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Learn some sex ed

Sensis condom testers wanted!

Posted by Condomologist on June 16, 2009

As I wrote about awhile back, there’s a new condom on the market called Sensis, which promotes its QuickStrips technology as a foolproof way to put on a condom without the fumbling and bumbling associated with other condoms. I’ll admit that putting on a condom is not the easiest of tasks, so while I mocked it a bit in my previous post, I’m willing to give these condoms their props if the people respond. If you’ve used one already, please give me your feedback. And if you want a free sample, I’ll happily send you the one I just received in the mail. Just shoot me an email. I’ll leave you with the write-up from the insert that came along with my sample.

Because of the new Quickstrips technology, condom application is quick and secure every time. The tabs mean no more fumbling to figure out which side is correct — a true benefit since 30% of the time users initially put condoms on incorrectly and then have to flip it, at which point it’s contaminated. Given your hands don’t even have to touch the condom you avoid nicks and breaks plus the lubricant stays on the condom — no messy hands. As one user said, “This is great because even drunk in the dark, I can get this on!” Like we said, “Quick, easy, safe, secure.”

I’ll simply point out — especially in the wake of the withdrawal effectiveness debate — that studies have shown that pre-cum does not contain sperm, despite what most people in the sex ed world will tell you, unless the sperm comes from a previous ejaculation where the man has not cleared his urethra by urinating. So the chances that putting a condom on upside down, then quickly realizing the error and putting it on correctly, will lead to pregnancy is slim-to-none. But like I said, if folks want Quickstrips for ease of use, then let them have Quickstrips.

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Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Distribution and Availability, Education, Marketing, Research and Study, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Withdrawal as effective as condoms. Let’s be honest.

Posted by Condomologist on June 9, 2009

While I try to stay focused on condoms on the blog, the fact is that such a focus stems from my larger goal of promoting safer, more responsible sex. And that means providing a forum in which I discuss a means of contraception that can prevent both pregnancy and STDs. But occasionally the word “condom” keeps popping up amidst discussion of some other related topic — in this case the act of withdrawal, or “pulling out”, prior to ejaculation as a means to prevent pregnancy — and I can’t ignore it. The blogosphere is rife with debate and commentary since a piece came out in the June issue of the journal Contraception outlining data which shows withdrawal to be comparably effective to condoms: Couples will get pregnant 18% of the time with typical use of withdrawal, compared to 17% of condom users.  Props to my hometown Philadelphia Inquirer not just for summarizing the issue fairly well, but for highlighting the hypocrisy and dangerous views of some of the sex-postive sexual educator crowd. 

Science isn’t perfect here, as the data collection methods leave something to be desired in terms of providing greater insight and detail into how exclusively withdrawal is used, how exactly it’s used, how often it’s even reported as a method of contraception…but I won’t get into details, as the larger point stands that withdrawal is not only a decent option, but it’s fairly commonly used. Check out the blog from one of the co-authors of the study for a good synopsis of the debate. My goal is simply to bring awareness to the issue and make the point that we need to start addressing all forms of contraception openly and honestly and then believe that users — young people included — have the ability to make an informed decision. That includes information on condoms, of course, and it definitely includes information on abstinence and monogamy.

Still, we see and hear too much from professionals in my field espousing their own personal biases and essentially committing the same sin as the abstinence-only crowd by denying their students the truth — something they vehemently claim to support and practice. Case in point, from the above Philadelphia Inquirer article:

“I’m certainly not outraged by the article, but I’m concerned about how it could be interpreted,” said Dayle Steinberg, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “The whole thing about withdrawal is that it’s hard to control yourself when you’re in the middle of the act. For someone who has no access to anything else, sure, it’s better than nothing.”

The “better than nothing” rap is one of several misconceptions about withdrawal, Jones and her coauthors say.

Really, the CEO of Planned Parenthood, for which I volunteer as an educator, is on record as saying withdrawal is simply “better than nothing?” She’s not arguing with the data — although, to be clear, Planned Parenthood hasn’t yet updated their website to account for this story, which summarizes data which has been around for quite some time — but rather arguing that men simply aren’t that good at controlling themselves. Well most men I know do know when they’re about to ejaculate, but regardless, the point here is that the numbers speak for themselves.

But Steinberg is not alone, and her company includes other very prominent sex educators:

“For plenty of young couples using withdrawal, it doesn’t take long to get to a time when a male partner decides to go without withdrawing on purpose – often without consulting his partner,” wrote Heather Corinna, a Seattle sex educator who runs Scarleteen.com, a popular sex advice Web site.

