I’m sure you know, or at least have heard of someone who claims that condoms make sex feel less good. Condoms (and other safe sex tools) don’t have the best reputation. It doesn’t help that we rarely see safer sex happening in media representations of sex that is hot, fun, or romantic. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, there is no solid empirical evidence to back up negative claims about condoms. Studies find that people who use condoms correctly and are used to using them tend to report greater pleasure with protected sex than those who go without protection.
This does not mean that people on an individual level do not experience problems when enjoying protected sex. There is a difference between knowing how to put on a condom and knowing how to use them well. That is why it tends to be people who use them often and consistently that report greater sexual satisfaction. It takes practice and know-how to feel confident and learn what feels good for you and partner(s). Condoms can add a playful and sexy dimension to sex but, as with anything sexy, you need a positive attitude and a dash of creativity. In this post, we offer some ways to help spice up condom use.
In sum, the main tricks to loving the glove are:
2) Take turns putting it on
4) Be prepared
5) Be playful and have fun
7) Be aware of condom sizes and experiment with different ones
For more on these points, continue reading. Warning: explicit, NSFW illustrations below.
Before we begin, the basics of condoms should be known. Check out our user manual. Once you understand these essential steps to condom care you can explore ways that may enhance sexual pleasure and make condoms a part of sex- rather than a disruption to it.
This post focuses on condom use for penis and sharing sex toys, but some tips here can also apply to safer anal and vaginal oral sex using barriers including condoms, dental dams, cling film saran wrap, or latex/nitrile gloves. For more info on protective lesbian sex check out this sex column. For specifically gay protective sex info, the Gay Men’s Health Charity is an excellent resource. (Some links are affiliate links that earn us a small commission).
Introducing condoms to partners
This isn’t something that should feel awkward no matter how casual or serious your relationship. It can be as simple as just stopping what you are doing and handing over a condom. Sometimes you won’t need to say anything at all. Or, as suggested by Robin Mandell at Scarleteen, when you feel the heat turning up and sex might happen, take a quick break and retrieve condoms from wherever you keep them (ideally with easy access- discussed below). You can say something as casual as, “No pressure. I just wanted to get these out just in case we need them.”
Condoms do not keep people from getting close- Silence does.
Asking someone to use a condom is to show care for the well-being of you both. Communication really is key and talking about sex might mean explaining what you like, what’s your favorite position, or how to use condoms and use them in ways that work for you both. Talking together about these things will cultivate intimacy and deepen your bond (not hinder it!), because you are sharing the responsibilities of sex and caring for each other.
Great sex is about sharing control
As Heather Corinna explains, this is something that safer sex can help support. Learning how to discuss condom usage and exploring sexy ways to put on a condom and what feels good together will make talking about other facets of sex a lot easier, such as how you’d like to try something new. This also means that both people are making decisions and choices which are fundamental to both amazing sex and healthy sexuality.
Take turns putting on barriers
Related to the above- condoms can be a lot more erotic when one partner puts it on the other. There are many ways to turn up to heat with a condom. When done in a deliberately slow manner with some stroking, teasing, eye contact, putting on a condom can be exciting.
You can put the condom on together. For example, one person takes the condom out of its package and places it over the head of the penis (make sure that you unravel it right-way down, not inside out). The other person pitches and holds onto the reservoir tip of the condom as the other unrolls it down the shaft of the penis with one (or two hands). This not only turns up the heat, but also ensures confidence in both actors that the condoms is put on correctly.
Practice Makes Perfect
Learn how to put it on. You can use the ol’ fashion banana, or the aid of a dildo or willing partner to practice how to unravel the condom. It should unroll downward to the base without too much pulling or stretching. If any exertion is needed to get the condom to the base then it is probably the wrong size. Practicing by yourself will relieve any worry about losing an erection or the uncomfortable pressure of being judged on your condom skills. Ladies and guys, you can always practice when you masturbate. This will also help you learn your pleasure spots and what feels best with protection. Or practice with your partner. When the time is right, either you or the other can put on the condom, so it’s good for everyone to knows how. For many couples, this also helps to naturalize the process. It’s not about “making” a guy do something; it’s about something people do together for each other.
One of the great advantages to condoms is that they are readily available for anyone to buy without a prescription and they are relatively cheap- even free at some health clinics like Planned Parenthood. So equipping yourself with this contraceptive takes far less time, research, and planning.
Also, it will help things run a whole lot smoother and greatly reduce the buzz-kill if you can reduce condom-hunting time. So keep condoms (and lubricant) in a dedicated, handy place next to your bed where you are sure to find it.
Keeping condoms in an easily accessible place is helpful, but that does not mean that it is always best to rush through the process of putting one on. Great sex is to have fun with it. When you introduce condoms have a sense of play. And if things get awkward as you’re learning how to do safe sex, let yourself laugh about it. This helps take the pressure off.
Buy some glow-in-the-dark condoms and leave your partner in suspense until the lights go out! Or incorporate condoms into erotic foreplay. Try slipping it on his penis with your mouth. If you are using gloves, get some props and play Doctor. Spice it up by carrying a condom with you in your handbag or pocket and discreetly show it to your partner to hint what’s on your mind.
This is really important. Especially, if you or your partners complain about reduced sensitivity, lubricant will improve sensation immensely. Put two drops of water-based lubricant inside the tip of the latex condom before putting it on. Even if dryness is not a problem for a person, lubricant that is made for condoms will lasts longer than the natural stuff.
Experiment with different lube samplers and flavors.
Warning: Explicit Images Below
Know Your Condom Size and Experiment
Two points here. First, make sure your condom fits well. Condoms aren’t one-size-fits-all, and a condom that’s too small or too big is likely be difficult to put on, very uncomfortable, and much more likely to break. If you are not sure what will fit, check out our Condom Size Calculator. If you experience certain discomforts, such as condoms being too tight, or too long, we have suggestions at our condom guide. If you’re providing the condoms, it might be useful to have a variety of types and styles so you and your partner can choose what seems right. Variety sample packs can be found online, and at some drugstores.
Second point, if you are in a longer-term relationship, you have the advantage to experiment with different types of condoms and lubricants together to discover what suits you both best and have fun while doing it! There are many different styles of condoms out there from thin, to thick, to wider in certain spots, snugger in other spots, etc. There’s variety in texture: ribbed, studded, contoured, pouched; variety in non-latex condoms; and there is plenty of variety in lubricants that can enhance sensation dramatically. You could buy a variety pack of condoms to find the best ones. Or make a date out of it and visit a sex shop and choose together.
There are hundreds of sexy ways to put on a condom that do not interrupt the flow. Here are just two examples: Excellent hand-drawn illustrations that will no doubt spark ideas by custom condom size company TheyFit.com.
If I haven’t convinced you yet about the sensual side of condoms, take this with you: Everyone needs to accept this reality. If you’re sexually active and not practicing safe sex then you are likely to transmit or contract a disease or infection. To prevent this from happening, to experience healthy fulfilling sexuality, you have to learn how to use protection.