Sex advice: Nadia Bokody says sex without a condom is on the rise but the risks are high

There is a common trend with condoms that is dangerous and is only gaining popularity among young Australians.

“As if you were getting a massage while wearing a winter coat.”

It’s an analogy that’s not unfamiliar to many men, and part of a stand-up comedian, Ari Shaffir, became infamous for recounting his experiences with condoms.

“If you wear a condom, that means you don’t have to wear a condom the next nine times,” he jokes in another series.

This joke might have been met with hoarse laughter from the audience, but it’s not a joke.

Current statistics show that condom use continues to decline by gender, despite rising rates of STIs.

A 2021 article published in the journal sexologies found that, while 15-24 year olds account for about half of the total number of STI cases reported each year, only 41% report regular use of condoms.

“It just seems clinical. There’s something more intimate about that skin-to-skin contact,” one man shared about going without barrier protection when I posted an anonymous survey on Instagram.

Of more than 650 people surveyed, only 29% said they “always use condoms during sex”.

“I find it hard to be assertive when men ask not to wear one, and to be honest, impulsiveness plays a part too,” confessed another participant in the survey.

In fact, to the question “Have you ever had a partner who told you he couldn’t cum with a condom on?” 65% of people answered “yes”.

But while the old “I don’t feel anything with one” argument (essentially Shaffir’s “massage in a winter coat” metaphor) at one point had some truth to it, given the weight of latex condoms d Originally, modern manufacturing technology has indeed revolutionized the protective barrier.

For latex naysayers, alternative options like polyisoprene and AT-10 (a synthetic polyethylene resin) exist today, providing a more “naked” feel while achieving a thinner, more sensitive experience.

And thanks to funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which in 2015 called for a next-generation condom that would “preserve or dramatically enhance pleasure,” there are also even thinner versions in the works.

British researchers are currently exploring the use of graphene, a nanoscale material to produce the world’s lightest and most durable safe sex option, and a team of Australian scientists are working on a new material called “resistant hydrogel which could replace latex while providing additional sensitivity and comfort. , and lubrication.

As for people worried about “spoiling the moment”? The Kinsey Institute is evaluating options for a pull tab condom that could be opened and applied more effectively.

However, in the meantime at least, it looks like condoms still have a big PR problem to contend with.

An article published in AIDS and behavior found that the idea that only men wear condoms remains pervasive, as does the belief that condoms are a “hassle” or “inconvenient” and make sex less spontaneous.

But perhaps most striking is the fact that at the same time that STI rates are exploding (cases hit an all-time high for the sixth straight year last year in the United States according to CDC data, and increased steadily over the past five years). in Australia), knowledge about them – especially the risk of contracting them – remains low.

“When I see someone regularly, I usually stop using condoms, especially if they are on the pill,” one survey respondent revealed.

“I don’t sleep so I don’t really worry about STIs,” another shared.

It is clear that education on the role and function of the protective barrier is lacking; it is still believed that condoms are only a protection against pregnancy, and not one of the only truly effective ways to significantly reduce the risk of STI transmission.

There’s also an indisputable problem with the pressure women feel to give in to men who insist they can’t have a good time if they’re wearing protection. And it is an issue that needs to be addressed at a systemic level, starting with the dismantling of male sexual right and the burden of sexual responsibility on women.

Pursuing safer sex shouldn’t be a gender affair (nor a chivalrous act worthy of reward, as Shaffir satirically suggests).

Having sex with a condom is a commitment to protecting your health, as well as the health of your sexual partner and the wider community. And there’s nothing controversial or comical about it.

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