safe for both partners

12. "I Can't Afford Condoms"

This is never an acceptable excuse for not using condoms. First and foremost, your health - physical and mental - are too important to not invest in condoms. A pack of 12 quality condoms that you'll feel good using will cost $10-15, not to mention that you can get them for free from any sexual health clinic such as Planned Parenthood.

A Side Note About Stealthing

Stealthing is the removal or tampering of a condom during sex without a partner’s consent (aka non-consensual condom removal). Imagine if you wouldn’t have sex with your partner unless he uses a condom, and he takes it off during sex without your consent - putting you at risk for unwanted pregnancy and/or STIs. Fortunately, the existence of this act is gaining attention, and the law is starting to recognize that the act of stealthing is indeed a form of sexual assault.

Turning It Around & Taking Charge

Without a doubt, condom use is a personal choice that requires you to consider many factors. Get to know the facts, look for a supportive, understanding partner, and feel empowered to make informed choices about your sexual health.

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