Yikes! All the comprehensive sex ed crowd is running for cover, quick to rationalize their years of avoiding the withdrawal discussion with stories of irresponsible, incompetent men who can’t be counted on to make withdrawal effective. It’s fair to mention the downsides of a contraceptive method, as Steinberg sort of does, and as we all do in our programming. But if we’ve reached the point where we’re essentially telling women that men can’t be trusted and that their intentions are selfish — and, as such, implying that men have little role to play in the safer sex process — then we’re a long way from doing our job.

Part of our failure to find common ground with the abstinence-only crowd is a failure to address the need to address the cultural values and sexual mores of young people that contribute to astronomical teen pregnancy rates in this country. And one step in that huge process of achieving meaningful dialogue involves accepting young people’s sexuality while encouraging them to engage in meaningful relationships in which they can communicate with and trust their partners. Achieving progress on that front means continuing on with our goal of making sexuality less taboo, but in the process treating teens like human beings capable of making difficult decisions; that might (and often should) mean postponing sexual intercourse until they’ve known their partner for some time, and then it will follow that, if and when they engage in vaginal intercourse, they’re able to discuss condoms, rings, patches, IUDs, pills, and — yes! — withdrawal. But as long as men are pushed to the side and dismissed as pointless in the reproductive health world, and as long as we condescendingly treat young people as not worthy of science-based information, then we have a long, long way to go.

Posted in Activism, Communication, Education, News and Current Events | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Condoms for Sex Toys

Posted by Condomologist on June 1, 2009

A friend reminded me today of how handy condoms can be for women when masturbating with a dildo or vibrator. They make for far less clean-up, and when shared amongst partners, they can reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections when new ones are used with each partner. She also wondered whether reuse of her vibrator, sans condom, could possibly contribute to recurring yeast infections in the event that one has a yeast infection, uses the sex toy, and then when using it again exacerbates the infection. Just something to consider when you’re getting your masturbation on.

Posted in Education, Pleasure | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Rock Legend Michael Sweet Says…

Posted by Condomologist on May 12, 2009

“Ain’t no safe way.” From 1994 comes this gem, via Video Sift, that I imagine must be used somewhere as a teaching tool in an ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage lesson, scaring the kids into recognizing that there “ain’t no safe way anymore/you got people with one, two, three, and four”…Kids? Infections? Condoms in their pocket? Warts on their genitals? I don’t know what the people have, but Sweet does make clear that you “better change your desire/or the hard way you will learn.” At least give the kids an alternative to intercourse if you’re going to nonsensically urge them to change their desire — you know, like masturbation or heavy petting or necking or whatever the kids are doing other than vaginal intercourse these days. (I learned a new one the other day: Apparently some douche bag guys at the douchey prep school I went to just got in big trouble for playing Stone Face with a young lady after-hours in the school cafeteria. I’ll send you a condom-related gadget if you can tell me what said game involves. I’m wondering yet if there’s hope for our youth after hearing this one.) Anyway, I thought it funny the tags attached to this video over at Video Sift: “terrible, christian rock, condoms, bullshit.” I concur. Other than those sentiments, I’m speechless.

 

Posted in Activism, Education, Videos | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama’s Budget and Sexual Health Education

Posted by Condomologist on May 8, 2009

There’s no doubt uproar and anger upon reading any President’s proposed annual budget — and make no mistake, the Democrats and Republicans both have a lot of beef this year — but it’s hard to argue with the intentions of this administration when it comes to promoting evidence-based, comprehensive sexuality education — and maybe more importantly, eliminating funding for abstinence-only education. No doubt some are already arguing he’s not allocating enough resources to the struggle to reduce unintended pregnancies and prevent HIV transmission both here and abroad — and maybe they’re right — but at least his heart and mind are in the right place. From the insanely long budget comes this nugget:

“The 2010 Budget proposes a new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative to support community-based and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence-based and promising models. In addition, a new Strengthening Communities Fund will help build the capacity of non-profit organizations and State, Local and Tribal entities to better serve low-income and disadvantaged populations. This Budget also proposes funding for (1) a new child welfare initiative, and (2) a human services case management system for Federally-declared disasters. This Budget eliminates funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education, the mandatory Title V Abstinence Education program, the Compassion Capital Fund, and Rural Community Facilities.”

