Condoms. Hmm. When I reflect over my own sexual past, I'd have to say that, in spite of knowing that rubbers are the only form of birth control that can prevent pregnancies and STDs, I still probably only used them maybe 40-45 percent of the time. It wasn't because I was on any other form of protection either. Basically, as irresponsible as I know that it sounds, I just didn't like them (yes fellas, if you're peeping in on this, we can tell the difference between raw sex and sex with a condom too).
First, I'm pretty sensitive down there, so although I'm not exactly allergic to latex (around 4.3 percent of the world's population is, by the way), sometimes I'd still feel a slight bit of itchiness and irritation after intercourse. Not like my body was rejecting the condom per se; more like it was annoyed by it. Then, there's something that a wife told me while I was interviewing her husband for this piece (more on what he had to say in a bit)—"It's kind of hard to explain. I think what I like most about not using condoms is it encourages your body to respond differently. You feel closer to your partner and that turns you on more. Then there's the fact that condoms cut into spontaneity. It's a lot harder to watch television on the couch and, in the middle of a commercial be like, 'Hey, let's have sex real quick.'" Agreed.
Still, that doesn't change the fact that, reportedly, condoms are 98 percent effective (when they're used properly; when they're not, they've got a 13 percent failure rate). And, with gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis (syphilis?!) currently being at an all-time high, unless you are in a long-term committed relationship and you don't mind getting pregnant right now, condoms are a necessary "evil".
Men know this. Women know this. We all know this. So, why am I reading more and more articles about how men—single men, mind you—are using the pulling out method, perhaps more than they ever have? Just so we're all on the same page, this means that they are going in raw and pulling out at the point of ejaculation with no condom in sight. Also, just for the record, the research is not talking about the jerks who stealth their partners (stealthing is about guys who agree to wear a condom and then take it off during the act). This is referring to guys who are consciously going without wearing a rubber and partners who seem to be OK with that. These guys are pulling out more than ever.
How much pulling out are we talking about exactly?
How Many Single Guys Are Using the Withdrawal Method When It Comes to Intercourse?
So, when they say that pulling out is hugely popular right now, what does that mean? According to an article that was published in 2017 on Live Science's site, although nearly 60 percent of men between the ages of 15-44 claimed to have used some form of birth control within the past three months (which was up from 52 percent back in 2002), 45 percent admitted to using condoms and one percent admitted to having a vasectomy. Here's the real clincher, though—"But rates of the withdrawal method nearly doubled, going from 10 percent of unmarried men in 2002 to 19 percent of these men in 2011 to 2015." (While we're on this topic, it should also go on record that the article also said that, "Nearly 95 percent of unmarried men between ages 15 and 19 said they used contraception, compared with 72 percent of unmarried men between ages 35 and 44" and of those between 15-19 years of age, 26 percent of them said that pulling out was what they did the most). When it comes to men having sex without a condom, something else that's worth checking out is "Pretty Risky: Men Would Skip Condoms with Attractive Women". Yep. You read that right. If a man thinks you're pretty, there's a greater chance that he'll go without using a condom as well. SMDH.
Have mercy, y'all. Personally, I found all of this info to be important and relevant enough to ask some of the men who I know why they think that so many single guys appear to be almost protesting the use of prophylactics. I must admit that some of what I heard caused me to realize that men actually hate using condoms a whole lot more than I ever thought that they did.
How Men Compare Sex with a Condom to Sex Without a Condom
If you've read any of the interview pieces that I've done on here (like "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life" and "What 5 Men Had To Say About Married Sex"), you know that I tend to change the names of my "subjects" a lot. I honestly doubt that I'd get the real and raw from people any other way. So, when it comes to the two married men and the one single guy who I talked to about condom vs. condom-less sex, let's call them Mark, Randall and Jerry. I will tell their actual ages, though—42, 49 and 36.
"Fellas, strictly from a pleasure perspective, what's the difference between sex with a condom and sex without a condom?"
*Mark. Married and 42. "Man, let me think. It's kind of like the difference between someone rubbing on your bare hand or someone touching you with a surgical glove. No matter what the marketing of condoms might say, when you have sex with one, it definitely cuts down the sensation by 40-50 percent. Even the so-called 'high-tech' ones [he's referring to thin ones, ones that have lube or ones that warm up on contact] will improve that ratio by only 20 percent or so. Even though condoms might help you to last longer, the other side of that is, since you don't feel as stimulated, it can actually make it harder to maintain an erection. Honestly, condoms are necessary in order to prevent pregnancy and potentially save your life, but on the pleasure scale, there is nothing truly redeemable or appealing about them. I am thrilled about never having to use one again."
