“We’re lesbians. Should we use a condom?” “If we’re not going to engage in penetration, do we need a condom?” “Should I put a condom on my girlfriend to give her oral sex?” These and many other questions flood Google searches and are repeated on Instagram forums.
International Condom Day is celebrated on February 13, and sexologist Akiko Bonilla, the comprehensive sexuality education coordinator at the México Vivo Foundation, helps us to resolve these doubts.
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They’re not just contraceptives
“It’s important to start by clarifying that condoms aren’t just contraceptives. In fact, their main role is preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs),” she says.
According to statistics from the Mexico City Youth Institute (INJUVE), 42% of young people in Mexico have used some method of contraception, of which the male condom is the most well-known.
Although the figures place the condom as the most popular method, there are still many doubts regarding its use.
According to data released by the México Vivo Foundation, it’s estimated that more than half of young people in Mexico do not use contraception during sexual intercourse.
Rodrigo Moheno, the general secretary of the foundation, said in a statement that only 42% of young people have used any method of contraception, despite the fact that 84% of people between the ages 12 of 29 are aware of methods of contraception.
Condoms are not just for penises
“The condom is a tool for all physical configurations, and it applies to all couples: lesbian, gay, or straight,” Akiko says.
In the case of lesbian couples, a very common myth has emerged. Since there’s no penis involved, they think that condoms aren’t necessary, but the expert says that, “condoms should be used in all penetrative practices.”
If a couple is going to use a sex toy, it’s important that they use a different condom every time they touch the toy, and a different condom for each user. This applies even if the toy isn’t going to be shared.
“The use of condoms is recommended with all sex toys, even when they’re not shared, because they’re not always completely clean, or they might be dropped during play, or have been in contact with blankets and they might have fluff or dog and cat hair on them.”
Condoms are fully sterilized and lubricated, says Akiko, and they can even have other advantages such as a warming sensation or different textures. That’s why you should use them during any type of penetration.
One of the most common myths within eroticism is that oral sex is safe, and it’s not. Although there’s no risk of pregnancy, there is a risk of sexually transmitted infections.
“It’s neither hygienic nor healthy to have direct contact with bodily fluids,” explains the sexologist.
Another one of the most common doubts regarding oral sex is the use of a condom on the vulva. “We recommend dental dams or latex sheets for this practice, through which you can have oral stimulation without direct oral-genital contact,” she says.
That same sheet should also be used on the anus, in the case of oral stimulation practices.
If I/we already have an STD, do condoms still work?
“Love and trust aren’t vaccines against an infection. It’s better to take care of our health and our bodies,” says the sexologist.
In the event of a sexually transmitted infection of one or both parties, or if one member of the relationship practices polyamory, efforts must be redoubled. “If I love myself, I take care of myself. If I love you, I take care of you,” says Akiko.
The use of condoms is an act of self-love and of shared love. They must be used to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and, if these are already present, to prevent reinfections or comorbidities such as an infection which occurs at the same time as another infection.
On International Condom Day, sexologist Akiko Bonilla says that, “We cannot leave the responsibility of our health in the hands of others. Always carry a condom, whether you’re a man or a woman.”