Ashera is a Marriage and Family Therapist with an extensive background in sexual health education. You can ask her stuff anonymously and she won’t get weirded out. Seriously, try her. Send your questioning queries to bee@qweencity.com.

Dear Smashera,

I have to stop using hormonal birth control for health reasons, but my boyfriend and I have never really used condoms so I don’t know where to start.  What can I do?

Sincerely,
Unprotected

Dear Unprotected,

If you’re adverse to using condoms, you could consider getting a Paragard IUD. It’s copper only and has no hormones. A doctor inserts it into your cervix and you’re protected from pregnancy for up to twelve years. They’re super effective (99%!!!), although they can have some side effects, namely Niagara Falls-like periods, especially for the first few months. This doesn’t happen to everybody, but it does happen. If you go the IUD route, it’s important to monitor it. It’s uncommon, but IUDs can migrate into the uterine wall and do some serious damage. A gynecologist can explain all the ins and outs of having an IUD and what to watch out for.

If you don’t want to undergo a procedure like getting an IUD, condoms are your best bet. There are a couple of Life Hax that can make using them a lot more enjoyable, but first let’s go over some basics real quick.

HOW TO USE A CONDOM:

1) Check the expiration date. They all have one printed somewhere on that little foil wrapping, so check it out! Don’t use ones that are out of date because obviously.

2)  Look for an air bubble! If it’s not squishy, it might be punctured. Nobody wants a punctured condom. Also, don’t keep those things in your wallet. Wallets are where condoms go to die :c

3)  Open it with your fingers! Don’t try and get sexy and rip it open with your teeth. You’ll get lube and latex all up in your grill and you’ll probably rip it. Don’t pull out scissors or knives either. Just open it like a normal person.

4)  Check to see which way it unrolls. Straight out of the package, it looks like a little sombrero. Pinch it at the top and see which way it goes. You don’t want to flip flop and fumble all over somebody’s genitals with it.

5)  Keep the top pinched to create a reservoir tip and roll it down over the penis. The reservoir tip is super important for both comfort and protection. The head of the penis has the most nerve endings, so having a condom shrinky-dinked over it is way less than comfortable. Also, it’s liable to break during ejaculation if it’s too tight.

6)  When you’re done using it, throw it out into a garbage can. Don’t throw it on Allen Street or somewhere creative. Don’t even think about flushing it. It will clog up your plumbing and you’ll have to have an awkward conversation with your landlord, roommate, mom, or plumber.

7)  Please don’t get creative and try to use multiple condoms at once. You won’t be twice as safe, you’ll be twice as stupid because they will most definitely break.

Okay, onto the HAX!

First of all, make sure the brand of condom you’re using is a good fit. Those mamma jammas come in all sorts of sizes, colors, textures, and materials, so one brand may not be ideal for your needs whereas another is *perfect.* Shopping around doesn’t need to break the bank, either. Plenty of brands sell variety packs, which can be an interesting way to spice up your sex life. Will today be a warming lube day or a ribbed pleasure day? It’s a roll of the dice!

You can also scoop condoms FOR FREE at places like Planned Parenthood and Evergreen Health Services. Some bars also keep buckets of condoms out all the time, distributed by the NYS Department of Health, of course. Your doctor may also have some on hand. It never hurts to ask.

Using lubrication can also make things go a lot more smoothly. Make sure that you’re using water- or silicone-based lube, as oil-based will break down latex and cause the condom to break. Also, don’t use silicone-based lubricant if you’re using sex toys because it might break down the material and then you will cry. Water-based is always safe, though.

Throwing just a few drops of lube on the inside of the condom in the reservoir tip can add a lot more pleasure on the penis-side of your sexual encounter.  Remember how we talked about how the head of the penis has the most nerve endings so you don’t want to shrinky-dink it?  Yeah, same principal here.  Adding a bit of moisture can help things out tremendously, making sex feel almost condom-less.

A lesser-known alternative is the female condom or FC2.  These are a great choice for people with a latex allergy or that experience erectile dysfunction.  The FC2 can be inserted hours ahead of time, so sex can feel a bit more spontaneous.  It’s made of nitrile, which is super soft and warms to your body temperature, so it feels pretty natural.  The outer ring can also provide additional clitoral stimulation, so bonus!  Because people are unfamiliar with them, it can be helpful to check out a few YouTube tutorials or the FC2 website before you go to town.

The key to using condoms is practice and consistency.  Practice putting male condoms on a sex toy or inserting the FC2 at home and then it will be a lot more comfortable whipping it out when you’re with your partner.  Happy experimenting!

Kisses,

Smashera