Gareth May | Contributing Writer | Monday, 31 August 2015

What Do Men Really Think Of Condoms?

What Do Men Really Think Of Condoms?

The Debrief: If you’re relying on not wearing a condom to come then you’re probably not doing sex right...

The first time I saw a condom I was 14-years-old. I was staying over at a friend’s house. He was older and the fount of all sexual knowledge to my yet-to-be-perverted little eggshell mind. This was the guy who taught me that areola was something you found on a boob and not the birth planet of Han Solo. 

We were lying in our sleeping bags at the time with the lights off. I can’t recall but the telly might have been on, blinking static or belching out the creepy synths of an 80s horror movie. 

He’d been silent for a while when all of a sudden he sprang out of bed, pulled down his pyjama bottoms and unleashed what I believed at the time to be an enormous glowworm. It wasn’t. It was his cock, covered with a glow-in-the-dark condom, bouncing up and down like one of those bobbing birds you used to see with the blue top hats… Needless to say I was a bit taken aback. It would be another two years before I realised not every condom was the colour of luminescent piss.

Thankfully, future generations might have easier rites of passage into the realms of common male contraception. 

Last month it was announced that a student called Michele Chu at the Pratt Institute in New York (don’t laugh) is developing a spray-on condom. She’s not the first. In 2006 the original condom-in-a-can hit the buffers and missed out on the mass market because it took too long ‘to set’.

Ah, the condom’s age old nemesis: time!

There’s no point in denying that putting on a condom takes a few sex-stifling seconds. It’s one of the reasons us chaps aren’t too keen on them – because they punctuate an otherwise fluid and ‘We’re doing it like the guys in the movies!’ narrative.

As cynical as it sounds, some men even devise methods to avoid wearing a condom altogether. In 2013 a study on young heterosexual men’s attitudes to condom use by Dr Kelly Cue Davis of the University of Washington explored “the tactics” men employ to get out of sheathing up. 

More than 80 percent of the 313 men asked (aged 21-30) admitted attempting to squirm out of using a condom. The most common excuses included: ‘Don't worry, I'm clean you won’t get an STI’; ‘You’re so sexy, let’s just do it’; and ‘What, you don't trust me?’. And the Dickweed Award goes to…

Personally, I don’t have a problem with wearing a condom. That’s not to say that putting one on has always been the most edifying moment in my life. When I was younger nerves and clammy fingers (hot, right?) would often get the better of me. I’d tense my kegels, pinch the tip of the rubber and unfurl the thing only to realise it was on inside out and that rather I’d impressively made my cock look like a crook with a pair of tights pulled down over his head. He looked guilty and fittingly so.

These mishaps were always greeted with a gentle hand on the shoulder and ‘Are you all right?’ or, oftentimes, the less appealing ‘Do you want a hand?’ like I was an old biddy trying to set the VHS to record Birds of a Feather. On one occasion it was even suggested I might go and ‘get my mum,’ which was actually pretty funny at the time until I turned around and realised I was the only one laughing. 

Of course, the times that I got it right I’d be overjoyed. Although I never pointed at my successfully clad cock and shouted: “Look! I’ve done it! I’ve fucking done it?!” But eventually I did stop playing the imaginary fanfare in my head every time I successfully unfurled a condom. 

Despite my early hiccups I still swear by condoms to this day. There are obviously other kinds of contraception and in long-term relationships I think to fuck without a condom and to rely on other methods is perfectly fine. It’s a choice only the two of you can make and it largely comes down to trust and comfort. 

But one-night stands and casual hook ups? Not for me. I don’t want to come across as some kind of ‘dad’ but there is a responsibility to wear a condom. And I like the idea that I’m taking precautions to ensure that no STIs are passed between two fleeting fuck-hounds and, of course, no accidental babies get made in the process as well.

I also find condoms the least problematic of all the contraceptives. Take the pill for instance. I’ve had various girlfriends for whom the pill has caused all manner of problems from heavy periods to manic mood swings. It’s the same story for the patch or the injection. I just don’t like the idea of a woman screwing up her hormones for the sake of a safe shag when a bloke can pull on a piece latex and saddle up without so much of a micron of chemicals worming their way through his blood stream. 

When it’s a toss up between doing the right thing and doing the thing that feels better, wetter, warmer, then sadly it’s the right thing every time. 

There’s no doubt that condoms dull sensation. Sex au naturel is more sensual that’s for sure. But that old end game the orgasm is much more about psychology, partner, setting, mood etc. – if you’re relying on not wearing a condom to come then you’re probably not doing sex right.

Pleasure, however is a watchword for modern condom designers. In 2013, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued eleven $100,000 grants to condom designers; they wanted a condom created that enhanced pleasure. Condoms designers all over the world leapt at the challenge from the University of Oregon's heat-activated ‘shape-memory’ sheath to Apex Medical Technologies’ rubber developed from beef tendons. Mmm. Beef.

Fair play to Bill but wearing a condom isn’t about pleasure; it’s about fairness and, to be quite honest, plain old simple logic. Any condom that reduces the chance of getting someone pregnant is a pretty good condom in my book. Even those Extra Safe monstrosities that feel like your cock’s wearing a Wellington boot is better than the classic pull out method. As Billy Connolly says, there’s not a herd of wild horses that could make my arse go in *that direction when I’m on the cusp of coming… the same could be said of going in unsheathed.

Like this? Then you may be interested in:

What It's Like To Film Your First Sex Scene - Aged 17

11 Non-Hormonal Contraceptive Methods

Every Question You've Ever Had About Lube, Answered. Probably. 

Follow Gareth on Twitter @GarethMay

Tags: Sex O\'Clock