The Truth about Condoms

Sure, condoms are often thought of as male territory but the truth is, they're anything but. Which is why we're talking about them at a women's Website. In addition to the threat of HIV infection, there are millions of cases of other sexually transmitted diseases reported each year, and many of them are not easily detected, treatable or curable. So read up and be responsible for protecting yourself so that you can relax and enjoy your sexual experiences.

Fortunately, we've left the dark ages of ancient metal or rough cloth sheaths and now have at our disposable more than 100 brands of condoms. So how do you choose? According to the ''bible'' on contraceptives, Contraceptive Technology (17th edition), here are some facts about today's condoms:

Condom breakage:
''Uh oh, the condom broke'' is not a line you should be hearing or reciting. Most condom material is sturdy stuff. Most studies indicate that condoms break less than 2 percent of the time, especially the well-tested brands from the U.S. and Japan (these are the only ones I recommend, by the way). Rather, user failure is usually the culprit, with slippage being the main complaint (up to 13.1 percent).

Decreased sensation:
In fact, condoms do dull sensation for most men, which can be a turn-off for guys, understandably. But before you fall for his ''it's like taking a shower with a raincoat'' line, know that there are ways around this problem. You can excite him using your hands or mouth before putting on the condom, which he's sure to enjoy, but be sure to use the condom before any genital-to-genital contact. Also, keep in mind (and be sure to remind your partner in your most alluring manner) that turning down those arousing sensations by using a condom may help him sustain his erection longer, leading to greater pleasure and excitement for both of you.

One size fits most
Despite what you may hear, condoms do not suffocate a penis. Most latex condoms are about seven inches long and two inches in girth before they are stretched. They are designed to stretch over a horse's head, so if your man tries to protest using one by saying it's too small, blow one up for a party favor and see the truth. If that doesn't work and your man really does need more room, look for those varieties specifically designed for him, such as Maxx. Most of all, shop around and try different brands and types.

Material matters
Be sure to use latex or polyurethane varieties instead of all-natural types, such as lambskins, which have pores that permit the transmission of disease. Always use latex with water-based lubricants applied on the outside for easier movement plus a little dab on the inside tip for increasing his pleasure. The jury is still out on whether you should use a spermicidal lubed condom, as some research indicates that using one may increase the risk of the spread of disease, especially HIV. Obviously, using a spermicide has a positive effect on pregnancy prevention. You should know that condoms alone are 86 percent effective as a contraceptive.

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