Condoms are the smallest superheroes — able to prevent pregnancy and the spread of many STIs, and live in your wallet or bedside table, ready at a moment’s notice. But even though condoms are one of the all-time great inventions, there comes a time in most sexual relationships when couples want to experience sex without latex. But wait, before you consider condom-less sex, keep in mind that there are a few important steps you should take to protect yourself. We put together a checklist:
Talk About Monogamy
Discuss whether you and your partner are monogamous, and plan to stay that way. Being in an exclusive relationship is a must for condomless sex because you’re removing the most effective barrier against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Talk openly with your partner about whether you’re ready to be monogamous. If either of you decides to keep having sex with other people, use condoms to protect against infection. If you decide to have sex only with each other and you fully trust your partner to remain committed, you’re ready for the next step: STI testing.
Get Tested for STIs
Because condoms protect against many sexually transmitted infections — including HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and more — you want to make sure your partner is STI-free before you take away that protection. And even if you think you are STI-free, you should get tested to double-check and to put your partner at ease. Many sexually transmitted infections don’t have visible symptoms, which is why regular testing is critical. Nurx offers STI test kits you can use at home (make it a date!).
If you or your partner does test positive for an STI our medical team will either prescribe treatment directly or refer you to in-person care. If you test positive for one or more STIs, put your plan for stopping condom use on hold and focus on treatment first. Common bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.
Condoms don’t offer complete protection from two of the most common STIs, herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), but they do offer some protection, so weigh that possibility when making your decision to stop condoms. If you or your partner has genital herpes, and the other does not, then taking a daily dose of valacyclovir can help prevent the spread of herpes to the partner who doesn’t have it.
Find a Reliable Form of Birth Control
If condoms have been your only form of birth control, then clearly you need to select another birth control method. Many factors go into this decision, especially if you’re used to only thinking about birth control when you’re right about to have sex. Here are some things to consider when replacing condoms with another form of birth control:
- Frequency: You must take birth control pills every day at the same time for them to be effective. If you think you might have a hard time sticking to this schedule, you might want to consider methods that require less frequent action, such as the birth control patch (once a week), ring (once a month), or shot (four times per year).
- Long-term use: Not interested in getting pregnant for a while? You might want birth control that lasts for years at a time, such as an implant or intrauterine device (IUD).
- Hormones: Some women prefer nonhormonal birth control options such as diaphragms or copper IUDs.
- Efficacy: The pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, diaphragm, and IUD are all more effective with proper use than condoms. Natural birth control methods, withdrawal, and spermicide, however, are less effective than condoms.
- Cost: Health insurance covers many types of birth control, including birth control pill brands such as Lutera and Nora-BE, but verify this with your plan first.
Going without condoms is a big step in your relationship, so don’t take it lightly. Use this guide to make a smart decision regarding your sexual health.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.