Sex advice with Suzi Godson: What do I do when I find sex without a condom uncomfortable?

Sex advice with Suzi Godson: What do I do when I find sex without a condom uncomfortable?

I’m 29 and I have never had sex without a condom. My girlfriend and I have just decided to stop using them, which I thought would be great — but actually I find that things are debilitatingly, uncomfortably sensitive without the trusty latex barrier. And I orgasm too quickly.

Having invested billions of dollars creating products that are branded as “skinless”, “barely there” or “real feel”, condom manufacturers the world over will be at pains to disagree with you. 

However, you’re not the only one who finds a notable difference between using a condom and not using one.

In 2013 The Journal of Sexual Medicine published the results of a study of condom use among a sample of adults aged 18 to 59 in the US. 

One finding of the study, carried out by Debby Herbenick at Indiana University, was that “participants consistently rated sex to be arousing and pleasurable whether or not they used condoms or lubricant”.

This was widely reported as evidence that using condoms does not diminish sensitivity for men during sex. 

However, a closer look at the paper reveals that “men who had sex without a condom, or lubricant, reported significantly greater arousal than men who used a condom without lubricant”.

Although it was interpreted as evidence that sex with condoms was as pleasurable as sex without them, Herbenick’s study was not specifically focused on the level of sensation men experienced when they wore condoms.

In 2014 Brandon J Hill and a team at the same university addressed that issue in a study of the effect of condoms on penis sensitivity. 

Using standard latex condoms, they found that wearing a condom decreased sensitivity.

You have, to date, been a poster boy for sexual responsibility, so it is disappointing to hear that sex without a condom is causing you so many problems. 

Sex without a condom shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, but some men, particularly those who are uncircumcised, find that wearing a condom protects the sensitive glans and frenulum during sex.

An alternative way to limit potentially painful friction is to use lubricant. 

Silicone-based products are best. Try Uberlube (uberlube.com), which is silicone with a trace of vitamin E. 

Sliquid Naturals Silver (sliquid.com) is also a good option and it is long-lasting.

You also, simply, need to get used to the new sensation. The only way to do that is through practice, whether that’s on your own, or with your partner.

At first it may be better to start with masturbation. When you are masturbating, be conscious of pain points. 

Working out what hurts, and when, may actually reveal underlying conditions such as phimosis (a tight foreskin) or balanitis (a sore and inflamed glans). 

If you think you have either of these, don’t worry — both conditions are treatable, but they do require a trip to the GP.

Finally, it is also possible that you have become so conditioned to using condoms that the discomfort you feel is a psychological response to change. 

If intercourse has, habitually, always been preceded by a specific ritual, not doing the thing you have always done can leave you feeling uneasy.

You don’t say why you have stopped using condoms, but in doing so you have relinquished any control you had over sexual health and contraception.

Condoms are the only way for a man who is sexually active to ensure that he does not become a father. 

Unless, of course, deciding not to use condoms is a mutually agreed first step on the path to parenthood, in which case you need to sort this out so that you can enjoy all the sex you can before a baby arrives.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com

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