Healthy lives for young people
Contraception

Condom excuses (and comebacks!)

Some people don’t use condoms because they think they don’t need to or because they don’t want to. But condoms are the only method of contraception that protect you against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so using them is a really good habit to get into. There are so many different types to choose from, and many are designed to increase pleasure so they can actually make sex more enjoyable. 

Read more about pregnancy here.
Read more about STIs here.

So whether it’s you making the excuses or whether it’s your partner(s), here are the most common ones we’ve heard, together with a comeback:

  1. “I only use condoms if I think someone has an STI.”

    You can’t tell if someone has an STI by the way they look or behave. You can’t even tell whether someone has an STI by knowing who they’ve slept with or how many people they’ve slept with. Many STIs have no symptoms, and you only need to have sex once to catch an STI. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested. Read about how STIs are tested and treated here.
  2. “Condoms spoil sex for me.”

    This is a common excuse, but safer sex can be good sex! The type of condom is important though, so think about the following:

    Size: condoms that are the wrong size can be uncomfortable and make sex less pleasurable. They can also be more likely to break or slip off. Try different sizes of condoms to see which ones suit you best.
    Thinner condoms: Some condoms are thinner than others, which can increase pleasure and sensation.
    Non-latex condoms: These are good if you have an allergy to latex. However, they can also feel more natural because they are thinner, and they allow you to feel heat through them which can make sex more pleasurable.
    Flared condoms: Some condoms are flared at the end, meaning there’s more room for the end of the penis. This can make them easier to put on, and more comfortable.
    Stimulating condoms: Some are ribbed, and some have lubricant on them that gives a tingling or warm sensation. Stimulating condoms are designed to enhance pleasure.
    Flavoured condoms: These can make oral sex taste better. Note that you should not use flavoured condoms for Penis in Vagina sex, because the flavoured lube in them can interfere with the natural PH balance of the vagina and cause irritation.
    Condoms with extra lubricant: These can also make sex more pleasurable (or you can add lube to condoms). You can either add lube to the inside of the condom (put a few drops inside the tip before rolling it on); OR to the outside of the condom once it has been put on. Make sure to limit the lube you add to the inside of the condom to a few drops, because too much could cause it to slip off.
  3. “Why bother? STIs can be cured with antibiotics.”

    Whilst it’s true that all STIs can be treated, not all can be cured. Also, not everyone will experience symptoms so you can have an STI for a long time without even knowing, and if they’re not treated, they can cause problems such as infertility. The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested. 
  4. “Sex feels so much better without a condom… it’s worth the risk.”

    It can be easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but try to stop and think about if you’d be ready for the consequences of unprotected sex. Unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy and/or STIs.
  5. “No one would have unprotected sex if they had an STI!”

    Chances are, you think this because you wouldn’t have unprotected sex if you had an STI but not everyone will think like this. Even if they do, they may not even know that they have an STI. Two of the most common STIs, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, don’t have any symptoms. That means they could pass it on to you without even knowing.
  6. “We use another method, so we don’t need to.”

    If you or your partner(s) are able to get pregnant and you’re using another method of contraception to protect against unintended pregnancy (like the pill, which you can find out about here), you would still be at risk of STIs. However, if you are in a monogamous relationship and both you and your partner have been tested for STIs, then it might be safe for you to not use condoms. You can discuss this with a professional at a sexual health clinic. Sometimes other methods of contraception are not always 100% effective, so sometimes you might need to use condoms. Read more about other methods of contraception here.
  7. “Condoms make me lose my erection.”

    There are lots of different reasons why someone might lose their erection. Some people find that using a condom makes their erection last longer, but for others using a condom has the opposite effect. The first thing to recognise here is that not being able to “get hard” or “stay hard” is very common, and is not unusual. Here are some tips that might help with condom-related erection loss:

    Check you’re using the correct size: Sometimes people lose their erection because the condom is too small.
    Have a “posh wank” to practise: Try practising putting on a condom on your own. Masturbating with a condom on can help you get used to the feeling of wearing a condom during sex. Read more about masturbation here.
    Try different types of condom: If your partner has a Vagina then you could suggest trying Internal Condoms. Internal condoms can be inserted into the vagina to protect against pregnancy and STIs AND they’re latex-free. Read more about internal condoms here.

    Remember – you can have great sex without an erection (try exploring other types of touch that might lead to pleasure), but if erection loss is worrying you then you can talk to a professional about it. Brook, other sexual health services, or counselling services should be able to help. See our page on erections and staying hard for more information.
  8. “It’s SO hard to stop in the heat of the moment.”

    Sometimes, even if you plan to use condoms, it can be difficult to stop and put one on in the heat of the moment. Here are some tips to help stop this from happening:

    Talking about condoms: Doing this before you have sex means you’re much more likely to end up using them. Find out about to talk about condoms here.
    Make putting the condom on sexy: This can make the condom part of the moment and mean it isn’t interrupting the sex. If you both feel comfortable, get your partner to put it on for you.
    Having condoms ready and nearby: This way you’re always prepared!. Have some near your bed, such as in a bedside drawer (just make sure they are easy to find and not buried at the bottom), and always carry condoms with you, such as in your wallet, pocket, or bag. Make sure you don’t store them here for more than one month as they can get damaged.
    Make a plan to use a condom: and stick to it!
  9. “I forget when I’m drunk or high.”

    People often feel in the mood for sex after drinking or taking drugs, but sex when you’re drunk or high isn’t always the best idea because if someone is drunk or high, then they may not have the capacity to consent to sex. This includes any kind of sexual activity, like kissing or fondling. Any sort of sexual activity without consent is illegal whatever the age of the people involved and whatever their relationship. If someone is too drunk or high, then do not engage in sex with them – look after them. Read more about consent here.

    Drink and drugs can also make sex less pleasurable. People often experience less sensation in their genitals when they have been drinking alcohol. Some people also experience vaginal dryness, find it difficult to maintain erections, and struggle to orgasm.
  10. “I can’t afford condoms.”

    Condoms are free on the NHS. You can get them for free from any sexual health clinic, including Brook clinics. Find your nearest service here.

    If you’ve had unprotected sex, you can get tested for STIs at lots of places, including Brook clinics. Clinic staff won’t judge you or your behaviour, they know that you’ve done the right thing by going to get tested. If you’re anxious about it, you can read about what happens when you visit a Brook clinic here.
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    Advice
    12 common mistakes when using condoms
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    Advice
    Talking about condoms with your partner
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    Info
    External (or male) condoms
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    Info
    Internal (or female) condoms
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