Part of our Sex Ed Series
Happy National Condom Month!
Condoms and protection can be an awkward topic to discuss for a lot of people, especially undergraduate college students. As sex continues to be a taboo topic in society, many people do not get proper education about protection or sexual health before heading to university. Freshman students, finally free of the restrictions that living at home can bring, get the opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences if they want, whether it be sexually or in general. Which is awesome! But, the idea of walking into the C-Store at Kleiner and picking up some Trojans with your dining dollars, can be pretty uncomfortable for some, (I’d say most) students. Thankfully, Recreation & Wellness partners with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health to provide condoms through Wear One. Condoms can be found in several offices all around campus for students to pick up - for free!
What Are Condoms?
Before you head off to pick up your free condoms, it is important to understand what condoms are, and why they are important, so you know what is best for you. In penile/vaginal intercourse, condoms act as barriers that keep sperm from meeting the egg. Condoms not only shield away the swimmers and prevent pregnancy, but can also be used in several sexual activities (oral, anal, vaginal, use with toys) to protect from most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea. For this reason, they are known as barrier methods. Safety is sexy, so finding the right condom for you and your partner(s) is vital!
Types of Condoms
There are many different types of condoms. No matter who you are, or how you and your partner(s) identify, there is a condom for you. There are two main types of condoms: condoms for the penis (external condoms), which cover the shaft of the penis or toy, and condoms for the vagina (internal condoms), which are inserted into the vagina and stay within the vaginal canal. Under this umbrella, there are a wide variety of “specialty condoms” of each type, including:
- Your standard smooth, non-lubricated latex condoms- For the times you want to keep it classic.
- Polyisoprene (No Latex/Latex-free/Non-Latex) Condoms- If you or your partner(s) have a latex allergy, this one’s for you!
- Glow in the dark- To bring in a little disco or laser tag aesthetic to your activity.
- Flavored Condoms- To add some extra flavor to oral sex.
- Studded/Ribbed Condoms- For extra stimulation and fun!
- Warming Condoms- For those cold winter nights (and to add additional sensory stimulation)
- Colored Condoms- To bring some color into your sex life!
- Edible Condoms- Feeling hungry, no worries! Bon appetit! (These condoms are for novelty only! They do not provide protection from STIs or pregnancy)
**Be sure to check for FDA approved condoms to ensure efficacy of condoms. As mentioned, there are some novelty condoms that do not protect against STIs or pregnancy.
Do It Yourself Dental Dams
Unfortunately, not all barrier methods are easily available. Dental dams, for example, are stretchy sheets made of latex or polyurethane plastic, that protect you during oral sex. To put it simply, dental dams are dam hard to find. Do not fret! With the magical powers of DIY, scissors, and a male/female condom of your choice, you can make a DIY dental dam in 3 easy steps!
- Unwrap and unroll the condom of your choice.
- Cut off the tip and the rim of the condom about ½ an inch (or to your desired length). This should create a cylinder with two open ends.
- While carefully holding the condom open, cut down the length of one side to create a square shape.
And BAM! DENTAL DAM!!
The Condom Conversation
When it comes to sex, open communication is KEY, so it is important to start a conversation about using condoms with your partner(s). If you can, having a chat about contraception before you are in a situation where you would need a condom can help make sure everyone involved is on the same page. This is also a great opportunity to set boundaries with your partner(s)! During this conversation, you get the opportunity to voice your condom preferences and boundaries, as well as hear your partner(s) needs. Pro Tip: bringing your own condoms keeps you prepared and ready for anything. Whether it be sexual activity or a spur of the moment water balloon fight, condoms have got you covered!
Free Condom Locations
In a partnership with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, Recreation & Wellness is able to provide condoms for free at locations all around the Allendale (and soon, Pew and Health) campus. Condoms can be found in person at the several locations. If you are not on campus or cannot make it to one of the condom locations, you are able to order condoms by mail (still for free! yay!). As long as in person classes continue, condoms by mail are still available. If you live on campus, fill out this form to get condoms shipped directly to you! If you do not live on campus, no worries. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health will mail you free condoms if you live in Ottawa or Allegan counties. If you are feeling shy and don’t want parents, guardians, or roommates finding out, you're in luck! The condoms are sent in a discreet envelope. You can visit the Ottawa County Public Health website for more information.
Educating yourself on condoms and creating an open conversation with your partner(s) can make sex not only more safe, but more enjoyable for everyone involved. As sex continues to be an often “off limits” topic in our society, it is up to us to create a healthy environment to discuss sex, and the things under its umbrella. So the moral of the story is, save those dining dollars for what they are really for, snacks! RecWell wants students to have all the tools they need for safer sex, so utilizing the services on campus (if interested in engaging in sexual activity) is an easy, no shame way of getting what you need. In order to participate in the conversation and gain additional knowledge, there are several websites where you can learn more about the different types of condoms, or sex in general. We have an entire sexual health page you can browse for more information. If you have any questions, comments, or want peers to talk to, reach out to the Sexual Health Peer Educators using AskWIT.
PS. Want to learn more and have fun?
Join us for Condom Palooza, Tuesday, February 16, 2021 from 7:00pm - 8:00pm. Registration closes on Wed, Feb 10.
By: Annie Seeber, WIT Peer Educator