SSIS advice column

January 10, 2020

Welcome back to the SSIS column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions! 

(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)

Why are there so many different types of condoms? 

This is a great question! Condoms come in a variety of shapes, materials and even colors. Each body is different and condom preferences will vary from person to person. The reason condoms can be so diverse is to suit the needs of any individual. 

To start, there are external and internal condoms. Both are intended for the prevention of STIs and pregnancy. External condoms are typically worn by a penis owner during sex, but can also be cut up and used as a dental dam. Internal condoms can be worn inside the vagina or the anus. Internal condoms have an outer ring that should remain outside the vagina or anus during sex.

Below, we will break down some of the ways in which condoms can vary and why a person may choose one over the other!

Material: At SSIS, we offer condoms that are latex, nitrile and polyurethane. The majority of condoms on the market today are latex, which is a material that can stretch up to 8 times its size. However, for those with a latex allergy, these are not an ideal option. Polyurethane is a plastic material that is a great alternative to latex condoms. Condoms made with polyurethane are known for conducting heat better and being thinner, which could add to pleasure. Nitrile is also an alternative to latex, and is usually used to make internal condoms. All three of these materials are about equally effective at preventing pregnancy and STDs. Additionally, these condoms are all compatible to be used with silicone, water-based or hybrid lubricants! 

Fit: Condoms can be standard fit, roomy or snug. All penis-owners are not built the same, so neither are condoms! Finding the right fit of condom can increase pleasure and comfort. Standard fit condoms have a width of 1.75 to 2 inches. Snug condoms have a width of under 1.75 inches. Large condoms have a width over 2 inches. Some may find the tighter fit of a snug condom to be the most pleasurable, where others may find the best sensation using a roomy condom. Others still may find the most enjoyment out of a standard fit condom. SSIS recommends trying out a few different types to see what works best for your body!

Shape: The shape of the condom is its contour or silhouette. The classic and most familiar condom shape is called “straight wall” with a reservoir tip at the end. At SSIS, you can also find dome-shaped and bulbous condoms, which have a base similar to a standard shape condom but have a bulge at the tip. This can be pleasurable for stimulating the frenulum or g zone! We also offer condoms that are ribbed or studded for extra pleasure and stimulation. However, it is not recommended to use studded condoms for anal sex as it could increase the risk of microtears, which make it easier for STIs to enter your body. 

But wait, there’s more! The fun doesn’t stop there! Condoms can also come in a variety of colors. Additionally, SSIS offers six different condom flavors, such as mint chocolate chip and strawberry. 

If you would like guidance in finding the right condom for you for your partner, come by the SSIS office! We offer 20 different condoms and SSIS members are always happy to talk through all of the options.

Is it okay to use porn and masturbation as a form of self care?

We are so glad you asked this question! The answer is yes! 

Porn has a lot of great benefits. For example, it can help to increase sexual satisfaction. Additionally, porn is a form of safe sex—no need to worry about pregnancy or STIs when it’s just you and your computer! Porn can also help you to be more comfortable with yourself. One way in which porn can do so is by normalizing your desires. Additionally, exploring the world of porn allows you to find what does and does not turn you on. Taking the time to get to know your body, discover your desires and experience pleasure is fantastic self care!

Porn also encourages masturbation, which is also excellent self care! Here are some health benefits of masturbation: healthier sperm, improved blood flow, naturally kills pain, no risk of STIs, and a self-esteem boost! 

While we are talking about all the positives of masturbation and pornography, let’s dispell a few myths! To start, it is not true that masturbation can desensitize people to sex. In fact, it is quite the opposite: familiarizing yourself with your body will allow you to better show your partner what you enjoy. Another myth is that if you masturbate, you are no longer a virgin. This fallacy likely stems from the idea of “popping your cherry” for vagina owners. However, virginity is a concept—not a physical object that can be lost. 

Masturbation and pornography are healthy activities and SSIS encourages incorporating them into your self care routine! The SSIS library on the third floor of the SCC has more resources on mastubation and pornography that may be helpful to you.

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