They’re absolutely essential for the sexually active - or even about to be sexually active - woman, and they’re SO little talked about! Mostly hidden away behind counters at pharmacies, and the cause for so much staring if you do try to buy them at a store - condoms are pretty much “taboo” things even in the 21st century. And no one’s really willing to answer our questions about the what and how of them. But worry you not - here’s everything you need to know about condoms, and didn’t know whom to ask!
1. Why should I use them?
Because they’re the most effective method of protection when it comes to safeguarding yourself against both pregnancy and the vast majority of STDs. You’d be surprised at how many women experience not just pregnancy scares but also exposure to sexually transmitted infections. So, simple, really!
2. How to put one on correctly?
This is something that needs a fair bit of practice, and doesn't happen at one go. The best thing to do is for you and your guy to try it a few times. You can read our step-by-step-guide to using condoms here. You can also watch this video to see a demo of how to do it right.
3. Can I use a lubricant with a condom?
Yes, you can. External lubricants are meant to, uh, ease the various processes, after all. However, bear in mind that you can only use water-based lubricants with condoms - if you’re using oil or petroleum-based products such as Vaseline, they can react with the condom and render the latex porous or more prone to breakage. To be on the safe side, stick to a (tried and tested!) water-based lubricant such as this one.
4. What do “ribbed” and “dotted” mean?
Ribbed and dotted usually refer to the most common “textures” of condoms. Wherein the external surface of the condom is usually raised in a finely striped (“ribbed”) pattern or one with tiny circles (“dotted”). The idea is that the patterned condoms cause greater friction against his penis and your lady parts and provide more pleasure.
5. Flavoured? Long-last? What are those?
Yes, there are many other variants of condoms available, including flavoured and glow-in-the-dark ones. The former is supposed to mask the (not-so-nice) latex smell; the latter is coloured, so you have a guiding light in the dark, so to speak. Two other common types are ultra/ super-thin or long-lasting ones. Ultra thins - the phrase is self-explanatory! By virtue of being thinner than regular ones, they tend to provide “more” sensation - that is to say, both you and your partner are likely to, um, feel more. Long-lasting ones are usually coated on the inside with benzocaine or a similar chemical with anaesthetic properties - when this comes in contact with the penis, it acts as a numbing agent, which basically means that the guy’s pleasure sensation is slightly suppressed, allowing him to continue for longer without climaxing. Also, new in town: the condom with a vibrator ring! This one comes with a ring that you can fit at the base of the condom and turn on - leading to vibrations that enhance your pleasure and his!
6. What about size?
Despite “all men are equal” not being a universal truth when it comes to penis sizes, most Indian manufacturers and retailers of condoms tend to believe in the “one size fits all" maxim. Listen up - bad idea! Most condom “accidents” occur because of guys using the wrong size for them: if the condom is too big, it slips off; if it’s too small, it might get ripped or broken during the course of things. However, luckily for us all, things are changing - finally! You can now get “shaped” condoms for better fit, and also small and large ones in India. So choose carefully - or convince your guy to.
7. What if they hurt?
Most popular brands nowadays tend to have lubricated variants, so they shouldn’t hurt too much. And if they do, you’d be well-advised to use an external lubricant like we’ve mentioned before. However, a small percentage of women are actually allergic to latex (or the process by which the material is treated when a condom is manufactured). For those girls, the best option is a non-latex condom, such as one made out of polyurethane. They also tend to be slightly thinner than the average latex condom, so win-win!
8. What are female condoms?
Condoms for women, of course! No, seriously, that’s exactly what it is. Instead of going on a man’s penis, this one goes into a woman’s vagina. It comes with a closed end and an open end - the closed one is supposed to go inside, while the open one is supposed to settle on the outer edge of your vulva. Try one! (Doesn’t hurt to be prepared in case your guy isn’t, right?)
9. Should I use condoms for oral sex?
Yes, you ideally should, since many STDs can be transmitted via fluid exchange during oral sex too. That's when you make the most of those flavoured ones! However, if you're in a monogamous relationship (and you’re only sleeping with each other) and you've both been tested (and cleared), you could skip this one. (Never use long-last condoms during oral sex - those chemicals they’re coated with are meant for external use only, not oral ingestion!)
10. What should I do if a condom breaks?
If it's before intercourse, obviously you start afresh with a new one. If it's in the middle of things, you must wash yourself immediately and thoroughly. A viable option is to take an emergency contraceptive pill to safeguard against an unplanned pregnancy (it needs to be consumed no later than 72 hours after the act - and the sooner the better). However, this is not actually an alternative to using contraception in the first place, since repeated consumption can really mess around with your hormonal cycle. You can also take a home pregnancy test to put your mind at rest (approximately 21 days after the event). As well, you need to get yourself tested for STDs - just in case! And if you notice that this has happened more than once with the same brand or variant of condom, best to switch to a different one.
11. Anything else I should know?
Store condoms in a case or box of some kind or in the original packaging. It should not go directly into your bag since it's more likely to get bent or torn that way. And once you're done, make sure to wrap it up and seal it before chucking it. And, of course, always check the expiry date before use - like all things, condoms too have a shelf life, beyond which they are not effective at all!
MUST-READ: Everything You Need To Know About Getting Checked For STDs
MUST-READ: Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex But Didn’t Know Whom to Ask!
Published on Sep 14, 2015