What are some other things gay and bi guys might want to know about condoms?
How good are condoms at stopping HIV and other STIs?
Testing shows that viruses can’t get through condoms, so if you use them properly, you drastically reduce the likelihood of transmitting HIV. Some other STIs like HPV are harder to stop, because they are transmitted by skin touching on skin, and condoms don’t protect the skin that they aren’t covering. If you want to know more about just how good condoms are at protecting you, look at this detailed answer from AIDSMAP.
When don’t condoms work for HIV and STIs?
Condoms don’t work if they’re broken or if they slip off. It may sound obvious, but condoms also don’t work if you don’t use them. They don’t work if you put them on partway through the fucking, or if you take them off early. If you find that it’s hard for you to stick to using condoms, think about using them with PrEP or undetectable viral load.
Condoms stop the transmission of some STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia for oral and anal sex. Other STIs, like HPV and herpes are transmitted from skin to skin, so if there is a sore or other infected area that the condom doesn’t cover, transmission is possible. This also applies to MPOX (monkeypox), which can be passed on through respiratory droplets (including kissing) or contact with sores in places a condom doesn’t cover. MPOX sores can be anywhere on the body. Learn more about MPOX here.
What else can I do to make condoms work better?
Taking PrEP or having an undetectable viral load combines extremely well with condoms, taking one already effective approach and combining it with another is a great was to stop both HIV and STIs.
What if the guy I’m hooking up with doesn’t want to use a condom?
Not every guy uses condoms, for a number of reasons. Some guys are using other sexual health strategies like PrEP and undetectable viral load. Learning about these strategies can help you know how to respond, what questions to ask yourself and him, and what you feel comfortable with.
There are also HIV-negative guys who choose not to use condoms with other guys who are HIV-negative, which is called sero-sorting. Unfortunately, sometimes guys think they are HIV-negative when they are not, because they have only recently acquired HIV. During this “acute HIV” period, guys have a very high viral load and HIV transmission is more likely, but testing is unlikely to detect it yet. Sero-sorting is also used by HIV-positive guys that choose to have sex with other HIV-positive guys.
Whatever the reason, think about what feels best to you, and what’s going to make you feel most confident going into sex, having sex, and afterwards. You deserve to have the sex you want, and sometimes that might mean passing on hooking up with someone who doesn’t want to use the same strategies you do.
What if I don’t want to use a condom?
Lots of guys find it hard to use condoms every time, don’t like them, or don’t want to use them for any number of reasons, sometimes even if they’ve tried to find a condom that works for them. Some guys don’t love condoms, but manage to still use them to reduce their anxiety. For others, it’s not so simple.
If using condoms consistently just isn’t a realistic sexual health strategy for you, you can look into PrEP, and learn about undetectable viral load to figure out how to make the best decisions for yourself.
If you’re having sex without condoms, get tested frequently. If you do acquire HIV, finding out early and treating it right away is the best for your long-term health. If for whatever reason your plan to use condoms doesn’t work out and you’re worried about having been exposed to HIV, it’s good to know about that PEP is an option.
Am I supposed to use a condom for blowjobs?
A lot of men use condoms for anal or front-hole (vaginal) sex, which have a greater chance of HIV transmission. Oral sex has a much lower chance of HIV transmission, but some guys use condoms for blowjobs as well. It also prevents some STIs. Non-lubricated condoms, as well as flavoured condoms, are popular choices because they’re more comfortable for the guy giving head.
Remember, it is possible to get or pass on STIs in both the penis and the throat during oral sex if you don’t use a condom. If you use condoms for anal or front-hole sex, but not for oral sex, it’s still a good idea to get tested regularly for STIs, including a throat swab.
Do I need to put a condom on sex toys?
If you’re sharing sex toys, using condoms creates a barrier between your body and any potential HIV and STIs. Depending on how they’re used, sex toys might come up against rectal or vaginal fluids, blood, or feces, which can transmit diseases between partners. Also, some sex toys might contain plastics or chemicals that aren’t great to put in your body. Even more expensive toys, like those made of silicone, have to be maintained and cleaned really well to make sure there are no bacteria hiding on or in them. Condoms are an easy way to worry less about what’s in a toy and more about playing around with it. If you want to know more about different sex toy materials and safety, check out the awesome guide to toy care from Babeland.
What if I’m nervous about getting condoms?
It’s OK if you’re nervous! In our world condoms and lube can be super stressful. Even though so many people use condoms, there are things that make it hard to ask for them or bring them up to the checkout line. But that shouldn’t stop you from having the best sex possible! Finding a sexual health clinic can be one way to get condoms, since sometimes they leave condoms in a basket or bowl, and they’re free to take. There’s also our good friend the internet, where you can discreetly order all kinds of condoms.
What if I can’t stay hard in a condom, or it doesn’t feel good?
Some guys wonder if they’ll be able stay hard in a condom, especially when they’re topping. This is totally normal, and happens for a bunch of reasons. Finding a condom that fits and feels good can help with that. Try a new size, shape, or brand and see if you like it. It’s even fun to jerk off with a condom, or snap some pictures of yourself wearing it to see how it fits. You can also buy cock rings, which wrap around your cock, balls, or both, to help you stay hard. If it’s an ongoing issue, you can talk to your doctor about it, and they may offer you advice or medication to help you stay hard.
What do I do if a condom breaks, or comes off in the middle of having sex?
Accidents happen. If a condom breaks or comes off, stop and let the other guy know about it right away. If you haven’t talked about your HIV status yet, it’s important that you do. If you’re worried you’ve been exposed, you can get tested for HIV, and look into PEP.
Why does this condom look funny?
It may have expired, been exposed to too much heat or had a tear in the package. If the condom seems overly sticky or dry, doesn’t smell normal, or if you think something is wrong, get another one.