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Archive for March, 2009

Jack and Diane Review – Lifestyle Ultra Lubricated

Posted by Jack & Diane on March 31, 2009

Little ditty…’bout Jack and Diane…and Lifestyle Ultra Lubricated.

 

As a quick review we have had the Dustin Pedroia of condoms…the ‘Lifestyle Skyn’ and the Mendoza line of condom’s in the ‘Skin Less Skin Crown Condom.’  For all of you who have no idea what I’m talking about… (The Mendoza Line is an informal term used in baseball when a position player’s batting average falls below the boundary between extremely poor and merely below-average offensive production.)  Our next stop is the ‘Lifestyle Ultra Lubricated.’  Let’s break it down…

 

  1. Throwing It On – 4 Points
    1. This condom is considered ‘ultra’ lubricated.  Come to think of it I don’t know the difference between lightly and ultra.  Anyways, this condom rolled on as we all expect condoms too, as opposed to being pulled on.  No pain and it didn’t ruin the moment.  Flat out from the male perspective this is all that matters. 
    2. Also, no strong order from the rubber or lube.  So we are two for two.
  2. During – 7 Total Points
    1. There was nothing but a pleasurable experience from both Jack & Diane as we both got into it and starting mixing up positions.
    2. The condom started going downhill as it started to slide off and bunch up near the tip.  You all know what I’m talking about as the condom starts to look like a tube sock you just took off after gym class.  So there was a need to readjust and pull it down.
  3. Finish – 4 Points
    1. The condom did not break, and the overall experience was above average.  The collection of the condom near the tip of the penis did cause some concern, but the condom did operate well. 

 

From the female perspective, Diane did not complain at all about the condom, so that can be considered a success as well.  This condom provided a pleasurable experience and the only thing we had to worry about was it bunching up towards the top.  Our advice to you all… worth the effort and the money.

 

OVERALL SCORE: 15 Points

Jack and Diane’s Running Scoreboard

 

      1 Point                             10 points                              20 points

Is this a trash bag?    Definitely wearing a condom,      Amazing – Isn’t

                                  but at least I’m getting laid         Safe Sex Great!

 

Lifestyle Skyn — 20 points

Crown Skin Less Skin — 10 points

Lifestyle Ultra Lubricated — 15 points

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Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Distribution and Availability, Education, Jack and Diane, Lubrication, Pleasure, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

“Sex sells everything — except safe sex itself”

Posted by Condomologist on March 31, 2009

Joan Smith makes the case in The Independent in favour of condom advertisements on television, per the British government’s advertising regulatory agency’s recommendation, noting the backwards rationale for what is and isn’t allowed on the telly: “This is an important public health issue, and it’s absurd in a culture where sex is used to sell just about everything that accurate advice on contraception and abortion is treated so gingerly. Visitors from another planet would scratch their heads on discovering that lap-dancing clubs and sex shops are allowed to operate on high streets, but products and agencies that aim to protect people from the unwanted effects of sex are subject to these regulations.”

Posted in Activism, News and Current Events, Policy | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Condom Labeling

Posted by Condomologist on March 30, 2009

News out of Canada has prominent researchers advocating for stricter and more accurate labeling on condom packaging to better convey the effectiveness/failure rates of condoms. They make a fair point in that condoms do break and their effectiveness varies according to many different factors, including correct usage, damaged latex, consistency of use, and — if their assumptions are correct, which is entirely possible — the quality of the particular brand or style being used. They also make the fair point that effectiveness/failure rates are typically based on studies done involving pregnancy, meaning how many women of out of 100 will get pregnant over the course of one year, and not STDs and HIV. And further complicating matters is the fact that some STDs are transmitted via fluids and other by skin-to-skin contact, so condoms’ effectiveness in preventing, say, herpes (skin-to-skin) differs from HIV (fluids).

