Though it was uh, a little harsh, the physical education teacher in Mean Girls wasn’t far off when he warned: “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die!” This could be true if you don’t take rubber-usage seriously when you’re having casual sex. (Or any type of gettin’ jiggy with it.) Though this seems like no-duh advice for teenagers, a new study has found that adults are slacking on their condom use, even though they are well-aware of the risks associated.
The study was conducted by Superdrug, a British pharmacy chain, and polled 1,000 Americans on their condom use. The results weren’t so rosy: 65.5 percent revealed they had unprotected sex, while 29.1 percent of those said they skip condoms every single time. Think it’s the dudes who are resisting gloving up? Not really, since women actually reported less protection than men. In a committed relationship where you’re only romping with one other person you trust — and you make sure you’re both tested — it’s normal to find an alternative way to protect against pregnancy. However, in terms of casual sex, a rubber is well, non-negotiable.
So what’s happening?
According to sex and relationship therapist Courtney Geter, LMTF, this apathy roots in education. She notes that while some schools offer sex ed, many skip it, or they don’t provide an in-depth, no-judgement lecture. “Many people also learn to use condoms to prevent STIs though it is not specifically taught that condoms are needed for all sexual contact including oral sex and not just penetration,” she explains. “Sex education also does not include how bodily fluids can be passed including when using toys or objects during play.”
Another reason, according to Geter, is how restrictive most condoms are for men. Most guys are not taught they have options other than what’s available at their local drugstore. “When they use a condom that doesn’t fit right or feel good, they don’t know to try out another condom to see if it feels better,” she continues. “Buying condoms is like buying shoes. Some shoes fit one person perfectly though are very uncomfortable for another person. When you go to a shoe store, you don’t give up on wearing shoes when one style or brand doesn’t fit well. You keep shopping around.”
If you’re guilty of convincing yourself you don’t actually need a condom, think again, because more than ever, Geter says condom use is essential. “People have more access to sexual partners and the sexual liberation movement is removing the stigma and shame from pre-marital sex or sex with multiple partners. Therefore, people are at more risk of contracting STIs,” she explains.
Considering most STIs don’t have noticeable symptoms, you or your partner might not realize you’re suffering. In addition to saying ‘yes’ to that rubber, Geter encourages regular checks — or whenever you find a new partner. “It is also alright to not engage in any sexual contact with a partner until you both get tested and share results,” she adds.
Moral of the story? Listen to Coach Carr — and wrap it up.