The holidays are here and that means more intimacy. Sex is often like a choose your own adventure book. As you come to the page where you and your partner are both sexually aroused enough to seek penetration, you must decide: do you rummage around your drawers, wallets, even back pockets, and then rip apart the foil packaging, releasing the pungent smell of latex and breaking the moment to insure safety and prevent pregnancy? Or do you slip easily together, without thought, to reap the full benefits of such intimacy and truly “feel” one another? Each “adventure” has its pros and cons.
For most, however, the cons of having unprotected sex far outweigh the pleasurable pros. With most STDs showing no symptoms, a low rate of STD testing, and an increasing amount of people engaging in intercourse with multiple partners, condom-free sex is a gamble more risky than 7 slots (no pun intended…). And yet, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, released by the University of Indiana this month, only 1 in 4 acts of sexual intercourse are condom protected. This could be due to many factors–ranging from awareness to availability, but more often than not, negligent condom usage harkens back to the pleasure myth I outlined above. A condom adds a third sort of “skin” between partners; it dulls the friction on the shaft and head of the penis and, often, leads to drying of the vaginal walls. As one man on an OkCupid forum asking “Does sex feel better without condoms?” so crudely put it, “Fucking yes sex better without condoms, why do you think men get married?”
But the NSSHB reports that “adults using a condom for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sexual extent positively in terms of arousal, pleasure and orgasm than when having intercourse without one.” Yes–sex CAN feel better without condoms, but it can feel just the same if not better with condoms, too–and it can be just as fun and sexy! (And you won’t wake up the next day with that impulse to call for STD testing the next morning.)