Practice makes for perfect safe sex

I’m a recently divorced man in my early 50s. I never used condoms when I was younger, as my ex-wife was on the pill. 

Practice makes for perfect safe sex

When I embark on a new relationship, I want to have safe sex and I don’t want to get anyone pregnant, but I’m unused to condoms and I’m worried that I won’t be able to enjoy sex if I am wearing one.

The way to overcome your anxiety about condoms is to practise using them during solo sex, so that you get used to the sensation.

The more you do it, the more proficient you will become, and the less apprehensive you will be about losing your erection when you have to put one on in front of a sexual partner.

Men of any age can experience erection loss when putting on a condom.

A study was carried out in 2006, by Cynthia Graham, an associate research fellow at the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender and Reproduction, at Indiana University. It assessed 278 men to determine their confidence and skill in applying condoms.

It found that three in ten men had lost their erection on one of the past three times that they had applied one. More than half of the men in the study reported problems with “the fit and the feel of condoms”.

You can overcome this by testing different brands by yourself and most manufacturers now sell multipacks, so you can try several styles in one purchase.

Men have always worried about decreased sensitivity while wearing condoms, but a 2013 study found no difference in satisfaction ratings between men who wore condoms and those who didn’t. The study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, also found no significant differences in men’s ability to have erections with or without condoms or lubricants.

This may be because modern condoms are more advanced than the traditional latex versions. Brands such as Skyn Intense or Trojan Supra Ultra are made from microsheer, a medical-grade polyurethane that is thinner and stronger than latex.

Unlike latex, microsheer is hypo-allergenic. It has no taste and smell and it transmits body heat effectively, which makes it feel more natural.

Taking a condom out of a packet is a technique worth mastering, too. Most condom packets now have easy-tear edges, but you should avoid scissors, teeth or anything sharp that can damage the condom inside. You can work out which way a condom is rolled by pinching the ring between your thumb and fingers and rolling it in one direction.

If it resists, you need to roll it the other way. Once you know which direction it should go, place it on top of the penis, pinch the reservoir (the closed end of the condom) to eliminate potential air pockets, and the condom should then roll easily down the length of the erect penis.

It is best to apply a condom when you are kneeling and leaning slightly forward, because this position maintains optimal blood flow to your erection.

To build your confidence, you should be masturbating with a condom at least three times a week, if not more.

You’ll get through a lot of condoms, but every erection that you have preserves sexual function by protecting the nerve fibres and blood vessels in the penis, and preventing scarring of the chambers that fill with blood to form an erection.

As men age, their erections become less reliable, which is why men of your age tend to be reluctant to wear condoms. It is no coincidence then that men aged 55 to 59 are more likely to be affected by an STI than any other group.

This is why it’s important to use barrier protection every time you have sex, but if you settle into a monogamous relationship with a partner who uses contraception, you should have a his-and-hers sexual-health screening.

A good starting point is your GP. If both of you test negative, you can ditch the condoms, because you can only contract an infection if one is present.

* Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com

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