Conversations about consent are increasingly present in the media. Consent (in relation to sex) meaning that all partners must enthusiastically want to participate in sexual activity. However, we do not often talk about conditional consent. Conditional consent refers to consent that is only given if certain conditions are met, e.g. if someone wants a condom to be used during sex. That means if these conditions are not met e.g. if someone refuses to use a condom or removes the condom during sex, consent has not been given. Even if sex was consensual up to that point, as soon as that condition is breached it becomes non-consensual and is against the law. Each person has the right to use contraception/protection to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and/or pregnancy, choose what activities they participate in and to change their mind about what they want to do at any time.
Despite this, some people can still feel uncomfortable asking their partner/s to wear a condom. Often this discomfort stems from fear about what the partner/s will say. A lot of the time, the partner/s will be happy to use a condom (they may have also felt awkward asking). However, if this is not the case, here are a couple of responses to reasons for not using a condom.
“I don’t have an STI – I don’t need one”
Most STIs do not show any symptoms – for example, many people who have chlamydia do not notice any symptoms. You cannot tell just by looking at someone (or yourself) whether or not they have an STI.
“I find it difficult to stay hard/I can’t cum”
Some people do find it more difficult to keep an erection using condoms. There are a range of different reasons for this. One might be because they try to put the condom on just before penetrative sex. Without stimulation they may start to lose their erection (especially if they are not used to putting on a condom), this could cause some anxiety and they may not be able to regain the erection.
If this is the case, practice putting on a condom by yourself. Try masturbating with a condom to get used to the feel of it and how your body reacts. This way you can learn how to stay hard and how to orgasm. It is something that gets easier with practice and it will help you feel more confident having sex using a condom.
“They’re too small/they hurt”
If a condom is hurting, there might be something wrong. Condoms come in a range of different sizes, if the ones you have tried using feel too tight try going up a size. Alternatively, you may be allergic to latex, if this is the case there are different varieties of latex free condoms available.
People will give a range of reasons as to why they do not want to use a condom. The above reasons come from a lack of knowledge around condom use or a potentially painful experience with condoms.
But what do you do if the reason is:
“I don’t want to”
This reason has nothing to do with lack of knowledge or difficulty using condoms. That is ok; they are allowed to have their preferences.
However, if they make you feel uncomfortable for wanting to use a condom, this is not ok. If you feel that you cannot ask them to use a condom or they try to make you feel guilty for asking to use a condom, this is not ok. If they try to have sex with you without a condom or remove the condom during sex, this is not ok. Everyone has to be aware and enthusiastic about what is happening, if not then the sex is non-consensual.
If you do not feel that you can have an open dialogue with your partner/s about condom use then this may be a problem. Being able to communicate your thoughts and feelings about sex is an important part of a relationship (regardless of whether that is a long-term relationship or a one-night stand). Furthermore, if someone still refuses to use a condom even after you’ve asked them then they are not be ready to have sex with you yet. No one should feel they have to have sex without a condom just to please their partner/s.
So if you have decided you want to use a condom during sex but are nervous to ask, check out our other blog tomorrow for a couple of examples to get you started.