But I’m curious what exact figures they would choose to put on the packaging, and how in the world would they make sense of the many contradictory studies which vary wildly in their conclusions about how effective condoms are. And the larger problem is that percentages and figures are not easily deduced from studies, because this research cannot be done in a laboratory. Pretty much all figures are based on self-reporting, which complicates things greatly. It’s incredibly difficult to decipher the numbers. If one partner is HIV+ and other HIV- and a study shows, as one of the researchers notes, 20% of those uninfected will contract HIV even when using condoms (I’m not sure which study she’s referring to, but I assure you other studies will question those numbers), we would have to know which condoms were used, if they were used correctly and every time, if lubricant was also used, if the sex they had was anal or vaginal intercourse, if the previously uninfected partner had another STD which may have made HIV transmission more likely, if the couple used condoms only upon ejaculation, etc. etc. The variables are too many to count. What kind of labeling would they consider important and how would they agree on the data?

The point is that condoms are highly effective in reducing the risk of pregnancy and STD transmission, which is what most condom labeling — at least in the States — already states, although some of my condoms at home do leave out the “highly” and “reducing risk” and simply say they’re “effective against pregnacy and STDs and HIV” — which, to be fair, is a bit misleading. I’m all for being as honest as possible, giving people the information and letting them make an informed decision. But if we get into details about whether a condom is 85% effective or 97% effective, we’re creating a whole new set of questions and concerns and debates that don’t seem to do anyone much good.

Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Lubrication, News and Current Events, Policy, Research and Study | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Incorrect Condom Usage

Posted by Condomologist on March 30, 2009

From the folks at Just Whatever comes this story as a warning against putting condoms on your head for sexual gratification. Sounds like a simple case of the user not following directions as indicated. This is one (and maybe only) instance of a case where condoms do not equal safer sex. 

 

killed-by-condom

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The Fear Factor Ain’t Working

Posted by Condomologist on March 28, 2009

Zack over at The New Gay just posted a piece called “Condoms: Why the hell aren’t you wearing them?” in which he adamantly calls for fellow gay guys to use condoms so they don’t contract HIV and eventually die. Not in so many words, but that’s the gist of it, and if you insist on going bareback with a casual partner, he’ll call you a “dumbass.” I’m treading in murky waters here, because I’m not gay, I don’t claim to speak to/for the gay community (though I do work for an agency devoted to LGBT health),  and I have a pretty good sense of how HIV and AIDS have devastated gay communities. But I still think it’s important to call people out when they lack the nuance and thoughtfulness necessary to gently  and constructively encourage people to use condoms more correctly and consistently — something Zack seems to be lacking in his condom rant.

He tells us that “[i]t is no longer a choice to wear condoms when having sex with someone of an unknown status. You just have to do it.” Well, you don’t have to do anything. It would be nice if we all wore condoms all the time, but sounding off with such a commandment is eerily similar to the scare-you-into-abstinence crowd. There are a number of reasons people choose not to wear condoms — although Zack tells us that “none of them trump the one very important reason to wear one…a matter of life and death” — and in doing so, they can still reduce their risk by having fewer partners; asking their partner if s/he’s been tested; getting tested and/or treated for STDs other than HIV; using lubricant to reduce tearing; having a partner pull out before ejaculation. Certainly using condoms (in conjunction with all else I mentioned) is ideal, but while he makes clear he doesn’t want to shame those already HIV+, shaming and guilt-tripping those who have unprotected sex isn’t any better.

Zack: “If you don’t have it, though, I’m sure all those [currently HIV+] would gladly do everything possible to make sure you don’t get it. The best way to do this? I’ll keep saying it. Wear condoms. Tell your friends to wear condoms. Go about your daily life as if this is an act akin to breathing.” He ponders why, with the bombardment of bland, absolute, fear-based safer sex messages our generation has grown up with, people still have condomless sex — and then he piles on with more of the same. It seems to me that if we’ve gotten the message of “condoms or death” or “abstinence or death” for quite some time and neither has worked, then it makes sense to rethink our approach and be a bit more sensitive to the realities on the ground.

He recalls a former partner who mocked his sense of responsibility for insisting on using a condom: “I would have rather he called me responsible for choosing not to shoot him with a gun or hit him with a car. I wouldn’t consider those lethal acts to be anything less than off-limits in my own moral compass. Condom use should be considered the same way.” Well that’s his moral compass, but imposing that on others who are morally decent human beings seems crass, insensitive and unproductive. The fact is that most people — gay or straight — are aware of the protective benefits of condoms, and most people would rather not contract HIV. But to imply, as Zack does, that the younger gay generation does a disservice to older gay men who lived through the horrors of AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s when they have unprotected sex seems an unfair guilty burden to place upon them. Without question, the contributions of older gay men should be honored and respected, but it’s too simplistic to just say, Isn’t their experience lesson enough for you to start protecting yourself?

