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Heather Corinna replies:
I just had sex with my new boyfriend for the first time. He is used to having sex without a condom and now that he is using one he says its harder to have an orgasm because its different. I dont want to feel like I'm not satisfying him. What should I do?
Exactly what you're doing: insisting on safer sex practices that not only will keep you both as safe and healthy as possible while together, but which both of you need to have be a habit in your sex lives, period.
If your partner got used to not using condoms, that's something he's just going to need to get over, because that's not the world that we live in. In the world we live in, safer sex is incredibly important, and it's vitally necessary to prevent the spread of infection and disease. Certainly, most STIs don't have the same consequences and risks for men that they pose to women, but a) your boyfriend is sleeping with women, so he needs to be invested in women's health, and b) they still pose him big risks, too.
Right now, especially since he's had previous partners with unprotected sex, it's important for you to stick to your guns when it comes to condoms. In order to reduce your risks, you both need to practice all of sex safety for at least six months.
• Six months of sexual monogamy
• Six months of barrier use (condoms, dams and gloves or handwashing) with that monogamy for any vaginal, oral and/or anal sex, and
• At least TWO full and clear STI screenings for BOTH of you before you ditch barriers (which should only be done if you're both still being monogamous).
That's the deal, because that's what years of research has shown is needed to best reduce the risks of STIs for sexually active people.
And again, that's the reality. While perhaps some of his partners were willing to risk their health for sex with him -- and that's more common with younger women who just don't understand their risks, or for women with lower self-esteem -- most smart women he'll sleep with aren't going to want to do that, as well they shouldn't. So, boy's got to get with the program.
(You might also want to point out to him that if his female partners were on hormonal birth control before -- and thus, why he wasn't using condoms -- that daily hormones change things when it comes to sexual experiences a LOT more than condoms do. So, even when we're just talking about birth control, any given method is always changing things for someone, and condoms are one of the least instrusive.)
Since he's new to condom use, he may not know a few things which can make condoms feel barely-there. For instance, if he's not using plenty of extra latex-safe lubricant -- a drop or two inside the tip of the condom before he puts it on, then plenty on the outside once it's on -- and not using the thinnest condoms he can find -- which are just as effective as thicker ones -- that might help him out a lot. It might also be helpful for him to practice using condoms on his own while masturbating. Lastly, very few things with sex are as good as they get anytime something is a first time. It might take him a few tries to get used to sex with condoms, but that's hardly a terrible sacrifice: after all, sex is about more than orgasm, and he still gets to be having sex with you.
Too, no one is obligated to only use intercourse to reach orgasm (and since it rarely results in that all by itself for most women, there are plenty of reasons not to). It might feel best for him, for example, for you two to have some intercourse, but then for you two to engage in manual sex or mutual masturbation.
Just know that even if it were NOT possible -- and that's never the case -- for him to feel satisfied without putting your health at risk, that'd still be a pretty poor reason to risk your health. You shouldn't ever feel like you have to make a choice between someone's satisfaction and your health and well-being. It's up to him to work it out with the condoms, not up to you to take risks so he doesn't have to do something he just needs to do.