Choosing to have sex without a condom is a big choice. It can feel great, but it may also give you anxious feelings. The more you know about the risks of having sex without a condom, the more capable you will be of making the right choice for you and your partner.
WHY PEOPLE LIKE CONDOMLESS SEX
For some men, the big pro of sex without a condom (and perhaps the reason so many insist they don’t wear one) is that they claim it feels better than sex with a condom.
For some people, it’s more than just the physical barrier. Having sex without a condom feels more emotionally intimate, perhaps because this is something usually done with serious couples in long-term relationships. Monogamy allows many couples to consider sex with no condom for the first time in their relationships. Ditching the rubber is, to some people, the ultimate act of trust. And it’s cheaper than frequently buying condoms, too.
Speaking of rubber, many condoms are actually made of latex, which some people are allergic to. So if you have bareback sex, then you don’t need to worry about any itching or burning – assuming, of course, that you don’t have any sort of infection (learn more about STI symptoms in this post) or sensitivity to something in the lube you choose to use.
Another thing to consider is the potential benefit of semen. Yes, we went there. Some studies suggest that compounds in your man’s semen, including endorphins, estrone, prolactin, oxytocin, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, and serotonin, can give your mood a boost . So if you don’t use a condom, your vaginal tissue might absorb those compounds, leading to you being in a better mood.
Of course, good sex will do that regardless, and you’re unlikely to surge into a deep depression just because you’re using condoms.
Finally, some men will argue that they cannot maintain an erection when wearing a condom. This may be true for a small number of men, but plenty of men can stay rock hard when using a condom. Beware of men who try to have sex with no condom if they cannot provide negative (clean) STI panels or if you don’t trust them or know them well enough to trust them.
This leads us right to our next section about the cons of having sex without a condom.
THE RISKS OF HAVING SEX WITHOUT A CONDOM
So you know why some people enjoy having sex with no condom, but we’re all well aware that bareback sex comes with risks, so you use condoms to have fabulous sex while mitigating those risks to the best of your ability.
The first con of condomless sex? The chance of pregnancy is lower than you might suspect. Even at your most fertile (the week before your period, mid-cycle), you’ve only got a 9 percent chance of getting pregnant . However, if you don’t want kids (now, ever or with this guy), that’s not a statistic you want to mess with.
Condoms are up to 98% effective when used properly , which means you use a condom that properly fits every time after squeezing the air out from the tip, and you use a new condom when necessary. Effectiveness drops to around 82% with average use , so many people aren’t using condoms properly.
2. STI TRANSMISSION
Secondly, condoms reduce the risk of passing sexually transmitted infections to or from your partner. As the woman, you’re more likely to become infected, so this is especially important. STIs include HPV (which can cause genital warts and even cervical cancer), HIV, herpes and more.
Condoms are effective at preventing transmission of STIs such as HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis that pass through bodily fluid (semen, saliva, blood, etc. ), so you may still be at risk for some STIs . HPV, for instance, only requires skin contact. So even if you use a condom, it can still be transmitted.
3. OTHER INFECTIONS
Women who don’t use condoms with their partners are more likely to experience vaginal bacterial infections also known as bacterial vaginosis. Even mild BV can lead to itching, spotting, and unpleasant discharge while a more serious case requires antibiotics. Once you’ve had BV, you’re more likely to have this type of infection in the future. More about BV here.
Research shows that consistent condom use can cut down on the likelihood of recurring bacterial infections, however . The condom prevents bacteria that might be on your partner’s penis from entering your vagina and upsetting your biological ecosystem. Bacteria are also the source of painful urinary tract infections.
In fact, condoms may even boost helpful bacteria in your vagina, which helps you keep it balanced .
4. ANXIETY ABOUT RISKS
One reason why so many people use a condom with sex is simply the anxiety that the risks above cause. If you’ve ever rushed to the pharmacy for a morning after pill or dreaded your late period, then you understand. Some women even worry when they have used a condom.
Even if there’s minimal chance of these risks, you might worry yourself sick. Peace of mind is certainly worth the cost of a condom!
You can also abate your anxiety by taking a morning after pill if you’ve had unprotected sex.
5. SOME MEN LIKE CONDOMS
Condoms may actually be beneficial to men who are worried about coming too fast, so your man may prefer using one even if you’re not worried about other risks. There are also condoms specifically made to help your man last longer; although, they use a chemical numbing agent that may reduce your sensitivity, too.
6. CONDOMS MAY FEEL GOOD
Hear us out on this one. Condoms come with unique textures that may feel good to you or your man and add something just a little extra to your sexy time. Of course, a cock sleeve or sex toy can do the same if you don’t otherwise need condoms.
7. SEX IS MESSIER WITHOUT A CONDOM
One thing that many people don’t consider when finally doing away with condoms is just how messy sex can be when you don’t use condoms. A condom is a tiny little trash bag that holds all your man’s ejaculate, and you can toss it in the garbage without thought.
When you have sex without a condom, however, all that remains inside (or on) your body. Standing up, and gravity takes its toll. You grab a towel or rush to the bathroom while trying not to leak everywhere. It’s not fun.
It’s also not a deal-breaker for most people. You can buy sex blankets or keep towels or tissues at hand for easy cleanup, and some companies even make wipes to help. Just beware how wet and messy it can be that first time you have sex with no condom.
You know the pros and cons of having condomless sex, but there are a few things you might have failed to take into consideration.
- You don’t need to use the male condom. Female condoms sit inside you, allowing you to take control of your sexual health. They offer more external protection against STIs and aren’t made of latex. Plus, it might help if your man has a hard time keeping it up when you use male condoms.
- Latex isn’t your only option. Latex allergy? No problem. Just seek out a non-latex condom. Learn more.
- Putting on a condom can be fun. Turn it into a sexy game, and it won’t be awkward or deter you from having safer sex.
- There’s protection for oral sex, too. You can reduce the risk of STI transmission through skin-to-skin contact and oral sex thanks to dental dams. These plastic squares cover your body like a condom covers a penis. In a pinch, your partner can cut open a condom and lie it flat against your body when performing oral sex.
- Condoms aren’t the only form of birth control. From the pill to IUDs to hormone injections, there are other options available to you to protect against pregnancy (read all about birth control). And you can double up your protection by using other birth control methods and condoms simultaneously for more peace of mind.
READY TO DITCH THE CONDOM?
It’s not just you who should take these things into consideration. Talking to your partner about using or not using condoms is important. If you don’t talk about the risks, you should always use a condom, and you shouldn’t sleep with anyone who isn’t interested in having safer sex.
Your conversation should cover whether you’re monogamous and your STI status. You can get tested together, provide one another with your results or just inform each other when the results come in. And you can ceremoniously ditch the condoms before your first condomless romp!
A lot of people think sex without a condom is more pleasurable than sex with a condom, but it’s also a hell of a lot riskier. If you’re not prepared to face the consequences of those risks, then using a condom might be your only option, especially with casual sex partners.