Do you know everything you need to know about STDs? …Are you sure?
The Fine Art of Condom Negotiation
Why the need for STD Awareness Month? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20 million new sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the United States each year, and half of them happen among young people ages 15–24. It’s scary to think so many young people have not gotten the memo that safer sex is a must.
It should go without saying that a big part of practicing safer sex is using a condom—every time. And yes—in “the heat of the moment” negotiating condom use can be difficult. That’s why in a perfect world that conversation would always happen long before the foreplay starts. But of course we live in the REAL world, where things tend to move quickly. So how can we get our partner on board for using protection? I talked to 3 sexual health educators who offered the following pointers:
#1 take-away here: Make using a condom fun! And as I recently learned during a Harlem United Tea Party (the name of their safe sex presentations), one way to do that is by putting on the condom with your mouth. (If you’ve never seen it done, check out Putting on a condom w/ NO HANDS, starting at 6:21). During our interview, sex educator Tasha Douge explains why this method can be highly effective:
What are your secrets to negotiating condom use? Share them in the comments below!
Veralyn Williams is a Multimedia Freelance Journalist currently working in New York City. She has spent 4 years at WNYC Radio working with various departments including: Radio Rookies, Culture, News, and Freakonomics. She also freelances for Black Enterprise, BronxNet Television, Bedsider, and The Museum for African Art. Her independent work is featured on her website VeralynMedia.com. Through all of her endeavors she aims to give a voice to perspectives that are often forgotten in the media.
5 Ways Your Smartphone Can Make Sex Safer
To kick off STD Awareness Month, we chose a few of our favorite smartphone tools for helping you protect yourself—and your partner—from sexually transmitted infections (STI). We think we found a few gems, but don’t take our word for it. Download and weigh in with your comments.
We know our smartphones can be lifesavers in some terrifying situations—and some not-so-terrifying ones—but can they help you have safer sex? Okay, we know the answer to that one too (yes!), but to further prove our point, allow us to tell you about five safer-sex smartphone tools we love:
You can’t tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them, and when it comes to one night stands, most of us aren’t going to insist on going to the nearest clinic together to get tested first (although wouldn’t mobile testing units outside bars be kind of awesome?). Qpid.me is a service explicitly dedicated to making it easier to share STI test results right when you need them. Users get tested for STIs and/or HIV with certified health care providers and have their results sent to the Qpid.me service. To show potential partners their results, users can request to have their records sent via text message or email—so while it’s not an app, cell phones are essential for Qpid.me to work.
Here’s a sample text of what your results will look like on Qpid.me:
We’ve been believers in this service for a long time and look forward to seeing it become more mainstream. Qpid.me is easy to sign up for, the directions are easy to understand, and the FAQs cover all the basics. And of course, we love that their website makes the point that using a form of birth control is still über-important to prevent pregnancy. But don’t take our word for it—check out the reviews from Qpid.me users.
We say: Do it! (Sign up, that is.)
2. MedXCom (a.k.a. STI Bump)
Late last year, MedXCom—an app for various health issues ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure—released a new ”MedXSafe” feature to allow users to download their STI/HIV test results onto their phones, then bump phones with potential partners to share their results.
We love the idea, though the execution is a bit convoluted. Health care providers have to download and register themselves with the app first and then upload the test results—which we’d guess could be a barrier for some. On the other hand, maybe it’ll encourage more frequent visits to providers—and better communication!
We say: Promising.
It’s also important to remember that some STIs can take a while to show up on medical tests, so it’s a good idea to use a condom even if you think your partner has tested negative. What, did someone say condoms?
You need a condom, stat! What do you do if a convenience store isn’t near you? In the old days, people would sneakily steal one out of their roommates’ nightstands, go digging beneath mountains of clothes in their closets while sweating bullets of desperation, or simply wait for another time to have sex. With iCondom, those days may be coming to a close. Using your phone’s location services, the app tells you which stores or community centers near you sell or give away condoms.
All information about these locations is uploaded by users, so it should be a reliable way to find condoms. To test this hypothesis, we’re going to go on the Great iCondom Scavenger Hunt of 2013 in the very near future…
We say: Stay tuned!
4. SOS Condoms
The tragedy is that this app is currently only available in Dubai. Users in, ahem, desperate situations can send an SOS to their friends at Durex when things are hot, heavy, and about to require a condom. Durex then discreetly delivers the goods to their eternally grateful customers, who can then enjoy their night knowing they’ve taken a crucial step to protect themselves and their partner from STIs and unplanned pregnancy. And despite what the commercial indicates, women can order them too. You can vote on their Facebook page for the next lucky city to get this service—why not make it yours?
We say: Waaaannnnttttt…
5. Condom Pro
Think you’re a pro at putting on a condom? Test your prowess with Condom Pro (full disclosure: we made it…and at the moment it’s only available on iPhone), an app that let’s you practice to your heart’s content. Players put condoms on lollipops, fish, popcorn, gear shifts, and much more while racing against the clock. With useful tidbits dropped in between levels, this app is fun and educational. Could you get even better at putting on condoms than the Condom Master?
We say: Practice makes perfect (and we’re only a little bit biased).
oh oh I get it. Your boyfriend doesn’t like condoms. So you don’t wear them.
Does he happen to like babies?
Don’t date that.
Some useful equations for Method Monday, inspired by this “Date this not that” illustration: Boyfriends who are into safer sex = awesome; boyfriends who refuse to use condoms = not awesome. And to all the condom skeptics out there, fear not—research confirmed that condoms don’t decrease sexual pleasure.
We say: protecting yourself (and your partner) from unwanted pregnancy and STIs = awesome-est.
A Sexy - and Safer - “Spring Break for Geeks”
Attending SXSW Interactive is one of our favorite things to do. Like, ever. The festivities and information get us so giddy we often end up seeing double (like the two Austin capitol domes above).
Alas, we couldn’t make it this year, but we’ll be thinking of our friends who will be there. Friends like Ramin Bastani and the Qpid.me team, who are bringing safer sex to Austin through their free website.
As geeks ourselves, we’re happy to see Interactive getting some attention in for their interest in sex this year. In the past only the music attendees received condoms in their tote bags. But that oversight has apparently gone the way of those stuffed and not-so-green tote bags.
Qpid.me is “for people who want to privately share their verified STD results with anyone via text message or online,” according to a recent new release. We’re down. Just remember to also check out all your options for birth control—especially those that are “party-ready.”
And raise a glass for us. We’ll see you next year!
Larry Swiader is Senior Director of Digital Media for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a.k.a. “Mr. Bedsider.” When Larry is not working, surfing the Web, watching sports, or playing tennis, he is enjoying life with his wife and daughter—as often as possible in their second home of Greece.
You seem pretty scared of catching the flu for someone who’s not remotely scared of catching STDs.
Dug up this golden oldie (but goodie) from Someecards in honor of National Condom Week. Let’s hear it for the only method of birth control that also prevents STIs! And speaking of golden, remember that just because you’re using another method of birth control doesn’t mean you should give up condoms. Doubling up=the golden ticket to safer sex.