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Is there still a risk if I don't orgasm?

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Anonymous asks:

I am uncircumcised and I was wondering, there isn't anyway that if you have intercourse that sperm won't come out while inside of her unless you reach orgasm right? Like if I'm having sex with a girl and I'm not using a condom there's no way that anything could seep out without reaching a orgasm. Just want to make sure, because condoms don't feel the best when having intercourse.

Sarah replies:

Whether you orgasm or not, sex without a condom leaves you open to both STI transmission and pregnancy risk (assuming your partner is not using another form of contraception that would protect against pregnancy).

Pre-ejaculate (sometimes referred to as "pre-cum"), the fluid that is released by men during the course of sexual arousal, can contain sperm. This is more likely if the man has ejaculated recently or has not urinated recently. However, either way there is just no guarantee that there will absolutely be no sperm in the pre-ejaculate. You won't know when pre-ejaculate is being released (in other words, men don't feel this when it happens) and there is no way to stop it from coming out. Further, and especially with younger men, it may be difficult or impossible to really predict ejaculation before it begins (it's even possible to not even feel the very beginning of an orgasm or ejaculation) at all and thus "pull out" in time. So no, the "withdrawal method" that we hear so much about is really not a method of contraception at all. It's more like a game of Russian Roulette...you'll eventually lose. It still has lots of risks.

Further, sexual activity without barrier methods without condoms is a really risky thing in terms of STI risks (with or without ejaculation). It is not at all advisable to forgo barriers unless you and your partner have been completely monogamous for at least six months and have both had two full STI screens (while using barriers for all contact during that time) that have come out clear during that period. And even then, there is no guarantee that you won't transmit some type (though the risks are lessened as long as you both remain monogamous).

To be honest with you, if you're using good quality condoms and you are using them correctly, there is no reason that a thin piece of latex should impact the sensations during sexual activity in any serious way. And if you feel like there's a serious decrease in sensation, then that either means that you're not using the right condoms (and/or you're not using them really correctly) or that you've convinced yourself that it's just not going to feel as good and thus it doesn't. So step one here is to check your condoms. Are you using a good quality condom? Do you feel like it's fitting comfortably? If you're not, then it's time to start being a snob about your condoms! Try out different brands of thin condoms until you find one that you really like. (The thin ones are just as durable as or more durable than others.) Then make sure that you're using extra condom-safe lubricant. By putting just a drop inside the condom as you put it on (and then lots of extra on the outside after you've got it on), will not only lessen your risks of condom breakage, but it'll increase the sensation for you!

It's also good to consider your preconceived notions about the impact of condoms. Many people go into sexual activity think that condoms are just going to be such a downer and will have a huge impact on sensation. So then when you actually go to use one, you've already convinced yourself that it's going to be a problem and so it is. You're essentially setting up something called a self-fulfilling prophecy. The easiest way to deal with this is just to believe that it really isn't an issue. If you think about a condom as something sexy and something that doesn't impede sensation...I'd almost guarantee you that (assuming you've got the right condom) you'll find that your sensation is not at all decreased.

Beyond that, I'd also suggest that you remember that you're not the only person involved when you're having partnered sex. Being a good, caring partner means not only thinking about your own pleasure, but also about your partner's pleasure and safety. Pulling out is not safe in terms of pregnancy or STI transmission. (Certainly, your partner can utilize one of the various contraceptive methods available to women if she desires as well, but nothing other than a condom is going to provide any protection against STI transmission. Further, hormonal methods, for example, are pretty darn serious since they have to be used everyday, involve messing with your hormones, and cost significantly more over the long haul than do using condoms during sex.) So if you are more worried about a tiny sensation difference than you are about helping a partner avoid an STI or an unwanted pregnancy, then that's not a very good thing at all. This is even more crucial because many STIs have very very serious consequences for women. HPV, for example, may be relatively benign in most men but can cause serious problems like cervical cancer (which can be deadly) in women. Other infections left untreated or treated too late can lead to PID which can have serious consequences for future fertility. While an unwanted pregnancy affects both partners in a relationship, it is certainly a greater issue for the woman involved since she is the one who is actually physically pregnant. If you're going to be sexually active with a partner, then it's only fair for both of you to be actively engaged in making sure that you're both protected. Also, an infection in either one of you is really going to put a damper on good sex far more than a condom ever could. Similarly, many of the contraceptive methods available to women (especially hormonal options) can have far greater physical impacts on a woman's enjoyment of sex than a condom will on a man's (hormonal birth control can often significantly decrease libido and inhibit arousal and natural lubrication, which can be big problems).

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written 01 Oct 2007 . updated 18 Jan 2009

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