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Perhaps the greatest moment of my life was the day I donned my first condom and slid my penis proudly inside my first girlfriend's vagina. Of course, I shot my load the moment I entered her, and the moment wasn't as glorious as I had hoped for, but it was still a memorable one. In more ways than one, really, because when I pulled out, the condom was nowhere to be seen. Whoops!
A few weeks of agonized waiting and visits to the pregnancy testing service followed, but as it happens we got away with it. Since then, I've always eyed condoms with interest. It wasn't as though I didn't know what to do with them: I'd been practicing masturbating with one on for ages. What went wrong, as I now know, was that the condom had no reservoir for the fluid in the tip, I put too much lubricant inside it, and it was too big for my penis anyway.
I mean, you don't want your penis to be choked by a condom; you want to be comfortable, but you also don't want it to slip off. More to the point, perhaps, while it has to be safe you don't want it to spoil the enjoyment of sex. I remember my dad once showing me his latex, washable, reusable condom (yes, you read that right) which was issued to the troops in the war....and proudly kept in a box, ready to see active service. How times have changed! The old lags used to describe the sexual experience achieved while wearing this kind of prophylactic as akin to going to bed with your boots on, a phrase since used by many generations of horny teenage boys trying to get into their girlfriends' knickers as a reason for not wearing a condom.
Like everything else, though, times have changed, and the technology of materials science has had its effects on the condom, like it has on soft drink bottles, non-stick pans, and recyclable plastic.
The condom (such an ugly word for something associated with so much fun, don't you think?) comes in all colors, flavors, sizes, and shapes. If you have a big head, you can get condoms with extra space to allow the natural movement of the penis in the vagina. If you have a long penis, you can get a long condom.
If you are on the smaller side, you have a whole range of wonderful products open to you. If you want to know which condoms brands are larger (or "roomy", as the marketing guys have it) or smaller ("snugger fit") or if you want to find out whether you offer Mr Magnum or Mr Dinky to your partner's soft warm parts, or, more to the point, if you want to buy condoms from the best suppliers at the cheapest prices by mail order in plain brown packaging, then go to Condomania.com.
And if you want snugger fit condoms, just remember there is no shame in having a penis smaller than the average, as I suppose 49.9% of men must do, at least if we speak of the median average. I feel no shame; why should you?
But why use a condom at all? Safe sex, I guess, first and foremost. But if you are in a relationship with a long term partner, and you know each other's sexual histories, and trust each other, then why a condom? I like them because they can be a sexy adjunct to intercourse - a sex toy in their own right, really.
Some guys don't like them because they say putting a condom on breaks up the flow of sex, but I tend to find sex often gets broken up by awkward little moments anyway ("Get OFF me, you're hurting me!" "Ow, I've got cramp!" "Shit, it's flying everywhere!" - that kind of thing, you know?).
And they do prevent the wet patch syndrome. Flowback is a messy thing. Also, I think it's true to say that with a modern condom, made from some new stuff called - hang on, I'm just going to check - Sheerlon - you really don't feel any difference to unprotected lovemaking when you're inside your girl, and nor does she.
The warmth of the vaginal cavity (another horrible expression, this time for a lovely place) feels just the same, with or without a condom made from this Sheerlon stuff, and I am assured that the experience is just as good from the female point of view.
It might, I guess, make a difference if you have a foreskin, because you can't get free movement of a foreskin inside a condom, but then, that might be an interesting experience to have as well. Actually, even ordinary latex condoms are pretty natural feeling these days. They're thin, thin, thin.
We once tried the female condom. This was OK, but a bit crinkly. It rustled at times. We didn't mind the experience, but we didn't use it again. I guess it just seemed unnecessary. I did find it a bit unnerving seeing the beloved shoving a plastic bag inside herself, though.
I had a very high sperm count when I had it checked. I was 21 at the time. Apparently one way to have a very low sperm count is to have long-acting implants of testosterone, er, implanted. Your brain is fooled into thinking it is producing too much testosterone and stops producing the hormones that make the testicles produce testosterone and sperm.
