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 vs No 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.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood