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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole