So, you are a girl who wants to protect her health and minimize the chances of an unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are undoubtedly one of the best ways to prevent STIs, and is especially effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.
Condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancies and are widely available almost everywhere. You can pick up some condoms at a pharmacy, in groceries, and in many convenience stores. It is even possible to get free condoms at health centers, and possibly at schools, should the DOH’s new HIV prevention and sex education program pushes through.
So what should a modern Filipina know about condoms, other than the fact that they are great for preventing STIs?
Condoms Don’t Really Detract from the Experience
Even though many people seem to think that condoms desensitize the user, those who do use condoms regularly report that wearing one does little to reduce pleasure. Wearing condoms do not really detract from the overall experience and many couples report that there are minimal problems encountered during use.
If a man does experience discomfort while wearing a condom, it frequently points to more deep-seated issues. Psychology Today reports that men who dislike condoms are usually less sexually experienced and have insecurities regarding their erections.
To help ease your partner into the idea of wearing condoms, be supportive and educate him on the importance of wearing one. Reassure him that it will not feel awkward or uncomfortable.
But, if he still refuses to wear a condom, this may mean that he puts his own pleasure above your health and well-being. If that is the case, you may want to rethink your relationship.
Just don’t worry about how a condom would feel — be open, communicate, and focus on each other instead.
Try Different Condoms Until You Find a Brand You are Happy With
Of course, some people still encounter physical discomfort while wearing condoms, such as tight fitting condoms and latex allergies.
To avoid tight condoms, it is recommended that couples try out different brands to find one that has a good fit. Some brands are slightly larger and stretch more than others do, as each one uses a different mold during production.
Men with larger members may also want to try thicker condoms that have more give — thick condoms are easier to roll over an erection, as thin ones may snag or roll into themselves.
As for latex allergies, it is admittedly difficult to find non-latex condoms in the Philippines. The only brand available locally that I know of is the Japanese brand Okamoto, that offers polyurethane condoms. Unfortunately, it is not always in stock, and sometimes your best option is to buy them online.
Don’t Always Expect the Guy to Carry One
In the Philippines, men are usually the ones expected to provide a condom, if a couple plans to use it at all. Of course, problems arise when your partner forgets to bring a condom or purposely chooses to not to bring one.
This is why I encourage women to not be afraid of buying their own condoms. It is always a good idea to have a backup, rather than to be caught without one when you really need it. Don’t be afraid to store them — condoms have a shelf life of about three to five years, so it doesn’t hurt to always have a few on hand in your purse or wallet.
If you find it embarrassing to buy condoms, don’t be. Most people behind the cashier usually don’t care and often just stuff the condoms in a paper bag a fast as they can, out of sight, out of mind. I’ve done it for years and never once received a snide comment (though some will avoid eye contact with you while you are paying).
Use Condoms Even if You are Using Other Forms of Birth Control
You should be using condoms even if you are using other forms of birth control, such as the pill or the shot. More than preventing unwanted pregnancies, condoms are there to prevent the transmission of STIs.
After all, The Philippine Star reports that HIV is now a “youth epidemic”, with 55,000 Filipinos projected to be infected within this year. About half of those infected in the past few years are between the ages 15 to 30 years old. Those are some worrying statistics, which can be lowered if more people had themselves medically screened for STIs and used condoms consistently.
Always use condoms if you have a new partner or if neither one of you are screened and cleared of STIs. The last thing you want to do is to find yourself catching or passing on a disease suddenly.
Condoms Can’t Protect You from Everything (But They are Still Super Effective)Lastly, it is important to note that despite the efficacy of condoms in preventing STIs, they will not protect you from everything. Condoms are not some kind of magical force field that grants you immeasurable immunity. It is still possible to get genital warts and herpes while wearing a condom, because you only need skin contact to transmit these diseases.
You should also use condoms for oral sex, if you really want to be on the safe side. Some diseases, like gonorrhea and syphilis can be orally transmitted.
But don’t lose faith — remember that condoms are still ridiculously effective at protecting your health. They are still up to 99% effective at preventing the transmission of HIV. This is why a condom is still the best tool you have to prevent sexually transmitted infection, next to abstinence, that is.