Sex & Pancakes

Dear Melissa,

I totally know how to you use a condom. You just put it on and you’re good to go, right? Okay, so I made that question up. But with good reason! Over the past week, three people have asked me questions about condoms that I thought were general knowledge.

Apparently using condoms properly isn’t as obvious as I thought, and this has me worried.

To be fair, my idea of “general knowledge” might be skewed by the countless hours I spend Googling safer sex information, but I know that the majority of people have never even read the directions on the back of a condom wrapper.

By talking to the aforementioned three people, I’ve come to realize that even those who claim to be an “expert” on condom use are often missing some of the basics.

Far too many women I’ve spoken to justify their lack of condom knowledge by saying, “well, that’s the guy’s job.” I’m not even going to begin trying to analyze the problems with a statement like that. So I’ll just say this: by that logic, the guy might as well say, “well, that’s the girls job!” if you happen to get pregnant. (Guys—before you run and show your girlfriend that I said this—note the sarcasm.)

If both partners are educated on the matter, it will double the chances of avoiding any kind of mistake. So ladies, carry condoms and learn how to use them if you haven’t already.

Here are some basic do’s and don’t’s for everyone that missed out on condom 101. Always check the expiry date and pinch the tip of your condom to leave room for semen.

Don’t keep condoms in a wallet, because it will weaken them. Don’t double up condoms because it equates to double the friction, which results in double the chances of your condoms tearing and fucking you over. And no, you can’t use a condom twice— because of spillage and higher chances of tearing. Besides, condoms are cheap (sometimes free) and it’s just gross to reuse them anyways.

Don’t use flavoured condoms other than for oral sex, because the flavouring can cause yeast infections if used during penetration. Lastly, your plumber would appreciate if you refrain from flushing your used condoms down the toilet. Instead, wrap it up and put it in the garbage.

Condoms help protect against pregnancy and STIs, and they have a really high success rate when used properly. It’s been proven that the majority of times that condoms aren’t effective it isn’t because the condom itself failed, but rather the people using it didn’t use it properly or consistently.

So despite good intentions, using a condom might not mean you’re actually safe. In my experience, high school sex education in our province isn’t the most reliable and consistent source of information, so it’s really worth taking the time to seek answers to questions you may have.

—Melissa Fuller

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This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 24, published March 7, 2011.

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