Dear Dr. G,

I didn’t have a robust sex education in my earlier days, but I am still an absolute believer in safe sex.

Having said that, I am encountering dampening trouble with using barrier protection.

Therefore, I am hoping to get some advice from the expert.

I fully understand protecting myself and my loved ones from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy is crucial in a sexual relationship.

While appreciating condoms as being the only option for protection, I still have a bone to pick about such a barrier technique.

Despite multiple attempts in using the condom during intercourse, I found the rubber cumbersome and limited physical contact.

I am sure my girlfriend feels the same way, as many describe it as “eating candies with the wrappers on.”

I currently have a regular sexual partner, whom I trust without any sexually transmitted infection. However, I am still fearful of “unwrapping the candies” may lead to unwanted pregnancy.

Therefore, I would like to put Dr. G on the spot regarding the importance of condoms.

What exactly is the proportion of couples using condoms as contraception?

What are the risks of catching sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies with a regular sexual partner?

Is there any way of having the protection and still enjoying the sensitivity?

Lastly, are condoms really a fail-safe kind of protection?


Barriered Benjamin

A male condom is a sheath-shaped barrier device rolled onto an erect penis during penetrative intercourse. Such barriers reduce the probability of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Male condoms are typically made from latex and less commonly polyurethane. Condoms made from sheep intestine labelled “lambskin” are also available, based on the idea it provides a more natural sensation. In fact, lamb intestine condoms were recorded as a disease-prevention use at least since 1564 in China.

In the modern era, around 21% of those using birth control globally utilize condoms for contraception. This is the second-most common method of birth control after female fertilization at 24%. The highest rates of usage are East Asia, Europe and North America, with Japan recording the highest usage of up to 80%. Six to nine billion condoms are sold a year, making it one on the list of Essential Medicine for the World Health Organization.

The condom is designed to roll onto an erect penis before sexual intercourse to provide a physical barrier blocking semen transfer. Male condoms are undoubtedly the safest and overall effective form of birth control, withstanding 98% in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Typical usage of condoms, including incorrect usage, slippage (0.4-2.3%) and breakage (0.6-1.3%) can induce pregnancy rates ranging from 10% to 18% per year. The protection it provides is against sexually transmitted infections through bodily fluids including semen, vaginal secretion and blood. This modality of barrier technique is proven to prevent the spread of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis, citing risk reduction of 80-95%.

The protective efficacy of most condoms is ensured by the vigorous scrutiny of the FDA. All latex and polyurethane condoms are required to undergo the highest standard of quality testing, and the manufacturers had to endure random spot-checks to guarantee at least 996 of every 1000 condoms pass the water leak test before being considered safe to use.

The male barrier method is well described to interpose a mechanical barrier between sex partners, limiting the physical contact, reducing the tactile sensation and attenuating heat transduction during sex. The reduction in sexual pleasure, as compared to natural unprotected means, is one of the main reasons people cite for eschewing condom use. The description of “using a condom is like taking a shower with a raincoat on” or “eating candy with the wrapper on” typically depicts the feelings of men who loathe the rubber.

The manufacturers are constantly researching to provide condom that is safe and pleasure-giving. This ensures the barrier is like “having your cake and eating it too”, or in this case, “tasting the sweetness of candies even with the wrappers on”. The textured, bumpy, ribbed and stubbed rubbers are some of the creative condoms that promise to turn bedroom sparkles into magical fireworks, despite the diminished tactile contacts.

There is little doubt the use of condoms artifices natural sex, putting a dampener in intercourse. However, being the most effective and safe medicine needed for contraception and disease prevention, stringent proper use of such barrier is crucial despite dampening pleasure. In reality, there are many types of condoms that couples can choose from that can ensure safety that does not compromise on pleasure. The American poet, Ogden Nash, who is well known for his light verse, once rhymed: “Candy is Dandy” When Dr. G is put on the spot by raincoated men who are tempted to shower naked or have un-wrapped candies, his response is: “Un-wrapped candies are definitely not dandy when resulting in unintended daddies!”

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