Posted in Education, News and Current Events, Policy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

We missed you Bristol and Levi

Posted by Condomologist on May 7, 2009

Sorry to my few loyal readers for leaving you hanging these past 5 days or so. I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful summit focused on advocating for change in foreign policy to promote healthier lives for women across the globe. Thanks to the folks at CHANGE and all the dedicated, passionate participants who made my stay in DC an energizing, exciting few days. Upon reflection, I really needed some rejuvenation away from the day-to-day work I enjoy so much, and this trip provided just that. And part of clearing my head was not blogging. If only I had assistants, like Andrew Sullivan does, to keep the thing going while I take time off…Oh, my bad, back to condoms.

When Levi Johnston — he of Bristol and Sarah Palin fame — made his way unexpectedly into our lives during the terrifying campaign of the Alaska governor last fall, I would’ve said with 100% certainty that I would never prop up his words on sexuality education as a model of insight and thoughtfulness. How wrong I was. It’s sad that Levi and Bristol are more concerned with petty spats than coming together for their son, but their respective craving of the spotlight has at least brought the question of abstinence education to a mainstream media too often lacking any substance. I know, it’s still People mag-type journalism (wow,  I sure do miss reading said trashy magazine at my parents’ house every week), but it’s news nonetheless. And let’s not forget that while Bristol now advocates for abstinence as the right and realistic way to prevent pregnancy, a few months ago she was telling Greta Van Susteren a different story.

Posted in Activism, Education, News and Current Events, Videos | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Condoms for BJs?

Posted by Condomologist on May 2, 2009

That’s a question constantly popping up in the sexual health world. To be clear, you can definitely contract STDs other than HIV — and none of us are excited to get Herpes or Syphilis or chlamydia of the throat — but because of its severity, getting to the bottom of the question of whether HIV can be transmitted to the performer/receptive partner of oral sex on a man with ejaculation…it’s kinda worth knowing. In the past, I’ve been rather flippant when it comes to using flavored condoms for blow jobs, because a) so few people do it because it doesn’t feel that good and b) no one can definitively point to a case where HIV’s been transmitted that way. So recently I came across a panel discussion between some people with fancy degrees from 6 years ago addressing just this question, and as I said to a colleague, Depending on your state of mind, reading it is either fascinating or maddening. Basically they can barely come to any reasonable conclusion. If you’ve got the time, and this stuff interests you, take a look. If you don’t have the time, I’ll just say that some experts think it definitely happens (though rarely) and others aren’t so sure. Either way, it’s very low risk. Or is it extremely low risk? Or relatively low risk? It’s amusing to picture these doctors arguing over semantics like that, but it’s exactly what they do.

Posted in Condom Brands and Styles, Education, Pleasure, Research and Study | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ole, ole, ole, ole

Posted by Condomologist on April 27, 2009

A Mexican team of activists takes to the roads of Central America in their condom mobile, with stops in Guatemala, El Salvado, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama to promote safer sex and, equally importantly, encourage people to get tested for HIV and know their status. The trip is set to coincide with the 1st Central American Summit on Rapid HIV Testing April 27-28 in Guatemala City.

 

condonmovil

Posted in Activism, Education, News and Current Events | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oh you little Sun Devils

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

asuwebdevil reports on Safe Sex Week at Arizona State University:  “Several ASU students spent about an hour and a half trying to affix a large mesh condom atop the spire on the Tempe campus Hayden Lawn on Tuesday with a pulley system of cheap rope, broomsticks and spare shoes. But the members of ASU Advocates for Sexual Health just couldn’t get it up.” We sexual health peoples need the physics nerds to help us from time to time, apparently. Christina Mesiti, president of the student group, helped stich together the condom and remarked on its symbolism: “By putting a condom on the ‘nipple of knowledge,’ we figured it would be, like, the Bat Signal for our cause. It’s our symbol.” And a remarkable one at that, 12-feet wide, using 37 yards of fabric. Looking forward to seeing it when they finally get it up.

 

giant-condom1

Posted in Activism, Condom Art, Education, News and Current Events | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to be snug as a bug in a rug?

Posted by Condomologist on April 24, 2009

Further proof emerges from the UK that a good many folk out there are unaware of the many condom sizes available: “More than half of London men have been wearing the wrong size of condom, unaware they could be snug as a bug in a rug,” writes the thelondonpaper.com. In particular, those old fogies, the over-55 crowd, are particularly clueless when it comes to condom variation, concludes the study done by condom brand Pasante . We need to start sex ed programming for old single men, what with their inability to maintain an erection and their not knowing about condoms that may make safer sex more enjoyable for them.

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