Here’s a Secret: Size Really Does Matter
As an avid sports fan, I spend many hours watching sporting events with my guy friends, and the conversation always seems to veer toward sex. I act annoyed that the boys just have to bring it up, asking me questions I would prefer not answer or consider. But, I must admit I actually enjoy these “sex talks.” I love watching NBA star Kevin Durant make an unbelievable three-pointer while sharing stories and information with friends.
I remember one evening in particular in the lounge at my friend’s apartment building. We discussed our high school sex-ed classes. Although our teachers demonstrated how to put on a condom, it was much more difficult on our first attempt. Practice makes perfect, right? Struggling to put a condom on, though, can be a real turn-off. (If only young men and women were taught some sexy tricks to practice safe, and hot, sex.)
We also talked about how to know what size condoms to buy. The boys said they use whatever is cheapest or what is guaranteed to feel the best. But in this instance, size is just as important as pleasure.
Condoms are 98 percent effective when used perfectly, but only 82 percent effective with typical use. Wearing a condom that is too small or too big (Come on, guys! We know you don’t ALL need Magnums) can make a difference in how effective a condom is at preventing pregnancy. Wear a condom that’s too tight and it could break. Wear one that’s too big and it could slip off.
How can we expect young people to engage in safe and healthy sexual activities if we never inform them that both size - condom size that is - and correct use matter?
Fortunately there are a variety of innovative male contraceptive products either on the market or in clinical trial that will make putting on condoms easier and offer contraceptive alternatives.
South Africans developed the ready-to-wear Pronto condom. The condom is in an applicator and one simply has to break the packaging, stretch, and pull down. This design limits the time it takes to put on a condom and the potential for mishaps. This condom, or others like it, could really help close the gap between potential and real effectiveness; however, this condom is currently not for sale in any nation outside of South Africa.
There is also the prospect of a new male contraceptive gel. The University of California Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute shared its study that combined Nestorone and Testosterone to lower sperm count in men. However, this option will not be available for a few more years due to the need for further testing.
A couple of other options appear promising in theory, but not all that attractive to potential male consumers. A testicular contraceptive injection is being tested in India and the use of ultrasound to kill off sperm-growing cells is also being studied. Let’s be real - pap smears and speculums are not exactly comfortable so I guess I can understand if some guys are not that excited about zapping or stabbing their testicles.
This is just a glimpse of what may come in the near future, but we still need to continue to push for research, development, and testing of new technologies. The more options that are available to sexually-active young people, the more likely we are to find one that fits our personal sex lives and protects us adequately.
Until this happens, we have to stop short-shafting men (pun intended). We need to teach young men and women how to use a condom properly, including knowing which size to use.
Annie is currently a senior at George Washington University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in International Affairs and History. She has held several internships at non-profit organizations, including at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, the Equal Rights Center, and the Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program. Annie also participates in a variety of student organizations on campus and is the Secretary for Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority.
This part of the body is like the ears, it’s a part you cannot judge by prettiness and it doesn’t make sense to me to alter it. This type of surgery, if done just for looks, is a waste of money. Genetically we are coded to be turned on by a woman’s vagina pretty much however it looks.
Method Monday: Male Birth Control
We know we’re not the only ones who’ve ever lamented the lack of birth control options for guys. We also know there are already some good ways for guys to play a role in preventing pregnancy—and we make it a habit to cross our fingers for the promising prospects on the horizon. Like what, specifically? So glad you asked.
First, the old (and available):
- Condoms. We love them so much that we already posted a Method Monday about them. Why not read it (again?) in honor of HIV Awareness Month while reflecting on the silver lining of birth control for dudes—namely, that one of the few methods available to them also helps protect against STIs?
- Withdrawal (a.k.a. “pulling out”). It’s (at least) as old as the Torah and it’s only as effective as the guy who’s practicing it. That said, withdrawal can be useful when no other method of birth control is available and a 2009 review by the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the oldest method in the book deserves more contraceptive cred than it usually gets. We think of withdrawal as the kung fu of contraception—if you’re going to rely on it, make sure you’re a black belt.
- Sterilization (a.k.a. vasectomy). It’s not considered reversible (though it can be sometimes), but for dudes who are done having kids or who never ever (ever) want them, this is a super-effective option. When it come to sterilization, the male procedure is usually cheaper and simpler than the female version.