Rather let’s explore some of the underlying reasons gay men are engaging in risky behaviour. The shame and stigma of being gay in our society that leads to living often closeted lives of depression, confusion, and anger, thus men being less able and willing to negotiate condom use. The incredibly high rates of homelessness in the LGBT community that leads to survival sex on the streets. The homophobia particular to black and Latino communities where HIV is wildly disproportionately devastating young men who have sex with men (and women as well). Drug and alcohol abuse and use during sexual encounters.  Perpetuating myths, as he does in his piece, that men can’t contract HIV if they are topping (insertive partner) — while it’s certainly less risky than bottoming, if only bottoms contracted HIV, how to explain the recent studies which show circumcision as a clear protective factor against contracting HIV? The poor job we do in getting the message across that there are a range of condoms one can use, and certain styles/brands and the addition of lube on the inside of a condom that can make sex with a condom far more enjoyable. The list goes on.

I’m with you, Zack, in that we need to increase the consistent and correct use of condoms, and I applaud you for your ability to adamantly insist on condoms with such consistency. And being a straight guy, I’ll take the heat for jumping into this discussion. But I refuse to stand by while you imply that anyone who doesn’t follow your lead is a dumbass.

Posted in Activism, Condom Brands and Styles, Lubrication, Pleasure | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Turning on the turn-offs

Posted by Condomologist on March 27, 2009

Women’s Health takes time out from helping newlyweds to cheat-proof their marriage, work their abs into a six-pack, and have the most mind-blowing sex of all time — and they took a gander at the condom turn-off study I recently discussed. Alongside a very brief overview of some of the findings, they provide some tips to overcome those turn-offs, and I must say, I appreciate their advice (albeit by way of the Kinsey Institute) and its brevity. Sometimes we get too wordy and detailed in spouting off our sexpertise and it can get lost on the reader/listener, and while I could nit-pick all day long, they hit on some of my favorite not-so-well-known tidbits: silicone lube, condoms with a roomier head, and of course, experimenting with different condoms to find what’s best.

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More backside pleasure

Posted by Condomologist on March 27, 2009

Below is the complimentary video — hinting that you need lube for anal sex — to the print ad campaign from Durex I posted a few days ago. Sometimes we just like our partner’s bum. Turning things around might not be the norm, but it’s becoming much more common than you think in the hetero world.

 

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The Scientifically Inept Crowd

Posted by Condomologist on March 27, 2009

Decided to go perusing some of the conservative blogs and came across American Thinker, self-described as “devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans.” On this site is a piece by Ben-Peter Terpstra entitled “Condoms don’t protect souls.” Leaving aside what that title means (because I have no idea), I think it important from time to time to understand what I’m up against in the fight to promote condoms from a sex-positive perspective that says condom use is actually a healthy choice to make if one engages is penetrative sex. It’s fair to make the argument that abstinence is the best policy, that condoms are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy or STDs — and certainly some infections are transmitted more easily even with a condom on, because they can be passed through skin-to-skin contact — but the dishonesty is so scary when you stop to read what kind of supposed evidence is put forth to support the anti-condom stance.  The money quotes are too many to number, but here’s a taste, and note the underlying homophobia:

Some rational logic: “You’ll notice that liberals embrace the Don’t Theology when their precious political cushions are at risk. “Don’t. Don’t.  Don’t. Don’t watch Fox News. Don’t Read Ann Coulter’s Guilty. Don’t drive to work.” Miraculously, though, the Don’t Theology becomes simplistic when Evangelicals, Catholics or Mormons encourage their daughters to abstain from sleeping with street gangs.”

Apparently I represent lefty celebrities: “Hollywood thinks it knows better than us — and can afford the pills. How? By rarely, if ever, acknowledging that Jesus Christ knows more than Elton John. By rarely, if ever, questioning the condom industry. By rarely, if ever, admitting that that Christians are right. (Newsflash: Sexual promiscuity and poverty are lovers.)  By rarely if ever, thinking outside their studio boxes.”