*Jerry. Married and 49. "Condoms suck. I hate those damn things. Where do I start? Condoms don't fit like a glove. Lambskin feels more like real skin, but we all know they aren't as safe. Plus, they're super ass expensive. The best way to compare is, sometimes I go to a salon instead of a barbershop to get my hair cut. When the stylist offers to massage my head while she's washing it with her bare hands, it feels great. But when she has those perm gloves on, I prefer to pass. It feels awkward more than anything. In a nutshell, that's a condom. And don't even get me started on a woman going down on me when I have one on. Most of the time, I was just like, 'That's alright. Let's just do something else.' Nothing can replace that natural feeling—the warmth, the wetness, the closeness—of having sex without one."
Side note: When I asked Jerry if that's why a lot of men can engage in casual hook-ups, his response was, "Oh, definitely. Since you don't really 'feel' your partner, it doesn't seem like the two of you are as connected as the people you don't use a condom with." Isn't that some food for thought?
*Jerry. Single and 36. "I dunno. It's kind of like when HIV and AIDS first hit the scene, everyone was terrified and so we were like, 'Quick! Someone get me a garbage bag!' But even then, no one liked condoms. They're like trying to feel someone through a Band-Aid or giving someone a handshake when you've got a baseball glove on. I've tried that warm-up shit too. C'mon, man. It's like wearing a condom that's made out of Bengay. Then, there's all of these brothas who are out here putting on Magnums when they know that doesn't fit them. I'm a regular and I know it. But when there's been nothing else that's available and I've had sex with one, it's more of a struggle than anything. You're done and you're like, 'Glad we made it through that.' But more than anything, I think that condoms are like having sex with another person in a room. The women I've had sex with where sometimes I had on a condom and sometimes I didn't, it felt like it was actually 'with her' without one."
Goodness. Let me just say that by no means am I sharing these perspectives as a PSA to not use condoms. Not. At. All. I'm simply the type of person who likes to get to the root of matters and so, since so many single men are ditching condom use, I wanted to see why. Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't recall hearing how men actually feel about having sex with a rubber. Now I know.
How to Handle Condom Use While So Many Men Are Pulling Out
Now that we're aware of the fact that pulling out among single men is up 20 percent over the past 10 years or so, and we've got at least a little insight into why, as single women, what should we do about it? That's its own article, but as I get ready to close out of topic, I did want to offer up a few suggestions.
- Do some semi-extensive condom research. Something that all three of the fellas that I interviewed agreed with is condoms have improved, even if it's just a little bit. That's why it's a good idea to not just run up to your local drugstore and pick out the first ones that you see on sale. When it comes to research, the internet is your friend. Spend some time looking into which ones are specifically designed to make sex more pleasurable for you as well as your partner. If you need a little help, some informative reads include "The 10 Best Feeling Condoms for Pleasure", "The Best Condoms for Every Shape, Size, and Proclivity" and "The Best Condom For Her Pleasure - We Review the Top 6".
- Discuss condoms beforehand. This means before sexual activity takes place. Remember how I said that I was, by no means, the poster child for safe sex? A lot of the times, the sex wasn't planned, so being responsible wasn't even considered or discussed. If there was a condom, cool. If there wasn't, I was still gonna get me some. And yes, I do recall quite a few guys feeling like it was all good so long as they pulled out (two of them, I eventually got pregnant by, by the way. Just sayin'). Some people think it's crazy to even consider sex without a condom, but when that man is kissin', touchin' and/or lickin' you right, you'd be amazed how much birth control isn't on your mind. That said, a part of what comes with being ready for sex is being mature enough to prepare for it. So yes, talk about what your method of birth control should be before getting it on—and in. Make sure you're both on the same page. Oh, and if he happens to renege and ends up stealthing you, that's considered, by many, to be sexual assault. I'll leave that right there.
- If you're down with the withdrawal method, know what you're getting yourself into. If you and your partner do decide that sans a condom is what you want to do—1) make sure you both get tested regularly for STDs and 2) if you don't want to conceive a child, get on some other form of birth control, stat. If for some reason you do decide to go without a condom or any other form of birth control, please keep in mind that pulling out is roughly 78 percent effective. This means that for every 100 women who use this form of birth control, 22 of them get pregnant in the process (chile).
This is one of those topics where, while I understand why men hate condoms, that doesn't automatically or necessarily mean they shouldn't use them. They might suck, but they are out here saving lives. Sometimes, we've got to decide which thing gets the upper hand. Ladies, choose life. Then better condoms. In that order, please.
Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel for conversations over cocktails each and every week by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Itunes and Spotify.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Feature image by Shutterstock