Our mission at Smile Makers is to help people with vaginas and vulva owners set their own standards for good sex, and with that comes safe sex. Good, safe, fun sex – is that too much to ask for?
Across the world, there is a lack of pleasure-positive sex education, STIs are on the rise, and for many of us, abortions are becoming difficult to access. It’s important to use a condom, but for some reason, condoms don’t have a fun reputation.
Condoms are funny but not fun. From our very first experience with condoms, during biology classes with bananas and cucumbers, we’re kinda taught that condoms are a joke. The awkward giggle is then perpetuated by a quick search on TikTok, which shows condoms being used comically, as a gag, and in ways, they are not meant to be used. Culturally, we seem to have accepted that using a condom for safe penetrative sex isn’t actually enjoyable or ideal. But why? Here's why women and people with vulvas should use condoms.
Condoms are effective.
Condoms are a good barrier method; they are the only contraceptive that protects against STIs. Plus, there are no hormonal side effects – they enable comfort for people with vaginas who don’t feel comfortable taking other methods of contraception.
Condoms empower people with vaginas.
As it stands, it is often people with vaginas that carry this mental load of birth control - taking pills, using IUDs, or getting implants. (And we’re tired of carrying it alone, especially when the male contraceptive pill seems to be forever in trials because penis havers don’t want to put up with the side effects.) The invisible mental load includes
- Impacts on our body and hormonal cycles
- Carrying the conversation on contraception with partners
- Coping with assumptions that they are on birth control
But male or female condoms are a contraception method that takes two. It requires communication and a moment of reflection between partners. Even if other forms of birth control are used, protection from STIs is also a big relief. Condoms are a shared responsibility because safe sex should be shared.
Condoms help close the orgasm gap.
Safe sex is an enabler of pleasure and connection, which should be a joy to participate in. It needn’t be a mood killer. After all, safety is the foundation of consent, pleasure, and intimacy. When we know we’re safe, we can enjoy the moments we’re in.
Being present is some of the most significant advice sex therapists give to find pleasure and orgasms. Something that, in a straight partnered situation, men find much more of than women. That doesn’t feel like a coincidence when the onus is often on women to stay protected and safe.
For this orgasm gap, pain is often more present for vulva owners and impacts our pleasure experiences. But the opposite of pleasure is not pain; it is disconnection. Prioritizing pleasure starts with creating connection and being present.
Condoms create connection and intimacy.
What is often mistaken for fumbling awkward moments in television and film is actually an opportunity to connect with our partners. Taking responsibility for each other’s sexual health shouldn’t be an interruption; it should be hella sexy and caring. Especially when putting on a condom takes seconds; unwanted pregnancies and positive STI results should feel like the real interruption. So how does putting on a condom help connection?
- By filling the time with conversation, talking to each other with compliments, dirty talk or enthusiasm, or what you both want to do next.
- By continuing exploration of each other’s body beyond the genitals, think kisses on the neck or hands on the chest.
- By working as one. Putting a condom on together can feel ultra-sensual.
- By watching your partner put it on and trying masturbation in front of them to show them how you like to be touched.
- By marking a natural check-in point. You can ask each other how it feels and ensure everyone involved still gives consent and feels comfortable.
- By showing respect for each other and building trust.
- By making moments where you might laugh (shock, horror), SEX IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!
Also, condoms can help pace intimacy with someone new. Creating (literal) healthy boundaries makes it easier to avoid catching feelings (and STIs) in casual situations. It can mark the next level of intimacy if you decide to go condomless with a longer-term partner you know has been tested.
Condoms protect the vagina.
Condoms not only help to stop the spread of STIs and semen but bacteria too! Bacteria (and semen) can disrupt the vaginal pH and cause infections such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush. A study in 2007found that consistent condom use decreased the risk of BV and protected the vagina’s microbiome, while another study found that using a condom correctly helped the growth of protective probiotics in the vagina.
Condoms aren’t just for p-in-v sex.
For people with vaginas, condoms are more than birth control; they protect against STIs! That means the only time to use condoms isn’t just for penis-in-vagina sex. And, even then, to use the condom correctly, it should be put on the way before it goes anywhere near the vulva to stay fully protected – things can be transmitted during grinding on top of each other, gliding across the clitoris, and oral sex. Then there’s anal sex! Remember, if you fancy switching between anal and vaginal sex, switch to a fresh condom to avoid transferring bacteria that can lead to UTIs.
Now, let’s forget penises. Condoms are an excellent barrier method for penetrative sex toys like dildos and strap-ons, especially when sharing between partners.
Dental dams help prevent the spread of STIs during cunnilingus or anilingus, i.e., vulva licking or anal rimming. External condoms are widely available, so many people make dental dams. By snipping the tip of the condom with scissors and then cutting lengthways, a thin sheet of latex is created.
In sex ed, conversations can often focus (if at all) on safe reproductive sex, but STI protection is just as important! LGBTQIA+ people with vaginas need to know about condoms, too; it’s not just for heterosexual sex or people with a penis. Read about the best practices for safer queer sex.
What condoms should I buy?
Say hello to Come Connected condoms for equal protection and equal pleasure. We designed these condoms by Smile Makers to be present with ourselves and with our partners by sharing the mental load, closing the disconnect, and allowing us to come connected and protected. We have always prioritized pleasure for people with vulvas, and now we want to prioritize their headspace too.
What makes a good condom?
- Easy-to-open condoms mean less ‘interruption’ and an enhanced putting-on experience, as the condom pops up, the correct way up, from its buttercup packaging. This also means less risk of tears or rips with teeth or nails.
- Extra lubrication to make things extra safe. Lube means less friction and less worry of breakages for more pleasure and headspace. Being immersed in a pool of lubricant makes the condoms feel more luxurious and gives you extra to play with on the vulva.
- Ultra-thin condoms, 0.05mm in thickness,increase pleasure sensations with a barely-there feel.
- Manufactured by the world’s largest condom makers, who make over 5 billion condoms a year and are SMETA certified.
- Free from gluten, parabens, and spermicide makes condoms incredibly body safe. Throw in no coloring and flavoring for the best condom experience.
- The safest condoms pass rigorous testing requirements to gain the FDA, EU CE, and UKCA certifications. They are 100% electronically tested for safety and breakages.
So, who’s with us? As the world reports an STI epidemic, let’s wrap up the funny condom jokes and reclaim the FUN in safe sex with Come Connected condoms.