Top 5 Reasons to Use Condoms

by Jamie Porter, MA, health promotions analyst

September is Sexual Health Awareness Month. To celebrate, we’re counting down the top 5 reasons to use condoms.

5. They’re easily accessible

They are less expensive than other forms of contraception, and you don’t need a prescription to get them. You can obtain condoms at the Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center pharmacy, an off-campus drug or grocery store or through Protection Connection, UHC’s program that delivers condoms to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students for free.

4. They can make partners with penises last longer

If premature ejaculation is something you or your partner struggle with, condoms can help by decreasing sensation, especially if you aren’t placing lubricant inside the condom or using a thinner condom.

3. They can increase the effectiveness of other forms of contraception

No form of birth control is 100 percent effective; and human error can make them less reliable. If you’re having sex that can result in pregnancy, using condoms in addition to another compatible form of contraception can decrease you or your partner’s chances of getting pregnant.

2. They’re the only method of contraception, besides abstinence, that help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases

So even if you or your partner are using another form of birth control, you’ll want to use internal or external condoms as well. They’re also not just for types of sex that can result in pregnancy. If you and your partner share sex toys, such as vibrators or dildos, you can use condoms to prevent spreading STDs by replacing the condom on the toy when you switch who’s using it. Condoms are also important to use when engaging in oral sex to prevent the spread of STDs as well.

1. Using condoms communicates to your partner that you care about both of your sexual health

What better way to show you care than with your actions?

Remember, UHC offers free safer sex supplies, some free STD testing, birth control consultations and more. Visit our website for additional details. 

Advertisements

Advice for a Fun, Safe Spring Break

We know what you’re thinking — only one more day until spring break! Whether you plan to fly to a tropical destination, head to the mountains to hit the slopes or go home for some quality time with friends and family, here are a few tips to ensure you have a fun and safe spring break:

On the Road

  • Driving while tired can have similar effects on your body as drunk driving. Trade drivers often or stop for the night.
  • Check the laws of your destination (e.g., open container, cell phone use).
  • Distracted driving is dangerous. Have passengers navigate, control music and text/call for the driver.

Sun and Slope Safety

  • Sunburns don’t just happen at the beach. Always use sunscreen and lip balm with at least SPF 15 and reapply often.
  • Protect your eyes with lenses that block out UV rays A and B.
  • Drink extra water: Sun exposure and altitude can be dehydrating

Condom Sense

  • Condoms help prevent pregnancy and STDs. Have them handy even if you don’t plan on being sexually active — a friend might need it!
  • Use water- or silicone-based lubricant for increased sensation and decreased chances of condoms breaking.
  • Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault. Being drunk may make your partner unable to consent.

Personal Safety

  • Have a plan before you go out. Will everyone go back to the hotel room together or are some staying with a friend? Make it specific and stick to it.
  • Know a friend or family member’s contact information in case you can’t access your phone.
  • Consider the risks associated with what you share online while you are out of town.
  • Don’t drink anything you didn’t see mixed/poured or that has been left alone.

Safer Drinking

  • If you drink, eat before and while you do it. High protein foods slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Before going out, make a plan for getting home safely (e.g., sober driver, taxi company or ride share service).
  • If you drink, alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night to stay hydrated and pace yourself.

For more wellness tips, follow our blog. We post weekly about topics YOU care about. To request a blog post topic, email uhc@unl.edu.

Overcoming Condom Embarrassment

by Jamie Porter, University Health Center health promotions analyst

What if someone I know sees me? What will the employees think of me?

If you have had some of these thoughts when preparing to buy condoms at a drug or grocery store, you’re not alone. One of the most frequently mentioned barriers to consistent condom use among college students is feeling embarrassed, awkward, or dread when buying condoms (Crosby et al, 2003; Bryan et al, 1996; Wendt et al, 1995).

Here are our top tips for not letting these feelings prevent you from taking care of you and your partner(s):

  1. Try thinking of condoms in the same way as you do any other self-care product. They are just as necessary as deodorant, toothpaste or feminine hygiene products. This may help you feel more comfortable when interacting with the employee at the checkout counter. They see countless customers all buying similar products.
  2. Utilize Protection Connection. This free service provided by University Health Center’s Health Promotion and Outreach delivers a wide variety of safer sex supplies to your residence. It is discreet and no one will be the wiser.
  3. Use a self-checkout option at the store. Many stores now include several checkout stations where you do not have to interact with employees.
  4. Stop by Health Promotion and Outreach (University Health Center Room 12) to pick up a couple of Cover-It-Kits. It’s our job to talk to students about how they can practice safer sex. This helps us make students feel more comfortable asking questions and for the tools to keep themselves healthy.
  5. Purchase your condoms at the University Health Center Pharmacy or the pharmacy you frequently use. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are professionals who work to provide customers with the tools they need to keep themselves healthy.

Bonus tip: You can also often find Cover-It-Kits in the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, Women’s Center, in your residence hall bathroom or with your resident Wellness Advocate.

Condom Negotiation is a Necessary Part of Consent

By Jamie Porter, health promotions analyst 

Last month, a Swiss man was convicted of sexual assault for removing a condom during sex without his partner’s knowledge. This was a landmark case in Switzerland—and for the rest of the world.

The victim had consented to one sexual act with the man. She had made it clear that her consent was contingent upon her partner wearing a condom. When he removed the condom without her knowledge, he began a different sexual act; a sexual act for which he didn’t have consent.

Any sexual act without the consent of both partners is considered sexual assault.

According to Scarleteen.com, sexual consent is “an active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind with someone else, and a shared responsibility for everyone engaging in, or who wants to engage in, any kind of sexual interaction with someone.” It is:

  • Verbally expressed
  • Specific
  • Enthusiastic
  • Given when sober and conscious
  • Can be withdrawn at any time
  • True for all participants.

Consent must be given for each sexual act, and consent for one sexual act does not constitute consent for another act. Check out the Scarleteen.com link above for a more in-depth exploration and explanation of consent.

If you are having a hard time seeing how a discussion of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention would relate to sexual consent, try thinking about it this way: When conducting an academic study, researchers must obtain consent from every participant. Part of obtaining consent from participants includes informing them of any and all possible risks participating in the study may pose. That is what we call informed consent.

In many ways, informed consent used for research is similar to sexual consent. It is specific; researchers must inform participants about exactly what will take place during the study. During informed consent, participants must be sober and give consent verbally (in addition to in written form). All participants have the right to stop at any time.

Another parallel that should exist, but often doesn’t, is informing participants of potential risks. STDs and pregnancy are possible risks to many sexual acts. In sexual consent, partners should disclose any STDs they have, any contraception used (if needed), and how they can reduce these risks.

Condom use and consent are rarely talked about together—if at all. This case shows that discussions about STD prevention and contraception are not just important to keep all partners sexually healthy—they are an integral component of obtaining consent. More importantly, if you are not respecting your partner’s wishes and boundaries when it comes to using barriers to prevent STDs and/or pregnancy, you are not practicing consent.

To learn more about sexual health, contact me at jporter@nebraskamed.com. If you want to learn more about consent and reducing sexual assault on UNL’s campus, check out PREVENT.