And now, the new (and unavailable), by geography:
- Hormones from the West Coast. The newest method to make headlines is a hormonal gel being tested in the U.S. It’s definitely a long way from market-ready, but we wrote last week about a few excellent reasons to be optimistic.
- Vasalgel from India, hormones from China. About a year ago Dr. Grace Shih wrote an article for Bedsider called “Where in the world is birth control for men?” that discussed the two male methods most likely to be available first in the U.S. One’s a hormonal injection being tested in China and the other is Vasalgel (a.k.a. RISUG), an injection that temporarily blocks the tube that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. We can report—not without a hint of regret, since we’d love to be surprised by a breakthrough in the birth-control-for-dudes department—that the article is still relevant.
- The gandarusa pill from Indonesia. A chemical found in a leafy plant in the jungles of Indonesia could work as an effective contraceptive for men—but we’re pretty sure it’ll take its sweet time making it to the U.S. market.
- Ultrasound from the University of North Carolina. We haven’t heard much about it lately, but way back in 2010 University of North Carolina experts said they believed a blast of ultrasound to the testes would be able to safely stop sperm production for six months. Two years later, still staying tuned…
Back when everyone was talking about Vasalgel, Bedsider contributor Veralyn did a vlog asking men—and women—what they thought about men’s role in preventing unwanted pregnancy.
Most of the guys Veralyn talked to said they wouldn’t be up for using birth control even if it were available. Not ones to let anecdotal evidence get us down, we remain hopeful that if the FDA approves it, they will come (oh, unintended pun). In the meantime, guys can play a part in preventing unplanned pregnancy by using the methods that are available now and by providing moral—and possibly economic—support to their partners.
As they say, it takes two.
Did we mention that dudes are allowed to buy emergency contraception?
Well, this isn’t the first time we’ve posted this video, but we felt it needed to be a shared again in light of yet another report of a pharmacy (CVS) refusing EC to guys. Seriously, folks, guys are allowed to buy EC. It says right here in our Fact or Fiction video.
So, can guys buy emergency contraception over the counter?
The hormones don’t lie: guys are wired for parenting, too
Turns out women aren’t the only ones whose hormones are affected by having a child—according to a recent study, men’s hormones change too. What kind of changes, you ask? In a nutshell, the more involved a guy is in raising his child(ren), the lower his testosterone levels go. According to a New York Times article on the study, this doesn’t mean he’s any less manly—sounds to us like it just means he’s a better partner and a better dad.
“A dad with lower testosterone is maybe a little more sensitive to cues from his child, and maybe he’s a little less sensitive to cues from a woman he meets at a restaurant,” said Peter Gray, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has conducted unrelated research on testosterone in fathers.
Different strokes for different folks, but we’re guessing a lot of women wouldn’t miss the testosterone when you put it like that.
“Father and son surf lesson in Morro Bay, CA” image by Michael “Mike” L. Baird.
Contraception for Dudes: Blast to the Testes!
Originally published on SexReally.com on May 12th, 2010.
Wow. Could it be that scientists are finally on the brink of finding a safe, low-cost, long-acting, reversible method of birth control…for men?
For decades people have lamented—and debated—the lack of contraceptive options for men (no disrespect intended to the fabulous, STI-thwarting male condom). Some say it’s unfair for the responsibility for contraception to fall squarely on women’s shoulders, others say it makes sense since women often bear the brunt of the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. And some, as I’ve written about, say that men are too incompetent to be trusted with the responsibility anyway.
Nevertheless, a male “pill” has been in the works for decades. It would seem that (safely and reversibly) altering men’s hormones to affect their potency is no cakewalk. Still, scientists claim to be closer than ever to getting a male hormonal method on the market. But they may have more competition than they bargained for…
Apparently the dark horse method of male contraception is none other than the ultrasound. Yes, the ultrasound most often associated with viewing developing fetuses. Ironic, or fitting? Anyway, according to BBC News, “University of North Carolina experts believe a blast of ultrasound to the testes can safely stop sperm production for six months.”
Though the description may sound a little scary to some (and I will resist the urge to go on a rant about double-standards for the moment), the prospect of a reliable, non-hormonal method for men certainly strikes me as something worth further investigation. We’ll be staying tuned!
Liz Sabatiuk is Social Media Manager for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. When she’s not blogging about birth control and relationships, she dances and teaches Argentine tango and spends a little too much time on Facebook.