Sex advice: Nadia Bokody says condomless sex is on the rise, but the risks are high

There is a common trend with condoms that is dangerous and it is only getting more popular with young Australians.

“Like getting a massage while wearing a winter coat.”

It’s an analogy that many men are not unfamiliar with, and part of a stand-up comedian Ari Shaffir has become infamous for sharing his experiences using condoms.

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

This prankster may have been met with raucous laughter from the audience, but it’s not a joke.

Current statistics show that condom use between men and women continues to decline, despite rising STD rates.

A 2021 article published in the magazine sexology found that while 15- to 24-year-olds account for about half of the total number of STI cases reported annually, only 41 percent say they use condoms regularly.

“It just feels clinical. There’s something more intimate about that skin-to-skin contact,” one man explained about his choice to go barrier-free when I posted an anonymous survey on Instagram.

Of the more than 650 respondents, only 29 percent said they “always use condoms during sex.”

“I find it hard to stand up for myself when men ask me not to wear one, and to be honest, impulsiveness plays a part too,” another survey participant confessed.

When asked, “Have you ever had a partner tell you they couldn’t climax with a condom on?”, 65 percent of people answered “yes.”

But while the old “I can’t feel anything with an on” argument (basically Shaffir’s “massage in a winter coat” metaphor) had some truth to it at one point, given the weight of the original latex condoms, modern manufacturing technology has a real revolutionized barrier protection.

For latex counterparts, alternative options exist today such as polyisoprene and AT-10 (a synthetic polyethylene resin), which provide a more “naked” feel by achieving a thinner, more sensitive experience.

And thanks to funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which launched a call in 2015 for a next-generation condom that “would significantly preserve or enhance pleasure,” thinner versions are in the works, too.

British researchers are currently investigating the use of graphene, a nanoscale material to produce the world’s most lightweight, durable, safe-sex option, and a team of Australian scientists are working on a new material called “tough hydrogel” that could replace latex while adding extra provides sensitivity, comfort, and lubrication.

As for people who worry about “ruining the moment”? The Kinsey Institute is exploring the potential for a pull-tab condom that can be opened and applied more efficiently.

In the meantime, though, it seems like condoms still have a pretty big PR problem to contend with.

A paper published in AIDS and behavior found that the idea that only men wear condoms is ubiquitous, as is the belief that condoms are a “hassle” or “clunky” and make sex feel less spontaneous.

Perhaps most notable, however, is the fact that at the same time as the STD rate exploded (a record number of cases reached the U.S. for the sixth straight year, according to CDC data, and has steadily risen over the past five years) in Australia ), knowledge about them – especially the risk of contracting them – remains low.

“If I see someone regularly, I usually stop using condoms, especially if they’re on the Pill,” one survey respondent revealed.

“I don’t sleep around, so I’m not really worried about STDs,” explains another.

It is clear that education about the role and function of barrier protection is lacking; There is a persistent belief that condoms are just a protection against pregnancy, and not one of the only truly effective ways to dramatically reduce the risk of STD transmission.

There’s also an undeniable problem with the pressure women feel to indulge men who insist they can’t have fun wearing a protection. And this is an issue that needs to be addressed at a systemic level, starting with the dismantling of male sexual rights and the responsibility of sexual responsibility that rests on women.

The pursuit of safe sex should not be a gendered affair (nor a chivalrous act worthy of a reward, as Shaffir satirically suggests).

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

Follow Nadia Bokody on Instagram and YouTube for more content about sex, relationships and mental health.

Leave a Comment