Clutch is partnering with b condoms, the world’s only minority-owned, socially responsible condom company to begin publishing a series of articles addressing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual health and relationships. We look forward to your comments and engaging with you in this much-needed subject. For more information about b condoms or HIV/AIDS please check out @bcondoms or www.bcondoms.com.

Communication can be difficult, especially when it comes to potentially awkward topics like sex. We often bring up difficult subject manner in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s impromptu, where we decide on the spot to bring something up without warning. Or we bring things up in way in which we’ve practiced the conversation in our head or have at least thought extensively about what we want to discuss prior to speaking with our partners. In many situations, when it comes to discussing condom use, it’s more than just about having a partner who doesn’t want to wear a condom due to a variety of reasons (i.e., condom size, allergies to materials used to make condoms, condom availability during the moment of intimacy). Domestic violence, other and situations where suggesting a condom can often bring about suspicions of infidelity, are also possible reasons why individuals may forgo wearing a condom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Black community represents only 14% of the United States population, but accounted for 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. Of that, 30% of new HIV infections were among heterosexual Black women, 15 times higher compared to the rate of HIV infections for other racial groups of women. One would think that with these statistics, many Black women would not take any chances of becoming infected with HIV; yet the rising rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) suggest that Black women are still not using condoms consistently.

When it comes to partner communication regarding protection against unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, the narrative typically focuses on one partner (in may cases, the woman), expressing frustration in the other partner’s lack of interest in wearing a condom. However, it’s not just men who are reluctant to wear one. What about instances in which the woman makes the decision not to use a condom, despite having a partner who is willing to use condoms or despite the sobering statistics of HIV infections among Black women?

Some possible reasons women may decide not to use a condom include:

  • · Invincibility- Many people, including women, still believe that contracting HIV cannot happen to them. Though HIV was once known as a “gay white man’s disease”, people are still, regardless of sexual orientation and gender, contracting HIV at high rates.
  • · Knowing the partner- Even if one knows the basic things about a potential partner, if one is familiar with an individual and believes that they are “clean” enough to have sex with, they might forgo using a condom.
  • · Being in a long-term relationship- When you’ve been with someone long-term, and you haven’t used condoms in a while, it can often be difficult to do back to using condoms.
  • · Access to contraceptives, including condoms- In many communities of color, condoms just aren’t readily available, or people my not know where to gain access to condoms. Additionally, many pharmacies, including CVS, have been criticized in recent years due to keeping condom brands locked up, particularly in communities of color as a measure to prevent theft.
  • · Adverse reactions while having sex- For some women, having sex with a condom may be very uncomfortable with a condom, and maybe even painful. Many people are allergic to latex condoms and can become irritated, which can lead to urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, or yeast infections. (If this is the case, try using polyurethane or polysoprene condoms, which are latex-free.)
  • · One type of protection is enough- Many women may place birth control (pills, IUDs, diaphragms, etc.) as a higher priority due to not wanting to become pregnant, compared to using a condom in addition to a birth control method.

Do you always use condoms when you have sex? In what instances have you found it more preferred not to use a condom? Share your experiences in the comments to generate dialogue about this important topic, and any ways to help Clutch readers become more consistent in using condoms.

 

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  • Deborah

    For the longest time I rarely used a condom and it took me a few years to get my 1st pap smear. I contracted chlamydia at 18 and still have it today at age 21. Ive been tested for HIV/AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea and luckily this was the only STI Ive got. Ive been with my boyfriend for over 2 years and I passed it to him when I though it was gone but when I was getting irritation I got tested again and sure enough I had chlamydia
    I dont wear condoms for none of the reason listed above, but because in the sexual moment me and my partner dont talk about wearing condoms or our health we just go straight to sex. So it would be lack of communication basically. I am in the process of taking anti-biotic and waiting for my BF to take them to so we can both be clean.

  • irvienne

    Would have to agree that the article leaves out key issues for women to practice safer sex and Dee lays out those pretty well the number one issue for women not using safer sex and contraception is thier partners objection their fear of partners rejection if in an unhealthy and abusive relationship cultural and gender roles still not generally acceptable of women initiatings sexual conversation Qon makes a point about what most still believe about condom use that when used it means the relationship is not intimate especially us women while biology is important for women please do not mistake that women cannot transmit STI AND HIV to men Be sure to note that having an STI makes it easier for HIV Transmission no matter who you are having sex with and is thought to be one of the drivers of the still high rates in the Black community and thanks Deborah for highlighting our lack of communication I provide HIV STI education in our communiity it would be great for Clutch to connnect with folks doing prevention work in our community around these articles and it is never too late to get tested and protected each other

  • Pingback: bcondoms » Blog Archive » When Women Decide to Not Use Condoms()

  • Really informative post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  • Tracy

    Something that is rarely touched upon is what about people who are married, in long term relationships and have been tested? Since we are never safe then when can we forgo condoms? I mean what about those who would like kids? My rule is this during casual sex condoms always, if I find myself in a long term committed relationship with someone who has been tested during our relationship for all stds including hiv and we have shared OFFICIAL test results then I don’t feel the need for condoms. The skin of my partner does feels better and is less irritating (I’m not allergic to latex) than a condom. Now that being said I have been cheated on when I was married, didn’t catch an std and conceived an adorable child. The only sex that is safe is none at all and you won’t find many takers for that. Unprotected sex is a reality if for no other reason than procreation. People getting tested AND being faithful is the problem.