To usher in the dawn of the summer and celebrate the last TMW issue of the year, I am changing up the format of the column ever so slightly. Instead of answering a single question, I am going to take this opportunity to impart some knowledge that everyone ought to know before the shenanigans of summer break begin. Though some of this information may be old news to many of you, it’s important to recognize that we each come from a hugely diverse background of knowledge, and what might be common sense to you could be completely new to others. Let’s respect that. Each paragraph will begin with a new piece of trivia, valuable advice or myth debunked. I hope you learn something new today! Enjoy.
Never ever use more than one condom on one penis at one time. Never. A surprising amount of people believe that if one condom is good, two condoms must be better. But during penetration, there is a lot of friction that occurs between flesh and condom. If two condoms are used at once, with one covering the other in a “double-bagging” technique, the condoms rub against each other and can stretch, tear, break and/or fall off. The same principle applies for using an internal condom (condom that is worn inside the vagina) and an external condom at the same time. Generally, this misinformed but well intentioned technique stems from an extreme desire not to get pregnant, at which point it would be best to research other forms of birth control that can be safely and effectively used in tandem with condoms.
Speaking of condoms, always put a new condom on the penetrating object when it’s going into a new orifice. This is especially important if you’re going from anal penetration to vaginal penetration. The condom used during anal must be removed and replaced with a fresh condom to prevent gastrointestinal bacteria entering the vagina. The introduction of anal bacteria into the vagina can cause bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and urinary tract infections, all of which can lead to complications if ignored. No matter how clean the anal cavity is kept, there will always be natural and normal bacteria present in the anus, which only becomes harmful when it is introduced to a new environment. If engaging in anal and vaginal fingering, the penetrator should use a different hand for each orifice, wash their hands between activities or wear and replace gloves between switches. Replace or remove the condom after anal penetration if moving to oral penetration as well. The “new orifice, new condom” rule should also be applied if one penetrating object is being used between two different peoples’ orifices. For example, if multiple people with vaginas are using a single sex toy, the condom should be replaced between partners. This avoids the spread of STIs and other infections.
Only one more on condoms, I promise. Technically, the failure rate of condoms is only two percent, meaning that out of 100 people using condoms, only two will get pregnant within the first year. However, the failure rate with standard usage of condoms is down to a whopping 18 percent, meaning that the ways in which people actually use condoms cause 18 out of 100 people to become pregnant within the first year. Please learn how to use a condom correctly! If you’re looking for resources, the Planned Parenthood website has a Youtube video, several diagrams and a lot of extremely informative textual directions.
Buying sex toys should take more time and consideration than buying the first, cheapest toy you see in the local Spencer’s. One of the less frequently discussed effects of the climate of sex negativity in the United States is that sex toys are completely unregulated by the government. There are no standards of packaging, no obligation to report component materials and no accountability for manufacturers that use harmful chemicals in their production. The two most important qualities of a sex toy are that it be non-porous and phthalate free. Phthalates are chemicals that make hard plastics more flexible and bendy, which explains their prevalence in sex toy production. They are banned in children’s toys in the United States because there is research that indicates that they may be carcinogenic. They have also been linked to neurological and reproductive problems in animals. No research has been done on their effects on humans. Since sex toy manufacturers are not obligated to include accurate information on their packaging, a “phthalate-free” label is a good place to start, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), jellied plastics or vinyl should be avoided, as should anything that smells potently of unpleasant plastic or new car. Toys that begin to sweat oils over time should be discarded, as often this is a sign that phthalates are present. Beyond phthalates, porous toys should be avoided because bacteria can build up in the pores despite constant washings. With non-porous toys (like those made of silicone), condoms don’t have to be used with every use, and they can be thrown in the dishwasher or boiled for easy cleaning. If you’ve never bought a sex toy before but are looking to get one, I would recommend Babeland’s website, or taking a trip down to Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis.
With great knowledge comes great power, my dears. Have an orgasmically enjoyable summer.