Oh, those silly gays: “And, if after millions of dollars, quilting workshop marches, embarrassing propaganda movies, and street booty exhibitions, thousands of San Francisco’s gay men don’t know how to put on a condom, then doesn’t that suggest the Pope is right?”

But aside from the empty rhetoric, it’s willingness to twist evidence to fit one’s point of view that is so egregious. He quotes Dr. Judith Riesman (doctorate in communications), who tells us that a 2001 NIH report on condoms reveals “it turns out that while STD infections are a principal cause of women’s sterility, chronic disease and early death, condoms afford girls and women categorically no protection from seven of the eight STD’s studied, even when used faultlessly 100 percent of the time [and] [c]ondoms may curb gonorrhea in heterosexual intercourse – but only for men!” She goes on with more misleading shenanigans, failing at any point to footnote her sources, but the point is that people take her for her word; she is a doctor after all. And while we on the left fall victim to the same amateur willingness to only quote sources that support our underlying belief system, we must realize that these are matters of life and death and thus deserve serious investigation and scholarship.

The Guttmacher Institute takes a bit more thorough look at this same report and while they acknowledge that data was insufficient to prove that condoms prevent transmission of 6 of the 8 STDs studied — and their attempts to prove the effectiveness of condoms are dubious at best — they note that the report states that “the absence of definitive conclusions reflected inadequacies of the evidence available and should not be interpreted as proof of the adequacy or inadequacy of the condom to reduce the risk of STDs other than HIV transmission in men and women and gonorrhea in men.” Most importantly, they tell us that “..the inadequacy of the data should not be interpreted as indicating the inadequacy of condoms. Deliberate attempts to characterize the evidence as demonstrating the ‘ineffectiveness of condoms’ constitute a misunderstanding of what the report states. Moreover, such misrepresentation can undermine the public’s confidence in condoms, thereby leading to nonuse and to further spread of STIs and HIV.”

Both sides make grand conclusions because they’re so scared of the opposition scoring points in the battle to win over the general public. But this case is one example where the efforts to twist the evidence have much more serious consequences when the anti-condom crowd infers that lack of data supporting the effectiveness of condoms essentially renders them useless, all in order to promote their abstinence agenda. And in the process, they make some pretty ugly remarks about those of us who simply aim to improve the sexual health of our fellow citizens. 

 

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UK to Relax Condom Advertising Regulations

Posted by Condomologist on March 26, 2009

Tomorrow, the UK government’s advertising agency will recommend that longstanding regulations preventing condom adverts from television before 9pm should be relaxed. Under proposed new rules, condom commercials can be aired throughout the day, though not during programming aimed at very young (u-10) audiences. Brandrepublic notes that this coincides with the launch of what they’re calling one of the “raciest commercials ever made,” an ad for the relatively new Lifestyles Skyn condom (seen below), a non-latex style made of polyisoprene. My condom reviewers Jack and Diane may or may not condone the explicit nature of the ad, but they sure do love this condom. You be the judge.

 

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Priceless Protection

Posted by Condomologist on March 26, 2009

We in sexual health often neglect the fact that one of the best possible ways to reduce risk  and rates of HIV (and other STD) transmission is to speak out against homophobia and reduce the shame and stigma attached to being gay, so men who have sex with men can one day grow up to feel normal in their own skin. Allow them to live their lives openly, proudly, out to the whole world, and I assure you they’ll be more likely to negotiate use of condoms and reduce their high-risk behaviour. It’s that important, people. So fuck it, today I’m going to be preachy.

Stop saying, It’s so gay. Start calling people out for mocking  fags and dykes and disowning their own family members or pretending that your gay cousin still might find the woman of his dreams. Let it be known you support gay marriage. Tell your religiously hate-fueled friends that condemning homosexuality isn’t at all what Jesus would do. And start treating LGBTQ folk as the human beings that they are. It’s not that difficult, and it will make you feel a whole lot better. More importantly, it will save and improve a great many lives.

I’m just saying…

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