When a Woman Doesn't Want To Use a Condom

Here Are Some Tips To Try

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Condoms are often the best way to make a sexual encounter safer. Unfortunately, not everyone likes to use condoms. Many people think that, in a heterosexual couple, it's always the male sex partner who is reluctant to use a condom. However, that isn't actually the case. Often it's a woman saying that she doesn't like sex with condoms or doesn't want to use them.

Some women are only worried about pregnancy, or unable to think of themselves of being at risk for STDs.

They may prefer other birth control options to condoms. They may think condoms are unnecessary. They may worry that a partner asking to use a condom is judging them for previous sexual behavior. In these cases it's important to have realistic conversations about risks and concerns. For example, men who are also worried about pregnancy may consider condoms a great backup option to the pill. 

Some women think of condoms as something that are for other people, because of class, race, or other factors. They may stigmatize condom use or have problematic beliefs about their role in a healthy sexual encounter. These women can require some creative convincing to have safe sex. Sometimes, if they can't be convinced to use condoms, they may even need to be given a polite refusal. Both partners should agree on acceptable risks during sex. Otherwise, it's not a good idea to move forward. Agreeing to have sex when you're uncertain about managing your risk makes the encounter less fun for everyone.

 

Finally, some women don't like condoms because they make sex uncomfortable or even painful. This group can actually be helped. Alternative condom types may be a good option for them. So can slightly altering their sexual habits. 

Why Do Condoms Hurt?

Three common reasons why women have bad experiences with condom sex are latex allergies, problems with nonoxynol-9, and partners who don't use enough lubricant.

The irritation from any one of these problems can leave a woman feeling very uncomfortable. Worse, that irritation can also leave her vulnerable to urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis. Fortunately, all of these problems are pretty easy to deal with.

If your partner tells you that condoms make sex hurt, listen. Then let her know there are some ways to make it more comfortable to practice safer sex:

  • Switch to unlubricated condoms.  With them, use a lot of water-based, or silicone-based lubricant (making sure that it doesn't have N-9). You can (almost) never have too much lube. Lube is an easy way to make sex better. It reduces friction and pain, and it can also make penetration more fun for everyone. 
  • Try a couple of different condom brands. Different latex condoms may contain different types of plant proteins. Interestingly, it's generally those proteins that individuals who are allergic to latex are actually sensitive to. Few people are allergic to the latex itself.
  • Switch to polyurethane condoms. These condoms are latex free and protective against STDs (which natural skin condoms are not). Even better, you can use oil-based lubricants with them! They are, however, somewhat more expensive than latex condoms, and may break more frequently. Many female condoms are made out of polyurethane. They can be an enjoyable alternative for some couples. 
  • Switch to polyisoprene condoms. These condoms are made with a synthetic latex that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. They may be preferable to polyurethane condoms for some individuals. The sensation from them is also more like a traditional, latex condom. 

Some women may never like safe sex as much as they like unprotected sex. However, when safe sex is important, it can be worth the compromise. Peace of mind makes it a lot easier to have fun during sex, if you might otherwise be worried about STDs.

It's also important to remember that there are always tips and tricks for making safe sex hot sex.

Using a condom can be stimulating and fun instead of an interruption. An open mind, a little imagination, and knowledge about latex alternatives can go a long way to making women like condoms. 

Sources

Crosby RA, Milhausen RR, Mark KP, Yarber WL, Sanders SA, Graham CA. Understanding problems with condom fit and feel: an important opportunity for improving clinic-based safer sex programs. J Prim Prev. 2013 Apr;34(1-2):109-15. doi: 10.1007/s10935-013-0294-3. 

Liccardi G, Senna G, Rotiroti G, D'Amato G, Passalacqua G. Intimate behavior and allergy: a narrative review. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007 Nov;99(5):394-400.

Taylor JS, Erkek E. Latex allergy: diagnosis and management. Dermatol Ther. 2004;17(4):289-301.

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