Thus, even though you have loads of testosterone in your system from the implants, you don't produce any sperm. But you do produce ejaculatory fluid. Clear? This is being developed as a male contraceptive. The only problem is that it makes your testicles shrink. They do grow again, when the treatment is stopped. Whether this becomes a commonplace method of birth control remains to be seen.
I can't speak about vasectomy. I haven't had one yet. And I think I never will. There is some suggestion that they may not be an entirely good thing, perhaps sometimes encouraging the body to produce antibodies against its own sperm.
You can read about this in a book called Maximizing Manhood by Dr Malcolm Carruthers. Besides which, how do you ever know what events lie ahead in life....and vasectomies are not always reversible. Nope, it's not for me.
And female contraception? Contraception has often been thought of as a female responsibility. That may still be true in some quarters. After all, the pill was supposed to be a liberating thing for women. I guess that's true, though AIDS and STDs kind of made a mockery of the sexual freedom it brought. If you want to know about the female experience of the pill, click here, and all will be revealed.
The morning-after pill is a mystery to me. I never had to use one. I mean, they weren't around at the time of the unhappy youthful incident of the condom coming off my penis - that happened years before the morning-after pill was available. I know they work by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg, and I know they have to be taken no more than 72 hours after unprotected sex. That's all I know.
Actually, I just lied. A condom once broke on me. That would have been a good reason to use the morning after pill. But we didn't have to because her period came along right away. That condom broke because I stupidly used an oil-based lubricant - which is death to condoms - a very quick death, too. Learn from this, my friends, and stick to the recommended water-based lubes. Astro-glide is about the best, in my humble opinion. Its texture is pretty much like a girl's regular, natural lubrication juice, too, though it doesn't taste the same. Senselle, made by Durex, is another good one.
And as for getting the condom on your penis or your man's penis: well, make it fun. But do it carefully, and mind the fingernails. If you have it the right way round, it will roll down the erect penis without difficulty. If it doesn't roll easily, you may have got it inside out. In which case, discard it and start again - the condom will have touched precum on the end of the penis, and precum may contain sperm or sexually transmitted infection bacteria. Alternatively he may have a big willy, and just need a larger size condom. And another little tip, if you're trying this for the first time, is that the man may like to trim the pubic hair around the base of his penis. If his hair gets rolled into the condom when the condom is put on, it can be a painful pluckfest when the condom comes off. Actually, I always cut my condom off after sex by making a cut through the ring at the base of the condom. Very carefully. It's just easier, and less messy as well.
A couple of other things: If you are allergic to latex condoms - symptoms being redness, irritation and itching - then you have three condom options. First, you could use lambskin condoms. These are OK, but, unlike latex condoms, they don't protect against the AIDS virus or STD bacteria. So if this is a concern for you, try option 2. Option 2: You might want to try polyurethane condoms. These are non-allergenic, safe against STD's and AIDS, and they are readily available. I am not sure they come in smaller sizes, though, so this might be an issue for the more petite man.
Your third line of approach is to establish whether the red itchy penis you have developed is actually due to an allergy to the spermicidal lubrication on your latex condoms. This is often billed as a substance called Nonoxynol 9. To find out your sensitivity to it, you might want to try using a condom which is either unlubricated - in which case add plenty of Astroglide - or a condom which is non-spermicidally lubricated. (Update, October 2004: apparently Nonoxynol-9 is being withdrawn since its value as a spermicide is being questioned, and so many people are irritated by it.)
On the matter of color and flavor, I wouldn't even venture to offer an opinion. Whatever turns you on. But be careful of your partner's reaction. I once used a bright yellow condom (it seemed like a good idea at the time). The woman I was with seemed to think this very funny. Choosing a condom may seem complicated, but if you shop via the Internet for your condoms, the whole thing becomes simpler - not to mention less embarrassing. I recommend that you use a supplier who can offer such things as a selection menu that guides you where you want to go.
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