Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Condoms - fit matters!

A new study published in the journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections, found that a high percentage of men (44.7%) studied reported "ill fitting condoms". All of these folks were in opposite sex relationships.

These same men reported much higher levels of condom dissatisfaction including breakage and difficulty achieving orgasm. A decent chunk of these folks ended up giving up on the condom and went ahead and had vaginal intercourse condom free, with all of the risks associated with unprotected vaginal/penis intercourse.

Which leads me to this.

In public health, we're trained to show folks that condoms can fit on our heads (and they do). I've told jokes about the silliness of a "large" condom. I've told many people that if someone is saying that a condom doesn't fit he's just looking for an excuse to not use a condom.

I was wrong.

The truth is, like any body part, penises come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, with delightfully individual curves and tapers. No one condom is going to be comfortable on everyone. And if it's not comfortable, it's not going to get used.

Frankly, that makes perfect sense. We have sex to enjoy pleasure (among a myriad of other things). The condom should be a part of that, not an uncomfortable distraction.

There is a condom out there for everyone.

How do you find it? Well, first of all, if you like to be sexual with people who put condoms on their body parts ask them what condom they prefer. Don't assume that they'll be happy with the brand that someone else likes. If you have a permanently attached penis of your own, experiment! There are literally hundreds of different kinds of condoms out there. Try different brands, shapes and sizes. Try them when you're jacking off so you're prepared later. Don't worry about what size it says on the box. A "small" condom may be the perfect fit for you. Don't worry, it's not actually small, I promise I can still put it on my head.

Please stay away from condoms with spermicides, they actually increase the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Think about it. Spermicide kills sperm, and sperm are hard to kill, and then you're rubbing that material all of delicate mucus membranes. It causes micro tears and discomfort.

Try condoms that have funky shapes and pouches. Or are latex free. Don't use those lamb skin things unless you and your partner are fluid bonded (lamb skin can prevent pregnancy, but not disease).

Try putting a smidge of water based or silicone lube on the inside.

If your partner tells you that they don't want to use a condom because it's uncomfortable. Listen. They're probably telling the truth. And then find a condom that works for both of you. Because sex is so much hotter when you're protected. And when the condom fits.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

repeating the serenity prayer...or living thru the snowpocolypse

The first snow storm, even though it landed on the Saturday before Christmas, the biggest shopping day of the year was cute. I had a panic attack about losing sales, and then settled down with some hot chocolate, my sweet heart, the dogs and cable and enjoyed some enforced quantity time with my family.

Then we had another winter event. It was a just a tid bit of snow, but the roads were truly awful and we had to close early.

Then there was last weekend. Canceled an event and closed early Friday. Got home just in time. Closed Saturday. Closed Sunday. Open yesterday and today. But there's no parking and a lot of the roads are still bad, so not much shopping happening.

You see, Baltimore doesn't have the machinery or systems to deal with this amount of snow efficiently. And why should we? This is the type of storm that comes along once every decade or so. Except that we're getting another one tonight and tomorrow. And we'll probably be closed Wednesday. And Thursday.

I'm repeating the serenity prayer. A lot. Because you see, Sunday is Valentine's Day, and although we do lots of other lovely things, what pays our bills, what keeps our doors open are sales. And Valentine's day is bigger for us than Christmas. Those two holidays are what get us through the skinny months.

Of course, Sugar is hardly alone in this. Everyone I know in retail is a bit scared. Unless you own a grocery store or a snow removal business, this past week has been brutal to our bottom lines.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have a request.

This weekend, and in the next several weeks, keep your dollars local. Shop at locally owned stores. Eat at local restaurants. Get your hair did. Every dollar you choose to spend at a small business helps keep us afloat through this snowy mess. Of course, don't spend more than you can afford, but if you can open your wallet, do it.

It's not just businesses that are losing money in these storms, it's individuals too. If you have the kind of job that still pays you when you can't get to work because of the snow, think about your friends that work hourly and aren't getting paid while they are sitting at home trapped in their house, take them out to dinner, find a sweet and subtle way to buy them a gas card, or a gift certificate to the grocery store, or help them get to work.

I've seen countless acts of kindness in the past few days. Neighbors digging each other out, bringing each other food. My neighbor volunteers at BARCs (the local shelter that Bella came from) and last Saturday morning she hiked thru the snow to catch a ride to the shelter. A total stranger gave my wife a ride to close to the train station (thanks Fernando!). Another Hampden merchant let me park my car in her lot so that I could open the store (our lot is almost impassable). It's amazing. And I'm so grateful.

Let's keep this caring going for a while after the snow stops. I think we're all going to need it.