I just met this great guy over the summer. He goes to Brown, and we plan on visiting each other on the weekends during the semester. We have fooled around, but haven't had sex yet. We are both virgins. (I know, it's hard to believe...). Alice, I think this is it — I'm ready. Do we really have to use condoms? I want it to be perfect!
Ready and Willing
Dear Ready and Willing,
Sounds like you had an awesome summer!
If you want the first time to be perfect, remember that an experience is only perfect with all its imperfections. It seems that you think condoms may interfere with perfection of your first time. It may be helpful to keep a few things in mind, such as:
- “First times” are rarely perfect, still they are often memorable.
- Perfect or not, you can enjoy your first time if you keep the pressure low and focus on enjoying your partner's and your body.
- Condoms provide reliable protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy, however they can also add pleasure if you experiment with different materials, textures, shapes, and styles. To learn more, read Five kinds of condoms: A guide for consumers.
Using safer sex methods, like condoms, are useful even in your situation, since both of you may define virginity in different ways. It's possible that either one of you could have had some form of sex (e.g., oral, anal, vaginal) with someone infected with an STI, even if you technically consider yourself a virgin. It's also (very remotely) possible that either of you may have received an STI congenitally. It may be a good idea to consider using condoms until both of you have been tested for HIV and other STIs.
To prevent unintended pregnancy (if that is a concern), you also may want to think about using another form birth control, alone or in addition to condoms. If you do reach a point in this relationship where you don't feel it necessary to use condoms, you can talk with your health care provider or gynecologist about an appropriate form of protection for your situation.
You can reduce any discomfort about using condoms and get creative if you start using them at the beginning of a relationship. If you’re a Columbia student, check out the safer sex map to locate free condoms (both male and female) and lube near campus. Students can also make an appointment for STI testing and/or a birth control consultation at Medical Services (Morningside) or the Student Health Service (CUMC). Free confidential HIV testing is also available, offered by GHAP, including pre- and post-test counseling, for all Columbia students.
In short, you don't have to use condoms, but they may give you the protection (and peace of mind) that will help to make your first time as wonderful as you hope it will be. Check out the related Q&As below for more information about how to prepare for your first time and ways to practice safer sex. Best of luck!Alice!